On motivation and work incentives
- “Drive: the surprising truth of what motivates us” by Daniel Pink
- TED talk on motivation by Daniel Pink
- TED talk on buggy moral codes, by Dan Ariely
Extrinsic vs Intrinsic
Extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation, definitions and examples. Evidence of extrinsic motivators interfering with intrinsic motivation. Examples
- Lepper and Greene studies on painting children (1974). See also Koestner, Ryan, Bernieri (1984)
- 1999 Deci meta-analysis, 128 experiments confirm the effect of rewards on intrinsic motivation
- 1993 Alfie Kohn book: Punished by rewards
- Teresa Amabile, Harvard Business School. 23 professional artists. Commissioned and non-commissioned work. Judged on creativity and technical skill. No difference on technical skill. Creativity reduced in comissioned work.
“Not always, but a lot of the time, when you are doing a piece for someone else it becomes more work than joy. When I work for myself there is the pure joy of creating, and I can work through the night and not even know it. On a commissioned piece you have to check yourself be careful to do what the client wants.”
“It is those who are least motivated to pursue extrinsic rewards who eventually receive them.”
- ROWE: results only work environment
The role of if-then motivators
- 1970, british sociologist Richard Titmuss, on blood donation. Paying would reduce the donations hypothesis. Tested in sweden. 153 participants, split into 3 groups. no reward: 52% donation, monetary reward: 30%, monetary reward with charity option: 50%. Italian government introduced paid time off work, donations increased.
- Dan Ariely MIT students experiment, and experiment for Federal Reserve System, in Madurai, India. India: 87 participants. Small reward (daily wage), medium reward (2 weeks wage), high reward (5 months wage). 9 tasks. Tennis ball at the target, anscrambling anagrams, recalling a string of digits, creativity, concentration.
- 2009 study by London School of Economics, 51 studies of corporate pay-for-performance plans.
“We find that financial incentives…can result in a negative impact on overall performance.”
“Our experiment suggests… that one cannot assume that introducing or raising incentives always improves performance. Indeed, in many instances, contingent incentives that conerstone of how businesses attempt to motivate employees may be a loosing proposition.”
1930, Karl Duncker candle experiment (a candle, some tacks, and a book of matches. Sam Glucksberg, psychologist from Princeton University. Functional fixedness – inability to see something beyond what it’s obvious function is.
When if-then motivators work well? For repetitive, algorithmic tasks, following an existing formula to its logical conclusions.
In tasks where narrow focus helps. Extrinsic motivators narrow our focus, help in performing tasks better.
Adjusted managment style
- Autonomy: a desire to direct our own lives
- Mastery: a desire to get better, to be more skilled
- Purpose: a desire to do something that matters, yearning to do something bigger than ourselves
Traditional management style: designed to enforce compliance. Not good to provide engagement.