TITLE Are Public Employees and People with High Public Service Motivation Risk-Averse?
AUTHORS Reona Hayashi

Hosei University

So Morikawa

The University of Tokyo

Takeshi Ojima

Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, Soka University
Visiting Associate Professor, Graduate School of Economics and Management, Tohoku University

Manami Tsuruta

Osaka University


While risk preference is one of the cornerstones of bureaucratic behavior theories, there is no consensus on its meaning and conceptualization. Only a few studies have incorporated different concepts into the investigation of the differences between the public and private sectors in risk preference and the association between public service motivation (PSM) and risk preference. Using self-reported and behavioral measures for risk preference, we analyzed the risk aversion of public employees and those with high PSM. The behavioral measures were a multiple price list and lottery choice tasks for higher-order risk preferences (prudence and temperance). A general self-reported measure revealed that public employees were risk-averse, whereas behavioral measures showed that public employees were not risk-averse with the multiple price list but more temperate. Those with high PSM were risk-averse using prudence and temperance measures, while they tended to be risk-taking in self-reports. The opposite results in PSM are partially due to the different sub-dimensions of PSM, yielding risk aversion for those with high commitment to public values and risk-taking for those with high self-sacrifice.

KEYWORDS public‒private comparison; public service motivation; multiple price list; higher-order risk preference
ISSUED October 2022

» List of Discussion Papers