Public Service Motivation in German Police Organisations – A Grounded Theory Study

PhD project of Annika Dreimann, M.A.

Much academic attention has been given to the question why individuals choose a civil service career over employment in the private sector. But while early works on the phenomenon of Public Service Motivation (PSM) already developed a well-received operationalization to measure the construct, less attention was spent on the qualitative research of the phenomenon itself.

In a way, measuring PSM reminds of the cart that has been put before the horse – something is quantified, but still cannot be explained properly. This thesis seeks to close this gap by analysing PSM in a qualitative way from the very beginning, using Grounded Theory to explore the interconnections between all aspects that may be of relevance in explaining the phenomenon.

For this study, employment in police organisations as specific part of the public sector is analysed. Consequentially, the Grounded Theory approach is complemented with a neo-institutionalist approach that provides the framework for explaining processes within a highly institutionalised organisation. This way, the goal of the thesis is not only to shed light on the antecedents of PMS, but also offer a practice-oriented approach for organisations that respects their institutionalised boundaries when offering suggestions how to deal with the findings.


If you are interested in the dissertation project, you may ask or send comments to: annika.dreimann(at)



  • Prof. Dr. Sylvia Veit

January 2015 to June 2019