Crystal A. Evans, Regis University, Gregory R. Evans, Colorado State University Global Campus
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) & Public Service Motivation (PSM): Do we Self-Heal
Public Service Motivation (PSM) has received much attention in academia. This may be due to PSM's "international, multidisciplinary, and multisectored" nature (Ritz et al, 2016 p.1). This area of research has grown considerably since the 1990s and has also been shown to have implications in not only the public sector (Gould-Williams 2016 ) but the business (Battaglio & French 2016;) and nonprofit (Bright 2016) sectors as well. Those individuals with high levels of PSM are defined as having “common focus on motives and action in the public domain that are intended to do good for others and shape the well-being of society” (Perry and Hondeghem 2008 p 3). They also value social rewards more than monetary rewards (Massey & Brown, 1998) and may be motivated into specific kinds of employment (Bright 2016). While several studies have explored correlations between PSM and other factors, these studies have looked at PSM as an independent variable looking to explain something else. Such studies do not, however, shed any light on what leads to higher levels of PSM. Currently, little is known about the underlying causes of PSM. There is a growing call to rectify this deficiency. Wright and Grant (2010) speak to the need for a deeper understanding of PSM by determining if it is a cause or effect. They highlight the fact there is uncertainty if PSM is the cause of consequence of employee job decisions. In their critique of PSM, Bozeman and Su (2014) state: "One charge against PSM research is that it has often been used as an independent variable, but much less often have researchers examined PSM as a dependent variable or, related, the causal mechanics leading to PSM" (p 705). Interestingly, in the field of therapy, there is evidence that negative childhood experiences can unconsciously motivate someone to enter helping fields (Barnett, 2007) and that such events may better prepare us to help others because people heal through their own brokenness. This idea is the basis for the wounded healer archetype (Groesbeck, 1975). If the wounded healer is real, then negative childhood experiences would result in higher levels of PSM and be a predictor of PSM. This research will test the idea of the wounded healer as it relates to Public Service Motivation. Specifically, do Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) result in higher levels of PSM? An online survey method was used that included the PSM questions and the ACEs questions. Multiple regression analysis (N=386), (Age, Sex, Education as controls), shows an invers relationship between ACEs and PSM. Questions: • We know that nonprofit employees have higher levels of ACEs despite the negative relationship between PSM & ACEs. • We know that based on having higher levels of ACEs nonprofit employees should have more interpersonal problems. • However, studies show nonprofit employees have less interpersonal problems. ***** Is this evidence that by helping others, we self-heal? This question will be presented with evidence on both sides.