A motivational perspective to decision-making and behavior in organizations Defended on Thursday, 13 June 2019

At the intersection of strategic management and applied psychology research, this dissertation focuses on motivation as a main driver of strategic preferences and behaviors in organizations. It explains micro level drivers of managers’ preferences in trade-offs related to responding the uncertainties of emerging technologies through a motivation lens, and further combines a capability lens with motivation to investigate the preference of the manager for the delay in investment on an emerging technology. It also explains the exploratory behavior of front-line employees in generating ideas for new business in response to a motivating intervention via stretch goals.

 The findings are as following. 1) Manager’s orientation toward search, risk-taking, and experimentation is shaped not only by their own motivational systems rooted in their characters, but also by the fit between their motivational systems and the motivational cues in the organization as well as the complexity of the decision-making situation, while there is an asymmetry in response to opposing motivational cues. 2) Stretch goals indeed foster exploratory behaviors to fuel innovation processes in organization, by increasing participation of employees in idea generation for new business opportunities although they may not be as effective in increasing the effort of those employees who have been participating. When it comes to performance outcomes, the difficulty and novelty of stretch goals make individuals less sensitive to the results of their efforts. As such, the paradoxical nature of stretch goals, results in to both intended and unintended performance outcomes. They seem to be more effective for the individuals who are already able to discern the good ideas from the bad based on their experience and seniority. 3) The tradeoffs managers see in early versus late investment in an emerging technology is directly and indirectly affected by their perception of the gap between current capabilities of the firm and what is requires to be successful in the emerging technology. However, it is the motivational cue in the context that interferes with this perception and shapes the final judgements of the managers.

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