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Intrinsic Motivation at Work: What Really Drives Employee Engagement Paperback – January 1, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A major step forward in our understanding of intrinsic motivation. This book is readable, logical, and especially relevant to those concerned with the attraction, retention, and motivation of knowledge workers and the effective management of Generation X employees." - Barry D. Leskin, Chief Learning Officer, Chevron Corporation "An eminently useful and important book that every manager should have on his must-read self." - Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, USC and author of Organizing Genius "Ken Thomas raises a critical issue at a crucial time. How can the individual be proactive about making his or her own work more energizing and rewarding, and, simultaneously, what can the manager do to support or ignite this energy? The answers to both questions lie in the pages of this book." - Beverly Kaye, author of Up Is Not The Only Way and coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay "Intrinsic Motivation at Work is a must-read for everyone who cares about organizational success and quality of life at work in the future. It's a virtual handbook for the self-managing and their leaders." - David W. Jamieson, Adjunct Professor of Management, Pepperdine University, President, Jamieson Consulting Group, and coauthor of Managing Workforce 2000

About the Author

Kenneth W. Thomas, Ph.D., is a professor of management at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is internationally known for his research and training materials on conflict management. In addition to his bestselling book on this subject, he is coauthor of several other training instruments and is featured in the prize-winning training video "Dealing with Conflict."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (January 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576752380
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576752388
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,423,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book deserves more than five stars.
Prior to Intrinsic Motivation at Work, management books often referred to the need for intrinsic motivation or sources of thta motivation (such as an inspiring purpose or interesting work). This book takes those isolated thoughts and connects them into a systematic method of improving overall motivation by increasing internal motivation and connecting with external sources of motivation. This book will be a landmark in the field of human resource management for decades to come.
The book contains many helpful elements to help you understand its message. One that I particularly liked was the management tale. In one connected example, it showed how management attention has shifted in the last 120 years from making people perform more effectively at predefined tasks (the rational approach as defined by scientific management) to creating passion and fulfillment from work, by focusing on the emotional side of a person. You get an overview of management practice and theory in very small and easy-to-digest doses. For example, one of my favorite sentences was "So the executives crafted Vision Statements that emphasized Contribution to Customers and Quality . . . but often [they] rang hollow in time -- like unkept promises."
The author distills the relevant sources of intrinsic motivation into meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress. These ideas are nicely developed in several dimensions. For example, it is explained how these affect the worker (or associate, if you prefer that term). You also find out what the leader or manager has to do to help create those factors for the worker. Then, the author also exposes how the four areas are connected in a system of postive (or potentially negative) feedback.
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Format: Hardcover
"As I have written this book, I have tried to balance a number of goals". Kenneth W. Thomas writes, "The first is to give you a solid conceptual framework for understanding intrinsic motivation and why it is vital to the new work. The problem is that most of us have already learned to think about motivation in rational-economic ways, so that kind of thinking seems solid to us, and other ways of thinking often seem 'soft'. I have tried to give intrinsic motivation that same kind of solidity by laying a firm conceptual foundation in Parts I and II of this book. Part I establishes the need for new models. It discusses the revolution in work, why extrinsic rewards are no longer enough, and the limitations of rational-economic thinking...Then Part II examines the essence of the new work in more detail, emphasizing how purpose has been reintroduced into that work. It discusses how workers are now being asked to self-manage in pursuit of purposes, and then lays out the key steps involved in self-management. Part III, the heart of the book, discusses the four intrinsic rewards that come from -and energize- those self-management steps: a sense of meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress" (from the Preface).
In this context, in Part III, he provides a diagnostic framework for intrinsic motivation. As the first step of this framework, in Chapter 6, he introduces (1) a complete map of the intrinsic rewards needed to reinforce self-management, and (2) a set of building blocks that are needed to produce each intrinsic reward. Hence, as the second step, in Chapters 7-10, he discusses each intrinsic reward in more detailed, along with actions to provide the building blocks.
(1). The Four Intrinsic Rewards
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Format: Paperback
I assign this as the textbook in a Master's degree program. The concepts are clearly written, well-explained, and enthusiastically presented. I highly recommend the 2002 version for those reasons.

The 2002 version discussed the concepts, then chapter by chapter addressed how both team members and managers might apply each of the concepts. This format made it easy to read and to follow; my students were able to absorb the ideas readily and apply them in practical environments.
However, in 2009, Mr. Thomas divided the book, so that the same concepts are discussed twice: once in the first half applied to employees, and then in the second half applied to managers. The claim that the revision was needed to incorporate 'new' material is not warranted; there is no 'new' material which might advance the subject matter. However, there is 'new' material which promotes his apparent new business relationship with a company newly recited in this version, and promotes the principals of that company, and the tools they sell. I have written my objections to the publisher well over two years ago, and have yet to hear from either publisher or author.
My current students must buy the 2009 revision -- I instruct them to ignore any reference to Mr. Thomas' new friends, their tools, or their company. In fact, my students now read the chapters together (in the front half and then the back half of the book) which were originally found within one chapter. This is unduly complicated; I see no reason for the existence of the 2009 version other than self-promotion, as there are no 'substantive' differences between the two versions.
All of the above notwithstanding, this is the seminal work on the subject, and is (with the above caveat to ignore certain promotional material within it) the best discussion of the concepts available. Mr. Thomas is a good writer, and his development of his ideas is convincing and academically supportable.
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