Extrinsic Motivation in the Workplace: Factors, Types & Examples

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Shawn Grimsley

Extrinsic motivation is an important concept for managers to understand. We will learn what it is, some of its key factors, and different types of extrinsic motivation. You will have an opportunity to take a short quiz after the lesson.

We also recommend watching Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in Education: Definition & Examples and Using Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation to Enhance Learning

Why Is It Important?

Extrinsic motivation is an important tool an organization can use to motivate members of an organization to accomplish organizational tasks. Knowing its advantages and disadvantages will help a manager decide when it's effective to use and when it's not.

Definition

Extrinsic motivation is a means of encouraging an activity based upon external consequences resulting from performing the activity. The most common examples of extrinsic motivations are rewards and punishments.

Factors to Consider

Some factors need to be considered before you decide to use extrinsic motivation. You will often use extrinsic motivation in situations in which the activities are uninteresting and provide little, if any, internal satisfaction. Stuffing envelopes is a good example of the type of task that probably requires extrinsic motivation. You also need to consider the level of control that will be necessary in developing extrinsic motivators.

Types of Extrinsic Motivators

Some extrinsic motivators provide the organization more control over motivation than others. The classic motivators of reward and punishment are considered the most controlling and are often referred to as external regulation. In other words, your task performance is completely controlled by the related rewards and punishments. For example, if you exceed your sales quota, you may get a bonus, but if you miss your sales quota by a significant amount, you may be fired.

Sometimes extrinsic motivators can be partially internalized. This may occur if you are motivated by self-esteem, ego, or guilt. Such partially internalized motivation is called introjected regulation. For example, let's say that you work as a member of a team for a special project. While you obtain no internal satisfaction from your task, you would feel guilt or shame if you let your team down. Thus, you have internalized the motivation - guilt - but you still perform the task because external forces are influencing your behavior.

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