This paper aims to explain the career choice motivation of youngworkers in a non-Western setting, Vietnam. After witnessing thegreater role of the relatively small but competent bureaucracy inEast Asia, many have assumed that ‘pervasive and powerful’bureaucracy also occupies a similar prestigious position in therapidly growing Vietnam. For the past decade, however, decliningtalent acquisition in the public sector indicates that good qualityworkers are leaving or not choosing public sector jobs. What jobmotivators and perception on the government jobs affect theyounger generation’s career choice in Vietnam? Based on theclassic motivation theories and Public Service Motivation (PSM)framework, we surveyed fresh graduates and final year universitystudents (n = 433) and found that there is a positive relationshipbetween public career choice and motivation to serve the publicas PSM theory expected. Yet, our data show that traditional jobmotivators such as materialistic benefits, job security, and stabilitywere more important for the young Vietnamese. From acomparative perspective, this suggests that Vietnamesebureaucracy, regardless of its power and pervasiveness, needssubstantial improvement by meeting public workers’ basicsanitation needs and working environment to recruit qualitymanpower for continuous economic success.
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