Check out this recent video, which I found over at Predictably Irrational:
As an employee, I see “intrinsic motivation” as rubbish!
I rarely do anything at my workplace just for the $$ or benefits. I don’t get much credit for publishing, I barely get credit for working with student groups, and so on. I do those things for reasons other than remuneration.
If you were less financially secure, that would probably change, at least until the extra responsibilities you were taking on turned out to be putting you in a state of being overworked.
Though I’m not meaning to make assumptions about how much money you make. I’m going off of what observations I’ve made in my own life, particularly in regards to all the extra responsibilities that my mom has taken on at her school (she’s a special education teacher at a very small school in a very rural area) that she’s now letting go.
I’m probably on the side of being overworked, but as a result of intrinsic motivation—I actually seek out the extra shit that keeps me at work until midnight at least once a week.
… although there’s no doubt that financial stability frees me in a wide variety of ways.
Haha, so I made those two comments before actually watching the video. But having watched the video, I’m wondering about this using “intrinsic motivation” thing to get more work out of employees. Perhaps my skepticism mainly arises out of the fact that I’m reading chapter ten of “Capital” right now (“The Working Day”), but the idea of getting more work out of your employees by being their friend seems a little sleazy to me. I mean, you’re still going to make a profit out of that work they’re enjoying doing so much without really sharing any of it with them, right?
I know what you mean—that’s a good suspicion to have. There are, however, workplaces (few and far in between, to be sure) where things are done for the mutual benefit of the employees, not solely for the benefit of the shareholders. Not that that’s what is happening at my workplace …
One of my first thoughts when seeing this is that it reminded me of the strategy employed by Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuJzMsrrNkc
My second thought is that (and this may be an overly favorable reading) the strategy reminds me, at least in theory, of Kant’s “treat humanity…as an end and never merely as a means to an end.”
@docal: yeah, I was thinking about the google sort of thing too, though there are good reasons to be a bit suspicious—I’m guessing they value employees because doing so benefits the bottom line, so to speak. The Kantian reading is more favorable …
I think the problem with this is that the employer employee relation is by definition an economic and not a “social” relation (although economic relations are a kind of social relation no?).
Its absolutely right people will do things more readily for intrinsic motivators than extrinsic ones. It’s for instance shown that kids offered rewards for good behavior actually end up behaving worse in general and much worse if rewards are withdrawn than kids who were not given a rewards for behavior kind of system, and likewise children rewarded for reading did not then go on to read on their own time because they perceived it as something that required external rewards to be worthwhile and not as something that could be valuable in itself as a result.
But, you can’t just pretend that the clearly economic relation of a buisness situation is not one in the hope of tapping into this intrinsic motivation potential. You’ll just fuck people up and make them cynical by doing that, its a horrible horrible idea bound to cause emotional damage to people.
To make it work for one you would need to basically pay everyone just for existing (that is pay them for their living expenses because they are around) and then people do work for “intrinsic motivations” without gaining or losing any of the basic “living expense” money. I really doubt the buisness world is ready to pay everyone the same basic rate just for being regardless how much and what work they do.
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Missives from Marx is written by an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and features commentary on religion, ideology, and the academic study and teaching of religion.
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