Motivating people across cultures: A 2-pronged approach

Main Discussion Post


I do not believe that the approach for motivating an employee is universal.  As Adler (2008) mentions there are different cultural values that may dictate motivation.  Most “universal” motivation campaigns have been developed in the United States (2008).  Earley and Erez (1997) mention that each individual has a self-concept that is regulated by enhancement, efficacy, and consistency, which regulate the influence of culture on behavior.  These motives reflect how a person views him or herself in society (1997).  Because we have different personality types and cultural values, whether individualistic or collectivist cultures, there can be no universal truth for motivation.  We can have broad, over-arching principles like the two-factor motivation theory proposed by Herzberg (Adler, 2008).  This principle states that extrinsic and internal factors both equally can be used to motivate employees.  An external factor, like money, might not hold the same motivational value to some as it does to others, whereas performing at high levels and having pride about the company might not be equal as well.  Based on the fact that we are all different and have different cultural backgrounds and values, I do not think it will ever be possible to have a single, narrow approach for motivation.  There are too many factors and variables to consider.




Adler, N. and Gunderson, A. (2008). International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior (5th Ed.). Cincinnati, OH, US: Southwestern.


Early, P., and Erez, M. (eds) (1997). New Perspectives on International Industrial /Organizational Psychology. San Francisco, CA, US: Pfeiffer.

Group decision making

Making decisions in an organization is a very important process.  There are those who are better at it than others, and those that are better at seeing the bigger picture in keeping the group and organization moving in the right direction.  Kumar, Aquino, and Anderson (2007) explain that too often, organizations do not do their due diligence in formulating a strategy and evaluation of potential outcomes when decisions are made.  Brainstorming should be part of the strategy formation session as well (Kumar, Aquino, & Anderson, 2007).  Bakenova (2008) mentions that the strategy might be slow and compromises made in order to start progress.  The steps of rational decision making involve defining the problem, identifying the decision criteria, and allocating weight to, developing  alternatives, evaluating, and selecting the best alternatives.  As Robbins and Judge (2009) mention these things depend on whether or not the decision maker has all of the necessary information to make the decision or not and if they can identify all of the options.

Developing and maintaining trust in workgroups is part of a key in an organization.  Yukl (2006) explains that high levels of cooperation and trust will ensure a team in carrying out its mission.  Keeping these values high will keep the team members helping each other, sharing information, and working together better in stressful situations (Yukl, 2006).  It is therefore important for the leader to foster better teamwork and communication to keep the flow of information moving and the team functioning at its highest capacity.  Larson (2007) found using diversity as a resource was very beneficial.  Larson (2007) found that groups who used their diversity to solve a problem were far more likely than any individual in the group was able to do themselves and even more likely than a non-diverse group was able to come to.  Being able to use current resources, like employees and their respective diversities, to be able to take different perspectives on a task is a big strategy to allocate resources.

Too often problem solvers do not take the time to find a good solution or look to analyze future problems that may arise because of botched decision making (Clark, 2007).  Being able to define what the problem is is a very important step, and something that is never trained (Clark, 2007).  A good decision maker ultimately is one that is rational and removed from the process emotionally.  If there is too much at stake for an individual, it may not be the best idea for them to take part in fixing the problem if at all possible.  Obviously this is not always possible, but staying focused and open to information, being able to parse out what is important and being able to see any problems that may come up from any proposed solutions are important and valuable tools.