Public Service Motivation, PSM


Dr.Khine Khine Win

For the past three days I attended the 2017 Knowledge Forum on Public Service Motivation which was held in Nay Pyi Taw, MICC-2 organized by USCB and UNDP. I had a great opportunity to learn related to Public Service Motivation from international experts. Many civil servants participated in this forum and it was a valuable chance not only for civil servants but also for all those who are interested in PSM.
In one country, the civil service should embody the highest standard of ethical behavior, professionalism, meritocracy, impartiality and a commitment to public service excellence. However here we need motivation. Motivation is the force that converts intention into action and it includes both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Lack or less motivation affects performance at work. The most crucial thing to foster public service motivation through workplace is trust. It is important to build trust and confidence of the civil service personnel in their own capacities and in their respective institutions and ultimately in the State.
According to Dr. Nigel Goh, UNDP’s explanation, PSM is an individual’s predisposition to respond to motives grounded primarily or uniquely in Pubic Institutions or Organizations and also explained that PSM is one form of intrinsic motivation. According to Dr. Chung-Aen Cheng from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore research’s finding, PSM is a good thing. In the West, it may be true. In East Asia, where the Public Service exam is competitive, it may not true. He mentioned that in Asia, a majority of people(over 50%) long for public service career and public service exams are difficult. In the West, they would like to hire high PSM people unlike East Asia.
From aforementioned presentations made by two International experts, I have gained valuable knowledge. In brief, not all Public Service Jobs require PSM and it does not ensure high performance on all jobs. However it is necessary for the civil service to sustain development momentum in a fast-changing, complex and resource-constrained environment.
Civil servants are the bedrock of public administration, they need to assume a more important role in democratic development, a society free of corruption and strengthen rule of law. Civil Service is the most important segment of society. If the civil service is disgruntled, lacking in public spirit, a lot will be wrong in the country. As I mentioned before, PSM is one form of intrinsic motivation, we should not ignore intrinsic motivation if we want to be successful civil servant and excel at work. But on the other hand intrinsic motivation alone cannot reach the goal. We need extrinsic motivation, for instance reward, benefits, salary, work condition, safety etc. Indeed other motivation factors include leadership in working organizations, the level of responsibility at work are crucial too.
My personal opinion is that a happy civil servant is not necessarily driven by money. Well, not just by money. I myself prefer happy working environment where has good leadership management and a good leader who values his civil servants. I hope other civil servants have same feeling as mine. If a civil servant trusts his leader, his organizations, clear, fair and transparent policies and process we do not need higher salary. Money may be good incentives to get to work but praise and recognition that will help us achieve incredible thing.
Even intrinsic motivation is more desirable than extrinsic motivation, extrinsic rewards the intrinsic motivation. Motivation has been prioritized by the Government of Myanmar and the UCSB as a key factor underpinning effective Civil Service Transformation. It is through motivation that strong and effective leadership is nurtured and role models, who are driven with high moral values, are found.
In many developing countries, many poorly paid public servants with a job guaranteed for life and minimal repercussions for poor performance, remain in a remarkable fashion dedicated and engaged to deliver high quality work and results. Now a day, many civil servants despite having huge challenges and poor incentives, they have been continued to working faithfully as motivated by intrinsic motivation including professional pride and patriotism.
Myanmar has now clear vision for civil servants reform by adopting the civil service reform strategic action plan that will guide us in the coming four years. In order to implement CSR action plan successfully, all levels of civil servants must work together with mutual respect and trust. While we are implementing the action plan, the most important thing is that all levels of civil servants must have a desire to work for the public and for our beloved country. The experience of other countries shows us that change is possible but the real change requires patience and political will.

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