Detalle Publicación

In charge of safeguarding the public interest: the role of goal clarity in shaping public service motivation and the acceptance of unethical behaviours

ISSN: 0020-8523
Volumen: 88
Número: 1
Páginas: 43 - 58
Fecha de publicación: 2022
Ethics are important for personal, organizational and societal development. Although the literature has isolated some remedies and causes of unethical attitudes and behaviours, there is a still a need for further research. When focusing on the public context, it has been suggested that the motivation to serve the public interest has a negative relationship with different unethical outcomes. Thus, one interesting avenue of research is to explain how public service motivation can be enhanced by the outcome of certain managerial practices, which may also lead to ethical benefits indirectly. Using data collected from social workers in Catalonia (Spain), this article confirms that goal clarity directly increases the levels of public service motivation and indirectly reduces the acceptance of unethical behaviours by eliciting public service motivation. Research and practical implications of the findings are discussed. Points for practitioners This study highlights the importance of public service-oriented institutional contexts in indirectly shaping unethical outcomes. The findings recommend to public managers and practitioners to provide goal clarity (through certain human-resource management practices such as appraisal or job design) because it increases public service motivation and indirectly reduces the acceptance of unethical behaviour.