Employee Engagement Among Public Employees: Exploring the Role of the (Perceived) External Environment

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12 Scopus citations


While previous public management research has focused on how leadership, managerial behavior, job characteristics, and human resource management policies influence employee attitudes and behavior, we know little about the role of the external environment (both perceived and actual). By comparison, research on the external environment of public organizations has mostly focused on performance, organizational structure, and goal ambiguity. This article connects these two streams of research, develops a theoretical model to examine whether perceived environmental support (PES) influences employee engagement and considers the moderating roles of public opinion, media, and political salience. The findings suggest that PES does matter for the level of employee engagement and that this influence is moderated by political salience. This in turn has implications for how public organizations motivate their employees, manage their external reputations, and navigate their external environments. The paper ends with a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of the findings and limitations of the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-541
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • employee engagement
  • environment
  • media
  • public opinion
  • reputation
  • support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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