Impact and the art of motivation maintenance: The effects of contact with beneficiaries on persistence behavior

Published on May 1, 2007in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
· DOI :10.1016/J.OBHDP.2006.05.004
Adam M. Grant50
Estimated H-index: 50
(UM: University of Michigan),
Elizabeth M. Campbell6
Estimated H-index: 6
(UM: University of Michigan)
+ 3 AuthorsKaren Lee1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UM: University of Michigan)
We tested the hypothesis that employees are willing to maintain their motivation when their work is relationally designed to provide opportunities for respectful contact with the beneficiaries of their efforts. In Experiment 1, a longitudinal field experiment in a fundraising organization, callers in an intervention group briefly interacted with a beneficiary; callers in two control groups read a letter from the beneficiary and discussed it amongst themselves or had no exposure to him. One month later, the intervention group displayed significantly greater persistence and job performance than the control groups. The intervention group increased significantly in persistence (142% more phone time) and job performance (171% more money raised); the control groups did not. Experiments 2 and 3 used a laboratory editing task to examine mediating mechanisms and boundary conditions. In Experiment 2, respectful contact with beneficiaries increased persistence, mediated by perceived impact. In Experiment 3, mere contact with beneficiaries and task significance interacted to increase persistence, mediated by affective commitment to beneficiaries. Implications for job design and work motivation are discussed.
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