Department of Political Science

Managing employee motivation: Exploring the connections between managers' enforcement actions, employee perceptions, and employee intrinsic motivation

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal article

A number of studies show that the use of external interventions, such as command systems and economic incentives, can decrease employee intrinsic motivation. Our knowledge of why the size of “the hidden cost of rewards” differs between organizations is, however, still sparse. In this paper, we analyze whether local managers—the primary enforcers of external interventions—affect how employees perceive a command system and thereby affect employee intrinsic motivation. Using a multilevel dataset of 1,190 teachers and 32 school principals, we test whether principals’ use of “hard”, “mixed” or “soft” enforcement of a command system (obligatory teacher-produced student plans) is associated with teacher intrinsic motivation. Results show that teachers experiencing a “hard” enforcement have lower intrinsic motivation than teachers experiencing a “soft” enforcement. As expected by motivation crowding theory, part of this association is mediated by teachers’ perceptions of the command. These findings support the motivation crowding argument that employee intrinsic motivation depend on the employees’ need for self-determination.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Public Management Journal
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)183-205
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2017

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