Sustainable Employee Motivation: Selfish or Selfless?

fist-with-moneyWho contributes the most to organizations? Employees working selfishly to benefit themselves, or employees working selflessly to benefit others?

Recent research reveals a surprising answer: neither. For starters, it turns out that in contrast to popular belief, self-interest and concern for others are not mutually exclusive. In a series of studies, psychologist Carsten De Dreu has documented that self-interest and concern for others are independent motives. And it’s a balance of the two motivations together, not purely selfish or selfless motivation, that drives the highest levels of effort and performance. Why?

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Adam Grant

Adam Grant

Adam Grant is the youngest tenured professor at The Wharton School and the author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. Learn more about Adam at his website,

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