Exploration of work motivation structure and profiles based on self-determination theory among Korean employees

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JiHyeon Park
JaeYoon Chang


The Self-determination theory (SDT) posits the existence of distinct taxonomy of motivation (i.e., amotivation, external, introjected, identified, integrated, and intrinsic motivation). The purpose of this study was to explore whether SDT’s work motivation structure can be applied to the understanding that of Korean employees, and to identify the motivational profiles for Korean employees together with their relationships with a variety of organizational outcomes. Data was collected from two separate samples of Korean employees(Study 1: 509 employees; Study 2: 153 employees). The results showed that unlike SDT taxonomy, autonomous motivations were not classified into three distinctive categories(identified, integrated, and intrinsic motivation). The results also revealed that there were three distinct motivational profiles(i.e., autonomous motivated, controlled motivated, and amotivated), and the largest proportion of Korean employees was covered by controlled motivated cluster. The autonomous motivated cluster had the most favorable levels of adaptive organizational outcomes(i.e., organizational commitment, job satisfaction), whereas the amotivated cluster was strongly related to non-adoptive organizational outcomes(i.e., turnover, emotional exhaustion). Based on these results, discussion was made regarding the distinct features of work motivation structure and motivational profiles in Korean work setting, and also future research directions were suggested.


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