On prosocially motivated employees and mission driven organizations

Tuesday 16th June – 12:30 to 14:00 – 23 Avenue Guy de Collongue, 69130 Écully

Research on the pro-social motivation of employees has seen a substantial surge of interest in the past decade. Employees who are motivated to do their work for pro-social reasons (in contrast to or in concert with extrinsic, or intrinsic motivation) are interested in work that helps other individuals, society at large, and makes a positive impact on the world we live in.

At the same time, more and more organizations are making claims that their work, or their organizational mission, is to generate positive pro-social impacts on society at large. Firms as diverse as Patagonia, Toms Shoes, and British Petroleum (BP) make and promote such claims. These organizations tout their intentions to both generate positive returns for shareholders and positive returns for society. In our view, this dynamic prompts multiple fascinating research questions.

In this presentation, we’ll address a nascent research program intended to address a variety of issues and questions that arise from this dynamic including:

  1. Attempts to categorize the “missions” of various organizations into a set of mission-types or mission-dimensions,
  2. Attempts to measure the extent to which an organization’s mission provides a source of motivation to employees, and whether or not employees believe the organizational mission is a sincere one or has ulterior motives;
  3. Attempts to determine how employee prosocial motivation interacts with perceptions of the organizational mission to impact a variety of outcomes at the individual, and team level.

Research conducted to date will be discussed. Given the nascent character of this undertaking, suggestions, discussion, and feedback are most welcome.

Steven Whiting is an Associate Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

He earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management from Indiana University. His work appears in leading peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, the Academy of Management Journal, and International Public Management Journal.

Dr. Whiting is particularly interested in understanding the psychology of helping in the workplace, as well as other voluntary, pro-social, or citizenship-like behaviors at work. His research has primarily addressed the outcomes of these behaviors, how co-workers view them, and various performance related impacts of them for individuals, teams and organizations.