Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation in the Workplace

Topics: Motivation, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Job satisfaction Pages: 16 (4958 words) Published: January 10, 2011

In his foreword to Work in America, Elliot Richardson included the following quote from Richard Nixon's 1971 Labor Day Address: In our quest for a better environment, we must always remember that the most important part of the quality of life is the quality of work, and the new need for job satisfaction is the key to the quality of work.^ Although some might question the belief that work is a central life force, the statement does serve to illustrate the great amount of attention that working life has recently received. The growing concern for meaningful work, due largely to the accumulation of evidence that the quality of working life is poor for many blue-collar, clerical, professional and managerial employees, has persuaded an increasing number of academicians and managers to investigate what can be done to make work a more personally satisfying experience. While the concept of meaningful work appeals to the humanitarian instincts of most managers, their primary concern continues to be productivity; in

terms of human resources, their focus is on how to promote efl'ective work behavior. In an attempt to integrate the two seemingly divergent themes of meaningful work and productivity many firms have adopted an organization development (OD) approach, which encourages managers to take the steps necessary to create an organizational climate that can sustain a high level of individual needs (job) satisfaction and concurrently support the organization's requirements for effectiveness. STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE WORK BEHAVIOR

Two Strategies have received widespread acclaim for their abihty to create a work situation that is capable of integrating individual and organizational objectives. The first strategy is based on the assumption that workers are motivated by intrinsic rewards, also known as job content variables or motivators, and is the approach taken by the proponents of job design/enrichment. The second basic strategy assumes that workers respond more readily to extrinsic rewards, also known as job context or hygiene variables, and argues that they will be productive

For the last fifteen years the leading advocate of intrinsic motivation has been Frederick Herzberg.^ Herzberg's two-factor theory of motivation states that there are two rather distinct sets of job-related variables: job content variables, or motivators, and job context, or hygiene, variables. The motivators include achievement, recognition, interesting (challenging) work, responsibility, advancement and growth in competence. These need satisfiers are intrinsic to the job, meaning needs are satisfied through performance of the work itself. The hygiene variables are extrinsic to the job, meaning they are not necessarily related to job performance. They include company policy and administration, the worker's relationship with his boss and peers, working conditions, salary and Fringe benefits. The key to applying Herzberg's theory of motivation is his contention that it is the motivators that are primarily responsible for increasing job satisfaction and performance. If the hygiene variables are not present in sufficient quantity to meet workers' expectations, the result will be a highly dissatisfied work force. However, if they meet or even Continued on Page 4.


Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Rewards: Resolving the Controversy

if factors such as working conditions, pay and fringe benefits, job security and work rules are provided in sufficient amounts to warrant their best efforts. One of the reasons that the question of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation continues to be hotly debated is that there is not substantial support for either side. The debate is often more emotional than rational; arguments are frequently based on personal experience (a single case study) and "seasoned judgement." The purpose of this article is to...
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