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Motivational approaches for Competitive advantages and Productivity within Culture

Switching from a classic management style to a progressive one can facilitate transitions towards flexibility and resilience at the company’s organisational level. Who is going to make this happen are individuals. But what can make a difference for individuals in terms of motivation?

This question opens the door to a discussion about what motivational approach can work for employees and why at a higher level it is essential to focus on the impact on organisational culture.

A brief summary of approaches with the critical distinction between external and internal motivation is represented in the infographic below:

  • Maslow (1943) - first basic needs, then high levels of needs are to be satisfied.

  • Douglas MacGregor (1960): type x: Nobody likes working, so people need control and push. Type y: human capital is ( I add also) self-motivated.

  • ·Herzberg (1959) has two types of motivation: The first group includes salary, working conditions, and job security, and the second group includes recognition, growth opportunities, and meaningful work.

Other approaches have been introduced since then. I found compelling some of them which are close to my point.

  • Deci and Ryan’s (1985) Self-Determination Theory, or SDT: Extrinsic motivation, including employee evaluations, awards, and other people’s validation; Intrinsic motivation consisting of internal factors such as core values, professional interests, and a personal sense of purpose.

Some extrinsic elements also influence intrinsic motivation. Autonomous motivation is internal and has a part that comes from external factors: the type of work activities aligned with intrinsic motivational factors (values?). The other component, which also comes from the outer side, is called controlled motivation: people behave either looking for rewards or because of the fear of being punished.

  • Cognitive Evaluation Theory: two categories of motivation - intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is driven by an individual’s interest in an activity. In contrast, extrinsic motivation is driven by external factors, such as rewards or punishments. This shows that money can be detrimental to intrinsic motivation as it is not a bargain for diminished autonomy in the role (recently experienced with the Great resignation…).

What is the current situation regarding effective motivation that can be used in the current business and working environment?

Since the 60s, many approaches and theories have been transformed into guidelines for managers and executives. They have been transferred through training and not updated during disruptive periods. I believe they are limiting progress towards progressive management to enhance the switch from the classic approach.

Now let’s go to the core of this article: How is motivation connected with competitive advantages?

It facilitates innovation processes and productivity. But is it also a facilitator in supporting behavioural change to shape organisational culture.


  • Promotes more autonomous and controlled motivation, maintaining the proper extrinsic motivational elements and supporting the fulfilment of the intrinsic ones.

  • Behavioural change is necessary for a smooth change or transformation required to be competitive and improve customer contacts and focus.

  • Better performance is linked to overall job satisfaction, which comes from fulfilling personal purposes, control and ownership of people’s work.

All the approaches mentioned show that the value of intrinsic motivation was discovered a long time ago. It is time to refresh this, increasing the awareness and connecting the cause and effect of doing or not doing it.

We can safely conclude that motivation is a critical aspect of organisational culture, to get new competitive advantages, sustaining transformations, and adaptability in the organisation.

Today’s situation sees more attention to returning to the office, claiming that is important for the company’s culture and cyber security.

But all the other elements like intrinsic motivation (great resignation?) and the connections with flexibility, productivity, and ownership to gain the “new” competitive advantages are entirely missed?

What is next?

Well, establishing causes and effects, choosing approaches and putting them into practice and determining where to start can create a sense of disorientation. During current periods, strategizing for the short term takes focus away from absorbing, reflecting and taking the right decision.

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

  • Does the company achieve competitive advantages and productivity through extrinsic rewards?

  • Do intrinsic motivations contribute to employee engagement and competitiveness?

  • In what ways can the organization convert extrinsic rewards into intrinsic ones, such as recognition, autonomy to grow?

  • Are you concerned about the delegation process with more autonomy?

  • How can intrinsic motivation be measured for its cultural, productivity, and competitive advantages?

  • Where I can start?...


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