Competence

Competence and motivation at work throughout adulthood. Making the most of changing capacities and opportunities.

This chapter integrates existing theoretical and empirical work, and proposes a model of lifespan changes in individuals’ work lives, their motivational challenges, and how individuals can master these challenges. In the first edition of the Handbook of Competence and Motivation, the chapter “Competence and Motivation in Adulthood and Old Age” addressed competence development and motivation during adulthood generally, and applied the motivational theory of lifespan development to conceptualize the motivational challenges and adaptive responses to age-related changes in competence (Heckhausen, 2005). This new chapter has a similar agenda but focuses more closely on what this means for competence development and motivation in the work domain. Throughout the chapter we pay greater attention to the challenges people encounter at different ages and stages of their careers, and how they master these challenges, than to trait-based individual differences in motivational processes involved in work (e.g., interests in work area, implicit achievement motive; for trait-based research, see Kanfer & Ackerman, 2005).