The Effects of Political Factors on Public Service Motivation: Ev
Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs

Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs
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ISSN: 2332-0761

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Research Article - (2016) Volume 4, Issue 4

The Effects of Political Factors on Public Service Motivation: Evidence from the Lebanese Civil Service

Elias A Shahda*
School of Management, University of Gloucestershire: GL502RH, Cheltenham, UK
*Corresponding Author: Elias A Shahda, School of Management, University Of Gloucestershire: GL502RH, Cheltenham, UK, Tel: +44 844 801 00 Email:


The widespread infusion of pro-market and business management principles into the public sector has impeded the behaviour of civil servants who are motivated by intrinsic motives, not external ones. Besides, the infusion of such principles caused great threats to basic values of the civil service, like equity, fairness, justice, accountability, impartiality, political neutrality, public welfare and other values related to the public sector. From here, public service motivation (PSM) emanates as a reaction against these principles/techniques in the civil service. PSM has been studied in different developed countries; however, it was almost ignored in developing countries, especially Arab states. This study focuses on two significant under theorized areas: the conceptualization of PSM in the Lebanese civil service, and the identification of an external dimension (political factors) and its role in facilitating or obstructing the development of this construct.

Keywords: Public service motivation; New public management; Politics; Consociationalism; Patronage; Overstaffing, and political protection


The impetus for this research came from an interest in the structures and governance of the civil service in Lebanon. After initial investigation, what became of particular concern was the motivation of the individuals to join and continue to work in the civil service given the continuous changes and uncertainty of the work environment. This gave rise to a focus on the concept of public service motivation (PSM), also known as public service ethos.

Public dissatisfaction with what the public sector gives dates back to the early sixties. Academic scholars, during that period, known as public choice theorists, believe that the public sector failed to yield desired outcomes especially because civil servants are egoists and selfseeking utility maximizers [1]. The supporters of this theory indicated that civil servants lack the drive to serve public effectively since they are interested in getting promoted to higher managerial levels and in achieving more personal objectives [2]. Besides, big and powerful civil service, according to this theory, brings with it waste and inefficiencies that are hard to detect and control. The best solution is to privatize, contract out public services and encourage competition by external suppliers, which, in turn, leads to more effective and efficient public service delivery [1]. The eighties and nineties witnessed the rise of a diverse and highly contested concept, new public management (NPM), which covers microeconomics, law and regulation, organization theory [3], in addition to basic themes linked to public choice theory and the Chicago School of Economics [4]. The supporters of NPM called for reducing the size of the public sector, privatizing basic public sector agencies, and adopting business management techniques in the public sector out of the belief that the private sector is more effective and productive than the public sector [5]. NPM was supported by powerful western politicians, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other aid agencies [6]. The widespread adoption of promarket, managerial and private sector techniques into the public sector has impeded the performance of civil servants who are motivated by intrinsic motives. From here, public service motivation emanates as a reaction against the widespread adoption of pro-market principles/ techniques in the civil service.

As mentioned earlier, a large number of scholars emphasized the effects of the internal environment on PSM, and little attention has been given to the importance of the external environment. Accordingly, there are still important questions regarding PSM that have not been answered yet by existing research. One of these missing questions covers the influence of macro (or/external) environment on public service motivation. Hence, this research will seek to begin addressing this gap by studying the factors inherent in the external environment and examining their effects on PSM. This study focuses on two significant under theorized areas: the examination of PSM in the Lebanese civil service, and the identification of an external dimension (political factors) and its role in facilitating or obstructing the development of this construct.

Public Service Motivation

Perry and Wise [7], the founders of PSM theory, indicate that PSM is a set of motives that only exists in the public sector. Seven years later, Perry [8] asserts that religion and parental relations are at the heart of public service motivation. Horton [9], in turn, asserts that altruism, pro-social behaviour, the common good and public service are the building blocks of PSM. Horton [9] adds that PSM is similar to the British public service ethos which is a moral duty to act in the interests of the public or common good. Likewise, Vandenabeele [10] stresses that public service motivation is a set of ethical values and perceptions, where an individual subjugates his/her interest for the common interest. This altruistic drive also lifts PSM from a public sector derived concept to one linked to outcomes of behaviours associated with a broader focus on public service that transcends the public sector [11].

Since the last two decades, public management scholars and researchers have paid more attention and have been more interested in studying PSM mainly as a reaction to the failures of pro-market and business management principles in modernizing the civil service, as well as a reaction against the negative influences that NPM has on public service ethics. In 1990, the United States of America, for instance, witnessed an attempt with the aim of reviving and strengthening the concept of public service ethics, also known as public service motivation (PSM), as a means to motivate civil servants and improve their performance [7]. Hence, PSM has been developed both as a “... counter weight to the self-interested motivation found in rational choice theories” [10] as well as a reaction against the bad effects that pro-market principles had on public service ethics. It is quite evident that the two American scholars Perry and Wise [7] provided a strong theoretical framework for PSM along with incorporating it in motivation literature [12]. Both scholars stressed on the unique motivational bases of public service; they declared that PSM originates from three different motives: rational, affective, and normative ones, which are only grounded in the public sector. Rational motives, according to Perry and Wise [7], cover the maximization of individual interests and self-importance; however, affective motives involve emotional obligation/duty to serve the public and the society, while normative motives include the interest to perform socially important programs. Rainey and Steinbaueur [13] defined PSM as an altruistic stimulus to serve the interests of the community or reach the common good. Brewer and Selden [14], in their turn, assumed that PSM is a driving force that stimulates employees to perform meaningful and socially beneficial jobs, where it can be applicable in all sectors. Even though these definitions vary among scholars, they rather have “a common focus on motives and actions...that are intended to do good for others” [15]. Along the same lines, Steen [16] asserted that PSM exists in all sectors, where it can take one of the following forms in the private sector: corporate social responsibility or organizational citizenship behaviour. As research on PSM is growing, scholars and researchers were interested in studying the antecedents and correlates of PSM. James L. Perry [17] was among the leading scholars who focused on the importance of social institutions in shaping the development of PSM. Seven years later, Moynihan and Pandey [18] identified key factors in the internal environment that shape PSM.

As mentioned previously, Perry [19] was the first scholar who translated the theory of PSM into an operational one, where he built the first multidimensional scale for measuring public service motivation. This scale is composed of the following four dimensions: (a) attraction to public policy making, (b) compassion, (c) self-sacrifice, and (d) commitment to public interest. Since then, a large number of public management scholars have used Perry’s [19] four dimensions and 24 items to measure PSM [12]. However, doubts have been raised regarding the generalizability of Perry’s multi-dimensional scale in different geographical contexts. Sixteen years later, Kim et al. [20] were able to redefine Perry’s multi-dimensional scale of PSM; whereby they formulated a four dimensional 16- item measure of PSM that can be used in different countries with different cultures and languages.

The Lebanese Political System

The Lebanese political system is based on a power-sharing arrangement among its religious groups known as consociational democracy [21]. Consociational democracy, as Andeweg [22] states, is the best choice for plural communities because it guarantees equal power-sharing between conflicting groups along with preserving their autonomy. Deep religious, linguistic, cultural, racial and ethnic divisions characterize plural communities, where loyalty is directed to one’s community first rather than to the whole nation [23].

Consociational democracy best operates in strongly divided societies, where elites form grand coalitions along with being proportionally represented in the political, administrative and military arenas, and where every community has the freedom to run its own customs [23]. In other words, it is a “government by elite cartel designed to turn a democracy with a fragmented political culture into a stable democracy” [23].

The main aim behind consociational democracy is to weaken divisions in segmented societies and to ensure stability in divided societies. The success of consociationalism occurs when the leaders of divided groups cooperate and when their supporters allow them to cooperate. The elites in consociational democratic systems usually avoid decision-making by majority; rather, they seek to adjust conflicts through compromise or amicable agreements. This cooperation prohibits social divisions from destabilizing democracy. Agreements usually take the form of a package deal, where each part loses something while winning something else. Another form of consociational democracy involves the representation of all conflicting groups. For instance, the electoral system, the distribution of public positions and military appointments are proportionally allocated to divided groups according to specific quotas. Hence, the threat of instability is regulated by the elites of conflicting groups either by coalitions or by proportional representation [22]. The elites in a consociational democracy represent the demands of subgroups; deal with their counterparts in other groups; preserve the system; and know the outcomes of political divisions [23].

Lebanon, according to Nelson [24], adopts a consociational democratic system known as corporate consociationalism, which pre-determines the distribution of positions among divided groups along sectarian lines. This distribution covers the presidency, the council of ministers, the parliament, the civil service, the military and other governmental institutions, where posts are allocated to specific sects. The distribution of power in countries like Lebanon, Iraq, Northern Ireland and Sudan, is determined according to unwritten national pacts between conflicting groups [25]. The direct outcome of corporate consociationalism in Lebanon is the emergence of political sectarian elites that control the state, and that are above any type of accountability. The electoral system in Lebanon has long strengthened the position of these confessional leaders. These politico-sectarian elites “became indispensable oligopolistic patrons to their sectarian clientele constituencies, politically inheriting sectarian public offices. This phenomenon is often referred to in Lebanon as political feudalism” [25].

Every sect is divided along geographical and familial lines, which makes it impossible for one leader to represent the whole sect [26]. Conflicts between the leaders of every sect become more complicated, especially with the presence of vertical conflicts between these elites and the lower classes that wish to replace them. The result of this internal struggle might lead to the loss of some of the elites’ power within their community. It is important to note that sectarian elites have sometimes little control over the new radical elites or the militia warlords who have tried to take their place [26]. The confessional elites that emanated from this system become experts in controlling the spoils system. Accordingly, these elites have long worked at maximizing their efforts and alliances, while ignoring important issues like the need for economic growth, administrative reform, public accountability and the rule of law [25]. Although the consociational model adopted in Lebanon since independence allowed freedom of expression, plural political activity, competitive parliamentary elections, and higher levels of freedom and civil rights than other Arab countries [27], it led to unstable political balance and poor governance. This model encouraged corruption, patronage, laxity and nepotism in the political and administrative arenas [27]. In addition, elite bargaining slowed down decision-making, and damaged the merit system in the political, administrative and military fields. Furthermore, it negatively affected the democratic process, especially with the absence of opposition and the rule of elites who blocked the democratic process. In other words, this system was not fully democratic, mainly because it lacks equal opportunities for citizens as well as political accountability and responsibility of political actors [22]. More importantly, the attainment of state sectarian consociationalism has somehow depended on the agreement between regional and international powers supporting every group [25].

Politics and Civil Service in the Arab Region

The Arab world is politically divided into 21 independent states, including Lebanon. The Arabs speak the same language; they share similar culture and history. Many common factors unite the Arab people: religion, history, language, culture and some political and administrative traditions. Despite these similarities, Arab states vary in terms of urbanization, literacy, per-capita income, and external debt. Like other developing countries, the politicians in the Arab world look at the civil service as the apparatus to execute their plans and to bring socio-economic development [28].

The civil service in different Arab countries cannot be separated from the political environment. Kings, presidents and prime ministries in Arab countries have unlimited, excessive, and unchecked powers in their hands. Accordingly, the civil service is the servant of the regime and is not independent in terms of decision making. Autocratic leaders in most Arab states appoint their relatives and supporters in the civil service instead of competent and professional individuals with no political support. The civil service in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, for instance, is overstaffed with political and ill trained appointees. Hence, nepotism and patron-client relationship rather than professional competence are widespread in almost all Arab nations. The civil service is an instrument “…that safeguards the regime and preserves the domestic oligarchy that ensures regime’s durability” [28].

Political loyalty and patron-client relationship have been the main elements in staffing all levels of government positions. These practices have led to the infiltration of low level employees in the civil service [29]. Administrative reform programmes in different Arab countries have not been able to achieve desired outcomes because they are executed in environments where freedom of the press is restricted, where political interventions in the civil service are widespread, where participation in public policy making is almost absent, and where professionalism of civil servants is minimal [29]. These reform programmes are imposed from the top, and are formulated according to the wishes and desires of the head of state and the political elite. The political authority exercises control at every stage of the administrative reform programme. Political elites or their agents “… authorize all ideas of change, approve recommendations, and control when and how implementation may proceed. Even minor changes of organization and management often require approval at the highest political levels” [29]. Administrative reformers in some Arab states tried to neutralize the civil service by protecting it from political interferences; however, these reformers were unable and incapable of stoping political interferences in the civil service [29].

The problems of overstaffing and lack of qualifications in the Arab civil service result from the pressures made by the political elite to provide employment. For instance, during the sixties and seventies the Saudi civil service grew rapidly and the royal family tried to provide the Saudis with new services; however, lack of qualified Saudi citizens was the real and challenging obstacle in forming a responsible civil service. Successive Saudi governments during that period resorted to overstaffing administrative positions with unqualified employees who lack the minimum skills to serve the public. The problem was aggravated by a mismatch between employees’ qualifications and the requirements of their posts [30]. Royal ruling families in oil rich Arab Gulf states consider public sector appointment as a tool for distributing the wealth of oil among the citizens [31]. The creation of public service positions in these states is an aim in itself, with no concern of what the employees do. This partly explains why a large number of civil servants are poorly educated or illiterate; it also explains why a large number of these officials are almost absent [31]. “Through the creation, expansion and maintenance of a bureaucracy, the rulers of the oil-state are paying the citizen - by law of lucrative government employment - in return for a cessation of the old tribal wars, for tacit acceptance of the political supremacy of one tribe or fraction of the tribe (i.e. the royal or princely family) over the others” [31]. This relationship between the public servant and the state is complex. The citizen is given an administrative position in return for staying quiet and for accepting the rule of the ruling family. The king in Saudi Arabia supervises and controls the civil service through the cabinet and his private offices. The cabinet is responsible to the king for all its activities and those of the civil service that serves as its agent. Some central public agencies are directly related to the king. In an attempt to reform the administration, the government of Saudi Arabia issued a form titled “Where did you get this?” where civil servants had to declare about all their property so that the government could compare their salaries with their holdings. This regulation was easily forgotten because no one bothered to complete the forms or to collect them; most of these civil servants are politically backed up [32].

Like other Arab countries, successive Egyptian governments and regimes, since the 1952 revolution, have long used the civil service as a tool for absorbing unemployment. From the 1952 revolution till the beginning of seventies, Egypt produced more than 250,000 graduates, most of who were employed in the civil service. During the seventies, Egypt produced more than 500,000 new university graduates. Between 1986 and 1987, the government employed around five million university graduates [31]. These graduates were given unnecessary, redundant and unsatisfying jobs. Most of these new employees were dissatisfied with their jobs, which resulted in extremely poor performance. The recruitment policies were irrational, irrelevant and not based on real organizational needs [33]. Expansion in the number of civil servants grows although the economic role of the government was starting to diminish in importance [31].


Public service motivation

Reliability: The most common technique for examining the reliability of an instrument is the internal consistency method. The reliability of an instrument implies the consistency with which it measures a construct. In this research, internal consistency was measured using Cronbach’s alpha α. The values of Cronbach’s alpha range from zero to one (Table 1).

Constructs No. of items Cronbach’s Alpha
APS=Attraction to public service 4 0.820
CPV=Commitment to public values 4 0.711
COM=Compassion 4 0.782
SS=Self-sacrifice 4 0.824
Politics 9 0.965

Table 1: Internal consistency of the survey instrument.

Validity: Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) is an important test that is used to examine the factorability of data; it is an index used to examine the appropriateness of factor analysis. It is very hard to extract a factor when the KMO is near 0. Weak values of KMO range between 0.5 and 0.7, values between 0.7 and 0.8 indicate that the factor analysis is good (appropriate), values between 0.8 and 0.9 are strong, and values above 0.9 are excellent [34] (Table 2).

Constructs KMO Measure of Sampling Adequacy
APS=Attraction to public service 0.687
CPV=Commitment to public values 0.793
COM=Compassion 0.858
SS=Self-sacrifice 0.811
Politics 0.943

Table 2: Results of KMO.

Subjects: One thousand civil servants (N=1000) took part in this study. These employees were randomly selected from the following ministries and public agencies: Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Displaced, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform (OMSAR), Council for South Lebanon, Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), and the Lebanese Central Bank. The survey was sent via e-mail to the respondents because it is quick and inexpensive. The participants were given one month to complete the survey. One thousand (1000) questionnaires were distributed. The number of returned questionnaires was 454 with a return rate of 45.4%. As expected, the respondents presented a diverse mix of public service occupations. As shown in Table 3, the respondents were also demographically diverse by years of experience, gender, age, and education (Tables 3 and 4).

Name of Ministry or Public Agency Distributed Questionnaires Returned Questionnaires Response Rate %
Ministry of Interior and Municipalities 100 45 45
Ministry of Tourism 100 44 44
Ministry of Displaced 100 75 75
Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports 100 81 81
Ministry of Agriculture 100 25 25
Ministry of Foreign Affairs 100 38 38
Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform (OMSAR) 100 67 67
Council for South Lebanon 100 22 22
Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) 100 33 33
Lebanese Central Bank 100 28 28
Total 1000 454 45.4

Table 3: Questionnaire distribution.

  Frequency Percent
Gender Male 270 58
Female 209 42
Age Under 25 37 7
26-35 120 24.5
36-50 181 37
51-64 140 30.5
Education High school 170 35.98
BA degree 240 49.8
Masters 60 13.83
Grade II 60 13.83
III 264 55.02
IV 147 30.8
Monthly income Less than $ 1000 190 41.8
$ 1000-1499 171 30.9
$ 1500-1999 38 11.8
$ 2000-2499 30  6.4
$ 2500-3000 50  9.1
Years of experience Less than 1 year 30 6.4
1 to 5 years 64 13.6
6 to 10 years 20 5
11 to 15 years 50 10
16 to 20 years 80 22
More than 20 years 200 43

Table 4: Demographic information.

Attraction to public service (APS): There was a substantial shift to strongly agree on the three other sub-dimensions and, although the over percentages fell slightly, over 80% of participants responded positively. In particular, 40% of respondents strongly agreed and almost half of the respondents agreed (48.64%) that it is important to contribute to activities that tackle social problems (mean=4.27; SD=0.75) (Table 5).

Question No. Item Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree M SD
7 I admire people who initiate or are involved in activities to aid my community 1.52% 1.08% 15.57% 47.83% 34 % 4.13 0.59
8 It is important to contribute to activities that tackle social problems 0.18% 3.10% 8.21% 48.64% 39.87% 4.27 0.71
9 Meaningful public service is very important to me 0.23% 3.20% 5.12% 51.65% 39.80% 4.30 0.72
10 It’s important for me to contribute to the common good 0.21% 0.85% 11.70% 45.9% 41.34% 4.28 0.72

Table 5: Attraction to public service (APS).

Almost half of the participants (51.65%) agreed that meaningful public service is important to them (mean=4.30; SD=0.72). A further 39.80% strongly agreed on this point. Likewise, 41.34% of respondents strongly agreed, and 45.9% of them agreed that it is important for them to contribute to the common good. Overall, the results show that the majority of the respondents in the quantitative phase scored high on attraction to public service, the first dimension of public service motivation.

Commitment to public values: The second dimension – commitment to public values, has four sub-dimensions that link to pro-social and ethical behaviours, equality of opportunity, and public interest, as shown in Table 6.

Question No. Item Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree M SD
11 I think equal opportunities for citizens are very important 3.20% 0.65% 1.50% 38.98% 55.67% 4.41 0.75
12 It is important that citizens can rely on the continuous provision of public services 0.44% 1.50% 1.53% 62.06% 34.47% 4.16 0.71
13 It is fundamental that the interests of future generations are taken into account when developing public policies 0.64% 3.55% 2.71% 72.19% 20.91% 4.29 0.72
14 To act ethically is essential 0.22% 1.80% 6.71% 56.17% 35.1% 4.43 0.83

Table 6: Commitment to public values (CPV).

As with attraction to public service, commitment to public values also shows high levels of agreement with the questions asked. Scores were over 80% for all dimensions, with questions 13 and 14, showing the most positive responses (agree and strongly agree) with 93% and 91.27% respectively. What becomes more obvious when interviewee responses are taken into consideration that while there is still a majority commitment to public values particularly in relation to ethical and equal practice, there are indications that there are still issues to be addressed both in terms of policy and practice? For example, around 95% of respondents indicated agreement with the contention that equal opportunities for citizens are very important (mean=4.41; SD=0.75). Around 35% of respondents strongly agreed, and 56% agreed that it is essential to act ethically (mean=4.43; SD=0.83). Linked to this latter point, it is important to note that 62% of respondents agreed and 35% of respondents strongly agreed that it is important that citizens can rely on the continuous provision of public services (mean=4.16; SD=0.71). Results from the survey show that 72% of the respondents agreed and 21% strongly agreed that it is important to take into account the needs of future generations when developing public policies (mean=4.29; SD=0.72) (Table 6).

Compassion: As can be seen from the table below, 45% of the respondents agreed, and 42% strongly agreed, that they feel sympathetic to the plight of the underprivileged (mean=4.28; SD=0.72). Besides, 51% of respondents agreed and 31% strongly agreed that they empathize with other people who face difficulties (mean=4.16; SD=0.71). Around half of the respondents (50%) strongly agreed and 43% agreed that it is very important to consider the welfare of others (mean=4.39; SD=0.73). Around 45% of respondents strongly agreed, and 44% agreed, that they get very upset when they see other people being treated unfriendly (Table 7).

Question No. Item Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree M SD
15 I feel sympathetic to the plight of the underprivileged 0.22% 0.86% 11.9% 45.2% 41.82% 4.28 0.72
16 I empathize with other people who face difficulties 1.02% 1.73% 14.46% 51.62% 31.17% 4.16 0.71
17 I get very upset when I see other people being treated unfriendly 0.00% 2.18% 8.84% 43.77% 45.21% 4.36 0.68
18 Considering the welfare of others is very important 0.00% 3.21% 4.2% 42.61% 49.98% 4.39 0.73

Table 7: Compassion (COM).

Self-sacrifice (SS): Descriptive results showed that around 45% of the participants disagreed, and 40% agreed, with making sacrifices for the good of society, while only 3% agreed (mean=2.20; SD=1.11). Likewise, almost half of the respondents (43%) disagreed, while around 30% strongly disagreed, to about putting civic duty before self (mean=2.29; SD=1.15). Almost 33% of the respondents strongly disagreed, and 30% disagreed with risking personal loss to help society (mean=2.34; SD=1.28). Finally, around 39% of the respondents disagreed, and 30% strongly disagreed about making a good plan to make a better life for the poor (mean=2.47; SD=1.20) (Table 8).

Question No. Item Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree M SD
19 I am prepared to make sacrifices for the good of society 39.60% 44.20% 10.40% 2.60% 3.20% 2.20 1.11
20 I believe in putting civic duty before self 27.87% 42.20% 7.43% 12.70% 9.80% 2.29 1.15
21 I am willing to risk personal loss to help society 33.24% 32.74% 15.60% 11.20% 8.22% 2.34 1.28
22 I would agree to a good plan to make a better life for the poor, even if it costs me 29.38% 38.24% 11.28% 15.98% 5.12% 2.47 1.20

Table 8: Self-Sacrifice (SS).

Political Factors

As seen above and supported in the Table 9, more than half of the respondents (54%) agreed, and 38% strongly agreed that sectarian parties are stronger than secular ones (mean=4.20; SD=0.91). Descriptive statistics also showed that 66% agreed, and 24% strongly agreed that sectarian parties have a strong influence on the civil service (mean=4.07; SD=0.75). Furthermore, more than half of the participants (51.91%) agreed that employees with no political support have always been the subject to administrative reforms (question 26). Within the same context, 60% of the civil servants agreed that promotion in the civil service is guaranteed through one’s loyalty to political leaders rather than to individual performance (mean=4.03). This shows that employees are promoted and protected simply because they have established strong relationships with powerful politicians. Almost half of the respondents (47.66%) agreed that politicians have long controlled public sector employment (m=4.24). More than half of the respondents (54.89%) agreed that political appointees gave special treatment to their patrons at the expense of other citizens. Besides, descriptive statistics showed that 48% of participants agreed and 43% of respondents strongly agreed that politicians have long controlled public sector appointments. It is important to note that the political elite strengthened patronage. Unethical and irresponsible conducts of the civil servants result from a strong patron-client relationship. Finally, almost half of the respondents agreed that the politicians have no intentions to reform the civil service (mean 4.25).

  Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree M SD
Quest Item Freq % Freq % Freq % Freq % Freq %
23 Sectarian parties in Lebanon are stronger than secular ones 21 4.47% 6 1.28% 11 2.34% 253 53.83% 179 38.09% 4.20 0.91
24 Sectarian parties have a strong influence on the civil service 6 1.28% 20 4.26% 20 4.26% 312 66.38% 112 23.83% 4.07 0.75
25 Public service provision has always been subject to political interferences 19 4.04% 6 1.28% 34 7.23% 275 58.51% 136 28.94% 4.07 0.88
26 Administrative reform programs have always tackled employees with no political support 9 1.91% 22 4.68% 16 3.40% 244 51.91% 179 38.09% 4.20 0.86
27 Politicians have long controlled public sector appointments 21 4.47% 3 0.64% 20 4.26% 224 47.66% 202 42.98% 4.24 0.92
28 Political appointees give special treatment to their political patrons at the expense of other citizens 3 0.64% 32 6.81% 13 2.77% 258 54.89% 164 34.89% 4.17 0.82
29 Political appointees have loyalty to politicians more than to public duty 15 3.19% 16 3.40% 17 3.62% 206 43.83% 216 45.96% 4.26 0.92
30 Promotion within the public sector is guaranteed through one's loyalty to political leaders rather than to individual performance 7 1.49% 34 7.23% 23 4.89% 281 59.79% 125 26.60% 4.03 0.86
31 The politicians have no intentions to reform the civil service 19 4.04% 7 1.49% 22 4.68% 211 44.89% 211 44.89% 4.25 0.93

Table 9: Political Factors.

From the findings outline so far, it would seem that political factors negatively influence PSM. In order to address these issues in more detail and assess effects and correlations between particular factors and PSM, a number of tests were undertaken (see following section 7.4.1).

Hypotheses testing

As mentioned above, from the findings outline so far, it would seem that political factors negatively influence PSM. In order to address these issues in more detail and assess effects and correlations between particular factors and levels of PSM, a number of tests were undertaken. The first linked to political factors.

The following hypothesis was formulated regarding the influence of political factors on public service motivation: H1: Political factors negatively affect PSM.

The regression of PSM and politics

H1: Political factors negatively affect PSM (Tables 10-12). Table 10 (Model Summary) shows that the independent variable politics provides little explanation as indicated by adjusted R2 of value 4.6%; this means that the model explains 4.6% of the variation in the dependent variable (public service motivation). A significant model emerged (F=23.686, p<0.001), and politics was negative and significant (coefficient B=- 0.219, p<0.001). There is a negative relationship between politics and PSM; hence the hypothesis (H1) is accepted.

Model R R Square Adjusted R Square Std. Error of the Estimate
1 .219 .048 .046 .33829

Table 10: Model Summaryc.

Model Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F Sig.
1 Regression 2.711 1 2.711 23.686 .000
Residual 53.559 468 .114    
Total 56.269 469      

Table 11: ANOVA.

Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig.
B Std. Error Beta
1 (Constant) Politics 4.28 0.094   45.698 0
-0.108 0.022 -0.219 -4.867 0

Table 12: Coefficients.

Discussion of Findings

Public service motivation

Descriptive statistics showed that Lebanese public servants scored high on three out of four dimensions of PSM, namely attraction to public service, commitment to public values, and compassion. However, they had low scores on the fourth dimension, namely selfsacrifice. In other words, these civil servants refused to risk their lives or make personal sacrifices for the benefit of the society. The findings regarding PSM are at odds with Jabbra and Dwivedi’s [30] conclusions who indicate that Lebanese public servants are lazy and lack the drive to serve their clients properly. Such employees, according to Jabbra and Dwivedi [30], show little concern towards the public. They only provide services to their friends, relatives and to their patrons.

Political factors

Quantitative results showed that political interferences undermined an ethical concept like public service motivation. Descriptive statistics indicated that Lebanese politicians have a strong control over the civil service. Hence, it is no surprise that the appointment of civil servants was subject to political interference. This result corroborates the finding of Jabbra and Dwivedi [30], who asserted that the Lebanese civil service has long been a tool in the hands of politicians to appoint their supporters. This political employment, according to the aforementioned scholars, was also a tool to disguise unemployment, where the majority of political appointees lacked the skills and qualifications needed. Palmer, Al-Hegelan, Abdelrahman, Leila, and Yassin [35], in turn, described political appointments as “welfare oriented staffing policies”, where politicians employ a large number of unskilled employees in the public sector. These employees were unable to innovate simply because they were unqualified. Besides, the low skill levels of these employees: “tend to make them insecure and reluctant to attempt tasks that will amplify their inadequacies…Regardless of predispositions toward innovation, poorly skilled individuals are not well positioned to engage in innovative behaviour... Welfare based recruitment creates an environment of non-competitive complacency. Government positions tend to be looked upon as a fiefdom, as something the recipient is entitled to by divine right. Competition breeds innovation; conformity stifles it” [35].

Within the same context, Bashir [36] admitted that the Lebanese civil service was overstaffed with unqualified, politically appointed employees who received salaries without performing any duty. Political appointments in the civil service created a strong patronclient relationship, where political appointees were responsive to the demands of their political patrons first at the expense of public interest. This is consistent with a study performed by Jreisat [37], who declared that political appointments created a strong patron-client relationship. Jreisat [37] added that Lebanese civil servants, like other Arab civil servants whose identification with the state is weak, seek protection by establishing strong relationships with strong protectors or patrons. Such relationships yielded an administrative culture of disrespect for accountability, rules and regulations, whereby personal profit and loyalty to one’s patron became more important than public interest [37]. The quantitative phase also showed that political interference was not only restricted to appointment; it also covered other areas within the civil service, such as promotion and transfer. Accordingly, employees, who are well connected to powerful politicians, were the ones who were promoted first at the expense of other employees. This type of promotion runs counter to the merit principle, which gives equal opportunities to all employees.

Descriptive statistics indicated that administrative reform programs only tackled employees with no political support. This finding corroborates the finding of Barakat [38], who stated that the last purging in 1999, like previous ones, was biased, awkward and unjust. This purge, according to Barakat [38], tackled first grade directors with no political support. All these factors are at odds with the main elements that form PSM, like “compassion”, equality, objectivity, fairness, responsiveness to public demands and obedience to the law.


PSM, as developed by Kim et al. [20], was examined in the Lebanese public sector. Results showed that Lebanese public servants had high scores on attraction to public service (APS), commitment to public values (CPV) and compassion (Com). However, these civil servants had low scores on self-sacrifice. They demonstrated that they will not endanger their lives for the sake of the society.

Political interference in the Lebanese civil service is not a new topic. Political interference in administrative affairs dates back to the independence period and sometimes before, to the presidency of Bechara El-Khoury, the first president after independence. El-Khoury used the civil service as a means to appoint his supporters without taking into account their qualifications. Similarly, the Lebanese government, after the end of the civil war in 1990, appointed hundreds of people in different positions. The majority of these newly appointed employees lacked the relevant skills and knowledge. They were ex-militia men who participated in the Lebanese civil war. The politicians used the Lebanese civil service as a tool to absorb unemployment. This situation led to a surplus of unskilled daily workers in low-level positions, and to understaffing in managerial and technical positions. These appointed employees are loyal first to the politicians who appointed them, and then to the public.

Some civil servants established ties with strong patrons, usually politicians or individuals with a high social status. The result of a strong patron-client relationship is unethical. Patronage has long existed in the Lebanese civil service. Civil servants who wanted to be promoted or to protect themselves also established relationships with powerful patrons. No serious efforts were made by the politicians to get back this immunity. Hence, political factors have negatively influenced the main building blocks of PSM, namely, objectivity in serving the public, commitment to public values, the subjugation of personal gains to the welfare of others, prosocial and altruistic behaviors.

Future Recommendations

More attention should be given, in future research, to moderators and mediators which can affect the relationship between political factors and public service motivation. It is suggested that individual characteristics can be considered as intermediary variables between political factors and public service motivation. In order to answer this question, more complex research designs and more sophisticated analytical tools are required to test causal relations and mediating/ moderating effects of different variables. Accordingly, the following hypotheses are proposed for future research.

Hypothesis (1): Political factors positively affect individual characteristics.

Hypothesis (2): Individual characteristics positively affect PSM.

Hypothesis (3): Political, and technological factors will have no significant direct influence on PSM when individual characteristics are taken into account.


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Citation: Shahda EA (2016) The Effects of Political Factors on Public Service Motivation: Evidence from the Lebanese Civil Service. J Pol Sci Pub Aff 4:225.

Copyright: © 2016 Shahda EA. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.