Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


French, P. Edward

Committee Member

Shoup, Brian D.

Committee Member

Emison, Gerald A.

Committee Member

Wiseman , W. Martin

Committee Member


Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


Attracting, motivating, and retaining public service employees continues to challenge both state- and municipal-level managers. Beginning with Perry’s (1996) public service motivation (PSM) construct, academics and practitioners focused considerable efforts in the identification of measures and factors influencing levels of motivation with the overall intent of identifying the key components of increasing employee motivations, thereby increasing the possibility of retaining the capable employees. While this effort has focused on managerial distinctions, groupings between genders, racial backgrounds, and tenure lengths, one significant comparison has yet to be explored—the public safety worker. Identifying and examining the motivating factors of police and fire, whose considerably different work requirements and consequences of subpar performance can result in the loss of life will not only lead to future means of addressing retention and motivation, but will also create a new avenue of research in public service motivation in public administration. Stemming from the extensive methodological work by Sangmook Kim (2010), this effort will explore the PSM constructs by utilizing exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to identify the significant factors of PSM for public safety workers, confirm these findings through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), and identify the strengths of the various factors as they pertain to the latent constructs of PSM, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. PSM, as it pertains to job attraction, selection, commitment, and retention plays a pivotal role in maintaining a productive and successful public organization. In Mississippi, retention and motivation are paramount as neighboring states pay better wages, offer similar benefits, and are within a short travel distance for many state employees. By comparing public safety workers to other groups of municipal employees, this research extends the field of public administration into new territory while providing practical, real-world tools for practitioners and decision-makers to utilize in workforce development and retention efforts. This research will show that there are significant differences between the public safety workers in the municipal workforce and non-public safety workers, particularly in Mississippi. The research shows that differences in public safety workers from non-public safety workers in motivation stem from levels of political involvement, compassion, benevolence, and duty.