Work motivation theory and research at the dawn of the twenty-first century

Annu Rev Psychol. 2005:56:485-516. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.142105.


In the first Annual Review of Psychology chapter since 1977 devoted exclusively to work motivation, we examine progress made in theory and research on needs, traits, values, cognition, and affect as well as three bodies of literature dealing with the context of motivation: national culture, job design, and models of person-environment fit. We focus primarily on work reported between 1993 and 2003, concluding that goal-setting, social cognitive, and organizational justice theories are the three most important approaches to work motivation to appear in the last 30 years. We reach 10 generally positive conclusions regarding predicting, understanding, and influencing work motivation in the new millennium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Cognition
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Feedback
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Research / trends*
  • Social Control, Informal
  • Social Justice