Employee Motivation and Job Satisfaction In Family Owned and Corporate Businesses


Lisa Marie Watkins





Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of employees and job satisfaction were investigated.  The study addressed family owned (N = 10) and corporate (N = 20) employees in the retail industry and concentrated on the different variables that lead to motivation and job satisfaction.  Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation was determined using a scaled Work Preference Inventory (Amabile, et al., 1994).  The hypotheses were that family owned employees are more intrinsic, and corporate workers are more extrinsically motivated were not supported at a level of significance.  The findings can be related to existing theories of motivation; since motivational orientation differs depending on the individual involved.  Managers should employ the use of both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to increase job satisfaction for their employees. 




            Most adults spend about half of their waking lives at work (Kremer, Sheehy, Reilly, Trew, & Muldoon, 2003). As such it is imperative that their time spent is both productive and enjoyable.  Being motivated to be productive in the workplace often leads to job satisfaction.  Nearly all successful qualityoriented companies today recognize the importance of their employees relative to their competitive strategy (Russell & Taylor, 2003).  But how do employers determine what their employees are motivated by?  What is motivation?  Motivation can be defined in many different ways; one operational definition explains that motivation can be defined as the inner force that drives individuals to accomplish personal and organizational goals (Lindner, 1998). 

Within business and industry, we come to find that there is a vast, never-ending array of many different factors that employees can be motivated by.  Thus, many psychologists and economists have long studied what changes could lead to enduring improvements in quality of work and satisfied employees.  They attempt to explain what motivates people to achieve success not only for themselves, but for their company as well. 

One of the main differences between the economists and psychologists viewpoints is in their explanations of rational behavior.  Industrial presumptions stress that people act rationally, while psychological theories call attention to the naturally non-rational ways in which people act.  For example, thinking economically, a person would choose the most profitable venue to take action; this person would be considered completely rational in choosing the position which would lead to the greatest monetary gain, ceterus peribus.  But in reality, people do not always choose the job which pays the most; they often take a different option for varying reasons.  A person may choose a job which pays less, but they felt that the work may be more enjoyable or fulfilling to them.  In short, some people forgo superior financial benefits in favor of having a job which provides them with personal enjoyment and feeling good about what they do (Kremer et al., 138).  According to OReilly (1991), Katzell and Thompson identify work motivation as a broad construct pertaining to the conditions and processes that account for the arousal, direction, magnitude, and maintenance of effort in a persons job (p.431).  That definition is characteristic of what one would find from the organizational behavioral perspective.  Overall it seems apparent to the researcher that motivation is more of a relative term that can be defined in many different ways depending on the context of the situation. 

Deciphering the factors that can lead to employee motivation and satisfaction is a conundrum that is often on the minds of the managers and owners of any given company.  If certain universal factors are known to motivate most people most of the time, then these factors could be used to create more content employees which in turn would lead to a more prolific company overall.  Therefore, employers must be keenly aware of what their workers want and expect from their company in order to create a more productive environment.  Studying what makes people content is an important aspect of psychological theories, management assumptions, and the like. 

The difference between the economic factors and the psychological benefits is often referred to as extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.  Extrinsic motivation is often a result of tangible rewards such as money or promotions, or intangible rewards such as public praise.  Intrinsic motivation is marked by people who engage in activities based on their level of enjoyment, or their drive to learn new things, or to help others.  Whichever side employees lean to, either intrinsically and/or extrinsically motivated, will help to determine the most effective ways in which to motivate them.  Some typical factors that help employees to remain motivated include but are not limited to: interesting work, good wages, appreciation of work done, job security, feeling valued, good working conditions, feeling connected, personal loyalty to the company or coworkers, and sympathetic help with personal problems by management. 

Deci (1975) asserted that when people have some say about what they do and how they will do it, they become ego involved and committed to do it (p. 223).  This idea relates to the concept of participative management (Deci, 1975), which allows for more freedom of intrinsically motivated employees.  This approach allows for a successful way to maintain high performance from employees.  Decis (1975) discovery “…that when people are engaged in intrinsically interesting tasks, added external rewards (e.g. monetary payments) may decrease task interest (OReilly, 1991, p. 434).  In other words, recognizing intrinsically motivated behavior with extrinsic rewards may actually lead to a loss in job satisfaction.  It seems apparent to the researcher that this idea may be true in certain cases; however a good mix of motivation may occur when people are working for extrinsic and intrinsic rewards simultaneously. 

Over the past century, psychologists have investigated the numerous factors that can lead to satisfaction and fulfillment of life in humanity.  One such theorist was clinical psychologist, Frederick Herzberg.  His two-factor theory (1968) maintained that there are two types of needs which establish job satisfaction.  He labeled them hygiene factors and motivators, each operating separately.  Hygiene factors include things such as job security, working conditions, benefits, and salary (Chapman, 2006).  According to Kremer, et al.(2003), These factors can lead to dissatisfaction if they are not well-managed, but they can never lead to positive feelings towards work.  In contrast, the motivators, such as striving for growth, achievement, recognition and individual expression, can produce positive feelings of job satisfaction (p. 49).  One setback this theory is that it does not account for any individual differences that may be present (Kremer et al., 2003). 

According to Kremer, et al. in Herzbergs 1959 study of job satisfaction, people were asked to consider times they were satisfied and times they were dissatisfied with work, and found that the reported causes of the good and bad times were quite different (p. 143-144).  Kremer, et al.(2003) mentioned in reference to Herzbergs theory that:

Causes of job satisfaction were usually located in the level of interest in the work, autonomy, responsibility, achievement, recognition or professional advancement.  Causes of dissatisfaction were usually to do with job insecurity, poor working relationships with colleagues and supervisors and inadequate pay.  Herzberg concluded that the causes of job satisfaction lay in the intrinsic factors and the causes of dissatisfaction lay in extrinsic factors.  He went on to argue that opportunities for workers to exercise discretion should be reintroduced to jobs.  Herzberg coined the term job enrichment to refer to an

approach that emphasized the enhancement of job content as a means to increasing commitment and motivation, and thereby productivity (p. 144). 

            Locke (1975), pointed out in regard to Herzbergs theory that there is a tendency for…“those who choose to work in large firms to be more likely to report Hygienes and less likely to report Motivators as sources of satisfaction (p. 469).  Overall Herzbergs theory provided a great deal of information on what motivates people in general.  However, it seems logical to the researcher the theory lacks the distinction between individual people and can not applied to everyone in all situations. 

Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist developed a hierarchy of needs (1943) in which the goal of humanity is to successively achieve the basic needs of physiological desires (food, water), safety (shelter, protection), belonging (affectionate relationships), esteem (recognition, respect), and finally self-actualization (the final level we strive to achieve) (Boeree, 2006).  These levels can essentially be met in the working environment.  Being paid allows us to meet the physiological, and safety needs.  Through work, people also often develop relationships with coworkers which allow them to achieve the belonging desires.  Employees receive recognition through praise and promotions, which helps them to meet their esteem needs.  Maslow further divided the esteem needs into two ancillary sets.  The first set involves a desire for strength, achievement, and confidence.  The second set includes the desire for reputation, dignity, and appreciation (Maslow, 1970).   Finally, if all of these needs are met, then people can begin to self-actualize.  Individual differences are considerable at this level since the specific form of these needs vary from person to person (Maslow, 1970).  Overall, if an employee is able to fulfill these desires, then it will be likely that they can be satisfied with their job.

            John Stacey Adams' Equity Motivation Theory (1963) basically builds on Herzberg’s and Maslow’s theories and helps to explain employee’s perceptions of their work and their motivation.  Adam’s theory contends that how much we are paid, how we are paid, and how much we receive in compensation compared to others will all have a considerable result on how we view our work and consequently how hard we work (Kremer et al., 2003).  Employees aim to feel that there is a fair balance between their inputs and outputs comparative to others.  Inputs include what is put into the job: time, effort, loyalty and the like.  Whereas the outputs are what are received from the job: pay, benefits, security, and recognition (Chapman, 2004).  There needs to be an equitable balance between the inputs and outputs in order for the employee to remain satisfied. 

The Expectancy theory by Victor Vroom (1964), examines motivation from the perspective of why people choose to follow a particular course of action (Droar, 2006).  The belief is that employee endeavors will lead to performance and thus, bring rewards.  Rewards may be either negative or positive.  The theory assumes that rational decision makers choose to devote energy in specific activities if they believe that they can influence performance (expectancy), that their performance will be rewarded (instrumentality), and that they value these rewards (valence) (Kremer et al., 2003).  The more positive the rewards, as perceived by the employee, the more likely the employee is to be highly motivated; conversely, the more negative the reward, the less likely the employee will be motivated (Lindner, 1998). 

            B.F. Skinner’s theory of reinforcement (1974) maintains that employee’s behaviors that lead to positive outcomes (praise, money, recognition) will be repeated and behaviors that lead to negative outcomes (punishment, reprimands) will not be reoccur (Lindner, 1998).  Rewards will increase the desired behavior.  For example, if a person completes a task well at work and their manager gives them public praise for it, then the person is likely to perform in the same manner again.  However, if a person does a given task poorly and their manager reprimands them in front of their peers, then the person is likely to avoid making the same mistake again.  Reinforcing the behavior either positively or negatively should produce a desired outcome.  The only problem is that it is often difficult to discern what is positive or negative with respect to behaviors and rewards. 

The old saying that you can take a horse to the water but you can not force it to drink (it will only drink if it is thirsty) also applies to employees (Accel-team, 2006).  People can be told what to do, but unless they have the desire to do some task or achieve something, then they will not do it.  Human nature can be uncomplicated or complicated all at the same time.  Comprehending and realizing the complexity of this is a prerequisite to effective employee motivation in the workplace and consequently efficient management and leadership.  Different cultures, requirements, desires, and circumstantial experiences necessitate careful consideration, with regular evaluation as time goes by in order to effectively determine what motivates people (Accel-team, 2006). 

            In 2000, Ryan and Desi of the University of Rochester investigated intrinsic and extrinsic motivations as they related to school age children.  Ryan and Desi used their Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to differentiate between diverse types of motivation founded on the different reasons that cause people to take action (Ryan and Deci, 2000).  The basic distinction is between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  Intrinsic motivation is referred to as “doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable (Ryan and Deci, 2000).”  Whereas extrinsic motivation is referred to as doing something because it leads to a distinguishable outcome separate from the original factors.  They found that social contextual conditions that support one’s feelings of competence, autonomy, and relatedness are the basis for one maintaining intrinsic motivation and becoming more self-determined with respect to extrinsic motivation.  In schools, the facilitation of more self-determined learning calls for classroom environments that allow fulfillment of basic human needs (Ryan and Desi, 2000).  Humans desire to innately feel connected and effective as we are exposed to new ideas and new practices. 

            The University of Massachusetts runs a family business center which offers resources to assist family owned businesses.  Through the center, Elcha Buckman (2006) published an article related to motivating and retaining non-family employees in family owned businesses.  The article outlines five crucial strategies for motivating employees in family owned businesses.  First, Buckman points out those intrinsic rewards make employees want to come to work and to leave feeling good about what they accomplished; but that we are also secondarily supported by extrinsic rewards including compensation, benefits, and bonuses.  The five critical factors are commitment, recognition and respect, growth, participation and decision making, and teamwork (Buckman, 2006).  If these five factors are present then it will result in an employee who is committed to the success of themselves and to the company, providing an invaluable asset to the family owned business.  However, these factors do not solely apply to family owned businesses, and it is apparent that the presence of these aspects would result in the success of any firm in general. 

            Orpen (1994) investigated the “Interactive Effects of Work Motivation and Personal Control on Employee Job Performance and Satisfaction.  Participants (N=135) from three financial services firms in Austria completed the related tests.  The researcher found that there was a significance of f(1,132) = 5.40, p <.05 (Orpen, 1994).  This finding suggested that “…personal control moderated the effects of work motivation on job satisfaction and performance, with highly motivated employees being more adversely affected by low personal

control (Orpen, 1994).  In other words, if an employee is given some level of control in their job then in general, they will be more satisfied. 

            Houkes, Janssen, de Jonge, and Nijhuis published a study in 2001 titled “Specific relationships between work characteristics and intrinsic work motivation, burnout and turnover intention: a multi sample analysis.”  The study involved two different samples consisting of 245 bank employees and 362 teachers.  The intent of the study was to see if there was “…a specific pattern of relationships between important work characteristics and outcome variables (Houkes et al., 2001). 

Houkes, et al. (2001) …hypothesized that (1) intrinsic work motivation is primarily predicted by task characteristics: (2) emotional exhaustion is primarily predicted by workload and lack of social support, and (3) turnover intention is primarily predicted by unmet career expectations (pg. 14). 

            They found that the basic pattern relating to the hypotheses was “significant and invariant across both samples (Houkes, et al., 2001).”  They also suggested that a potential reason for the relationship between workload and intrinsic work motivation may be connected to the Job Demand Control Model developed by Karasek and Theorell in 1990 (Houkes, et al., 2001).  The JDC model “…proposes that a combination of high demands and high job control leads to motivation, learning and personal growth (Houkes, et al., 2001).”  This potentially suggests that the workers who are more inclined to be intrinsically motivated may desire more control over their jobs in order to achieve more experiences from it. 

Amabile, Hill, Hennessey, and Tighe published a study in 1994 that assessed intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations by using the Work Preference Inventory (WPI).  They collected data from employees of private companies (N=521), participants in management-training seminars (N=262), and participants from research studies that included a military organization and several random samples of working adults (N=245).  The private companies included employees from a camera company, an insurance agency, an advertising company, a bank, a fabric mill, and a railroad. (Amabile et al., 1994).  They also took a student sample of 1,363 undergraduates in the northeastern United States.  The WPI was intended to measure individual disparities in intrinsic and extrinsic motivational styles.  According to Amabile, et al., the WPI seeks to “…capture the major elements of intrinsic motivation (self-determination, competence, task involvement, curiosity, enjoyment, and interest) and extrinsic motivation (concerns with competition, evaluation, recognition, money, or other tangible incentives, and constraint by others).”  The findings for the adults in the study produced a -.08 correlation on the intrinsic and extrinsic primary scales (Amabile et al., 1994).  These findings would suggest a relatively weak correlation between the two types of motivation.  “In other words, there is little support for the assumption that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are polar opposites, with people falling into one discrete category or the other (Amabile et al., 1994).”  This would imply that it is feasible for people to be motivated by both money and personal challenge in their work (Amabile, 1993). 

            There were several purposes for conducting this study.  The researcher wanted to discover if there were any differences and/or similarities between the employees of family owned businesses and corporate companies.  To determine if there was a relationship between the two groups the Work Preference Inventory (WPI) was used to differentiate between the intrinsic and extrinsic motivational preference of individuals.  By further discovering what motivates employees it may be possible to determine similar factors which could lead to job satisfaction.  One hypothesis held by the current researcher is that people who score higher on the intrinsically motivated scale, according to the WPI, are employed by the family owned business included in this study.  Further, those who are employed by the corporate business will score higher on the extrinsically motivated scale of the WPI.  The independent variable involved was the population (group) of either corporate or family owned employees.  The dependent variable studied was the motivation score based on the evaluation of the WPI.  The current author expected these results to be sustained by the analysis that was performed based on the results of the survey.  (This was based on basic supposition that suggested that corporate employees work for the money they can earn whereas family owned business employees labor for their loyalty to the company.) 



            20 people employed by the corporate company were randomly chosen to participate.  Eleven females and nine males from different ethnicities responded to the survey.  This is not typically indicative of the particular corporate store since a larger percentage of males tend to work for the company.  The only reason why this particular population represents more females could be that 26% of the sample came from the “front end operational” department which tends to have a greater percentage of female employees.  Six participants classified themselves in the age range of 18 to 25, four were 26 -35, four were 36-50, and six were aged 51 and up.  This population seems to accurately portray the age ranges typical to this store, college age individuals, and people falling into the “baby-boomer” category.  Time employed ranged with 20% falling into one year or less, 10% one to two years, 30% three to five years, and 40% five or more years. 

            The second sample involved 10 employees of the family owned store.  All of the participants were Caucasian; with four females and six males.  The gender representation does not seem to characterize the overall population of the family owned store.  As with the corporate store, more participants came from the “front end operational” department.  As for the actual store population, no females are employed outside of the operational capacity.  Four participants classified themselves in the age range of 18 to 25, one was 26 -35, four were 36-50, and one was aged 51 and up.  Time employed ranged with 20% falling into one year or less, 30% one to two years, 10% three to five years, and 40% five or more years.  The participants were not selected by the researcher; they either chose to or chose not to take the survey.  No participants were known to drop out of the study. 

Testing Materials

            The Work Preference Inventory (WPI) developed by Amabile, Hill, Hennessey, and Tighe in 1994 was used to measure intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  Amabile et al. also used a secondary scale that measured the enjoyment, challenge, outward, and compensation of their participants.  The current researcher did not utilize the secondary scale, but used the primary scale only since the purpose was to measure intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  Amabile et al. used a four level Likert scale to measure the degrees on their primary and secondary scales.  The present researcher chose to use a seven point Likert scale to measure the responses of the participants.  With the lowest score of one meaning that the participant was extrinsically motivated.  The highest rating of seven indicated that the participant was intrinsically motivated.  Any score in between would give an idea of the participant’s mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational preference relative to others.  Also four questions on the first page of the survey were adapted from Enterprise Feedback Management Solutions by Qualitrics.  These questions were added to gain a general way to compare and contrast the responses of the two sample groups.  They were rated on a five degree relativity of what the participant thought in reference to the given question. 


The administration of this research involved several different steps for each of the two populations (sample stores: (1) corporate and (2) family owned).  Prior to gathering the field research, the investigator explained the purpose of the study to the management teams at both populations represented.  They were given the opportunity to deny the research from taking place.  Each store approved the survey (see Appendix A) before it was distributed to the participants.  The survey was field tested, revised, and submitted for approval to the (IRB) academic review board.  The participants were informed that their answers and identities were kept anonymous and that the management of the company would not know who participated or what the results were.  They were also advised that they could deny participation or withdrawal at any time if they so chose. 

In the first sample, three surveys out of twenty-three handed out were not returned to the researcher.  The participants may have not responded because they were unsure where to return the survey and the researcher was no longer present.  On a Tuesday and Saturday of the same week, surveys were handed out in an indiscriminate manner while the researcher walked around the store.  The participants were chosen if they were in the vicinity of the researcher as they walked around the store.  The participants were told that they did not have to contribute and that their involvement in the survey would be kept anonymous.  Anonymity was stressed so that participants understood that the researcher would not know who answered what in hopes to avoid demand characteristics.  Neither population was informed that their collective responses were going to be compared to the other group’s responses. 

For the second sample of the family owned store the researcher asked an employee to monitor the administration of the surveys.  The researcher enlisted the aid of the administrator to avoid any experimenter biases that may have been developed.  Blank surveys were kept by the time clock and people who wanted to participate could if they so desired.  Once the participants were finished they were asked to place the completed survey in an envelope in the desk of the employee administering the survey.  The employee chosen to administer the surveys was not made aware of how the surveys would be scored or what the results would entail.  There was a possibility of 18 participants; only 10 responded.  The administrator mentioned that it was possible that the non-participants did not have time to fill out the survey, or otherwise chose not to out of a lack of interest in the subject.  Participants were debriefed by the researcher after the surveys were collected.  The investigator explained to the participants that employee motivation was being studied to determine what encourages people to perform.  


            One way ANOVA tests were performed with the data to determine if there were any correlations or variances between the dependent variable motivation score, and the independent variables.  According to George and Mallery (2006) “Analysis of variance is a procedure used for comparing sample means to see if there is sufficient evidence to infer that the means of the corresponding population distributions also differ (p. 144).”  An alpha level of .05 was used for all statistical tests. 

            In regard to the proposed hypotheses that employees of corporate businesses will be more extrinsically motivated, and family owned employees will be more intrinsically motivated the following was found: F(1,28) = 2.057, p=.163.  The relationship was not statistically significant at the .05 level.  Thus, the hypotheses were not supported by the current data.  The mean motivation score of the corporate sample was 4.3883; and the family owned sample’s mean was 4.1600.  Although the difference of the means was very slight (.2283); the relationship of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation appears to be the opposite of the original supposition.  Also recall the scale for the motivation score was one (extrinsic) to seven (intrinsic).  Any score in between one and seven would represent a mixture between intrinsically and extrinsically motivated individuals. 

Question (V) of the survey (see appendix A) asked the participants overall how satisfied they were with their position at the company.  The finding produced by the one way ANOVA test was: F(1,28) = .564, p = .459

Gender and the mean score of motivation were also compared using the one way ANOVA.  The mean score for men was 4.28, and females’ averaged out at 4.34.  The following was found: F(1,28) = 0.128, p= .723. 

The mean motivation score was further compared with the age groups of the participants.  

The following was found: F(3,26) = 2.067, p=.129.

Employee Motivation and     19

Additionally another independent variable was compared with the dependent motivation score.  The independent variable in this case was the participant’s position: operations (cashier, customer service), not operations (sales), or management.  The findings were thus: F(2,27) = 3.040, p = .064. 


            The focus for this investigation was to attempt to delineate extrinsically and intrinsically motivated individuals in both family owned and corporate businesses.  The discovery that there is not a significant statistical difference between the participants from the two sample populations indicates that there is more that goes into being motivated; especially with respect to individual differences. 

The small sample size represented may have impacted the research in a negative manner since the populations may not be indicative to the general population, thereby possibly decreasing the validity of the results.  It seems apparent to the investigator that if a larger sample size was taken, results may have produced a more significant statistical difference to support or deny the supposition of the researcher.  If this study is to be replicated in the future, it is recommended that a more diverse and larger sample be taken from several different family owned and corporate businesses.  This may eliminate any factors that could distort results based on the existing culture fair of the retail store participating in the sample. 

In addition, the researcher encountered some problems with a few of the questions on the survey.  The participants were asked to report their department and position on the survey.  Some participants indicated a concern that they could be identified based on what was written.  In light of this apprehension instead the researcher asked the participants if they were in a management, operations, or non-operational (sales) department.  Changing the first question of the survey allowed the participants to be more at ease to answer the inquiries posed.  Also, for future investigations, having a third party administrator handout the surveys may be a better way to allow for neutrality so that the participants do not have to be concerned with their identity being known. 

            Given that this investigation primarily focused on the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of corporate and family owned employees, it may be possible to expand the research in the future to discover related suppositions.  It may be beneficial to research personality factors in relation to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for the two populations.  Examining personality may provide possible correlations to personality type as it relates to motivation and job satisfaction. 

            The paramount conceptual frameworks for this investigation were Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory (1968) and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943).  These theories suggested different factors that can lead to personal motivation.  However, it is apparent from the various theories proposed on motivation that there will always be individual factors that will make a difference in what motivates people.  This supposition is in accord with the Amabile, et al. (1994) findings that people can be concurrently intrinsically and extrinsically motivated.  With that in mind managers should use a mixture of methods (monetary rewards, praise, recognition, and the like) to effectively motivate employees and promote job satisfaction in the workplace. Overall, it is apparent to the current researcher that people obtain jobs for extrinsic factors, but they retain employment not only for the extrinsic benefits but also for the intrinsic rewards involved.  Promoting healthy relationships between coworkers, and good customer service should assist managers in providing the intrinsic rewards their employees desire. 



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