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Public versus Private Sector Job Satisfaction

Open Panel

Abstract

The literature concerning job satisfaction displays higher job satisfaction-levels in the public sector as opposed to the private sector. However, only little is explicitly known for what reasons the public-private job satisfaction divergence occurs and as to why public sector workers report comparatively high job satisfaction levels. The ‘PS:JS-Research Project’ (‘Public Sector Job Satisfaction-Research Project’), launched in spring 2010, entails to shed some light on the job satisfaction conditions within the public sector and on job satisfaction differences between the public vs. private sector of the economy. For these purposes, the PS:JS-Research Project will employ different cross-national datasets that cover job satisfaction and distinguish between the public and private sphere. However, the initial empirical investigation is focused on the public sector as such for the case of Germany using unique detailed municipal data on job satisfaction of local authorities, that were generated within the framework of the PS:JS-Project. Using descriptive comparisons and an ordered probit-approach for the regression-perspective, the results show, inter alia, a large variation in job satisfaction by organizational units, a higher job satisfaction level for female workers as compared to their male counterparts and clear effects of differences in the individual judgment of performance related pay schemes on job satisfaction. Furthermore, and most important, a modern management style by means of a participative leadership and autonomy at the workplace show clear positive outcomes in terms of the job satisfaction levels of public sector workers. These results will be a starting point for further investigations with regard to potentially similar or different conditions of job satisfaction within the public and private sector.