Increasing motivation and performance. Evidence from the misleading use of rewards in the public sector


  • Alessandro Spano University of Cagliari
  • Patrizio Monfardini Department of Economic and Business Sciences - University of Cagliari
  • Benedetta Bellò Office For National Statistics - UK


monetary and non-monetary rewards, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, performance, local governments



This paper investigates the use of monetary and non-monetary rewards in the public sector and explores their relationship with managers' performance and motivation.

Design methodology approach

A questionnaire had been administered to a sample of public sector managers of all Italian municipalities with over 50,000 inhabitants. We randomly selected 30% of the population and we received 240 usable questionnaires (response rate of about 40%). Motivation has been measured on the framework of SDT with 3 items for each dimension (intrinsic and extrinsic) tested on a five-point Likert scale. We measured performance with 3 items tested on a five-point Likert scale. To test the relationships among the variables, a confirmatory factor analysis has been performed.


Existing monetary rewards seem not to be associated with job quality, extrinsic motivation, and intrinsic motivation. Job quality is positively related to verbal recognition for performance.

Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are both positively related to being given more autonomy/power, and extrinsic motivation also to being involved in the definition of objectives for the following year, as non-monetary rewards.


Reward systems are widely considered one of the cornerstones of the managerialized public sector. Though, robust studies investigating the actual rewarding practices and the effectiveness of monetary and non-monetary incentives are still limited.

Author Biography

Alessandro Spano, University of Cagliari

Associate professor, Dept. Economics and Business Sciences, University of Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy




How to Cite

Spano, A., Monfardini, P., & Bellò, B. (2024). Increasing motivation and performance. Evidence from the misleading use of rewards in the public sector. International Public Management Review, 23(1), 28–48. Retrieved from