Mrs. R. Nirmala
Research Associate
Goa Institute of Management
Ribandar, Goa
E-mail : /

About the Author: R Nirmala is currently working as a research associate with Goa Institute of Management, Ribandar, Goa, one of the top ranked management institutes in India. Prior to that, she had put up four years of teaching and four years of experience in the corporate world. She has recently submitted her Ph.D. thesis to Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The author can be reached at

Key Words: Work Motivation, Organisational leadership, Social culture, Work Factors.

Purpose of the study: The study is a research paper that aims to understand the interrelationship between social factors, work factors and leadership factors on individual work motivation.

Research limitations / implications: The study has been conducted across ten organisations in Goa, a small multicultural state in India. The study is first of the kind and has much scope for further research, to quantify the relationships between the different dimensions of study. A similar study can be conducted in other multicultural areas or across different subcultures in India and elsewhere to understand if this relationship is valid. An in depth study could be designed to analyse specific impact of individual variables used in the study.

Practical Implications: Managers working in organisations, where people from different cultures work, should learn of the basic differences in working patterns and take care to motivate different groups of people differently, to maximise utilisation of human potential. Individual differences can be understood from their social backgrounds and work behaviour can be analysed accordingly. The strong association between the different variables leaves a lot of scope for further research in related areas.

Originality: The whole research work is based on the sole efforts of author and any errors / miscalculations should have crept in, are her personal responsibility.

Determinants of Individual's Motivation to Work

What determines an individual's motivation to work? This is an eternal question in the minds of managers and a lot of research has been done in the past and this topic still holds interest to the researchers. Money was considered to be the ultimate motivator during F.W.Tylor's time and mayo talked of the importance of the other things, recognising the human element for the first time that are equally important.  'n' number of researchers followed their lead and worked in different circumstances trying to identify job aspects that motivate employees. Maslow has proved that human need has a very significant role to play and Herzberg added the concept of "satisfiers and Dissatisfers" to literature. More sophisticated models had later developed to incorporate larger number of variables, with the essential objective of identifying 'what makes employees put in that extra effort' that could make a tangible difference in their output.

It is now accepted that each organisation has a distinct way of functioning that is termed "Organisational Culture" that affects performance of its employees. Certain organisational factors have  a significant role to play in determining individual motivation – viz., remuneration including pay and perks, work conditions including the interpersonal relations and physical work atmosphere, support received from the top management and so on.

Presuming that prejudice and biases do not exist in organisations and that all employees perceive that they are treated equally (in tune with Adam's theory of Equity), all employees should feel equally motivated and perform equally well. But it is common knowledge in every organisation that there are significant differences between individual performances even if same facilities are provided to all. This paper attempts to identify these factors and to understand the interrelationship.

A study has been conducted on 329 employees in 10 organisations from three industrial sectors based in Goa, to ascertain this relationship and to understand how they influence the work attitudes of employees. A survey was conducted using a questionnaire that is based on

    1. World Values Survey (2000-2001)
    2. GLOBE study on Leadership (2001)
    3. Mr. JBP Sinha's study (2002) on Societal Beliefs, Managerial practices and Organisational factors.
    4. Herzberg's two-factor theory as base for developing job context and job content factors, for individual work motivation.

The three industrial sectors chosen for study include Tourism, Mining and Manufacturing, the three core industries that contribute maximum to Goan economy. Within these industries, organisations managed by multinational organisations, those owned by the state government and those owned by the Goan families are included, to negate the effects of organisational factor influence.

Goa is known for its multiculturalism – with almost 50% of the working population across all sectors being migrants from other parts of the country. In the present study,

    1. A total sample of 187 managers and 142 subordinates are interviewed and responses to the questionnaire recorded. The sample is selected to ensure equitable distribution among different managerial levels. Specific respondents with in the managerial levels are chosen at random, based on their availability and work schedules.
    2. Mother tongue of the person is considered as the one important attribute reflecting their subculture (Goan or a neighbour from Maharashtra and Karnataka who tends to think and behave more like a Goan and others who had come in from a far off place, essentially in search of a job). The number of years working in Goa is considered very important to differentiate respondents as it reflects the extent of internalisation of local values and traditions. Also some other demographics including age, management level, education level, are collected to facilitate analysis.

What are the interrelationships between these factors in an organisational setting? 110 items are included in the questionnaire reflecting the degree of respondent's preference on a scale of 1 to 5.

The four broad categories of variables included are socialisation variables including the importance attached to the basic components of life and the time spent on each of them; the work factors – the importance attached to the different qualitative and contextual factors of one's job; the leader factors – the attributes expected of a leader and his style of functioning; and the motivators – those factors about a job that are considered essential to do a job well. The respondent score to each of these items, under each category, is added to obtain Social Score, Leader Score, Work Score and Motivation Score. These total scores are correlated with each other and also with the demographic characteristics like age, sex, industrial sector employed, total work experience, work experience in Goa, the number of years one spent in Goa and his/her mother tongue. These correlations are given in Table 1, where statistically significant correlations are highlighted.

Social Score: At 99% confidence level, social score of an individual strongly correlates with mother tongue of the individual. This suggests that an individual's social culture has a significant impact on his socialising patterns and the importance he gives to different factors in life. This social score positively correlates with average work score and level of motivation to work. It may be observed that at 95% statistical confidence, the social score of employees also correlates with the sector he is employed in. As working conditions and work timings differ between sectors, the opportunities to socialise could be different.

Work Score: correlates strongly with leadership score, individual motivation score and also with social score at 99% confidence level. This suggests that the importance given to different variables at work is directly related to the social values and the amount of effort an individual is willing to put at work. The correlation with leader behaviour suggests that the work factors are perceived to have an influence on the way leaders behave in work situations.

Leadership Score: It is very significant that the leader score correlates only with individual motivation and work factors. As assumed, the social values, mother tongue of the leaders and the sector in which they are working does not seem to have a significant influence on leader behaviour at work.

Motivation to Work Score: At 99% statistical confidence, employee work motivation correlates with social factors, work factors and leadership factors – the three dimensions which need to be taken care of, to sustain high levels of work motivation. The industrial sector also seems to have a say in determining the motivational levels of individuals as the average motivation is also correlating well with industrial sector, at 95% confidence level.

Mother Tongue: correlates only with social score, reinforcing that the social values of people vary significantly based on the place of their origin, where different lingua are spoken, in a multi-cultural country like India.

Sector: does not seem to affect any of the variables strongly, with 99% of statistical confidence. When the statistical accuracy is reduced to 95%, it correlates with social scores and individual work motivation. 


Proposed Model to Improve Employee Motivation at Work, with specific reference to Goa:

The success of any organisation, profit making or not-for- profit organisations, depends on how well its employees perform at work. Every organisation spends considerable time, effort and money in designing jobs and selecting right candidates for the jobs. If there is a proper fit between organisation culture and the work attitudes of its employees, productivity levels will be high and the organisation achieves its objectives.

Simply put, behaviour scientists say

Human performance = Ability to perform x Motivation to work.

Individual ability to perform can comparatively be better controlled by HR Managers through scientific selection process, providing adequate training as and when required and ensuring a right fit between the ability to perform and job description. Assuming the Human Resource Manager takes care of this dimension, it does not ensure that the individuals give their best continuously on the job. The crucial aspect is their willingness to put the required effort in doing the job. Motivation can be defined, as the effort a person is willing to expend to achieve a goal. Because workers may expect or want different things from a job, managers need to find out what motivates workers by looking at their behaviour.

Since employee performance (employee's behaviour at work) directly influences organisational productivity (net outcome of employee performance), organisations need to ensure that their employees are always motivated to perform better at work. If we attempt to quantify organisational productivity, we can say

Organisational Productivity = f (L, QL, K, WP, M)
L = Size of the work force
QL = Quality of the work force
K = Capital investment
WP = Wages paid
M = Motivation level

Of these variables, L, K and WP are in direct control of organisation QL can be checked by selecting people with the right qualifications and skills required for the job. M or the motivation level in employees is the one variable that can have a significant impact on the organisational productivity.

The level of motivation to work varies between different individuals and may also vary within the same individual from time to time. Organisational researchers have done a considerable work in this area to identify what components at work affect motivation and a relevant model is given below: 

M = f (LB, J, WE, R, V, G)
M = Motivation level
LB = Leader Behaviour
J = Nature of the job'
WE = Work environment
R = Rewards and reinforcements
V = Perceived value of outcomes
G = Growth and advancement
(Source: Mohammed A. Burney)

Of these variables determining motivational level of individuals, R and G can be controlled by an organisation, assuming that it is professionally managed, with equal opportunities and rewards to all eligible employees and performance is the only differentiating criterion. Nature of Job, J and Work Environment WE can be considered as having two further dimensions - physical and emotional components. The Actual activities of a job may be referred as the physical component of the job whereas the personal involvement in the job and individual commitment to perfection depend on the individual and these may be termed the emotional component. Similarly the physical work environment may refer to the location of tools and machinery, procedures and systems in place, etc. while the emotional aspect refers to the human dynamics between colleagues, etc. Hence we may say that the physical components of these two variables need to be managed well by an organisation. The emotional components are again dependent on other variables. We would like to modify the above model incorporating these changes:

M = f (LB, J, WE, R, V, G)
   --> f (LB, J(P, E), WE(P,E), V, R, G)
   --> excluding J(P), WE(P), R, G as constant for all individuals
       (assuming professionalism in the organisation),
   --> f(LB, J(E), WE(E), V)
LB  = Leader Behaviour
J(E) = The Job factors (Emotional component)
WE(E) = The Work Environment factors (The Social Component)
V = Perceived Value of Outcomes

We propose that social culture has a direct impact on the perceived value of outcomes, attitude towards job and the social component of work environment. Hence, these three components are considered together as social culture variable. The model thus simplifies to

M = f(LB, SC)
M = Motivation level
SC = Social culture
LB = Leader Behaviour at work

Application of the Model and Implications to the Industry operating in Goa

    1. The study shows that the employee work force is an even combination of people coming from Goa, Maharashtra & Karnataka, and people from other regions of the country.

    2. Distinct differences had been observed in their attitudes to work, money and socialisation.

    3. It has also been noted that employee expectations from their leader behaviour is different.

In this context, the above model is applicable, as the model suggests that differences need to be handled effectively to ensure harmony at work and improve levels of individual work motivation.

Inter relationship of Variables influencing Employee Motivation:

The following flowchart attempts to show the interrelationship between the different components of the study, in an organisational context. It suggests that the social culture of an individual and the organisational factors in which he works determine his behaviour as a leader, and the degree of his orientation towards people or task. Again the social culture also affects the intrinsic motivation levels of people by influencing his attitudes to work, money and socialisation. The organisational factors, on the other hand, influence the level of extrinsic motivation by the opportunities that are provided and established reward mechanisms. The kinds and levels of motivation, and the fit with expectations from leader behaviour determine the amount of efforts an individual is willing to put at work.

Conclusion: The level of effort an individual is willing to put at work depends on different factors. Every manager is interested in keeping his subordinates highly motivated, all the time, but inadvertently his behaviour might send signals that are perceived negatively thereby reducing worker motivation. Similarly, individual social culture affects his behaviour at work, which explains different work behaviour of people who are equally qualified otherwise. Managers need to appreciate individual differences and use different styles to keep all employees well motivated to work. Organisational variations do exist and a healthy organisational culture is more conducive to ensure a highly motivated work force.


    1. Ajzen, L., & Fishbein, M. (1970). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice Hall.

    2. Arun Sinha; (2002); Goa Indica – A critical Portrait of Postcolonial Goa;  Bibliophile South Asia & Promillo and Co., Publishers, New Delhi

    3. Blumer, H. (1956), 'Sociological Analysis and the Variable', American Sociological Review, Vol.21, pp. 683-90

    4. Bond, M.H., & Leung, K. (1993), "The relationship between culture, individual valences and behavioral intentions", Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Vol.24, pp.331 - 338.

    5. Dess G.G. and Picken J.C; (1999); "Beyond Productivity – how leading companies achieve superior performance by leveraging their human capital"; American Management association; New York

    6. Erez, M., & P. C. Earley (1993), "Culture, Self-Identity, and Work", Oxford University Press, New York.

    7. Franke, R. H., Hofstede, G., & Bond, M. H. (1991). "Cultural roots of economic performance: A research note". Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 12,pp.165-173.

    8. Hall, Edward T. and Hall, Mildred Reed (1990), "Understanding Cultural Differences", Intercultural Press, Inc,Yarmouth, Maine.

    9. Hansen, Gary S., and Birger Wernerfelt (1989), "Determinants of firm performance: The relative importance of economic and organizational factors", Strategic Management Journal, Vol.10, pp.399-411.

    10. Hofstede, G. (1980), "Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values", Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA

    11. Johnson, H. (1991), "Cross-cultural differences: Implications for management education and training. Journal of European Industrial Training", Vol.15, No.6, pp. 13-16

    12. Lincoln, J. R., Hanada, M., & Olson, J. (1981), "Cultural orientation and individual reactions to organizations: A study of employees of Japanese armed forces", Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol.26, pp. 93-115.

    13. Munro D, Schumaker JF, Carr SC (1997), "Motivation and Culture", Routledge New York:

    14. Rahim, A.M., Kim, N.H., & Kim, J.S. (1994), "Bases of leader power, subordinate compliance, and satisfaction with supervision: A cross-cultural study of managers in the US and S. Korea", The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol.2, No.2, pp.136-154

    15. Edward Sapir (1960), "Culture, language, and personality" in Mandelbaum (Ed.). (1960), " Selected essays", University of California Press, pp. 78-119

    16. Sinha J.B.P; (1995); "The cultural Context of Leadership and Power", Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd; New Delhi

    17. Wilkins, A.L. & Ouchi, W.G., (1983).  "Efficient cultures: Exploring the relationship between culture and organizational performance", Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol.28, pp.468-481.

Mrs. R. Nirmala
Research Associate
Goa Institute of Management
Ribandar, Goa
E-mail : /

Source : E-mail June 15, 2004




Important Note :
Site Best Viewed in Internet
Explorer in 1024x768 pixels
Browser text size: Medium