Comparisons of Public and Private Employees: Professor Justin Bullock’s Cross-Countries Examination

This summer (from May to September), Taiwan Institute for Governance and Communication Research (TIGCR) is honored to invite Professor Justin Bullock, Assistant Professor of Public Service and Administration Department, Texas A&M University, as visiting scholar. His research domain includes, but not limited to public administration, artificial intelligence (AI), and political communication. During the 3 months scholarly visiting, TIGCR will have more chances collaborating with Professor Bullock with several public academic events to be held.

The first public speech was held on May 29th, chaired by Chi Huang, University Chair Professor, Department of Political Science and Director of TIGCR, NCCU. Bullock shared his past studies on “International Comparisons of Public and Private Employees”, with observation on employees’ orientation motivation, attitudes, income, and job securities.

Professor Bullock's speech video

(Video credit: TIGCR)

In the beginning of the speech, Bullock asked the audiences a few questions, including “Why are you attending NCCU?” and “What motivates you to work in the Public Sector?”, managing to engage the audiences thinking about the speech focus: factors of choices and motivations.

Professor Bullock delivered a public speech

(Photo credit: TIGCR)

Professor Liao chaired the speech

(Photo credit: TIGCR)

Bullock then explained with 3 of his past research outcomes to answer the question why and how people owned various factors of motivation in the workplace. First, he surveyed 32 countries by the International Social Survey Programme’s (ISSP) 2009 Social Inequality Module. The survey showed government workers and private non-supervisors emphasize more on the role of hard word for getting ahead in society, compared to the private supervisors.

He continued to discuss the international comparison of work motives between public and private employees. This survey applied the ISSP 2005 Work Orientation Module to examine approximately 18,000 employees from 30 countries. The result indicated that, in almost all the countries examined, public employees showed much stronger public service motives, with higher perceived social impact and organizational commitment, than their private sector counterparts. To our surprise, high-income motives are not viewed as top-one work motivation by the group of public employees.

Professor Bullock answered the question

(Photo credit: TIGCR)

At last, Bullock presented his studies on cross-sector comparisons of work motives in consideration of culture, occupation and national economic status. Combined ISSP data with Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and World Bank data for 25 countries, he concluded that public employees considered job securities as much important factors compared to income, while there is little difference between the public and private sectors. 

After the speech, the audiences asked Bullock questions actively, which surrounding the issues covering the bureaucratic differences between Taiwan and the United States. Bullock answered with his perspectives on Taiwan’s recruiting and pension reform system, suggesting that these are the distinct characteristics of Taiwan bureaucracy, which is likely to influence employee’s working motives.

Group photo after the speech

(Photo credit: TIGCR)

On the afternoon of May 29, Professor Bullock had a close-door discussion with TIGCR research faculty, exchanging experiences on the panel survey of bureaucrats between Taiwan and the United States. They were all looking forwards to further research collaboration.

Professor Bullock’s public speech was recorded. In the future, his insightful speech will be available on TIGCR’s official websites. 



Bullock, Justin B., Jeffrey B. Wenger, and Vicky M. Wilkins. 2014. "Attitudes about Hard Work: A Global Perspective on the Beliefs of Government Employees." International Public Management Journal 17(1): 25-44.

Bullock, Justin B., Stritch, J. M., and Rainey, H. G. 2015. “International Comparison of Public and Private Employees’ Work Motives, Attitudes, and Perceived Rewards.” Public Administration Review 75(3): 479-489.

Bullock, Justin B., Hansen, J. R., and Houston, D. J. 2018. “Sector Differences in Employee’s Perceived Importance of Income and Job Security: Can These be Found Across the Contexts of Countries, Cultures, and Occupations?” International Public Management Journal 21(2): 243-271.