Work Motivation: Theory, Practice, and Future Directions

Ruth Kanfer

in The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Psychology, Volume 1

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199928309
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Work Motivation: Theory, Practice, and Future Directions

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  • Psychology
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Social Psychology



This chapter focuses on recent scientific advances and use-inspired research on motivation related to adult work. The chapter is divided into four sections. The first section reviews basic motivation constructs and processes, and the issues that delineate the scope and content of the field. The second section reports on research progress and the implications of new conceptualizations for understanding and predicting work behaviors and performance. The third section reviews findings on the major determinants of work motivation, organized into three broad categories: content (person variables), context (situation variables), and change (temporal variables). The fourth and final section identifies current gaps in our knowledge, practical challenges, and promising new research directions.

Keywords: Employee motivation; self-regulation; goals; implicit motives; self-efficacy; self-determination; motivational dynamics; motivational traits; trait-performance relations; work environment

Article.  29976 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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