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Money motives, achievement orientation, and motivation to work among youths.
Article Type:
Survey
Subject:
College students (Surveys)
Employee motivation (Surveys)
Money (Surveys)
Authors:
Lim, Vivien K.G.
Srivastava, Abhishek
Sng, Qing Si
Pub Date:
09/01/2008
Publication:
Name: Journal of International Business and Economics Publisher: International Academy of Business and Economics Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, international; Computers Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 International Academy of Business and Economics ISSN: 1544-8037
Issue:
Date: Sept, 2008 Source Volume: 8 Source Issue: 3
Product:
Product Code: E197500 Students, College; 9911210 Motivational Techniques; 9108940 Coinage & Currency NAICS Code: 92119 Other General Government Support
Geographic:
Geographic Scope: United States; Singapore Geographic Code: 1USA United States; 9SING Singapore

Accession Number:
190616959
Full Text:
ABSTRACT

Hierarchical regression analysis of survey data from 185 college students in Singapore and 177 college students in the U.S. found support for the hypothesized relationship between the three major money motives (positive, freedom of action, and negative) and motivation to work. The results were less consistent for the subscales of achievement orientation. Specifically, competitiveness was not significantly related to youths' motivation to work for both samples, while intellectual mastery was only significantly associated with motivation to work for youths in the U.S. sample. Implications of our findings are discussed.

Key words: Money motives, youths, motivation to work

1. INTRODUCTION

Work attitudes refer to an individual's favorable or unfavorable affective reactions toward work and are formed through an accumulation of how one feels and thinks about one's job and organization (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; George & Jones, 1997). George and Jones (1997) noted that internally, work attitudes can serve self-expressive functions by acting as the lens through which people think about themselves. Externally, work attitudes serve as a means by which people express themselves to others through their work.

Research on work attitudes has received extensive attention among organizational scholars (George & Jones, 1997). Extant research has mainly focused on specific work attitudes such as job satisfaction, job involvement, and organizational commitment (e.g., Judge, Heller, & Mount, 2002; Lease, 1998; Meyer, Irving, & Allen, 1998) and has mainly examined these attitudes among adults who were already engaged in the workforce. Given the prevalence of companies hiring students from college campuses, it would be of interest to examine the work attitudes of youth before they join the workforce on a fulltime basis. The work attitude addressed in our study is the expressed motivation to work. Motivation to work may be defined as the desire of the individual to do good work and to avoid working poorly (Barling, Kelloway, & Bremermann, 1991; Yamauchi, Lynn, & Rendell, 1994). That is, we focus on the desire of youth (college students), who are on the threshold of joining the workforce, to work hard on their jobs.

The importance of examining youths' expressed motivation to work stems from the importance of these pre-existing attitudes as predictors of their future work motivation. For example, Krau (1989) found that the work values of youth evolved from junior high school to adult employment, with changes in these values building upon the earlier foundation of work values. Hence, work attitudes that are developed prior to entering the workforce may serve as a basis for individuals' future work attitudes when they eventually start working. The theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) would also argue that the expressed motivation to work is a predictor of the intention to work hard and therefore, it is a likely cause of actual job performance as well. Thus, given the importance of understanding youths' preexisting attitudes towards work, the present study seeks to shed light on the antecedents of youths' motivation to work, which have only been sparsely examined in the literature to date.

Previous research on antecedents of motivation to work among youth has examined the role of demographics (gender, age, parents' background), the match between job requirements and individual skills, and whether the job provided opportunity to learn new things (Stern, Stone, Hopkins, & McMillion, 1990). Our study aims to extend the research on work motivation by examining the role of money motives and achievement orientation of individuals.

While research on other job attitudes such as job satisfaction and organizational commitment has examined the effect of several individual disposition variables (e.g., Judge, 2001) and contextual variables (e.g., Mathieu & Zajac, 1990), the role of individual's attitude toward money in shaping job attitudes has been less frequently examined. With the exception of Tang (1992, 1995), there is no study to the best of our knowledge that has examined the relationship between money attitudes and job attitudes. Since money is an important basis of relationship between employer and employee, it would be relevant to examine how the views of youth about money influence their motivation to work. Secondly, in line with the earlier research on other job attitudes such as job satisfaction and organizational commitment, our study identifies achievement orientation as an individual dispositional variable that could affect the motivation to work. Figure 1 presents the research model. The hypotheses are developed in the following sections.

2. MONEY MOTIVES AND MOTIVATION TO WORK

Individuals' attitudes toward money serve as a frame of reference through which they examine their everyday lives (Tang, 1992). Scholars noted that the importance people assign to money does affect their work motivation and other work-related behaviors (Lawler, 1981; Opsahl & Dunnette, 1966). We argue that youths' motives for making money affect their motivation to work prior to their entering the workforce.

Based on literature review and scale development, Srivastava, Locke, and Bartol (2001) identified three higher order factors of motives for making money--positive motives, freedom of action motives, and negative motives. Positive motives reflect obtaining money to meet life necessities and using money as a measurement of one's market worth and achievement. Freedom of action motives imply spending money the way one wants, such as giving it to charity, blowing it on shopping, enjoying leisure time, and engaging in activities one likes. Negative motives reflect obtaining money in order to overcome self-doubt and to feel superior in social comparison. The present study examines the effects of these three money motives on youths' motivation to work.

2.1 Positive Money Motives and Motivation to Work

Youths whose underlying motives for making money are positive in nature (i.e., for supporting the family, market worth) would tend to view work as highly salient to meeting their life necessities and associate work with their pride and responsibility. As a result, individuals who have positive motives for making money are likely to feel that work is very important and that it is desirable to do a good honest day of work. In addition, research has found that individuals' motivation to work is influenced by beliefs that their efforts will lead to good performance and valued outcomes (e.g., Katzell & Thompson, 1990; Vroom, 1964). Hence, positive money motives are likely to influence individuals to be motivated to work in order to satisfy their self-expression through fulfilling their responsibility and upholding their pride. Thus, holding work as something close to one's identity and central to one's life, individuals high on positive motives are likely to be more motivated to work.

Hypothesis 1: Positive money motives are positively associated with motivation to work.

2.2 Freedom of action motives and Motivation to work

Individuals whose purpose for making money is based on freedom of action motives want to earn money to spend it freely in any way they want--e.g., spending it on impulse, donating it to charity, enjoying leisure time, and pursuing creative ideas. People want to earn money so that they can work at their own pace or do not have to work for long. Work may not be a central part of their lives. Such individuals are thus, more likely to be distracted from the work and would view it as a tool to ensure that they do not have to pursue prolonged employment in organizations.

Hypothesis 2: Freedom of action motives are negatively associated with motivation to work.

2.3 Negative money motives and Motivation to work

Barring aside cases when extrinsic rewards fulfill the competence needs of individuals, the monetary awards generally have a negative effect on intrinsic motivation of individuals to do their work (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999). It is likely that youths whose underlying motives for making money are oriented toward feeling superior to others and overcoming feelings of self-doubt (i.e., negative money motives) would undermine the self-determination of their actions. The locus of causality of their actions would lie in pleasing others rather than being autonomous (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Thus, there would be a negative effect on intrinsic motivation causing them to derive less pleasure from their work. Such individuals are unlikely to view work in itself as having intrinsic meaning.

Hypothesis 3: Negative money motives are negatively associated with motivation to work.

3. ACHIEVEMENT ORIENTATION AND MOTIVATION TO WORK

Achievement orientation refers to the extent to which an individual desires to excel and succeed at difficult tasks, and do them better than others (Greenberg & Baron, 2000). As Elliott and Harackiewicz (1994) described, "Achievement oriented individuals ... place a high value on competent performance, and are motivated to attain high levels of skill in competition with a standard of excellence" (p. 970). Extant research explains that achievement orientation consists of three dimensions, namely, intellectual mastery, orientation towards work, and competitiveness (Helmreich, Beane, Lucker, & Spence, 1978).

Research suggests that achievement orientation often leads to positive outcomes (e.g., Harackiwicz, Barron, Carter, Lehto, & Elliot, 1997). For example, in the early career stage, individuals who are high on achievement orientation tend to gain promotions more rapidly (Thompson, 1998). Previous studies found that students high on work mastery were more likely to adopt mastery goals, and show more interest in class compared to those low on work mastery (Harackiwicz et al., 1997). Other studies found that lower achievement orientation among adolescents was associated with negative job behaviors and lower job satisfaction in young adulthood (Stein, Smith, Guy, & Bentler, 1993). Hence, it is likely that achievement orientation might play an important role in explaining how youths are motivated to do work. We examined the relationship of motivation to work with three main dimensions of achievement orientation (intellectual mastery, orientation toward work, and competitiveness).

3.1 Intellectual Mastery and Motivation to Work

Intellectual mastery reflects one's desire to master tasks and be willing to take up challenging work. Individuals high in intellectual mastery tend to like challenging work and persist in mastering their tasks even if the tasks are difficult. Past research suggests that individuals who believe in their capability to successfully perform a task are likely to be motivated to work (Bandura, 1997; Lim & Loo, 2003). Individuals who set mastery-related goals are better able to increase their involvement in the task because they emphasize continual improvement (Elliott & Harackiewicz, 1994). As Bandura argued, attaining mastery takes time and effort. Thus, the achievement-oriented individuals, high in work mastery, would be more likely to exert sustained effort when pursuing tasks. Consequently, they would be more motivated to do good work. Ryan and Deci (2000) noted that competence, that is, being effective in what one does and mastering new skills in the process, often leads to greater intrinsic motivation. Hence, when youths with high intellectual mastery seek work for its challenges, this results in greater intrinsic motivation. Thus, we put forth the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 4: Intellectual mastery is positively associated with motivation to work.

3.2 Orientation toward Work and Motivation to Work

Orientation toward work refers to the extent to which one likes to work hard and finds satisfaction in excelling at work. Therefore, individuals with a positive orientation towards work will be intrinsically motivated to work. A desire to excel at work would help fulfill the effectance needs (White, 1959). Thus, similar to the earlier arguments regarding the relationship between intellectual mastery and motivation to work, we make the following hypothesis.

Hypothesis 5: Orientation toward work is positively associated with motivation to work.

3.3 Competitiveness and Motivation to Work

Youths who are competitive place importance on winning. Competitive individuals are likely to perceive work as a means for them to compare their performance with others. The extrinsic reason of working in order to win is likely to lead individuals to be less interested in doing good work since work in itself does not have meaning. Indeed, Deci, Betley, Kahle, Abrams, and Porac (1981) found that competition undermined intrinsic motivation because the individuals focused more on winning rather than on the activity itself.

Hypothesis 6: Competitiveness is negatively associated with motivation to work.

4. METHOD

4.1 Participants

We tested our hypotheses using survey data from two samples of youths from Singapore and the United States. The first sample consisted of 185 undergraduates attending management courses at a large tertiary institution in Singapore, and the second sample included 177 fulltime undergraduate business students at a large public university in the U.S. The Singapore sample comprised 67% women and the mean age was 21 years. Respondents in Singapore were extremely proficient in English and therefore, there was no need to translate the original scales. Participants in the U.S. sample had a mean age of 22 years and included 45% women.

4.2 Measures

Money motives. We assessed this variable using the money motives scale developed by Srivastava et al. (2001). This 30-item scale measures individuals' motives for making money and consists of three factors. Respondents were asked to indicate how important various reasons were for their earning money on a 10-point scale ranging from (1) totally unimportant to (10) extremely important.

The first factor, positive money motives, consists of 12 items. Examples of items include "To get what I earned as a result of my thinking and effort" and "To know that I earned my way in life". We obtained Cronbach alphas of .82 (Singapore) and .80 (U.S.). The second factor, freedom of action motives comprises 12 items. Examples of items in this factor include "To spend time and money on my hobbies" and "To not be accountable to anyone for what or how I do things". We obtained Cronbach alphas of .90 in each of the samples. Six items were used to assess negative money motives. Examples of items include "To show I am better than my friends / brothers / sisters / relatives", and "To attract the attention and admiration of others". We obtained Cronbach alphas of .85 (Singapore) and .86 (U.S.).

Achievement orientation. We assessed this variable using the Helmreich et al. (1978) scale. Items in this scale assess intellectual mastery, orientation towards work, and competitiveness. The Cronbach alphas for the Singapore and United States samples were .76 and .79, respectively. The items were scored on a five-point scale.

The intellectual mastery subscale comprises 8 items and aims to measure the individual preference for challenging tasks. Sample items include "If I am not good at something, I would rather keep struggling to master it than move on to something I may be good at", and "I prefer to work in situations that require a high level of skill".

The second subscale, orientation toward work, consists of 6 items. Examples of items include "I find satisfaction in studying/working as well as I can", and "Part of my enjoyment in doing things is improving my past performance".

The last, competitiveness subscale comprises 5 items and assesses the desire to win in comparison to others. The items in this scale include "I enjoy working in situations involving competition with others", and "I try harder when I am competing with other people".

Motivation to work. This variable was assessed with the scale developed by Stern et al. (1990). The scale comprises 8 items scored from (1) strongly disagree to (5) strongly agree. The scale was designed to measure the students' "commitment to high standards of quality at work and absence of expressed desire to shirk" (Stern et al., 1990, p. 265). The items of this scale include "I want to do my best in my job, even if this sometimes means working overtime", and "If I had the chance I'd go through life without ever working" (reverse scored). Cronbach alphas of .61 (Singapore) and .72 (United States) were obtained in this study.

We used age and gender as control variables because previous studies suggested that demographic characteristics are related to individuals' work motivation and money attitudes (e.g., Lim & Teo, 1996; Stern et al., 1990).

5. RESULTS

5.1 Descriptive statistics

Means, standard deviations, reliability coefficients, and correlations of variables are presented in Tables 1 (Singapore) and 2 (United States). Results of correlation analyses suggest that in general, the variables in our study were significantly correlated in the expected directions.

5.2 Hypotheses testing

We used hierarchical regression analyses to test the hypotheses. Table 3 summarizes results of hierarchical regression analyses for both samples.

Results of regression analyses suggest that positive money motives were significantly associated with motivation to work for both samples ([beta] = 0.26 (Singapore), p < .01; [beta] = .22 (U.S.), p < .01). Thus, support was provided for Hypothesis 1. Empirical support was also found for Hypothesis 2, which hypothesized that freedom of action motives are negatively associated with motivation to work ([beta] = - .15 (Singapore), p < .05; [beta] = -.17 (U.S.), p < .01). Hypothesis 3, which posited that negative money motives are negatively associated with motivation to work received support as well ([beta] = -.12 (Singapore), p < .05; [beta] = - .29 (U.S.), p < .01).

Hypothesis 4, which predicted that intellectual mastery is positively associated with motivation to work was supported in the U.S. sample ([beta] = .14, p < .05); this, however, did not reach statistical significance for the Singapore sample ([beta] = .07, ns). Support was provided for the relationship between orientation toward work and motivation to work (hypothesis 5) for both samples ([beta] = .34 (Singapore), p < .01; [beta] = .16 (U.S.), p < .05). However, empirical support was not found for Hypothesis 5, specifically, the relationship between competitiveness and motivation to work did not reach statistical significance in our study ([beta] = -.04 (Singapore), ns; [beta] = .03 (U.S.), ns).

6. DISCUSSION

Given the importance of college students as prospective fulltime employees, we set out to examine some of the important antecedents (money motives and achievement orientation) of the expressed motivation to work--a job attitude sparsely researched until now. The three principal motives for making money--positive, freedom of action, and negative--were all related to youths' expressed motivation to work in a consistent manner across the two samples. Our findings suggest that individuals who wish to earn money in order to make their families secure and as a measure of market worth are more likely to have the desire to work hard in organizations. Individuals high on other motives are not likely to view work as beneficial in itself and worth expending their effort in workplace. The tendency to use one's job as a means to pursue non-work activities (e.g., leisure, charity) might distract the employee from working hard. Similarly, the focus on one's job (and the consequent money earned) as a basis to feel superior might take the intrinsic pleasure out of the job thereby not encouraging the person to work hard.

Findings were less consistent for the relationship between achievement orientation subscales and the expressed motivation to work with the exception of positive relationship between orientation toward work and motivation to work. While in the U.S. sample, intellectual mastery was positively related to motivation to do good work, the same relationship was non-significant in the Singapore sample. Competitiveness was not found to be related to motivation to work in either of the two samples. A possible explanation is that competitiveness may not be a good predictor of motivation to work before a person is actually employed. People high on competitiveness might work hard only if they perceive good chances of winning otherwise, they may leave the field. As McClelland (1961) argued, the achievement-oriented person wants to be successful and fears being a failure.

An important question that arises is whether the motivation to work expressed by students would actually lead to hard work on their future jobs. Attitude toward work is a precursor of intention to work and the eventual behavior according to the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991). While there are other individual-factors (e.g., subjective norm, perceived behavioral control), as per the theory of planned behavior, and several context-specific variables (e.g., type of supervision, rewards, social support) that could predict actual behavior, the important point is that if the attitude toward work is negative, that is, the expressed motivation to work is low, then an important ingredient of work performance is lacking. Thus, our focal outcome variable has implications for the recruitment and selection process wherein employers would like to assess the a priori motivation to work. Our study highlights that an understanding of applicant's motives for earning money and the achievement orientation would provide good pointers to the person's motivation to work.

It is important to note the limitations of our paper. The causal effects have to be interpreted with caution as it was a cross-sectional study. Respondents may have a tendency to give socially desirable responses when one uses self-report measures. We countered the possibility of biased responses to some extent by keeping the responses anonymous. We conducted the Harmon one-factor test to see if there was a common factor running across all the items (Podsakoff & Organ, 1996). We did not find any such overarching (method) factor thereby making it less likely that the observed relations are to a great extent due to common method variance.

To conclude, our study presents consistent findings across two cultures of the importance of money motives and achievement orientation in influencing the expressed motivation to work. Individuals with motives such as using money as a basis to feel superior in social comparison and to seek freedom of action are less likely to be motivated to work hard in workplace. On the other hand, individuals who wish to earn money mainly to provide family support and use money as an indicator of market worth are likely to be more motivated to work. Similarly, individuals with high need to feel intellectual mastery and with positive orientation toward work are more likely to feel motivated to work hard.

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[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Dr. Vivien K. G. Lim earned her Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh. Currently, she is an associate professor of management and organization at the NUS Business School, National University of Singapore.

Dr. Abhishek Srivastava earned his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, College Park. Currently, he is an associate professor of management at the College of Business and Economics, West Virginia University.

Qing S. Sng earned her M.Sc. in Organizational Behavior at the NUS Business School, National University of Singapore. Currently, she is a research analyst in the Ministry of Health, Singapore.
Table 1

Descriptive Statistics, Reliabilities, and Correlations
(Singapore Sample)

            Variable                   Mean      S. D.         1

1. Age                                20.50       1.61       -
2. Gender (male = 1; female = 2)       1.66        .47       -.70 **
3. Positive money motives              7.99       1.01       -.19 *
4. Freedom of action motives           6.32       1.28       -.08
5. Negative money motives              4.90       2.18       -.12
6. Intellectual mastery                3.10        .48        .16 *
7. Orientation toward work             3.92        .43       -.09
8. Competitiveness                     3.27        .76       -.08
9. Motivation to work                  4.11        .49        .11

            Variable                      2          3         4

1. Age
2. Gender (male = 1; female = 2)        -
3. Positive money motives               .19 *     (.85)
4. Freedom of action motives            .15 *      .46 **    (.82)
5. Negative money motives               .05        .27 **     .29 **
6. Intellectual mastery                -.26 **     .04        .22 **
7. Orientation toward work              .10        .18 **     .16 *
8. Competitiveness                     -.02        .20 **     .33 **
9. Motivation to work                  -.02        .19 **    -.02

            Variable                      5          6         7

1. Age
2. Gender (male = 1; female = 2)
3. Positive money motives
4. Freedom of action motives
5. Negative money motives              (.90)
6. Intellectual mastery                 .01       (.66)
7. Orientation toward work             -.03        .30 **    (.66)
8. Competitiveness                      .43 **     .30 **     .04
9. Motivation to work                  -.15 *      .15 *      .37 **

            Variable                      8          9

1. Age
2. Gender (male = 1; female = 2)
3. Positive money motives
4. Freedom of action motives
5. Negative money motives
6. Intellectual mastery
7. Orientation toward work
8. Competitiveness                     (.82)
9. Motivation to work                  -.08       (.61)

Notes. N = 185; Reliability coefficient a is reported in the diagonal.
* p < .05 ** p < .01

Table 2

Descriptive Statistics, Reliabilities, and Correlations
(United States Sample)

            Variable                   Mean      S. D.         1

1. Age                                22.31       4.50       -
2. Gender (male = 1; female = 2)       1.45        .50       -.01
3. Positive money motives              8.43       1.09       -.07
4. Freedom of action motives           6.24       1.39       -.04
5. Negative money motives              4.48       2.43       -.16 *
6. Intellectual mastery                3.38        .46        .08
7. Orientation toward work             4.11        .55       -.09
8. Competitiveness                     3.56        .82       -.17 *
9. Motivation to work                  4.21        .61        .10

            Variable                      2          3         4

1. Age
2. Gender (male = 1; female = 2)       -
3. Positive money motives              -.01       (.86)
4. Freedom of action motives           -.16 *      .28 **    (.80)
5. Negative money motives              -.12        .20 **     .41 **
6. Intellectual mastery                -.03        .13 *      .01
7. Orientation toward work              .18 *      .32 **     .01
8. Competitiveness                     -.17 *      .01        .13 *
9. Motivation to work                  -.31 **     .21 **    -.25 **

            Variable                      5          6         7

1. Age
2. Gender (male = 1; female = 2)
3. Positive money motives
4. Freedom of action motives
5. Negative money motives              (.90)
6. Intellectual mastery                -.08       (.68)
7. Orientation toward work             -.20 **     .44 **    (.80)
8. Competitiveness                      .28 **     .27 **     .12
9. Motivation to work                  -.38 **     .26 *      .40 **

            Variable                      8          9

1. Age
2. Gender (male = 1; female = 2)
3. Positive money motives
4. Freedom of action motives
5. Negative money motives
6. Intellectual mastery
7. Orientation toward work
8. Competitiveness                     (.86)
9. Motivation to work                  -.06       (.72)

Notes. N = 177; Reliability coefficient a is reported in the diagonal.
* p < .05 ** p < .01

Table 3

Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis for Money Motives,
Achievement Orientation, and Motivation to Work for Singapore
Sample (N = 185) and United States Sample (N = 177)

                              Dependent Variable: Motivation to Work

                              Singapore Sample
Variables                     Step 1       Step 2

Controls
Age                           0.19 *        0.21 *
Gender                        0.11          0.09
Independent Variables
Money Motives
Positive Money Motives                      0.26 **
Freedom of Action Motives                  -0.15*
Negative Money Motives                     -0.12*
Achievement Orientation
Intellectual Mastery                        0.07
Orientation towards Work                    0.34 **
Competitiveness                            -0.04
[R.sup.2]                     0.02          0.23 **
Change in [R.sup.2]           0.02          0.21 **

                              Dependent Variable: Motivation to Work

                              United States Sample
Variables                     Step 1       Step 2

Controls
Age                           0.31 **       0.23 **
Gender                        0.10          0.01
Independent Variables
Money Motives
Positive Money Motives                      0.22 **
Freedom of Action Motives                  -0.17**
Negative Money Motives                     -0.29**
Achievement Orientation
Intellectual Mastery                        0.14 *
Orientation towards Work                    0.16 *
Competitiveness                             0.03
[R.sup.2]                     0.11 **       0.38 **
Change in [R.sup.2]           0.11 **       0.27 **

Note. Entries are standardized regression coefficients.
* p < .05 ** p < .01
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Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.