Does money motivate? The topic of Motivation came up in a discussion



Thanks Andy! IMHO, you cited the best ever written on the subject: "One More Time: How do you Motivate Employees?" from the Harvard Business Review (September/October) 1987. Thanks you very much.
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Thanks Kevin & David! IMHO, you cited the best ever written on the subject: "One More Time: How do you Motivate Employees?" from the Harvard Business Review (September/October) 1987. Thank you very much.

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member

Great job in rounding up all the bits and pieces you did! I hadn't realized so much was written on Alfie Kohn and was certainly pleased to see that someone had taken the time to retype the Herzberg article. I still recommend those of you following this thread to try and get your hands on the article itself with graphs (the artwork at the site did not work on my computer).

1. What are the likely implications of Kohn s background on his
perspective on the topic of rewards?

I am not sure if I understand your question completely, but here is what I think. Alfie Kohn gives an account of his early days in college where he challenged Skinnerian thought on a shallow level. Later in life, he did several interviews Skinner and had Skinner speak to his class in moving to challenge the paradigm on a much grander scale. I don't think the men saw eye to eye on much. Skinner believed heavily that the environment dictated behavior, which suggest Hygiene Factors to me. Kohn's writing, although I don't see him make a clear distinction between Hygiene and Motivational factors, eludes to the fact that there is a difference. He spends most of time, however, speaking about Herzberg's list of Motivator Factors. As such, I think Kohn has deep awareness and understanding of both external and internal motivators. Having said this, I guess I don't see any implications.

"2. Is pop-behaviorialism as widely accepted in our schools, businesses
and child-rearing methods as it ever was?
What evidence have you seen of
any trends? "

The trend continues to use Skinnerian approaches. As both Kohn and Herzberg point out, this is an almost irreversable trend. It is so much easier to control folks by dangling the carrot rather than doing the work of working with folks to develop feedback and instill intrinsic behavior. There are several good papers written by Myron Tribus showing how the Skinnerian approach has caused the decline of education the world over. I recommend visiting the DEN (Deming Electronic Network) where his papers can be downloaded or read.

"3. Is the United States different from other countries in its faith in
reward systems? "

Well, different from Japan I suppose, at least on most levels. As for the rest of the world, I think we might have the edge on making things worse. We count on rewards! Dr. Mikel Harry's Six Sigma program is based on the rewards priciple for example. Our recent debates last fall by our Presidential candidates confrimed the worse: more accountability and rewards in education. Maybe it will work this time? We know the answer to that!

"4. Are there groups or sub-sets of the population that have resisted the
temptation or recovered from dependency on rewards?"

For this I refer you again to the DEN. Myron Tribus cites examples the world over where Intrinsic Behavior supersedes the old prevailing paradigm. It is really inspiring work that he and others have done to transform the educational system. I have spoken with him on a few occasions and he has pointed me to other reading from Dr. Feuerstein who is working on Structural Cognitive Modifiability (the way we learn). His work, coinciding with the Deming method, have been combined by Myron Tribus and David Langford to create some pretty interesting discoveries. I'll leave it there as I can not do justice in my explanation.

Thanks again for the many good links!




Here's a link to where you can download the pdf file or get reprints for: "One More Time: How do you Motivate Employees?" *** DEAD LINK REMOVED ***
[This message has been edited by stefanson (edited 24 January 2001).]


Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
AH! The ol' Dropped off the end of the earth.

Any contemporary comments / thoughts on Money as a motivator?


I'm generally a simpleton, so forgive my simplistic view on this, but here's my two cents worth:

How much money motivates you is ALSO dependent (in addition to the other factors already cited here) on your AGE. When I was younger and just out of college, with college loans, a car payment and such weighing heavily on me - and more importantly with my personal mindset/philosophy heavily slanted toward acquiring "stuff," - then money was a powerful motivator. Younger people tend to think money is IMPORTANT. When you get older (well, at least when some get older) that mindset shifts, and if you're lucky you begin to see that money is NOT the end-all/be-all. And that shift can happen even if you STILL have loans, car payments and such staring at you. I have an entirely different attitude toward money today than I did 20 years ago.

Right now I'm in a situation where I'm making a VERY GOOD income - in the community where I live I'm doing just fine salary-wise. If I was 23 I'd tell you I was going to keep doing this job FOREVER with an income this good! But at 43, if I had to make a list of the top 3 things that motivate me in a job, money would'nt even MAKE the list. I'm at the point where I'd take a significant pay cut to do work that allowed me to feel like I'm making a real contribution to (forgive the corny-ness of this) humanity. I don't want to end my days thinking, "You know, I made a fine contribution to the world by my ability to keep them certified to TS!" I want more. And I think that kind of "wanting more" is a function of AGE as much as anything.

So for me and others like me, an employer will get NOWHERE throwing money at us - it's just not a primary motivator.

All IMHO, of course.
Last edited by a moderator:

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator

Ron Rompen

Trusted Information Resource
Well, I'm far beyond the 'just out of school' phase, and I concede that money is still a motivator.

However, it's definitely NOT the prime motivator any more...if it was, I would have quit the Quality field years ago....or I would have left my present employer for another company years ago.

I do what I do because (although it's hard to remember sometimes) I -=LIKE=- being a Quality Engineer.....dealing with customers, planning program launches, all the nuts and bolts and bits and pieces.

I make a fairly decent salary, all things considered, although I am sure that I am worth more :)
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