Culture of Intrinsic Motivation LO10123
Mon, 23 Sep 1996 06:38:30 +1200 (NZST)

Replying to LO10107 --

Rol Fessenden wrote:

"I would hypothesize that the organization is a secondary factor compared
to the 'relevance' and 'importance' of the work as perceived by the

I think this is absolutely right. The crucial issue is whether the work is
viewed as socially meaningful. Our experience is that the perception of
meaningfulness has less to do with what the activity is than it has to do
with the articulation of purpose (vision). By this I mean that while it is
easy to define a social service as socially useful, it is also possible
for manufacturing and other purely commercial organizations.

In our research experience the key is the attitude towards profit. If the
organizational culture says 'This organization exists for the bottom line
profit', then that view is likely to be reflected in the behaviour of the
management, and employees in general are unlikely to be intrinsically

But if the culture says "This organization exists to ......(make the life
of families easier (washing machines); transform the way the world
communicates (telecommunications); transform human access to information
(Microsoft)), and in order to keep on doing that we need the lifeblood of
profit." then we are more likely to find intrinsically motivated

The important paradox here is that in a world where the knowledge and
innovative dynamism of employees is the key source of added value the more
a firm emphasizes profit as an end in itself, the less likely it is to
make one. There is a similar paradox for employees - the more an employee
works out of the view 'I only come here for the pay' the less likely s/he
is to keep on receiving any.

Phillip Capper
New Zealand


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