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What Drives Politicians to Run for Office: Money, Fame or Public Service?


This is a multiple case study that investigates the motivations and ambitions of politicians who run for elections. It uses a mixed research design that applies inductive reasoning in the collection and analysis of data from six communities of rural Armenia. Data-collection instruments include in-depth interviews, focus groups, field observations and community survey. Whereas the study considers various theories of motivation and ambition, the conclusive evidence shows that the attractiveness of office at the local-government level in smaller rural communities is not driven by financial considerations and is rather compelled by the desire to make a difference motivated primarily by personal interest in and dedication to bringing positive change in the quality of life in one’s own community. The study also shows that motivators oft en stem from several other factors, including one’s deep-rooted connection with the community, lineage, length of term in office, record of community satisfaction, resultant personal power built over the years in service and the need to be acclaimed by one’s own community. A derivative closely linked to the priority of building the personal reputation of an incumbent mayor is the resultant power of decision-making. These conclusions can be explained using the model offered by Besley and Ghatak (2005) where politicians view public service as a personal mission. This study connects personal drive to sense of community and ancestral presence. The study also explains why mission accomplishment is more attractive than personal profit-making and how the sense of community and ownership are linked to personal drive.

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Sozialwissenschaften, Politikwissenschaften, Kommunale Politik und Verwaltung