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Does Motivation Trigger Autonomy, or Vice Versa?

Kameliia Petrova
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Kameliia Petrova: Boston College

Game Theory and Information from EconWPA

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.

Keywords: Incentives; motivation; job-design; tasks and authoirity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C7 D8 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-bec
Date: 2005-10-10, Revised 2005-11-03
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 27
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