Another phenomenal finding about these barriers is in the work of Dan Ariely, who is yet another modern researcher who has made some major discoveries in the field of organisational motivation, in relation to rewards (Daft, 2007, 52-58). It is a prevalent and proven theory that people, when offered rewards for successfully completing a task are able to perform it with much more motivation. For instance, an athlete running a race will be motivated to run at the highest speed possible for her if she is to receive a cash reward if she wins the race. However, as Dan Ariely from Duke University discovered, this mechanism does not work when the task requires thinking, instead of being a mechanical, repetitive task like running (USTREAM, 2010). In fact, if a reward is used to motivate a person to perform a task that requires mental exertion, the larger the reward is, the person will be less likely to perform efficiently and productively. This is because the thought of losing the opportunity to receive the reward will create stress for the person, which will not let them concentrate on the task.
This theory is easy to apply to real life. Companies, which reward good performance with bonuses, should reconsider this strategy of producing workforce motivation. While employees performing mechanical tasks will get motivated and secure these bonuses through hard work, employees whose jobs require creativity will suffer due to the added strain and stress of possibly losing the bonus. In other words, the large bonuses will become barriers to motivation to the latter party. Thus, management should always consider this factor when designing bonus schemes, especially since most jobs in the corporate world today require mental effort, thus making rewards a dangerous motivational tool (Osterloh and Frey, 2000, 540). For this reason, the managers should ensure that their bonus schemes do not become a barrier to the motivation of their employees.
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