This page has been left blank intentionally

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation


Retooling organizations toward new imaginative mindsets, requires us to revisit existing theories and frameworks of intrinsic motivation, explore their validity in the age of new value and co-creation, and synthesize a new framework that captures the changes in the mindsets of individuals and organizations. Employee motivation is one of the prerequisites of a successful business, and one of the mysteries that organizational scientists have been concerned with for decades. A principal in an organization expects employees to be engaged and dedicated to the activity that they perform. Quite often, however, this engagement is not deep, with both parties falling pray to a duality in behaviors, in which what they think they do is different from what they actually do, and why they do it. Chris Argyris1 calls the behaviors based on publicly declared beliefs an espoused theory or action, and notes that they may be substantially different from the theory in use—or the set of the actual behaviors that manifest themselves in the periods of stress. With this he makes a case that a motivation gap exists and is typical in conventional organizations. Organizational psychologists look at the inherent employee motivation from the perspective of the adoption of what is good for the organization, into the value system of the individual. Most often this is achieved through extrinsic motivation, together with some conditions intended to internalize and align external regulations, with the internal behaviors. Ryan and Deci[1] [2] define intrinsic motivation as doing an activity for its inherent satisfaction, rather than for some separable outcome. In contrast, extrinsic motivation is defined as a construct that applies when an activity is performed for its instrumental value, rather than simply the enjoyment of the process. The authors further introduce a taxonomy of human motivation (see Figure 9.1), based on the internalization of the reward, and argue that given certain conditions of operation, an individual

A taxonomy of human motivation

Figure 9.1 A taxonomy of human motivation

can internalize external regulation such that it is either adopted, identified or integrated into the self.

This adoption covers all activities performed with the feeling of pressure in order to avoid guilt or anxiety, or to achieve higher self-esteem and a feeling of worth. Identification describes the association of external goals with the internal value system, such that an individual accepts its regulation as his or her own. Integration occurs when external regulations have been fully assimilated into the self. An example of a fully integrated regulation is a child doing his homework meticulously, because he believes that it will allow him to get a better job in the future.

The framework is focused on the external behaviors and extrinsic motivations. It deals with the duality in behaviors by the internalization of extrinsic regulation, molding the individuals according to the needs of the organization. This is not surprising since it is the most obvious course of action for any leader or organization scientist, observing the phenomena of duality from the outside, and in the boundaries of traditional organizations. From this point of view there is no doubt that the espoused theory of action has to be made manifest, while the theory in use has to be suppressed or introjected with the generally accepted and externally regulated ways of being.

In the taxonomy above, very little attention is given to intrinsic motivation and its value in organizations. Intrinsic motivation becomes unavoidable given the networked nature of the contemporary business environment, and the exponential growth in complexity of problems that the employees have to resolve. Recent studies[3] suggest that purely extrinsic rewards set through 'if-then' conditions do not result in increased productivity, when it comes to problems that require significant amounts of cognition. In these circumstances, organizations have to realize the multi-dimensional nature of the problem, and seek ways to tap into the additional creative and cognitive powers of employees.

A signal of a change in perspective about the role of employee motivation is the work of Amabile,[4] who identified two types of extrinsic motivation: synergistic (motivations that are informational or enabling) and non-synergistic (motivations that are controlling).

Synergistic extrinsic motivation can support and enhance intrinsic motivation, by allowing individuals to stay persistent with the activity over prolonged periods of time. A scientific research project is an example of intrinsic and synergistic motivations in action: the exploratory activities are pleasurable, and therefore intrinsically motivating, while the overarching goal of making a scientific discovery is synergistically motivating, which helps get over some of the mundane tasks, such as data entry or journaling. Lack of control from the principal/manager reduces non-synergistic motivations. Amabile recognizes the need to leverage intrinsic motivation, suggesting synergistic motivation as the means to increase employee engagement with the activity.

Deeper understanding of the nature of intrinsic motivation, cognitive, behavioral and educational processes associated with it, and the means to leverage it in organizations are paramount. The objective of this chapter is to create a framework and taxonomy of motivation focused on the expansion of the self, through engagement in intrinsically motivating activities and based on the natural individual propensity to learn. The framework is intended to:

  • • Reduce the duality in behaviors by marrying the external espoused theory of action with the actualized and accepted internally driven theory in use.
  • • Improve the quality of engagement for the benefit of organizations, and job satisfaction for the benefit of the employees.
  • • Increase cognitive, emotional, and the physical potential of employees and directing it toward the resolution of complex problems and the co-creation of value in organizations.

  • [1] Argyris, C. (1994). 'Good communication that blocks learning.' Harvard Business Review, 72(July-August), 77-85.
  • [2] Ryan, R.M. and Deci, E.L. (2000). 'Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions andnew directions.' Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54-67.
  • [3] Ariely, D., Gneezy, U., Loewenstein, G. and Mazar, N. (2009). 'Large stakes and big mistakes.' Review of Economic Studies, 76, 451-69.
  • [4] Amabile, T.M. (1998). 'How to kill creativity.' Harvard Business Review, 76(6), 76-87.
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >