I can't remember much of this, I read it pre 1992 in the UK. It was either a novella length or a slim book.
What I recall.. Protagonist arrived on a planet, he may have been an envoy or a troubleshooter, I think his role was to get the population to transplant to another world - maybe to demolish the existing one but I'm unsure about that.
The planet has been home, for several generations, to hardy pioneers despite extensive volcanic activity and earthquakes. Their motto, repeated on posters/banners everywhere, is "The old man says dig". (The old man is their name for the planetary leader)
The protagonist learns they spend most of the time basically 'stitching their world together' - I think that phrase was used in the story. They are forever digging out for continent wide concrete reinforcements to the world's crust.
He is stymied when they refuse to transfer to a paradise-like planet that has been chosen for them by the Galactic Council, flat out refusals everywhere. He spends a lot of time trawling inns and taverns to get an understanding of why, then he realises the reason is they're accustomed to this daily battle.
He contacts the Council and then pitches a new proposal to the population, he tells them of another world where life is an even tougher struggle and mocks their prowess on their volcano planet as scratches only compared to the new rough planet.
Stiff necked pride asserts itself and as one they volunteer to take on this harder challenge. Their old man will now say dig harder