Sponsoring Institution


This project studies the causal effects of public sector identity on moral behavior, values
and motivations among public sector affiliates. Drawing on the economic theory of identity
(Akerlof & Kranton, 2010), we presume that individuals possess multiple social identities,
based on, for example, gender, ethnicity or profession. Identities are associated with
specific social norms prescribing permissible behaviors. In a given situation, behavior is
shifted towards those norms that are associated with the more salient identity. The
applicants developed a method for enhancing the salience of public sector identity of civil
servants (Suliteanu-Kenan et al. 2017), which enable us to experimentally estimate the
causal effect of public servants’ professional identity on moral behavior. We distinguish
between individual moral behavior (Cohn, Fehr, and Maréchal 2014), and moral behavior
in cooperative settings (Weisel and Shalvi, 2015). Given that public servants operate in
organizational settings of teams, the latter behavioral measure is particularly relevant and
potentially carries important policy implications.

The theoretical framework we present in this proposal predicts that the effect of
activating public sector identity results in a decrease in the extent of dishonest behavior
while it results in an increase in the extent of cooperative dishonest behavior. Furthermore,
we hypothesize that Public Service Motivation (PSM) mediates the effect of public sector
identity on dishonest behavior, while activating public sector identity results in an increase
in PSM scores. These hypotheses will be tested in a series of online survey and laboratory
experiments with monetary incentives, in both Germany and Israel. The cross cultural
replication approach increases both the reliability and external validity of our results.

This project is expected to contribute to study of behavioral public administration in
three ways: First, we measure dishonest behavior among future and current public
servants. Second, we manipulate public sector identity experimentally, and estimate its
causal effect on moral behavior among future and current public servants. Third, the
experimental design enables us to contribute to the PSM literature by testing whether the
effect of public sector identity on moral behavior is mediated by the values and motivations
involved in PSM. Results from this research project will be reported in four scientific journal
articles and in a practitioners report summarizing the managerial implications derived from
the experimental data.

Fk. I Geudggschäft8mbg4sspiabtelle (silvia.ku23bkreysin5og@uolv/.deulii) (Changed: 2020-01-23)