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Motivation as a Mediator: Internal & External Factors fostering Employee Engagement

Authors Saleh Moradi
Danilo Garcia
Ann-Christine Andersson Arntén
Trevor Archer
Published in 26th Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention. San Francisco, California, USA
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Language en
Keywords Self-determination Theory; Motivation; Affect; Leadership; Locking-in Effect, Employee Engagement
Subject categories Psychology, Work Sciences


Background: Motivation is “the processes that account for an individual’s intensity, direction and persistense of effort toward attaining a goal” (Robbins & Judge, 2009, p.209). Self Determination Theory distinguishes between three types of motivation depending on the reasons behind an action: intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and amotivation. Different internal factors (i.e. affectivity, self-esteem, locus of control, impulsiveness, strees and energy) and external factors (i.e. empowering leadership and locking-in effect) are suggested as determinants of employees’ motivation. Locking-in has been defined as incapability of employees to leave their current job due to possible loss of some employee benefits. In turn, motivation may result in employee engagement as how employees feel involved with, satisfied with, and enthusiastic for their work. This study investigates internal and external factors influencing motivation dimensions and the mediating role of motivation dimensions on the effect of both internal and external factors on employee engagement. Method: A sample group of engineers and technical designers of a production plant and PhD students from two major universities in Gothenburg, Sweden, (N=125) participated in this study. First, internal and external factors were investigated as potential predictors of motivation. Secondly, the mediating role of motivation dimensions was tested in the relation between both internal and external factors and employee engagement. The Situational Motivation Scale was used to assess four motivation dimensions: intrinsic motivation, identified and external regulation (as extrinsic motivation sub- dimensions), and amotivation. Internal factors were measured using Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule, Rosenberg’s Self-esteem Scale, a modified version of Rotter’s Locus of Control Scale, Barrett’s Impulsiveness Scale, and the Mood Adjective Checklist. The leadership behavior was assessed using Empowering Leadership Questionnaire, and locking-in effect and employee engagement were derived out of Michigan Organizational Assessment Questionnaire. Results: The result of linear regression analysis showed that, a) positive affect and negative affect amongst other internal factors (i.e. stress, energy, impulsivity, locus of control, and self-esteem) are the dominant factors influencing different motivation dimensions. Positive affect predicts intrinsic motivation and identified regulation and counter predicts external regulation and amotivation, while negative affect predicts amotivation and counter predicts identified regulation; regarding external factors, b) empowering leadership predicts intrinsic motivation and identified regulation and counter predicts external regulation and amotivation, while locking-in effect predicts identified and external regulation, c) intrinsic motivation and identified regulation are significantly predicting employee engagement. The meditation test (bootstrapping method) showed that all dimensions of motivation, except for external identification, mediate the interrelation between dominant internal and external factors and employee engagement (e.g., negative affect lowers employee engagement through cultivating amotivation and undermining intrinsic motivation and identified regulation). Conclusions: Affectivity (an internal factor) targets which individuals (i.e., employees reporting high positive and low negative affectivity) are more intrinsically motivated and empowering leadership (an external factor) reveals the leader behaviors that foster intrinsic motivation. The locking-in effect seems to influence regulation-based motivation. Furthermore, the mediating role of motivation dimensions eloquently states that employee engagement will come about by empowering intrinsic motivation, moving from external regulation to identified regulation, and wiping away amotivation.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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