Judging Unethical Behavior: The Different Effects of External and Public Service Motivation

Guillem Ripoll, Xavier Ballart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

10 Citations (Scopus)


While the claim that Public Service Motivation (PSM) has a positive effect on ethical judgment is well-established in the literature, this link is less clear for external sources of motivation. Little is known about how these two types of motivation can be influenced to boost ethical judgment. This article addresses these two shortcomings, studying the effects of PSM and external motivation on the judgment of unethical actions, and the process of assumption of institutional logics by individuals with more basic needs satisfaction. The empirical analysis applies full structural equation modeling, testing the hypotheses on a sample of 574 case managers working on a program that integrates health and social services in Catalonia (Spain). The results illustrate the distinct relation of PSM and external motivations with the judgment of unethical acts. They also indicate that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs indirectly reduces the acceptance of unethical acts. However, this indirect effect only happens through PSM. These findings have important implications for academic research and for the prevention of the development of mild judgments of unethical behavior in the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Public Management Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Public Service
  • Motivation


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