GMI - Review of Motivation Research

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GMI - Review of Motivation Research
It's Behaviour Stupid

Motivation - A Review

It is widely accepted that motivation has the potential to influence three aspects of our behaviour – choice, persistence and effort. Put simply, motivation determines what we do, how long we are willing to do it for and how hard we are willing to work on it. In the past, these forces were considered as trait i.e. what motivates us is ‘hard-wired’, fairly stable and enduring over time. More recently however, motivation has been thought of as more changeable, something Dörnyei (2001) refers to as a ‘changing cumulative arousal’. The
variable nature of this more recent conception of Motivation suggests it is open to influence from the environment, or Climate, and can be impacted therefore by the behaviour of other individuals.

Motivation has been heavily researched, particularly over the latter half of the past century. Indeed, one third of the space in published industrial-organisational psychology journals was occupied by motivation research by the end of the 20th century1. Many theories have been proposed, some with little success, but several core themes have received consistent support. Each of these will be discussed in turn followed by the key levers we can identify from this research for improving motivation at work. It will become more obvious over the next section that motivation is not all about money! The themes can be broadly divided into two categories – content theories, or what motivates, and process theories, or how/why the ‘whats’ motivate.

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