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Composition of motivation profiles at work using latent analysis: theory and evidence

Authors Chen CX, Zhang J, Gilal FG

Received 1 April 2019

Accepted for publication 23 July 2019

Published 3 September 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 811—824


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Chun-Xiao Chen1, Jian Zhang1, Faheem Gul Gilal2

1Department of Business Administration, Donlinks School of Economics and Management, University of Science and Technology Beijing, Beijing 100083, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Business Administration, Sukkur IBA University, Sukkur, Sindh, Pakistan

Correspondence: Jian Zhang
Donlinks School of Economics and Management, University of Science and Technology Beijing, 30 Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100083, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86 1 362 131 3495

Purpose: Drawing from self-determination theory, the present study aims to identify the structures and functions of work motivation profiles by using a person-centered approach and to explore the relationships between work motivations and different work performances in the workplace.
Materials and methods: The participants in this research are from different provinces in China, such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong, and Hebei. The participants work in state-owned enterprises, private enterprises, foreign-funded enterprises, and public institutions. We contacted the head of the human resources department of the company where the employee was located, and then the human resources supervisor sent the questionnaire to the relevant employees for data collection. In Study 1, we obtained a total of 842 valid questionnaires. In Study 2, employee work performance was assessed by immediate supervisors, and we obtained a total of 630 valid matched data. This study identified the structure and function of work motivation profiles using a person-centered approach, ie, latent profile analysis. The analysis of variance approach was used to explore the relationship between work motivations and different work performances in the workplace.
Results: Using latent profile analysis, we found 5 work motivation profiles: dominant, high-midrange, low-midrange, intrinsic motivation-minor and intrinsic motivation-dominant. The five different profiles varied in the level (quantitative differences: dominant, high-midrange, and low-midrange) and shape (qualitative differences: intrinsic motivation-minor and intrinsic motivation-dominant) of the profile indicators. We found that these profiles differentially predicted employee performance. Our results reveal new insights into work motivations and how different work motivation profiles affect work performance.
Conclusion: We employed a new perspective to better understand the relations between motivations and work performance under the framework of self-determination theory. We were able to demonstrate that (1) different motivation strategies at work do consistently exist and (2) latent profile membership differentiates employee work performance. Our results show that high performance can be exhibited when an employee’s motivation is the dominant type. High-dominant employees with high intrinsic motivation and low extrinsic motivation exhibit worse task performance. The results of this research show that a person-centered approach can better clarify the complexity of the process regarding how work motivations interact within an employee. The major theoretical contribution of this research is the use of latent profile analysis (LPA) to demonstrate five different subpopulations that can exhibit different combinations of work motivations in the emerging market of China. Second, our results show that identified regulation is important in predicting work performance. Third, we advanced the self-determination theory (SDT) research by exploring the relations between different motivation profiles and work performance.

Keywords: work motivation, work performance, latent profile analysis, person-centered approach, emerging economy, self-determination theory

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