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date: 10 December 2022

Work Motivationlocked

Work Motivationlocked

  • James M. Diefendorff, James M. DiefendorffDepartment of Psychology, University of Akron
  • Megan E. Kenworthy, Megan E. KenworthyUniversity of Akron
  • Faith C. LeeFaith C. LeeUniversity of Akron
  •  and Linh K. NguyenLinh K. NguyenUniversity of Akron


The topic of work motivation permeates industrial/organizational psychology literature due to its established connections with attitudes, affect, well-being, behavior, and performance. Work motivation refers to the direction, intensity, and persistence of job-related behaviors. The concept of goals is essential to understanding motivation because goals represent desired end states toward which motivated effort and persistence are directed. Goal-based processes can be conceptualized in two main phases: goal setting and goal striving. Goal setting involves the selection of a goal after consideration of the feasibility (i.e., expectancy) and desirability (i.e., valence) of potential goals, and goal striving involves planning for and engaging in goal pursuit through the expenditure of effort and other resources. Goals are hierarchically arranged with more specific, shorter term goals toward the bottom of the hierarchy and more abstract, longer term goals toward the top of the hierarchy. Lower level goals represent the means by which higher level goals are attained. Multiple goals naturally exist in most real-world situations, so there is the need to prioritize and balance goal pursuit, with research outlining a number of factors that can aid in this prioritization, including goal expectancies, affect, and distance from goal attainment. Goals differ in a number of ways that have implications for performance and well-being. Two key ways are especially relevant for the workplace: (a) goals focused on approaching desirable outcomes versus goals focused on avoiding undesirable outcomes and (b) goals emanating from the self versus coming from the environment. The implication is that not all goal pursuit is equally beneficial for individuals and organizations.


  • Organizational and Institutional Psychology

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