But watch most people performing a task, and you see a very different motivator. Many people spend hours working passionately on personal projects that have no financial reward or are involved in gruelling activities such as cycling or marathon running that actually cost money, and are filled with suffering and pain. At work, the most motivated people often work long hours and put in extra-ordinary effort to achieve a project deadline, that far exceeds any reasonable expectation of being financially compensated for the work.
Lakhani and Wolf published a study in 2005, where they studied the behaviour of engineers on nearly 300 software projects, and their conclusion after the study was that “enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation is the strongest and most pervasive driver”
Hertzberg suggests that money is an extrinsic motivator. By not paying someone their market worth, or not providing fair financial compensation, it can strongly demotivate people. The evidence seems to suggest that using money as a primary motivator, where any creativity is required, is actually counterproductive.
Daniel Pink in his fascinating book “Drive” quotes a classic study by psychologist Karl Dunker, in the so-called candle study, where external rewards actually reduced performance on the task. His conclusion is that for work that requires focussed activity and a known outcome, external rewards can increase motivation, but for tasks that require innovative thinking, the very promise of a reward increases focus on the outcome to the detriment of creative ideas. In the candle study the reference group that were motivated by a reward were so focussed to achieve the result that they actually failed, as they lacked the creativity to solve the puzzle.
I would love to hear your views on this complex subject!