The application of self-determination theory to employee motivation in Irish workplaces

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Sexton, John
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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The majority of work organisations equate motivation with money and other extrinsic rewards, however, Self-Determination Theory (SDT) offers a powerful perspective on how and why individuals are motivated. This study aimed to apply a variant of the SDT hypotheses to organisations in Ireland, one private and one public, in order to understand attitudes to motivation and help direct future action to improve employee performance and engagement. The results from a mixed-quantitative design showed that Autonomous Motivation predicted higher Job Satisfaction and Organisation Commitment in both companies, and greater Well-being in the Private Company. Additionally, Perceived Autonomy Support was positively related to Autonomous Motivation, Organisation Commitment and Job Satisfaction. Differences highlighted included higher levels of Affective and Continuance Commitment in the Public Company; lower Continuance Commitment among younger employees, and higher Extrinsic Motivation among males. In conclusion, the study broadly supported the hypotheses and the principles set out in SDT. Author keywords: self-determination theory, work motivation, intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction, organisation engagement