Commentary: Three‐Part Harmony

AuthorDavid R. Schachter,Sherry Glied
Date01 January 2014
Published date01 January 2014
112 Public Administration Review • January | February 2014
David R. Schachter is assistant dean
for student affairs in the Robert F. Wagner
Graduate School of Public Service at New
York University. He oversees student
and program services, career services, and
the Capstone program. He teaches
Wagner’s “Composing Your Career”
workshop, and he contributed to The
Idealist Guide to Nonprof‌i t Careers
and The Idealist Guide to Nonprof‌i t
Careers for Sector Switchers. He
received his master’s degree in public
administration from NYU Wagner and
a bachelor of f‌i ne arts from NYU’s Tisch
School of the Arts.
Sherry Glied is dean of New York
University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate
School of Public Service. She served as
assistant secretary for planning and
evaluation in the Department of Health
and Human Services from 2010 to 2012.
Previously, she was professor of health
policy and management in the Mailman
School of Public Health at Columbia
University. She holds a PhD in economics
from Harvard University.
Sherry Glied
David R. Schachter
New York University
Anne Mette Kjeldsen’s analysis of public service
motivation, which divides Danish public
service employee motivation between service
production (or service delivery) and service regula-
tion (or policy), provides a welcome expansion of the
existing literature on the motivations of public service
staf‌f and how experience reshapes their predilections
over time. Our experience supports her f‌i ndings and
suggests that her framework misses a critical third
dimension of public service career choice in the
United States.
Kjeldsen f‌i nds that students who begin in service
production are often drawn to service regulation over
time. In our experience, we have found that a substan-
tial share of current and future public service employ-
ees are motivated to pursue a public service career by a
direct, often personal, encounter with a societal need
in a particular f‌i eld. Students initially associate this
experience with a desire to provide services themselves
and begin their work lives with an experience in
direct service delivery in that f‌i eld—for example, as a
classroom teacher, Peace Corps volunteer, or homeless
shelter worker. Consistent with Kjeldsen’s f‌i ndings,
this experience of service delivery often leads to a shift
in the student’s focus toward an interest in service
In a sense, these career trajectories ref‌l ect a process of
maturation, of expanding lenses. Students begin with
their own personal experience, pursue initial opportu-
nities that help other identif‌i able individuals, and then
move to the more abstract exercise of developing the
management systems and policies that frame service
ree-Part Harmony

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