How context creates motivation: The effects of social context in a situation of job insecurity - a case study

University essay from Lunds universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: This research project provides insights in how knowledge workers make sense of their context of job insecurity in terms of motivation and aims to develop a theoretical understanding on motivation from a more conceptual point of view. There are several universally acknowledged motivation theories that claim to explain what motivates people. According to these theories, the job-threatening situation of our research should result in a lasting decrease in motivation. However, our findings suggest otherwise. Job insecurity does not necessarily lead to a lasting decrease in motivation, as the meaning making process of knowledge workers is determined interactively. The interactive aspects culture, norms, morals and identity influence what motivates knowledge workers. From the findings of this research that highlight the complexity of the meaning making process of knowledge workers, we can conclude that there is no magic formula that generates motivation. This research contributes to the motivation literature by applying the ‘motivation triangle theory’ to a real life context for the first time in order to understand motivation from a socio-cultural perspective. As such, we also contribute by testing its validity and usability, even though it cannot be generalized (yet).

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