An inside story –
is self-determination the key?
Anders Dysvik
Handelshøyskolen BI
Anders Dysvik
• Førsteamanuensis, PhD, i organisasjonspsykologi ved
Handelshøyskolen BI
• En rekke internasjonale publikasjoner innenfor HRM
• Reviewer for flere internasjonale tidskrifter
• Krigsskole, operativ linje fra Luftforsvaret
• 10 års ledererfaring og opptatt av HR i praksis
• Mye brukt som foredragsholder og rådgiver for
offentlige og private virksomheter
Why work motivation?
• Work motivation theories differ in operationalization and
scope and exist in numerous forms.
• But share the quest for explaining how employees are
energized towards learning, performing and well-being at
work (Sheldon, Turban, Brown, Barrick, & Judge, 2003).
• Could we gain from integrating work motivation theories?
• Theories acknowledging the interplay between individuals
and their work environment is well suited for integration
into a more coherent and practically relevant whole (e.g.
Kanfer, 2009).
Self-determination theory
• Recognizes the interplay between individuals
and the work environment.
• Motivation depends on individual perceptions
• Autonomous versus controlled motivation.
• Intrinsic motivation: autonomous motivation
in its purest form
– the motivation to perform an activity for itself in
order to experience the pleasure and satisfaction
inherent in the activity (Deci, Connell, & Ryan,
Perceived training
opportunities, turnover
intention and work
Perceived investment in
employee development and
work performance
Perceived job autonomy
and work performance
Achievement goals
and work performance
Dysvik, A., & Kuvaas, B. (2008).
The relationship between perceived
training opportunities, work motivation
and employee outcomes. International
Journal of Training and Development, 12,
Selected for Best Paper Proceedings at the 2008 Annual
Meeting of the Academy of Management in Anaheim, CA
Perceived training opportunities
and intrinsic motivation
• Training is a potent tool for knowledge and skill acquirement
(e.g. Arthur et al., 2003) and related to organizational
performance (Tharenou et al., 2007).
• Training may also facilitate prosocial motivation (Shore et al.,
• High levels of perceived training opportunities (PTO) should also
facilitate intrinsic motivation when employees
– Are encouraged to seek challenges optimal for their capacities and to attempt
persistently maintenance of skills
– Perceive the training opportunities to be high
– Perceive a supportive work environment in terms of the provision of training
• Findings:
– PTO positively related to intrinsic motivation
– The relationship between PTO and facets of self-reported work performance
and turnover intention fully or partially mediated by intrinsic motivation
Kuvaas, B., & Dysvik, A. (2009).
Perceived investment in employee
development, intrinsic motivation and
work performance. Human Resource
Management Journal, 19, 217-236
Presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the
Academy of Management in Chicago, IL
Perceived investment in employee
development and intrinsic motivation
• Perceived investment in employee development
(PIED) an antecedent for prosocial motivation.
• According to social exchange theory, it should also
relate positively to work performance.
• More to this relationship than mere reciprocation?
• Findings
– Intrinsic motivation fully mediated the relationship
between PIED and self-reported work effort across three
– Intrinsic motivation moderated the relationship
between PIED and self-reported OCB across three
Antecedents for prosocial motivation
and intrinsic motivation
There is more to prosocial motivation than ”a felt obligation
to reciprocate”, and intrinsic motivation seems to be the
Combined, social exchange theory and SDT provide a more
thorough explanation than they do separately.
The consequent moderation for OCB suggest that
employees high in intrinsic motivation respond more
broadly in response to PIED, in acting as ”missionaries”
 Similar findings with respect to perceived training
opportunities (PTO) (Dysvik & Kuvaas, 2008)
PIED (and prosocial motivation in general) less relevant for
explaining elevated levels of work quality from a static
Dysvik, A., & Kuvaas, B. (Submitted,
under review). Meeting the standard,
liking for the task, or both? The integral
role of achievement goals and intrinsic
motivation as predictors of in-role and
contextual performance
Achievement goals
and intrinsic motivation
Achievement goal theory (AGT) and SDT emphasize individual
competence and autonomy perceptions as important for
predicting individual performance (Elliot, 2005; Gagné & Deci,
 Learned preference versus situational perceptions
Increased understanding of how these motivational sources
relate to work performance may be gained by integrating them.
Dynamic process that evolve over time, yet lack of longitudinal
studies for both theories.
Main finding:
 Intrinsic motivation partially mediates the relationship
between mastery-approach goals (T1) and self-reported inrole and contextual performance (T2)
Dysvik, A., & Kuvaas, B. (In press).
Intrinsic motivation as a moderator on
the relationship between perceived job
autonomy and work performance.
Accepted for publication in European
Journal of Work and Organizational
Perceived job autonomy
and intrinsic motivation
Perceived job autonomy (PJA) a salient predictor for a range of
positive outcomes, including work performance (e.g.
Humphrey et al., 2007), and current motivational models
suggest PJA facilitate intrinsic motivation (Hackman &
Oldham, 1976; Gagné & Deci, 2005).
Could intrinsic motivation moderate the relationship between
PJA and work performance with respect to actually seizing
opportunities provided by job autonomy?
Main finding:
 A more positive relationship between PJA and both selfreported and line manager rated work quality for
employees higher in intrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation
seems to be the key
• Adds explanatory power to theories of
prosocial motivation and achievement goals.
• Remains a robust predictor of relevant work
outcomes (i.e. work performance and
turnover intention) in 9 different study
samples among more than 2900 employees.
• Novel observations on the relationships
between autonomy, intrinsic motivation and
Selected references
Deci, E. L., Connell, J. P., & Ryan, R. M. (1989). Self-determination in a work organization.
Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 580-590
Elliot, A. J. (2005). A conceptual history of the achievement goal constructs. In A. J. Elliot &
C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 52-72). New York: The
Guilford Press.
Gagné, M., & Deci, E. L. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of
Organizational Behavior, 26, 331-362
Humphrey, S. E., Nahrgang, J. D., & Morgeson, F. P. (2007). Integrating motivational, social
and contextual work design features: A meta-analytic summary and theoretical extension of
the work design literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1332-1356
Kanfer, R. (2009). Work motivation: Identifying use-inspired research directions. Industrial
and Organizational Psychology, 2, 77-93
Sheldon, K. M., Turban, D. B., Brown, K. G., Barrick, M. R., & Judge, T. A. (2003). Applying
self-determination theory to organizational research. In J. J. Martocchio & G. R. Ferris (Eds.),
Research in Personnel and Human Resource Management (Vol. 22, pp. 357-393): Elsevier.
Shore, L. M., Tetrick, L. E., Lynch, P., & Barksdale, K. (2006). Social and economic exchange:
Construct development and validation. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36, 837-867

Handbook of competence and motivation