More Money, More Problems? -A qualitative study on reward systems in Swedish professional ice hockey and their coherence with player motivation

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för redovisning och finansiering

Abstract: Financial distress is a common challenge facing professional sports clubs where high player salaries amplified by intense player biddings aggravate the situation. High salaries and performance bonuses are central in the clubs' reward systems aiming to attract and motivate players to perform. However, some research on motivation and rewards suggests that extrinsic rewards risk reducing motivation through the 'crowding-out effect'. If such effects are detected among professional athletes the rewards not only cause financial distress, but also deteriorate motivation and performance. This thesis explores how the current reward systems in Sweden's top hockey league, the SHL, cohere with player motivation. A qualitative, single-case study has been conducted through semi-structured interviews with six players and three general managers. The empirics have been analyzed through a theoretical framework derived from several motivation theories. Our research confirms a large monetary focus in the reward systems, but concludes that this aligns well with the players' extrinsic motivation without negatively affecting their intrinsic motivation. Nevertheless, the focus on extrinsic rewards might be unnecessarily high in relation to the composition of the players' motivation. From these conclusions we argue that shifting the focus more towards non-monetary rewards could reduce the club's financial distress without necessarily altering player motivation.

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