A profile approach to self-determination theory motivations at work

Christina M. Moran (First Author), Tae-Yeol Kim (Participant Author), Zhi-Qiang Liu (Participant Author), James M. Diefendorff (Participant Author)

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114 Citations (Web of Science)


Self-determination theory (SDT) posits the existence of distinct types of motivation (i.e., external, introjected, identified, integrated, and intrinsic). Research on these different types of motivation has typically adopted a variable-centered approach that seeks to understand how each motivation in isolation relates to employee outcomes. We extend this work by adopting cluster analysis in a person-centered approach to understanding how different combinations or patterns of motivations relate to organizational factors. Results revealed five distinct clusters of motivation (i.e., low introjection, moderately motivated, low autonomy, self-determined, and motivated) and that these clusters were differentially related to need satisfaction, job performance, and work environment perceptions. Specifically, the self-determined (i.e., high autonomous motivation, low external motivation) and motivated (i.e., high on all types of motivation) clusters had the most favorable levels of correlates; whereas the low autonomy (i.e., least self-determined) cluster had the least favorable levels of these variables.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-363
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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  • Cluster analysis
  • Motivation
  • Profile analysis
  • Self-determination theory

Indexed by

  • ABDC-A*
  • Scopus
  • SSCI


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