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Motivating workers: how leaders apply self-determination theory in organizations

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Purpose: Self-determination theory (SDT), offers a theoretical framework for enhancing employee motivation and stimulating positive outcomes such as commitment, well-being and engagement, in organizations. This paper aims to investigate the application of SDT among leaders and delineate practical managerial approaches for supporting basic psychological needs in the workplace. Design/methodology/approach: Participants were 51 leaders who had personally applied SDT with their own followers. Data were collected via free-listing method and analysed to extrapolate examples of SDT-application that are both practically salient and aligned to theoretic tenets of SDT. Findings: The findings reveal how SDT is operationalized by leaders to support basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness in the workplace. The SDT-informed management strategies are discussed in relation to the literature and alongside case scenarios to illustrate approaches for integrating elements of SDT into day-to-day management activities. Originality/value: Despite extensive literature support for SDT, very little empirical attention has been paid to examining how the theory is applied, interpreted and/or used by practitioners in real world settings. This research is the first to draw on the lived-experience of practitioners who have applied SDT, contributes previously unexplored strategies for supporting workers’ basic psychological needs and responds to calls for SDT research to identify a broader range of managerial behaviours that support employee motivation.

Publication Date


  • 2020

Citation


  • Forner, V. W., Jones, M., Berry, Y., & Eidenfalk, J. (2020). Motivating workers: how leaders apply self-determination theory in organizations. Organization Management Journal, 18(2), 76-94. doi:10.1108/OMJ-03-2020-0891

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85110336036

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 76

End Page


  • 94

Volume


  • 18

Issue


  • 2

Abstract


  • Purpose: Self-determination theory (SDT), offers a theoretical framework for enhancing employee motivation and stimulating positive outcomes such as commitment, well-being and engagement, in organizations. This paper aims to investigate the application of SDT among leaders and delineate practical managerial approaches for supporting basic psychological needs in the workplace. Design/methodology/approach: Participants were 51 leaders who had personally applied SDT with their own followers. Data were collected via free-listing method and analysed to extrapolate examples of SDT-application that are both practically salient and aligned to theoretic tenets of SDT. Findings: The findings reveal how SDT is operationalized by leaders to support basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness in the workplace. The SDT-informed management strategies are discussed in relation to the literature and alongside case scenarios to illustrate approaches for integrating elements of SDT into day-to-day management activities. Originality/value: Despite extensive literature support for SDT, very little empirical attention has been paid to examining how the theory is applied, interpreted and/or used by practitioners in real world settings. This research is the first to draw on the lived-experience of practitioners who have applied SDT, contributes previously unexplored strategies for supporting workers’ basic psychological needs and responds to calls for SDT research to identify a broader range of managerial behaviours that support employee motivation.

Publication Date


  • 2020

Citation


  • Forner, V. W., Jones, M., Berry, Y., & Eidenfalk, J. (2020). Motivating workers: how leaders apply self-determination theory in organizations. Organization Management Journal, 18(2), 76-94. doi:10.1108/OMJ-03-2020-0891

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85110336036

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 76

End Page


  • 94

Volume


  • 18

Issue


  • 2