Motivation plays a critical role in the success of an organization. Employees who are motivated to achieve organizational goals and targets leave a positive impression on the overall performance of that organization. While there are many theories and strategies concerning motivation, the one that is most critical is the debate regarding intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Motivational theories like Maslow's theory or Vroom's expectancy theory fail to completely answer the question of which kind of reward is more important for motivation: intrinsic or extrinsic. For example can we truly motivate a person by showing him how extra effort on a task can enhance his knowledge or do we really need to attach a monetary reward with it? A student may be motivated to study harder for intrinsic reward like more knowledge and higher learning but without appreciation and recognition, will he continue to put in the effort simply for the sake of intrinsic reward? Before we delve deeper into the debate, we need to understand what is meant by each term. We shall then discuss if intrinsic rewards are really more important than extrinsic rewards for employee motivation.
Intrinsic rewards come from within. This would the most basic definition of the term. Intrinsic value of a work refers to the inherent quality of the job that excites or motivates a person. A student who studies for at least two hours a day and is deeply motivated by the idea of learning more and gaining higher knowledge in the subject is said to be intrinsically motivated. But the same student would be extrinsically motivated if he is looking for better grades or more recognition from professors and fellow students.
According to Weinberg & Gould (2003), there are three types of intrinsic motivation:
A person who is motivated by knowledge factor would be interested in mastering the task he is assigned. He would want to be the best in the field for his own satisfaction and pride. Accomplishment is a related factor and a person is motivated by sense of accomplishment when he knows that doing a job perfectly gives me an internal sense of fulfillment. Stimulation refers to the sense of excitement that a job generates.
Extrinsic rewards are dependent on others. They don't come from within a person. A man does a job well because he wants recognition and reinforcement from others. He may also be motivated by tangible rewards like more money, better title and enhanced power. There are four types of extrinsic rewards as identified by Weinberg & Gould (2003). These are
• Integrated regulation
• Identified regulation
• Introjected regulation
• External regulation
Integrated regulation is when a person chooses to perform a task to achieve another purpose. A person working out very hard to lose weight and not to master the routine itself is involved in this kind of extrinsic reward.
Similarly when a person is interested in identified regulation, he is basically attached to a task because it is considered of high value by others in his social circle.
Introjected regulation is a more forced type of reward where a person seeks extrinsic rewards because of various kinds of pressures like impressing others, getting recognition, and basically being the best for extrinsic rewards and not intrinsic value.
External regulating is the most common type of extrinsic reward like performing a task for money and bigger title.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Rewards Debate
It is now being debated that while extrinsic rewards have their own place in motivation strategy, they cannot outweigh the power and force of intrinsic rewards. It is believed that for employee motivation, intrinsic rewards are now more important than extrinsic rewards. But that is not entirely true or even valid. There is no way an organization would develop a motivation plan and not involve extrinsic rewards. Every person needs some kind of recognition for a job well done. Even if he is performing the task for his own sense of fulfillment, it is an established fact that sooner or later he would want recognition for his good performance in monetary or non-monetary terms. For this reason, it is much better to link the two rewards and…