New Research on The Four Drive Theory of Employee Motivation

Rising arrow 2011Our knowledge of the Four-Drive Model of Employee Motivation is constantly being expanded as researchers study it and organizations work with it.  This is exciting because it allows us to use this theory more effectively to drive performance and increase employees motivation.

Recently I have been in contact with Kristen Swadley, a student at Missouri Southern State University.  Ms. Swadley has added to our understanding of Four-Drive Model by conducting research to see if demographic differences such as age, gender, marital status, tenure, income,  job role, or education level impact any of the four drives.  Analyzing data from 315 surveys, Ms. Swadley found some interesting findings that point to both the robustness of the Four-Drive Model as well as how specific demographics correlate to some of the drives.

The following information is from the thesis she completed around this study:

Regarding gender the analysis showed that there was no difference between males and females in their tendency towards a particular drive.  Thus the four-drive model does not have a gender bias.

However, there was a relationship between the age of respondents and the drive to defend – older participants (over age 41) showed a higher correlation with the drive than the younger age (under 25).

The drive to defend was also found to be higher in married and divorced participants compared to those who listed their status as single.

Tenure showed a correlation only with the drive to bond where unemployed individuals rated that drive significantly less than those who were employed (specifically, those employed for 0-3 years and over 12 years – which is an interesting fact in itself).

Income levels showed a correlation between both the drive to bond and the drive to comprehend.  Those individuals who earned under $19,999 placed a significantly lower value on both these drives than those in the higher earning brackets.

There was a difference in the drive to comprehend between various work roles.  Specifically, there was a difference in how both middle management and trained and professionals viewed that drive compared to skilled labor  (with middle management and trained professionals placing a much higher significance on it).

Unsurprisingly, educational level also showed a correlation with the drive to comprehend, with those participants who had achieved a graduate degree valuing this drive much more than those with just a high-school degree or some college.

This information helps us as leaders start to understand how we can better use the levers we have to motivate our employees.  Ms. Swadley puts it best when she says, “While it is true by the tenets of the Four Drive Theory that all humans are motivated in some way by the four basic drives, it is important to take into account that all employees are motivated by the four drives at differing levels. A manager with the intention of implementing the Four Drive Theory in the workplace should have employees tested to find out which of the drives are most important to the individual on down to which of the drives provides the least amount of motivation.”

We hope to have Ms. Swadley right a guest post in the upcoming weeks to explore a little deeper what her findings mean for managers and leaders – until then, please let us know what you think by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

One thought on “New Research on The Four Drive Theory of Employee Motivation

  1. Pingback: Implications of 4-Drive Research: Guest Blog by Kristen Swadley | What Motivates You?

We want to know what you think - please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s