Work motivation refers to the psychological processes and strategies that govern the direction, intensity, and persistence of discretionary actions in the workplace or related to work. This article summarizes key tenets in work motivation theory and practice, historical trends in work motivation research, and modern approaches to work motivation that emphasize the importance of an employee’s work goals and the self‐regulatory processes by which employees strive to accomplish his/her objectives. It also reviews research findings on the differential influence of universal motives (e.g., justice and task enjoyment), individual differences (e.g., achievement motivation and intrinsic rewards), and contextual factors (e.g., task demands and the social environment) on goal setting and self‐regulation in the context of work. Future directions in work motivation research and practice that view employee motivation as a resource are described.






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