Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 161, Issue 3, pp 653–664 | Cite as

BAME Staff and Public Service Motivation: The Mediating Role of Perceived Fairness in English Local Government

  • Wen WangEmail author
  • Roger Seifert
Original Paper


This study aims to examine the perceptions of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff in English local government on the ethical nature of their treatment at work, and its mediating effect on their Public Service Motivation (PSM). This is a particular imperative in a sector which itself delivers social justice within a strong regulatory system designed to ensure workplace equality and therefore is expected to be a model employer for other organisations. Employees place great importance on their fair treatment by their employers and, in particular, the endeavour of managerial authority to implement equality at work based on their discretionary powers. 2580 valid responses were collected from 15,000 questionnaires sent to staff in five local councils in England. Our analyses show that BAME employees have a significantly stronger PSM than their white colleagues; however, this has been eroded by their perception of unfair treatment: being underpaid allied with a lack of effort from management to ensure an equal work environment, to be specific, to prevent discrimination, bullying, and racism at workplace. Most importantly, the perceived exertion made by management to ensure an equal work environment has a significantly strong mediating effect on PSM and a compensational effect on perceived lower pay. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


BAME Public service motivation Fair pay Equal Work Environment UK 



This study was funded by UNISON.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Wolverhampton Business SchoolUniversity of WolverhamptonWolverhamptonUK

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