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Anja H. Olafsen and Edward L. Deci

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a macro theory of human motivation that utilizes concepts essential for organizational psychology. Among the concepts are types and quality of motivation and basic (i.e., innate and universal) psychological needs. Further, the theory has specified social-environmental factors that affect both the satisfaction versus frustration of the basic psychological needs and the types of motivation. The social-environmental factors concern ways in which colleagues, employees’ immediate supervisors, and their higher-level managers create workplace conditions that are important determinants of the employees’ motivation, performance, and wellness. In addition, SDT highlights individual differences that also influence the degrees of basic need satisfaction and the types of motivation that the employees display. This theoretical framework has gained increasingly attention within the context of work the last 15 years, showcasing the importance of basic psychological needs and type of work motivation in explaining the relation from workplace factors to work behaviors, work attitudes and occupational health.