Factors Affecting Job Performance in Public Agencies

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FActors AFFecting Job PerFormAnce in Public Agencies
JAmes gerArd cAillier The College at Brockport, State University of New York ABSTRACT: Articles empirically examining job performance in the public sector are scant. As a result, in this article a theoretical research model is developed to examine job performance, and it is subsequently tested on state government workers. The findings are clear: Role ambiguity negatively affects employee job performance; mission contribution is fully validated (i.e., employees who directly contributed to the mission of the agency reported higher performance); government employees reported higher performance levels when they believed agencies received enough funding to fulfill their goals; and individual job performance was higher when employees believed that their agency spent appropriated funds efficiently. The implications these findings have for public agencies and officials are thoroughly discussed. KEYWORDS: funding, job performance, job satisfaction, mission contribution, public service motivation

ince the early 1900s, several work-related processes and theories have been proposed that were designed to help organizations get the most output from their workers (e.g., march & simon, 1958; mayo, 1933; taylor, 1911). because individual worker productivity is difficult to measure in some sectors (e.g., government), these job performance models have mainly been applied to employees in private sector organizations where outputs are more easily quantified (bohnet & eaton, 2003). As a result, few researchers have empirically studied job performance in public sector organizations. this article assists scholars, as well as human resource personnel, supervisors, and government officials, by empirically examining how several individual, environmental, and job-related factors affect job performance in government agencies. specifically, a theoretical research model is developed that predicts job performance in government organizations and is subsequently tested on new York state government employees. this model’s unique contribu-


Public Performance & Management Review, Vol. 34, no. 2, december 2010, pp. 139–165. © 2010 m.e. sharpe, inc. All rights reserved. 1530-9576/2010 $9.50 + 0.00. doi 10.2753/Pmr1530-9576340201



PPmr / december 2010

tion to the field of public performance management is that it includes employee attitudes about funding, mission contribution, and the fairness of the agency’s reward system—all of which have been absent in public job performance studies. the objective is, therefore, to determine the relation between job performance and several aspects of employee attitudes.

Review of Literature and Hypotheses
Job performance is a term used to depict how well an employee performs his or her work-related duties. Performance is important to workers and employers because it inevitably influences decisions regarding promotions, terminations, merit increases, and bonuses. because so much is riding on this aspect of organizations, individual job performance has been studied extensively by administrative theorists. beginning in the early 1900s, Frederick taylor (1911) argued that organizations could increase worker productivity by identifying and standardizing the most efficient movements needed to perform a task. despite the fact that this process contributed heavily to productivity studies by demonstrating that tasks could be precisely measured, it has often been criticized because it focused on “mechanization” rather than on the human side of the organization (march & simon, 1958). in other words, taylor’s theory was too narrow and did not include other elements that could affect productivity. two decades later, elton mayo and his associates conducted a study at the Western electric Hawthorne plant. in so doing, they discovered that worker productivity was affected by managerial decisions, the social interactions of workers, and the...
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