SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 578
This paper will contribute to a growing body of research on the concept of public service motivation and its effects. It addresses two important though still largely unexplored questions: How stable or dynamic are prosocial attitudes, and do differences among employees or the individual changes in their attitudes over time matter, in order to explain the performance of prosocial behavior? To learn more about public employees in this respect, the paper will compare them with their counterparts in the private sector and explore multiple waves of data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study that covers a time period of sixteen years. We find that prosocial attitudes are mostly stable, there are no socialization effects in either sector, and differences among employees matter a great deal. We also detect longitudinal effects, suggesting that increases in prosocial motivation trigger related behaviors, however, at the risk of neglecting others.