Organizations and Work

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Overview: Self-Determination in Organizations and Work

Most of us will spend about 1/3rd of our lives at work, and many of us far more. In whatever form it takes, work is comprised of a complex ecosystem of demands, opportunities, challenges and relationships. Our work has the potential to be a catalyst for meaningful growth and an engine of positive impact for both the individual and society. And just as easily, it can feel oppressive and uninspiring, empty of positive experiences or contribution.

   As in so many other domains of life, Self-Determination Theory offers a roadmap for building work lives and company cultures that enable both individuals and organizations to flourish. Indeed, the focus on basic need fulfillment in employees and customers, the emphasis on building cultures high in motivational quality and purpose, and the deployment of SDT-based solutions that help work organizations measure, understand, train, and respond to SDT principles makes this one of the most important applied areas for the Self-Determination Theory framework.

In Practice: Organizations and Work

Around the world, SDT is tackling numerous areas of work life, including:

     *   Measurement of the employee experience and work cultures
     *   Training and coaching of managers and leaders
     *   Understanding practical models for growth at all levels (employee, manager, leader, organization)
     *   Examining how SDT supports key cultural/HR domains, including:
        –   Performance Management
        –   Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
        –   Talent Retention and Development
        –   Total Rewards
        –   Employee Engagement
     *   Using SDT as a model for understanding the customer experience (and demonstrating the link between need supportive work cultures and happy customers)

Suggested Readings & Research


(2018) Motivation and Emotion

Leader autonomy support in the workplace: A meta-analytic review

Richard Ryan

(2018) Advances in Developing Human Resources

Self-determination theory in human resource development: New directions and practical considerations

C. Scott Rigby Richard Ryan

(2021) Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

Interventions to support autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs in organizations: A systematic review with recommendations for research and practice

(2020) Contemporary Clinical Trials

Feasibility and preliminary effects of a peer-led motivationally-embellished workplace walking intervention: A pilot cluster randomized trial (the START trial)

Cecilie Thogersen-Ntoumani Nikos Ntoumanis

(2022) Applied Research in Quality of Life

Using Self-Determination Theory to understand when and how money buys happiness: A cross-sectional and intervention study

Jacques Forest

(2019) International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior

Show me the money: Towards a model for a cost-benefit analysis of employee engagement interventions

Marcus Mueller

(2014) Journal of Physical Activity & Health

Step by step: The feasibility of a 16-week workplace lunchtime walking intervention for physically inactive employees

Cecilie Thogersen-Ntoumani Joan Duda

(2019) Journal of Occupational Health Psychology

Worksite physical activity intervention and somatic symptoms burden: The role of coworker support for basic psychological needs and autonomous motivation

Anja Olafsen Hallgeir Halvari