Untangling the Association between Goal Clarity and Public Service Motivation with the Moderating Role of Value Congruence


Drawing on the socialization aspect of public service motivation (PSM) and the internalization process of organizational values, this study empirically tests the argument that goal clarity leads to higher PSM, with a specific focus on the moderating role of value congruence between them. Using data from 4,133 Korean public employees in the 2021 Public Employee Perception Survey, the current study finds that individuals’ perception of goal clarity generally has a positive relationship with their PSM, especially among those who have high individual-organization value congruence. We also discovered that certain matched levels of both goal clarity and value congruence are crucial for the positive relationship between clear goal perception and PSM to exist. This study concludes that the relationship between goal clarity and PSM is not straightforward, but instead follows a U-shaped pattern, characterized by a decrease followed by an increase. This implies that perceiving clearer goals may have a demotivating effect on some employees; those with relatively low levels of goal clarity and, therefore, low goal congruence (i.e., lack of internalization of clear organizational goals) would instead be demotivated as they perceive clearer goals.

Namhoon Ki
Namhoon Ki
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science

My research interests include public management, state and local government, and intergovernmental relations. matter.