Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 15 October 2016

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

When people talk about motivations in work place, relative merits of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards have been put under spotlight. In the middle of 20th century, some researchers found that sometimes people do something without apparent rewards. These observation suggested that such engagement is inherently enjoyable and satisfying. This type of motivation was intrinsic motivation(Hunt, 1965). Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside of an individual rather than external rewards.

Extrinsic motivation refers to financial rewards, developmental rewards and social rewards which all associated with the job that employee does. Some people argue that intrinsic rewards are the most important motivators in work place. Others hold the opinion that external motivation is more powerful. This article will illustrate the effectiveness of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Find out which one is more important when motivating employees. As a result of this study, it is found that both intrinsic incentives and extrinsic incentives are important in motivating employees.

However, intrinsic motivation seems more powerful when affecting employees in course of creativity and quality of their work. Intrinsic motivation is the energy source that motivate employees do more jobs. People with intrinsic motivation tend to excel and perform better in their tasks. Because they feel happy and satisfied with challenges and uncertainty. In other words, intrinsic motivation comes from the interests of organism. When people willing to undertake tasks, they are self-motivated by obtain goals and this will lead to a higher quality of their work compared to tasks finished by people who motivated by extrinsic incentives.

As Kohn (1993) said in his article, why incentive plans cannot work, he pointed out that employees may see financial incentives as bribe. When employers required employees to do something with payment, there must be something employees would not want to do. Further, he argued as intrinsic incentives are genuine motivators, pay bribes could lead employees lose their intrinsic interest and reduce the quality of work. Take an example, the observation and survey I did was in a small scale accounting firm. There are 2 CPA and 14 audit assistants. They are divided into 2 teams. Each CPA lead 7 assistants.

One of the CPA, loves auditing very much. He is very passioned and enthusiasm in his work. Some assistants have affected by the CPA and they found their job is enjoyable. So they are willing to learn new things in woke and happy to solve problems in work. The whole team make the work quality very high. The other team was lead by a CPA who is not very interested in auditing, She was forced to do auditing under the pressure of her parents. Also, she if reluctant to do her job and always finish them just vetoer the deadline. Members in her team feel the negative emotion, so they lost their intrinsic interests of auditing.

Obviously, the second CPA cannot do job well. People develop different type of reaction in different situations. McShan, Olekalns and Travaglione( ) have developed a model shows the relationship between individual’s self-concept (here we can see it as intrinsic motivation) and decisions and behavior. This model illustrated that intrinsic motivations are the prime source of employee motivation. Further more, employees with intrinsic motivations are not easily give up or loose faith, some supervisors are glad to help with improving employees internal interests because self-motivated does not need constant supervision.

Another evidence shows intrinsic motivation more powerful than extrinsic motivation to employees is in the field of creativity. Under the theory of extrinsic motivation, when employees are rewards to do something, they will only demonstrate the type of works which will attract rewards. Any other behavior, including creativity behavior, are likely to be ignored (Kohn, ). A famous theory of human motivation is Maslow’s needs hierarchy theory. There are five categories in the hierarchy. The highest two levels are esteem and self-actualisaton which can be seen as people are motivated to pursue their potential.

Osterloh and Frey (2000) argued that in tasks of creativity, intrinsic motivation becomes crucially important. Also, a Nobel prize winner Arthur Schawlow (Amabile, 1997)said,”The motivation to work on something because it is interesting, involving, exciting, satisfying, or intrinsic motivated, rather than extrinsically motivated by expected valuation. ” A study of “grassroots” innovators in India has been made in 2010 by Saradindu and Hemant. They collect innovators’ information across 17 states of India and tried to evaluate the motivation of these innovators.

They identified four key indicators of intrinsic motivation: joy of work, confidence, autonomy and duty. Key indicators of extrinsic motivations are rewards, property rights, business gain and competitive pressures. To understand how these motivators work in innovation process, they categorized a innovation process into three stages: idea generation, experimentation and application of diffusion. The result shows that 29% innovators are purely extrinsic motivated in the three stages of innovation. 50% innovators are purely intrinsic motivated in three stages. 21% innovators are mixed.

Take a deeper look, 55% innovators are intrinsic motivated at the idea generation stage. The statistics confirmed that intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic motivation at creativity stage. Intrinsic motivation not only helps scientific creativity, also helps business creativity as well. Srarting from 2 young men working in garage, Apple computer become a $2 billion dollar company with over 4000 employees. Steve Jobs showed his unbelievable talent in creating new ideas for Mac. All efforts and intends he put in his innovation, tied to his intrinsic motivation closely.

As Amabile(1997) said, maintain creativity depends on maintain intrinsic motivation. Do what you love and love what you do. People affected by intrinsic motivation, also influenced by extrinsic motivation. As demonstrated previously, in the India survey, there are still a remarkable portion of innovators were motivated by extrinsic incentives, especially in implication stage. It is undeniable that extrinsic incentives provide people with basis needs like money or vacations. Remember in the hierarchy theory of Maslow, the base of the employees’ needs os physiological needs. Extrinsic motivations are external to the job itself.

It may include wages, bonus, vacations, promotions, opportunity to training. Companies are able to pay employees to reward them doing the right job and not reward them for unwanted jobs. Further, companies are able to pay employees a premium to improve productivity. A wage premium can enhance productivity by improving involvement and commitment of employees, and reduce quit tares or problems caused by turnover, attracting higher quality workers and encouraging them put more efforts in work (Goldsmith, Veum and Darity, 2000) Why sometimes we say extrinsic motivation is more important than intrinsic motivation?

Because it is not always possible for all people to be intrinsically motivation about everything. This is why sometimes extrinsic motivation more valuable. Verdenburgh, Mcleod and Nebeker (1999) did a research between a number of employees and students. There are six steps in the research, first select a job and then develop tasks associated with the job. After that, select intrinsic and extrinsic incentives. Then select appropriateness of reward. The last two steps are creating vignette and complete the survey.

Result of this survey shows that if the extrinsic rewards is inappropriate, the task attractiveness will decrease. We could see from there that extrinsic incentives have a influence on people’s choose when they choose their work. This phenomenon happens in some factories with high ratio of employees turnover. When employees found the job not interesting, the factory may suffer a low productivity. In order to meet staffs’ needs and maintain labour force, organizations may try to five them extrinsic rewards, like give them a higher salary and more vocations.

Someone said intrinsic motivation may help in long term where people love to do what they want and explore more things. However, if we see this in a different way, we could find out that, actually, intrinsic motivation is the base for long-term developing. Without the support from extrinsic incentives, employees may feel demotivated. Ellis, Arendt, Strohben, Meyer and Paez (2010) did a research and found that sometimes employees are willing to perform varies more for extrinsic motivation than for intrinsic motivation. There are several reasons for employees value extrinsic motivation more important tham intrinsic motivation.

Despite the physiological needs we discussed last paragraph, Perceived Supervisor Support (PSS) is a kind of extrinsic motivation for employees. Pepe(2010) claimed that, there is a positive relationship between PSS and employees commitment and satisfaction. Employees in a environment with help and concerns from supervisors and peers feel they are welcoming. According to Maslow’s hierarchy, there is a level called belonging. If employees are under the care of others, they feel they are needed by others, thus they will put more effort in the job.

They will feel satisfied and be more commitment. Commitment leads to maintain employees in the organization (Meyer, Allen 1991). Employees will find work interesting as long as they get promised rewards. On the contrary, if they get inadequate rewards, although the are interested in the work, without material support, they may lose their enthusiasm and end-up their work. A successful management should not separate intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Finding a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation means on a right track leads to more utilities.

Hammer and Foster (1975) found that the combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation could enhance employees performance. There are many successful companies in the world, there are many employees in the companies, how can these companies make employees more productivity, creativity and loyalty? Not all the employees love the fields they are working in. What if a company can motivate its employees with extrinsic incentives and develop intrinsic motivation in the mean time. A good example is Google Company. Not all Google employees love technology.

Near half of them go to Google with the goal that to find a job and earn some money. Nearly the other half employees work in Google because they really like be an IT man. Google provide many multifunctional offices and many other different benefits for its employees. Employees who have internal interesting in technology found this work place attractive, they can show their talent and be creative in the field. For employees who have value external incentives more important found Google company five them benefits and rewards which make them feel satisfied with the job and they are willing to involve more in the job.

Also, employees will be more productively if they are motivated. As Teresa (1997) proposed a new conceptualization of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in work place, she mentioned that such combination will lead to high level of employees satisfaction and performances. Conclusion This article has demonstrated and compared intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. People with intrinsic motivation feel more interested in their work, they are more satisfied and always with low turnover rate.

However, intrinsic motivation does not mean people do not seek rewards. Extrinsic rewards provide employees with incentives outside the job. Intrinsic motivation is helpful with enhance work quality, employees who interested in the job will pay more attention to the job no matter with rewards or not. Also, intrinsic motivation influence creativity of employees, Statistics show that people with intrinsic motivation are more willing to take the challanges and uncertainty of their works than employees with extrinsic motivation.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 15 October 2016

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