The Impact of Management Control on Employee Motivation and Performance in the Public Sector

Berend van der Kolk*, Paula M. G. Van Veen-Dirks, Henk J. ter Bogt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
2042 Downloads (Pure)


This study examines the relations among various types of management control, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and performance in the public sector. We draw on motivation crowding theory and self-determination theory to argue that four different types of management control (i.e. personnel, cultural, action, and results control) are likely to have an influence on intrinsic motivation and/or extrinsic motivation. We test a structural equation model using survey data from 105 similar departments in the public sector. Our findings indicate that the use of personnel and cultural controls is positively associated with employees’ intrinsic motivation, and that the use of results controls is positively associated with employees’ extrinsic motivation. Moreover, both intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation are positively associated with performance. Taken together, these findings support the idea advocated by New Public Management proponents that results control can enhance employee motivation and performance in the public sector. However, the findings also highlight an essential nuance; in addition to results control, personnel and cultural controls are also important, as they enhance intrinsic motivation and performance. This implies that a sole focus on results control is too narrow and can lead to suboptimal levels of employee motivation and performance in the public sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-928
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Accounting Review
Issue number5
Early online date13-Dec-2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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