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Does Motivation Trigger Autonomy, or Vice Versa?

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  • Kameliia Petrova

    (Boston College)

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    Abstract

    Do firms use autonomy to motivate workers, or do they give autonomous jobs to workers who are already especially motivated? A standard result in economics is that firms offer autonomous jobs to promote worker motivation. But surprisingly, little attention has been given to the details of this practice of giving autonomy to especially motivated workers. In contrast, findings from social psychology demonstrate that how people handle new information is closely related to what motivates them. Does autonomy in fact trigger motivation? I argue in this study that motivation may trigger autonomy, and thus that firms may benefit from screening for intrinsically motivated workers. I assume that workers differ in their degree of motivation, and that motivated workers have a lower cost of processing information than unmotivated ones. While motivated workers concentrate on searching for available information, unmotivated ones focus on ignoring certain information as irrelevant. Therefore, firms would gain efficiency from giving the more motivated workers a higher degree of autonomy. This link between autonomy and motivation also has implications for non-monetary aspects of the job, such as forms of leadership style and job design.

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    File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/game/papers/0510/0510004.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Game Theory and Information with number 0510004.

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    Length: 27 pages
    Date of creation: 10 Oct 2005
    Date of revision: 13 Oct 2005
    Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:0510004

    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 27
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    Web page: http://128.118.178.162

    Related research

    Keywords: Incentives; motivation; job-design; tasks and authoirity;

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    1. Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2002. "Psychological foundations of incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 687-724, May.
    2. Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1999. "Informal Authority in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 56-73, April.
    3. James J. Heckman, 1977. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," NBER Working Papers 0177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Scholarly Articles 4554125, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2003. "Signaling and Screening of Workers' motivation," CESifo Working Paper Series 1099, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Kevin Murdock, 2002. "Intrinsic Motivation and Optimal Incentive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 650-671, Winter.
    7. Frey, Bruno S., 1997. "On the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic work motivation1," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 427-439, July.
    8. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-55, September.
    9. Roland Benabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520, 07.
    10. Jan Zabojnik, 2002. "Centralized and Decentralized Decision Making in Organizations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 1-22, January.
    11. Kreps, David M, 1997. "Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 359-64, May.
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