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Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation occurs when an individual is driven by external influences. These can be either rewarding (money, status, recognition, etc.) or punishing (threat of punishment, pain, etc.). The distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation lies within the driving force behind the action.

When someone is intrinsically motivated, they engage in an activity because it is inherently interesting, enjoyable, or satisfying. With extrinsic motivation, the agent’s goal is a desired outcome distinct from the activity itself. The agent can have both intrinsic and extrinsic motives for the same activity but usually one type of motivation outweighs the other.

From the perspective of organisational transformation, relying solely on factors driven by extrinsic motivation can lead to efforts stalling at a high financial cost to the organisation.


  • Factors which foster extrinsic motivation factors can be used to motivate a whole group to improve productivity or achieve better results collectively.
  • Extrinsic motivators can be used to reward desired behavioural changes or improved performance to support the transformation.
  • They are easier to implement providing sufficient financial resources are available.


  • The positive effect of extrinsic motivators tends to be short-term.
  • Extrinsic incentives can lead to people paying lip-service to the transformation itself, without any real motivation to bring about the desired future state.

Recommended resources:

Science Direct, Extrinsic Motivation