Motivation of scientists in a Government Research Institute: scientists' perceptions and the role of management

Divya Jindal-Snape, Jonathan B. Snape

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    27 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    <B>Purpose</B> - This study seeks to explore the perceptions of scientists regarding the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that motivate them and the role of management in enhancing and maintaining motivation with the purpose of identifying practical recommendations for managers to improve the productivity of scientists. <B>Design/methodology/approach</B> - A total of 18 semi-structured interviews were undertaken with randomly selected (stratified sampling) scientists working at a government research institute in the UK. <B>Findings</B> - The scientists interviewed were typically motivated by the ability to do high quality, curiosity-driven research and de-motivated by lack of feedback from management, difficulty in collaborating with colleagues and constant review and change. Extrinsic motivators such as salaries, incentive schemes and prospects for promotion were not considered as motivating factors by most scientists. Promotion was not a motivator for most of the scientists and many thought that they would never get promoted again. Efforts should be focused on addressing the hygiene factors (i.e. removing the negatives) rather than introducing new incentives. <B>Research limitations/implications</B> - The sample size was relatively small (18) and a larger study will be required in order for comparisons to be made with scientists employed in industry or universities. <B>Practical implications</B> - The results from this study suggest that the current incentivisation schemes based on financial rewards have little impact, and that alternative methods of motivating scientists should be considered. Rewards that may be more highly valued could include, time and resources to pursue own research interests; funds to attend international conferences and investment in physical resources (e.g. laboratory refurbishment, new equipment, etc.). The recommendations to motivate scientists could be applied to other highly-trained specialists. <B>Originality/value</B> - This is the only study that has been conducted with scientists working at a government research institute in the UK. It is important in providing an insight into the motivation of a diverse and under-researched group of employees.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1325-1343
    Number of pages19
    JournalManagement Decision
    Volume44
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006

    Keywords

    • Incentives (psychology)
    • Management roles
    • Motivation (psychology)
    • Science

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