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Outcome-based theory of work motivation


  • Cardona, Pablo

    (IESE Business School)

  • Lawrence, Barbara S.

    (The Anderson Graduate School of Management)

  • Espejo, Alvaro

    (IESE Business School)


This paper introduces an outcome-based theory of work motivation. This theory focuses on the individual's expected consequences of his or her action. We identify four different types of expected consequences, or motives. These motives lead to four types of motivation: extrinsic, intrinsic, contributive, and relational. We categorize these outcomes using two criteria: the perceived locus of causality, which defines the origin of the motivation, and the perceived locus of consequence, which defines who receives the consequences of the action. Individuals generally act based on a combination of extrinsic, intrinsic, contributive, and relational motivations, each one having a particular weight. We use the term motivational profile to refer to the particular combination of an individual's motivations in a certain context. Individuals may experience conflict when different alternatives convey different expected consequences (or motives). Resolution of conflicts among motives results in motivational learning. Specifically, the resolution of conflicts among motives of the same type results in calculative learning. On the other hand, the resolution of conflicts among motives of different types results in evaluative learning. Evaluative learning implies a change in the individual's motivational profile.

Suggested Citation

  • Cardona, Pablo & Lawrence, Barbara S. & Espejo, Alvaro, 2003. "Outcome-based theory of work motivation," IESE Research Papers D/495, IESE Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0495

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Welbourne, T. & Mejia, L.G., 1995. "Gainsharing: A Critical Review and A Future Research Agenda," Papers 95-10, Cornell - Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guzman, Felipe A. & Espejo, Alvaro, 2015. "Dispositional and situational differences in motives to engage in citizenship behavior," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 208-215.

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    More about this item


    work motivation; locus causality; motivational profile; extrinsic motivation; intrinsic motivation; contributive motivation; relational motivation;
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