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Organization Behavior in Gagne& Deci Case Study

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Updated: Sep 23rd, 2019


Self-determination theory focuses on inspiration and personality. It also focuses on individuals’ inherent growth tendencies, emotional needs and addresses the motivation behind the decisions that individuals make without external interference (Gagne& Deci 2005). It is necessary to analyze the correlation between self-determination theory, self-motivation and determination (Gagne& Deci 2005).

Gagne& Deci (2005) indicate that intrinsic motivation led to the emergence of this theory. Consequently, this paper demystifies the attitude of subordinates towards their supervisors. Madeline, who is a ward supervisor, encounters difficulties with nurses especially Margaret and Molly.

Margaret believes that she does not need supervision based on her proficiency. She goes ahead to criticize Madeline’s management style and suggests modes of improving the operations of the ward. Molly, the second nurse, is uncertain with the new methods used by the nurses. Furthermore, she is inattentive when handling patients.

Elements of self-determination theory

According to Gagne& Deci (2005), this theory is based on the assumptions concerning human nature and motivation. He further states that the motivation and the need of individuals to grow and succeed are inherent. This means that they are likely to commit and engage in unexciting roles when they comprehend their worth.

Some workers appear less motivated due to present work conditions affecting their inherent motivation (Gagne& Deci 2005). This theory also focuses on the intrinsic significance of the work. Consequently, humans exhibit three critical psychological needs namely “competence, relatedness, and autonomy” (Gagne & Deci 2005 p. 339).

Gagne & Deci (2005) indicate that competence refers to the belief that an individual can influence crucial outcomes. Concurrently, relatedness refers to the experience of attaining fulfilling and supportive relations. Gagne & Deci (2005) further state that autonomy focuses on the experience of performing roles with self-determination and choice (Gagne & Deci 2005).

Autonomy fails to incorporate independence since individuals may be reliant on others though they may act alone. The experience of individuals is based on choice. Furthermore, endorsing their work is pegged on intrinsic motivation. The individuals do not feel regulated by external forces and demanding internal forces.

Ryan & Deci (2000 p. 68) indicate “competence, autonomy, and relatedness” enhance sustainable motivation during the provision of human needs (Gagne & Deci 2005 p. 339). According to this theory, sustainable motivation is autonomous due to the feelings of enthusiasm and engagement.

Research shows that autonomous employees are satisfied; furthermore, they perform at an optimal level, experience minimal levels of anxiety and depression (Guay, Ratelle & Senecal et al 2006). Employees whose work environment supports the critical psychological needs are proactive at work regardless of the organization’s size.

Ryan & Deci (2000) indicate that extrinsic rewards are responsible for inducing controlled motivation. This theory depicts that both controlled and autonomous motivation differ due to the regulatory forces and the experiences accompanying them (Ryan & Deci 2000).

These categories of motivation are intentional and differ from inspiration processes that lack both intention and motivation. The activities that are not satisfactory require intrinsic motivation.

Motivation leads to external control of the behavior meaning that the maintenance of behavior is based on contingency processes. External regulation prompts persons to operate with the purpose of acquiring a preferred outcome or avoiding undesired result (Ryan & Deci 2000).

Therefore, individuals work when an action proves to be instrumental and when supervisors are watching (Ryan & Deci 2000). An unacceptable regulation tends to provide the basis for introjected regulation. This directive controls persons by addressing concerns pertaining to self-esteem.

It allows one to behave appropriately to feel worthy (Ryan & Deci 2000). Autonomous motivation requires that individuals identify the worth of behavior for the purpose of their personal selected goals (Ryan & Deci 2000). The identified directive allows persons to address their preferences and liberty because their deeds match their targets.

The nurses would feel self-directed when performing roles if they appreciated the console, wellbeing of their patients and comprehended the implication of repulsive tasks that improve the health of patients. Molly fails to exhibit this behavior since she is inattentive while handling patients (Lynch, Plant & Ryan 2005).

Nurses would identify the significance of the activities that maintain the health and comfort of patients when they embrace integrated regulation (Stone, Deci & Ryan 2009). This would be fundamental to the identities of nurses since they would work constantly and realize the need of embracing uninteresting activities.

Self-determination theory depicts that intrinsic motivation comprises interesting and satisfying activities (Stone, Deci & Ryan 2009). Concurrently, extrinsic motivation comprises of activities that are not interesting but are important to the personal goals and purpose of an individual.

Diagnosing the motivational problems

Madeline’s frustration as she supervises the workers epitomizes the motivational problems in the ward. It is clear that she fails to take criticism positively especially when Margaret highlights the changes that would improve operations within the ward.

Additionally, Margaret’s failure to accept supervision highlights the need for the management to explain the inevitability of changes. Concurrently, Molly seems unenthusiastic because she accepts the present conditions and fails to embrace new ideas.

Improving the work climate to support autonomy, competence and relations at the ward allow employees to internalize the rules at the work place and work proactively and creatively (Lynch, Plant & Ryan 2005). This is because the employees value their work and focus less on the management functions.

This will help solve Molly’s problem of being inattentive to patients. However, controlling work environments will minimize the “competence, relatedness and autonomy” among employees (Gagne & Deci 2005 p. 339). External regulation of employees will prompt the nurses to obtain rewards not related to the work itself.

This prompts Margaret to offer a suggestion to Madeline on the strategies that will improve the operations of the ward. Minimal external regulation will allow Margaret to execute her duties with ease because she would be motivated. In addition, it will allow her to embrace supervision during job.

The feelings of “competence, autonomy, and relatedness” will enhance motivation because the nurses will endorse the work rules and procedures (Gagne & Deci 2005 p. 340). Furthermore, they would value the significance of their work though they may not find it interesting.

This will be beneficial because it eliminates criticism towards Madeline’s management style. Moreover, it will reduce unnecessary talks among the nurses because they would be devoted to their work. This is likely to allow them to acknowledge the comfort, wellbeing of their patients and appreciate the implication of doing repulsive tasks.

Steps in the self-determination theory

Madeline can implement the three principles of the self-determination to enhance motivation among the nurses. This process involves supportive dialogue that involves asking open questions to solve the problems within the organization. This will allow Madeline to address the problems pertaining to employee supervision with Margaret (Gagne & Deci 2005).

This will also allow her to seek the best alternatives to eliminate this issue. Moreover, she can pay attention and recognize the viewpoint of the nurses. This theory depicts that active listening is an integral aspect of intervention because it encourages initiative amongst subordinates.

After the intervention, the nurses will feel autonomous consequently improving their work. Moreover, Madeline can offer support to the nurses for them to trust the organization more.

Clarification of responsibilities and contributions are vital aspects of self-determination theory. Madeline should embrace these factors to attain success. Madeline should provide a sensible rationale for a task that is uninteresting and acknowledge the nurses’ feelings of dislike.

This will increase the motivational level of the nurses. In addition, Madeline can also provide genuine and positive feedback concerning the problems within the organization (Gagne & Deci 2005). Effective praise acknowledges the contribution of nurses and supports their competence and autonomy.

This allows nurses to exhibit high levels of motivation while performing their tasks. Madeline should emphasize financial rewards among the nurses because it will enhance the importance of external rewards.

Meager benefits tend to obstruct the capacity of personnel to attain autonomy, proficiency and appropriate relations. Madeline can communicate with the organization concerning salary; thus, motivating nurses.

Moreover, Madeline can share knowledge to enhance expertise and autonomy (Gagne & Deci 2005). Provision of educational opportunities creates positive motivational effects because they will help the nurses meet the key psychological needs (Gagne & Deci 2005).

Critical assessment

Autonomous motivation maximizes optimal performance, trust and satisfaction among nurses. This means that the relationship between Madeline and Margaret will improve since the supervisor will appreciate the ideas indicating that new software would improve operations. The jobs, which workers find appealing and challenging enhance motivation.

There is little that supervisors can do to address personal differences; therefore, they need to change the environment to promote autonomous motivation (Gagné, Chemolli, Forest & Koestner 2008). Horizontal enlargement is crucial because it focuses on expanding jobs. This means that Molly would learn new techniques to improve operations (Kuvaas 2009).

This is with the intention of incorporating activities and tasks that nurses can welcome (Kuvaas 2009). Vertical enlargement is significant because it involves expansion of jobs with the aim of including decision-making and problem solving (Kuvaas 2009). This aspect is important because it allows the nurses to be autonomous; thus, improving Margaret’s role since she indicates that her work suffers intruded.

Horizontal enlargement enhances the nursing role by encouraging nurses to appreciate how varied parts of their roles fit into a rational unit (Ferris, Brown & Lian 2009). This will authorize the nurses to communicate pertinent concerns especially on supplies to Madeline as stated in the case.

An environment that supports autonomy as apparent when Madeline addresses the perspectives of employees provides several options to pursue. This environment enhances the level of dedication among nurses. Additionally, the yearning for relatedness performs a decisive function in internalizing values and regulations (Ferris, Brown & Lian 2009).

Autonomous motivation is significant to nurses because it would make Margaret and Molly competent and self-determined at the work place (Baard, Deci & Ryan 2004). However, the most outstanding weakness apparent in this theory is the need for in-depth training among supervisors for them to incorporate it within organizations (Baard, Deci & Ryan 2004).

Consequently, she wants to pursue relevant studies at University of Sydney for her to understand how performance influences organizational processes. Furthermore, the confines of the theory are based on its association with human principles and beliefs making it complex.


The self-determination theory outlines principles that are imperative in developing long-term motivation within an organization. Application of these principles among the work force builds long-term value for the organization. In addition, it helps the nurses in achieving the core psychological needs and improves the productivity of the organization.

Reference List

Baard, P, Deci, E & Ryan, R. 2004. ‘Intrinsic need satisfaction: A motivational basis of performance and well-being in two work settings’, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol 34 no.3.pp. 2045-2068.

Ferris, L, Brown, J & Lian, H. 2009, ‘When does self-esteem relate to deviant behavior: The role of contingencies of self-worth’, Journal of Applied Psychology, vol 94 no. 5.pp. 1345-1353.

Gagne, M & Deci, E. 2005, ‘Self Determination Theory and work motivation’, Journal of organizational Behavior’, vol 26 no.4. pp. 331-362.

Gagné, M, Chemolli, E, Forest, J &Koestner, R. 2008,’A temporal analysis of the relation between organisational commitment and work motivation’, Psychologica Belgica, vol 48 no.3, pp. 219-241.

Guay, F, Ratelle, F & Senecal, C et al. 2006, ‘Distinguishing developmental from chronic career indecision: Self-efficacy, autonomy, and social support’. Journal of Career Assessment, vol 14 no. 1, pp. 235-255.

Kuvaas, B 2009, ‘A test of hypotheses derived from self-determination theory among public sector employees’, Employee Relations, vol 31 no. 2, pp. 39-56.

Lynch, M, Plant, R & Ryan, R. M. 2005, ‘Psychological needs and threat to safety: Implications for staff and patients in a psychiatric hospital for youth’. Professional Psychology, vol 36 no. 2, pp. 415-425.

Ryan, R & Deci, E. 2000, ‘Self-Determination Theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development and well being’, American psychologist, vol 55 no.1, pp. 68-78.

Stone, D, Deci, E & Ryan, R. 2009, ‘Beyond talk: creating autonomous motivation through self determination theory’, Journal of General Management, vol 34 no.3, pp. 75-91.

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