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To what extent are cuts to the public sector likely to affect employee motivation? Restrict your answer to an analysis by Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation. What practical recommendations follow from your analysis?
Kehr's model of compensatory model of work motivation and volition integrates implicit and explicit motives and the possibility of intrapersonal conflict, the volitional mechanisms to resolve such conflict, and the impact of the said processes to perceived abilities and problem-solving (2004a, p. 479). Prior to Kehr's model (2004a), conceptions of work motivation largely ignore the role of implicit motives and how these are distinguished from explicit motives (2004a, p. 479). In this work, Kehr's model of compensatory work motivation and volition is reviewed for its possible relevance given the budget cuts in government. Government budget cuts are likely to affect employee motivation as budget cuts affect government allocation for wage increases, benefits, and the likely. However, Kehr's model (2004a) basically says that money or work benefits only serve the employees' higher objective of achieving power, achievement, and affiliation. A key concept of Kehr's compensatory model is that implicit/explicit motive discrepancy give rise to decreases in volitional strength (Kehr 2004b, p. 315). In discussing the future of motivation theory, Steer et al. (2004, p. 385) acknowledged that Kehr's model synthesized several lines of research on motivation as well as helped answer several intriguing as well as previously unanswered problem s concerning goal attainment. This is significant as the International Research Centre on Organizations has emphasized that motivating people is not an easy task (2007, p. 1). Kehr's model is highly relevant given the a CATO Liberty news report by Mitchell (2010) indicated that United Kingdom Prime Minister Cameron is poised to implement savage government budget cuts in the United Kingdom.
Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation and volition
As described by Kehr (2004a, p. 480), the "structural components" of Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation include implicit motives, explicit motives, and perceived abilities. Implicit motives are explicit behavioural impulses or latent motives (Kehr 2004a, p. 482, 490). Implicit motives respond to factors intrinsic to the activity (Kehr 2004a, p. 482). In contrast, explicit motives respond to factors extrinsic to the activity (Kehr 2004a, p. 482). In Kehr's example (2004a, p. 482), a manager high in affiliation implicit motive may enjoy a companionship with his unproductive subordinate but will still defer to the demands of his or her supervisor to increase productivity by dismissing the subordinate (Kehr 2004a, p. 482). The supervisor demands constitute an extrinsic factor. In Kehr's (2004, p. 482) analogy, implicit motives "push" while explicit motives "pull" the individual. This means that implicit motives come from within the individual while explicit motives reinforce, moderate, or even suppress the "push" coming from the implicit motives. In Kehr's analogy of a senior personnel and an unproductive subordinate, Kehr suggested that extrinsic factors and explicit motives could override intrinsic factors and intrinsic motives.
Citing the work of McClelland (1995), Kehr (2004a, p. 480) identified that the three major implicit motives are power, achievement, and affiliation. Implicit motive are not consciously accessible but "they are assessed by operant, fantasy arousing, picture-story tests, such as the Thematic Apperceptation Test or TAT (Kehr 2004a, p. 480). The implicit motive for power pertains to the need to dominate, control, or influence (Kehr 2004a, p. 480). The implicit motive for achievement refers to the need to meet or exceed personal standards (Kehr 2004a, p. 480). Finally, the implicit motive for affiliation revolves on the need to establish and deepen social relationships (Kehr 2004a, p. 480). Implicit motives determine long-term behavioural trends while explicit motives or values produced by extrinsic factors result to cognitive choices or goals (Kehr 2004a, p. 482). In Kehr's example (2004a, p. 482), people with explicit power motive may aim for positions of power and prestige while people with implicit power motive seek intrinsic experiences having impact but not necessarily positions of power or influences (Kehr 2004a, p. 482).
Explicit motives are the reasons that people give for their actions (Kehr 2004a, p. 481). Thus, Kehr (2004a, p. 481) pointed out that that a hard-working person may describe himself or herself as an "achievement-oriented person" to explain why he or she is hard-working although the actual reason for his or her being hard-working may or may not be because he or she is really an "achievement-oriented person". Kehr (2004a, p. 481) argued that explicit motives are identical with values in the Atkinson (1964) and McClelland (1985) terminology but the terminology was later replaced by the term explicit motives by McClelland et al. (1989) "to avoid confusion with approaches defining values as normative beliefs about desirable modes of conduct".
Kehr contrasted the difference between people who have high implicit motive for achievement versus those who have high implicit motive for power. According to Kehr (2004, p. 482), candidates who are high in implicit motive for achievement drop out from a campaign if they perceive that they have no chance of winning while candidates who are high in implicit motive for power continue their campaign even if winning is impossible. This is because people who have high implicit motive for power can enjoy the presence of media and other high impact situations associated with an election campaign (Kehr 2004a, p. 482-483). Kehr (2004a, p. 483) asserted that implicit and explicit motives independently determine behaviour. Nevertheless, Kehr (2004a, p. 483) conceded that people are able to integrate implicit and explicit motives despite their independence. Further, the two motives can also interact (Kehr 2004a, p. 483). For instance, explicit motive can direct how implicit motives can be expressed (Kerr 2004a, p. 483).
The interaction between implicit and explicit motives can result to behavioural tendencies that can be concordant or discordant (Kehr 2004a, p. 483). However, the behaviour enacted will depend on largely on explicit motives (Kehr 2004a, p. 483). Kehr (2004a, p. 483) pointed out that research shows that discrepancies between implicit and explicit motive systems can cause "conflicting behavioural tendencies and may result to preference reversals, performance deficits, impaired well-being, and health problems".
Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation and volition accommodated the view of cognitive research that "higher cognitive preferences (e.g., goals or intentions) may temporarily override lower-order, automatic behavioural impulses" (2004a, p. 485). Kehr (2004a, p. 485) defined volition as an "array of self-regulatory strategies to support explicit action tendencies against competing behavioural impulses". Kehr (2004a, p. 485) asserted that "volition regulation is needed to support cognitive preferences insufficiently motivated by or discrepant from actual implicit behavioural tendencies". Thus, it can be said that volition regulation can temporarily compensate for insufficient motivation or where there is a wide discrepancy between implicit and explicit motivation.
Application of Kehr's model in public sector cuts
The fundamental insight that follows from Kehr's model is that extrinsic factors can moderate and override implicit motives but conflict between implicit and explicit motives (resulting from the effect of extrinsic factors on explicit motives) can cause not only preference reversals but also performance deficits, impaired well-being, and health problems. Another fundamental insight that be derived from Kehr's compensatory model on work motivation and volition is that with government budget cuts, the alternative route to government employee motivation is through shaping and arousing the explicit motive to power, achievement, and affiliation in a manner that implicit motives are moderated or that implicit motives become consistent with the aroused explicit motives. Kehr (2004a, p. 483-489) identified twelve propositions that follow from his compensatory model of work and volition that he devised. We enumerate Kehr's twelve propositions and derive practical recommendations that follow from Kehr's model given public sector budget cuts. In short, we derive practical implications or recommendations based on Kehr's (2004a, p. 483-489) twelve propositions derivable from his compensatory model of work motivation and volition. As we formulate and derive practical recommendations from Kehr's model, we note that Kehr's compensatory work model of work motivation and volition adopted McClelland (1995) view that the three major implicit motives are power, achievement, and affiliation.
Proposition 1 of Kehr's (2004a) compensatory model of work motivation and volition says that implicit and explicit motives are conceptually different and have distinct effects on working behaviour. Based on the proposition, it follows that a comprehensive approach to government employee motivation given budget cuts would be to address both implicit and explicit motives. Proposition 1 of Kehr's compensatory model also says that aroused implicit motives are associated with affective preferences, implicit behavioural responses, and spontaneous behaviour. It follows therefore that a comprehensive government employee motivation development program must cover affective preferences or emotions as well as cover actual value change so that behavioural change must also cover spontaneous behavioural change. Thus, proposition 1 implies that a successful government employee motivation program must lead to behavioural changes such that employee positive response also become spontaneous not only explicit or attributed by an employee to a work ethic being in the government unit. As proposition 1 of the Kehr compensatory model of work motivation and volition also says that explicit motives are associated with cognitive preferences, explicit action tendencies, and cognitive choices, programs to enhance government employee motivation must not be limited at the affective but must also be at the cognitive level. In other words, government employee motivations must be both at the level of feeling or emotions and at the level of coherence and reason.
Proposition 2 of Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation and volition pointed out that discrepancies between implicit and explicit motive can cause extrapersonal conflict and they result into impaired well-being. It follows from the position therefore that explicit motives such "working in a government office for serving the public" must also be consistent with implicit motives, particularly on the three implicit motives which are power, achievement, and affiliation. Employees must be given a sense of authority or importance. For instance, they may entitled to perks or benefits which may not be costly or expensive so long as they create a sense of authority or importance or "power", without creating public protests of course. Employees must be given a sense of achievement. Government offices must be more generous in giving psychological rewards such as the equivalent of a pat at the back like "certificates of service", "certificates of exemplary service", "certificates of loyalty", "certificates of honourable achievement", and the like. Working conditions in government offices must also promote camaraderie, affiliation, closer interpersonal relationships at the affective or emotional level. Thus, government offices must consider holding more frequent teambuilding exercises. Work in government offices must be consistent with the human need for affiliation.
Proposition 3 of Kehr's compensatory work motivation and volition holds that perceived abilities are conceptually independent of implicit and explicit motives. This implies that employees work in offices regardless of their abilities but do so in view of their motives. Thus, employees may stay in an office even if he or she is not really qualified for the work but primarily because of motives or motivation. Based on this proposition, human resource development managers must continually assess employee performance and hold staff development seminar to upgrade skills and hone employee capability. At the same time, the other meaning of the proposition is that employee can hold on to a job even if his or her abilities are over and beyond the salaries and perks that a job position can afford. This implies that the most highly qualified men and women can work in government offices at low pay provided working in the government offices are consistent with the implicit motives for power, achievement, and affiliation. Government employees must be imbued with good explicit motives like "public service", "helping the poor, serving the Queen/King", "serving the less fortunate" and the like; however, at the same time, working in government offices must provide some perks to promote a sense of power or recognition of their importance, achievement or that working in the government offices help him or her achieve, and that working in government offices allow him develop a deeper affiliation with people and friends. The latter can also mean that government offices must be liberal on lawful leaves for birthdays, wedding anniversaries, death of a loved one or friends, and the like as long as they do not pose serious obstacles to work at the office.
Proposition 4 of Kehr's compensatory work motivation and volition holds that perceived abilities alone are not sufficient to determine behaviour. This implies that employees may be perceived as less qualified but they can be more persevering at work or employees may be perceived as highly qualified but they may be less committed to their work. Thus, the task of a human resource management professional or employee motivator is to promote work motivation by appealing to and developing patriotism as well as making work consistent with implicit motives for power, achievement, and affiliation, independent of perceived abilities. The whole army of government employees must be targets for greater productivity regardless of perceived abilities through a motivation development program. The converse of proposition 4 of Kehr's theory of motivation and volition says that insufficient perceived abilities do not preclude motivated behaviour. This means that even if employees are seen as less able, they can be highly motivated employees and can contribute a lot to government services. Again, this is consistent with the recommendation that we have just articulated: we must treat the whole army of government employees as the target for motivation programs. If government cuts are unable to provide them with better salaries then motivational programs should promote explicit motivations like service, loyalty, and the like but must at the same time target on implicit motives like power, achievement, and affiliation.
Proposition 5 of Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation and volition holds that "volition regulation is required to compensate for insufficient motivation due to discrepancies between implicit and explicit motives" (Kerr 2004a, p. 485). It follows from Kehr's proposition 5 that volition regulation especially if self-imposed like codes of discipline, rules on ethics, rules and regulations, and manual of operations can be used (or can compensate) in situations where employees are inadequately motivated because there are discrepancies between implicit and explicit motives. For example, these are in situations wherein the exhortations to work for the motherland, for he people, for the Queen, for the King, for government are not unable to contribute towards the full or partial realization of implicit motives for power, achievement, and affiliation. In these cases, volitional regulation or the array of self-regulatory strategies can be used to combat the temptation to have fun with friends or loved ones instead of working very hard to serve the public. In the face of budget cuts, self-imposed rules can compensate for inadequately developed motivations or where the explicit motives like service to the motherland conflicts with implicit motives for power, achievement, and affiliation. Kehr's proposition 5 include the component that "when implicit and explicit motives are congruent, no volition regulation is required" (Kehr 2004a, p. 485). This implies that a motivation or human resource management professional must continually strive for congruence between explicit and implicit motives or between service to British society, for example, with the need for power or recognition of worth or influence, achievement, and affiliation.
Proposition 6 of Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation and volition holds that volition regulation is needed to support explicit action tendencies activated by explicit motives. This implies that even if there is congruence between explicit and implicit motives making volition regulation unnecessary, volition regulation may be used just the same to reinforce or support employee behaviour that promotes the public good and work efficiency.
Proposition 7 of Kehr's compensatory model for work motivation and volition holds that even volitional regulation can have deficiencies or that it can be ineffective. Further, volitional regulation can also block cognitive capacities or that it can discourage a case-to-case appraisal of situations as the action promoted by volitional regulation may or may not apply to the situation. This implies that the fundamental approach that should be taken by a human resource management professional or by a motivation professional working to nurture and improve motivation in government offices in the face of budget cuts would be to promote the congruence between explicit and implicit motives. Promoting congruence between explicit and implicit motives should be the primary work of the motivation professional while the use of volition regulation should only be supplemental especially when there is still a discrepancy between implicit and explicit motivations. Proposition 7 of Kehr's compensatory model also pointed out that when the discrepancy between explicit and implicit motive is large, so is the imperfection of volition regulation in addressing the discrepancy.
Proposition 8 of the Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation and volition holds that perceived abilities are negatively associated with the requirements of problems solving. The appropriate interpretation to the proposition is that problem solving activities are better executive through participatory methods and not through limiting the responsibility for problem solving among people or government employees who may be perceived as among the brightest or belonging to the most capable. Problem solving requires the participation of the greatest number of people so people coming from diverse backgrounds can see the various facets of a problem or situation. When solving a problem benefits from insights of people from diverse perspectives, the problem is understood better and, therefore, solved better. Kehr (2004a, p. 487) correctly pointed out that problem solving involves thinking about alternate routes and the alternate routes to solving the problem are better addressed by people who come from diverse origins. A person may be highly motivated to solve a problem but motivation can reach a point of irrelevance when the appropriate combinations of backgrounds are not mobilized for the problem-solving task.
Proposition 9 of the Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation and volition holds that volitional regulation and problem solving fulfil distinct functions. Kehr's proposition 9 elaborates that the requirement for volition is independent of perceived abilities. One viable interpretation of this assertion is that work effort is independent of perceived abilities. One may have exceptional perceived abilities but his or her work output may be zero because his or her motivation to work is zero or that he or she is not properly motivated. In this case, it may be even be fruitful to work with employees who may have less perceived abilities but who are highly motivated and, thus, can be expected to achieve and work more. Hence, in a situation of budget cuts, especially when some of the best and the brightest have left government service, the motivation professional has an important role to make government employees highly motivated, particularly in promoting congruence between explicit and implicit motivations. By doing so, the work of employees that may be perceived as less able can highly exceed the output of employees who may be perceived to have more abilities but have poor or inferior motivation to work. Proposition 9 of Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation and volition also pointed out that the requirement for problem solving is independent of the relationship between implicit and explicit motives. This implies that for problem solving work, the stress should be on mobilizing employees from diverse backgrounds as motivation or congruence of motivation may be inappropriate to solve problems. A human resource management professional must know, therefore, that the role of motivation can have a limit and, thus, participatory method or enlistment of employee from diverse backgrounds may be best even as the participatory method itself can support the implicit motivation for power (or rather, sense of worth), sense of group achievement, and even affiliation with co-employees.
Kehr's 10th proposition can surprise some but is something that should have been expected to follow from Propositions 1 to 9: actions that require both problem-solving and volitional regulations are likely to be abandoned or lead to failure. In the view of this writer, the appropriate interpretation of Proposition 10 is that tasks involving both problem solving and volitional regulations are work areas in which the chance of success are not always promising because the role of motivation in addressing the work becomes relatively irrelevant. Nevertheless, the view of this writer is that Kehr's 11th proposition pertains to tasks in which the role of team spirit and explicit motivation like service and "love for country" can be extremely important. The belief of this writer is that the importance of Kehr's compensatory model of work motivation and volition for this type of task lie in the ability of the model to identify the difficulty of executing tasks in this type of work (work in which problem-solving and volitional regulations are both required).
Proposition 11 of Kehr's theory of work motivation and volition says that congruence between behaviour and affective preferences is a necessary but not sufficient condition for intrinsic motivation. This implies that there is a need to nurture intrinsic motivation through appropriate support that is non-monetary. Proposition 11 also says that behavioural congruence is a necessary condition for intrinsic motivation and serves as good reminder that the fundamental task of a motivation professional in government offices subject to budget cuts is to devise programs and ways that can promote the congruence between implicit and explicit motives.
Finally, proposition 12 says that congruence between implicit motives, explicit motives, and perceived abilities is associated with flow experience. In short, this means that the fundamental of the motivation professional or even the human resource management professional is fundamentally achieved if proposition 12 hold true.
The appropriate conclusion to make is that Kehr's compensated model of work motivation and volition is highly relevant to apply in the public sector. In a situation of crisis, it is highly likely that the model is also relevant to apply in private organizations.