Offering NHS managers financial inducements to improve performance will not work and could be divisive, a study on motivating senior public servants has found.

Jane Steele, principal research fellow of the Public Management Foundation, interviewed more than 400 senior managers from the NHS, local authorities, the voluntary sector and the police.

She found that they have a high level of job satisfaction and a strong commitment to a public service ethos. If the government ignores this commitment or imposes systems to override it, there is a danger of undermining the service, says the study.

Public sector managers feel a 'great disparity' between what they see as their most important goals and sources of job satisfaction and the government's emphasis on performance and accountability.

Wasted Values. Public Management Foundation, 0171-278 1712.£13.90.