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Motives matter: Intrinsic motivation in work learning and labor market performance
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3483-5466
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation examines the importance of individual work motivation for two crucial dimensions of inequality: work learning and labor market performance. The first dimension relates to learning activities at work, and the second to wage attainment and knowledge-oriented task assignment. While motivation is a broad concept, the empirical analyses focus on task involvement and the motivation to learn. Job mobility is further used to indicate a motivational strategy aimed at gaining new labor market experiences. 

These kinds of motivation are related to individual variation in intrinsic motivation, representing: pure curiosity and a strive for competence in novel environments, a focus on personal development rather than on proving ability, satisfaction gained from feelings of competence and autonomy during task performance, and experience of complete absorption in activities of learning and mastery. 

The connection between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic labor market rewards (such as wage attainment) is theorized to follow from: (a) a higher level of performance in learning activities at work, (b) consequent assignment to more productive work tasks, and (c) a rise in material rewards (wages) linked to this assignment.

Variation in the extent to which intrinsic motivation can be elicited in individuals, and the extent to which intrinsic motivation is targeted toward performance related activities in the labor market, is thus expected to matter for patterns of inequality. Intrinsic motivation, as a productive factor shaping inequality, is expected to grow in importance in paralell with an increase in the labor market value of skills, and a decline in bureaucratic and closely monitored production organization. As a research agenda, the analysis of intrinsic motivation is thus crucial for understanding evolving patterns of conflict and inequality in contemporary societies.

Study I analyzes the relationship between task involvement and wage attainment, and shows that task involvement is moderately associated with higher wages in two datasets: the Swedish Level-of-Living Survey (LNU) and the European Social Survey (ESS). Study II analyzes the relationship between repeated job mobility (a ‘new experiences strategy’) and work learning. Two datasets are used: LNU and the Swedish part of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Results show that repeated job mobility is positively associated with several, but not all, kinds of learning activities. Study III analyzes the associations that motivation to learn shares with knowledge-oriented task assignment and wage attainment using PIAAC data for 17 European countries. Results show that the motivation to learn is strongly correlated with knowledge-oriented task assignment, and moderately correlated with wage attainment. These correlations are similar across distinct levels of numerical proficiency, and across labor market contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University , 2020. , p. 44
Series
Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 104
Keywords [en]
Work motivation, Job mobility, Labor market inequality, Wages, On-the-job training
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-180840ISBN: 978-91-7911-154-0 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7911-155-7 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-180840DiVA, id: diva2:1423955
Public defence
2020-06-04, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C and/or digitally via video conference (Zoom), public link shared at www.sociology.su.se in connection with nailing of the thesis, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016-01277
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2020-05-12 Created: 2020-04-16 Last updated: 2020-05-26Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Unequal involvement, unequal attainment? A theoretical reassessment and empirical analysis of the value of motivation in the labor market
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Unequal involvement, unequal attainment? A theoretical reassessment and empirical analysis of the value of motivation in the labor market
2018 (English)In: Social Science Research, ISSN 0049-089X, E-ISSN 1096-0317, Vol. 76, p. 169-185Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Inequality has often been explained by stable individual traits or by the structural features of labor markets. This study argues that we also should consider task involvement when we account for labor market inequality. Three mechanisms derived from experimental research link task involvement to performance: individuals involved in tasks are more focused on the work process, are more dedicated to mastery and problem-solving, and have stronger product quality perseverance. Despite the significance of task involvement as a motivation, its potential implication for labor market inequality is so far rather unacknowledged. We aim to develop its theoretical implications in the labor market context and test the expectation that task involvement is related to wage attainment by analyzing representative data for Sweden (LNU) and Europe (ESS). We theoretically locate our account within relational sociology, emphasizing that wage inequality is determined by interactions between worker attributes and the features of work organizations.

Keywords
Work motivation, Task involvement, Intrinsic motivation, Wages, Labor market inequality, Labor market performance
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-160918 (URN)10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.08.007 (DOI)000447247800014 ()
Available from: 2018-10-11 Created: 2018-10-11 Last updated: 2020-04-16Bibliographically approved
2. Should I learn or should I turn? Implications of job mobility for subsequent learning at work
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Should I learn or should I turn? Implications of job mobility for subsequent learning at work
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-180837 (URN)
Available from: 2020-04-16 Created: 2020-04-16 Last updated: 2020-04-19Bibliographically approved
3. Can motivation to learn compensate for poor skills in the labor market? An analysis of knowledge-oriented tasks and wages
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Can motivation to learn compensate for poor skills in the labor market? An analysis of knowledge-oriented tasks and wages
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-180839 (URN)
Available from: 2020-04-16 Created: 2020-04-16 Last updated: 2020-04-19Bibliographically approved

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