Altruism by Job Sector: Can Public Sector Employees Lead the Way in Rebuilding Social Capital?

Source: Jaclyn Schede Piatak, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, First published online: April 2, 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The face of public service continues to evolve as government copes with increasingly complex societal problems and changing means of service delivery. Public managers are now challenged to oversee programs that cut across sectors and organizational boundaries, and people carrying out the government’s work can be found across all sectors—government, nonprofit, and for-profit. Unlike those in previous generations, younger individuals see opportunities to engage in public service in nonprofit and for-profit organizations, which has undoubtedly affected the ability of government agencies to recruit and retain those with public service values. Have opportunities to engage in public service across sectors made differences between public, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations irrelevant? Are public and nonprofit employees any different from those in for-profit organizations, especially when it comes to public service values? Understanding why individuals engage in public service is arguably more important than ever as social capital and civic engagement decline. This article draws upon the “other-oriented” aspect of public service and builds upon the work of Brewer … and Houston … to examine the impact of sector on one area of prosocial behavior: volunteering. This article employs data from the September Volunteer Supplement of the 2011 Current Population Survey to examine how both formal and informal volunteering varies across sectors—public, nonprofit, and for-profit—as well as across levels of government—federal, state, and local. This study finds that government and nonprofit sector employees tend to volunteer more than their for-profit sector counterparts, but there are important nuances when taking work schedule, levels of government, and additional measures of volunteering into account.