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- PROFESORES Catch me if you can By Joanna Pousset, Ph.D. and permanent professor at TBS Barcelona Being a Fortune 500 CEO is a

automatically. Let me illus-

privilege and one of the ama-

trate with a personal anec-

zing jobs you could ever wish

dote how rewards and pu-

for. It’s also one of the hardest

nishments spoil and crowd

to get, and even harder to do

out desired behavior. When

well. If you want it for the mo-

I need to make my 4-year

ney, prestige and the power,

old kid clean up his room, I

you’re doing it for the wrong

could bribe him (if you do it,

reasons and will probably not

I will give you a reward), or

make it. So what is the right

I could threaten him (if you


don’t do it, I will punish you). Both seem intuitive and fa-

When my first-year Bachelor

miliar, right? However, both

student Kai C. Ratcliffe approached me saying he as-

motivation. In other words, the motives come from

are extrinsically motivated and will only work if he’s

pires to become a CEO one day, it triggered me into

outside, like for instance working only for the mo-

interested in the incentive or threatened by the pu-

studying his motivation behind this decision. What if

ney (extrinsic incentive) instead of prioritizing one’s

nishment. Therefore, they are limited in their effecti-

he does not like or does not believe in what he does

own interest, work satisfaction, and enjoyment of

veness overall. Moreover, the eternal use of rewards

as a CEO? What if his interests are not aligned with

performing the function (intrinsic incentives). Are all

may make you bankrupt, or at least frustrated (if for

those of the corporation? Is he going to be inspired

top managers individualistic, opportunistic, and self-

instance you reward kids with stickers and at some

to do great action anyways? What determines his

serving agents whose interests diverge from those

point all your house walls are “decorated”). Not to

intrinsic motivation? In other words, what motivates

of the owners of corporate capital? Can they ever be

mention that rewards or punishments can be inter-

top management to behave pro-organizationally?

collectivist, pro-organizational, intrinsically motiva-

preted as a signal of distrust or of a boring task, and it

I accepted the challenge to uncover answers to

ted, and trust-worthy? Are money, monitoring and a

could encourage cheating. That’s not self-motivation!

those questions. Together with Kai, we spent hours

threat of punishment the right ways to motivate top

Self-motivated students are not waiting for someone

and hours brainstorming and reading scientific lite-

management? Researchers in psychology and socio-

to carrot-and-stick them into doing what needs to

rature on intrinsic motivation. We also performed a

logy have suggested certain non-monetary factors

be done. They (in the words of Nike®) JUST DO IT!

laboratory experiment to test our ideas. Finally, we

that can foster intrinsic drive at top executive level of

They have an internal, ever-present, inspiring desi-

presented our findings at a scientific conference on

a corporation. Hence, the question is, why does the

re to make things happen. The question is, how to

Corporate Governance held at Barcelona Campus of

corporate world still find so little inspiration in orga-

wake up the inner drive in people? How do I make

Toulouse Business School.

nizational literature and why does it stay immune to

my kid want to clean up his room? The best way is

the remedies offered by the scientific research owed

to work with his natural, innate drive to be a produc-

Here is our guide to how to inspire great action,

to the motivation theories derived from sociological

tive, even creative, contributor to our household. The

how to motivate without rewards and punish-

and psychological perspectives? The answer is sim-

drudgery of household work makes kids feel a part

ments, and here is a story on how I performed

ple and intuitive. Today I will discuss only one of the

of something larger than themselves, and so they

a lab experiment and wrote my latest research

two explanations we proposed.

will even be intrinsically motivated to do boring stuff if parents set it up correctly. How? For example, by

paper with the intellectual generosity of my student, Kai. We discovered that the corporate world profoundly

Contemporary corporations do not want to cease

telling him that it’s too bad we cannot find his favorite

to use extrinsic motivators, because it is easier to

red car that must be hidden somewhere in the pile

control through rewards and punishments.

of toys, and making him notice that organization and tidiness make us happier and save time.

relies on the belief that corporations are lead by selfinterested, money-driven, materialist individuals ne-

When people say that money motivates, what they

glecting the common good of the firm. As a solution,

really mean is that money controls. Children’s natu-

Why don’t carrots and sticks work? They

conventional wisdom suggests more monitoring,

ral instinct is to resist people who try to control their

extinguish intrinsic motivation, diminish perfor-

sanctioning, and rewarding of management. Howe-

behavior through rewards. Unfortunately, with age

mance, crush creativity, crowd out good behavior,

ver, those measures only reinforce selfish extrinsic

people tend to comply with social expectations more

encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical beha-


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