The Determinants of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Work Motivation Among US and Norwegian High School Students

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:47 PM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Jens HJORT , University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
This paper investigates the work motivations of American and Norwegian high school students. It centers on types of motivation that are widely defined as either intrinsic or extrinsic to the work itself. The distinction, which has a long history in the empirical study of work values, aims to separate the motivational force of self-development through work from that of obtaining external rewards as a result of work. The paper draws on prior studies of young Americans’ work motivations, and attempts to build bridges to cross-national research, which has primarily been preoccupied with the work values of adults. The paper thus aims to pave the way for more comprehensive cross-national research on young people's work motivations. While scholars have disagreed as to whether intrinsic and extrinsic values should be treated separately or as opposite poles on a common continuum, the paper underlines the benefits of not committing exclusively to one understanding, and giving both their due in empirical examination. A key benefit of this approach is that it tackles acquiescence bias, a surmountable challenge when conducting cross-national comparison of rating-based survey data. Regression analyses reveal that national context, gender and ethnicity greatly impact intrinsic and extrinsic work motivations. In the Norwegian context, intermediate variables (grades, part-time work, and particularly high school program) are also strongly linked with work motivations. Conversely, no significant effects of parental education are found in either context, signaling a break with earlier studies.