Key Issues in Organizational Communication

By Dennis Tourish; Owen Hargie | Go to book overview
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9

Blending attitudes and motivation

A key cocktail

Harald Valås and Olav Sletta


Introduction

Motivation theories and motivation-enhancing strategies and techniques have attracted considerable interest in the organizational and management sciences. However, management science is ‘notoriously faddish’, which means that theories and strategies tend to move in and out of favour (Furnham, 1992:152). While enjoying popularity, they are adopted by organizations, perhaps based on unrealistic or even naive expectations of success. In that case the result is disillusionment, dropping of strategies, and replacement by others. Little is known about the long-term effects of jumping from one fashion to another. This is hardly a pleasant state of affairs, as indicated in Norwegian educational literature by the term ‘kangaroo organization’.

During the last few decades the nature and conditions of work have changed. The national and international competition in industry requires hard-working, flexible, creative, highly work-motivated and competent employees, who are also a company’s most important capital. Thus, the company needs a staff with positive attitudes to their work and their workplace to maintain the company’s competence and productivity, and to be able to meet future competition.

Within this world of work, motivation is an important concern, and few things are more urgent or more troubling for managers in their efforts to promote organizational effectiveness than the job satisfaction and motivation of their subordinates. Consequently, the important question is how to promote the workers’ job satisfaction and motivation and thus keep the company’s skilled labour.

According to organizational scientists, attitudes play a central role in their discipline (Brief, 1998). However, the definitions of attitude on which their research is founded tend to be narrow, in the sense that focus may be on one attitudinal component only (for example on feelings). This state of the art means that our ‘blending of attitudes and motivation’ requires a conceptual clarification as a starting point. Our conceptual and theoretical discussions will be based on educational psychology and the social psychology of education in combination with organizational studies. To date, relatively little of the social psychology literature on attitude formation has been applied by organizational scientists (Brief, 1998:69)

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