The work motivation of research scientists and its effect on research performance

James C. Ryan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    48 Citations (Scopus)


    This research examines the work motivation profile of research scientists and the effect of work motivation on research performance. A sample of United Kingdom-based research scientists (N=405) working in the chemical, biological and biomedical research domains took part in the study. Participants completed a survey based measure of motivational sources and self-report research performance evaluation. The motivational sources of internal self-concept motivation and instrumental motivation were found to be the strongest and weakest respectively for research scientists. External self-concept motivation was found to be significantly higher among younger scientists. No gender differences were found in the motivational profile of scientists. While controlling for the influences of age and gender, internal self-concept motivation was found to have a significant positive effect on research performance, and instrumental motivation was found to have a significant negative effect on research performance. Consistent with prior research, differences in research performance across age and gender were also identified. The implications of these findings for our understanding of the effective management of scientific research are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)355-369
    Number of pages15
    JournalR and D Management
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Business and International Management
    • General Business,Management and Accounting
    • Strategy and Management
    • Management of Technology and Innovation


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