[Beyond boredom and anxiety] Consequences of management based on external motivations

Disclaimer: This is an idea from Beyond Boredom and Anxiety,

Management based on external motivations assume that people are only motivated by external pressures and factors

The management of behavior as frequently practiced is based on the assumption that humans are only motivated by external pressures and factors.

From young ages, children are taught by rewards and punishment what behaviors should be conducted. Later on in school and work, they are motivated through symbolic representation of external pressure ( grade, a steady job, etc). By the time they are adults, they are already conditioned to react to external cues, such as money or rewards.

But clearly some people are motivated by internal drives

A common-sense assumption is that pursuing external rewards is pursuing basic needs of a human being. However, it is more of a motivation learned by an individual’s attempt to socialize.

Children need to be taught the value of a dollar. They all participate in a social game in which the society told them that the wining goal is to maximize the amount of money each of them can get. The Society also establishes settings in which individuals who do not abide this rule are perceived as not in possession of valuable things. Another evidence weakening this assumption is the existence of people who pursue things that are not materialistic.

From our own experience, we can see that some people are motivated not solely by external factors but also something more immaterial and internal.

However, management based on external motivations does work to a certain extent

This motivational system has proved to be effective because it produces predictable productivity. By representing external rewards by money and status, society can allot more precisely this kind of rewards. This allows effective planning where the amount of money and status can be calculated fairly accurately.

The general acceptance of external rewards enabled the law of supply and demand which is based on the concept that some commodities are desirable and that people are motivated to work in exchange for them.

But it doesn’t work well if we want to enjoy our work

But why do we need to regulate this kind of external rewards if the system built around it has proved to be effective? Because if one accepts the proposition that value of work is solely determined by the amount of external rewards, the consequence is that one starts to adjust his behaviors toward the optimization of external rewards, and that enjoyment is not factored into the equation.

Thus, the situation appears to be that what one must do cannot be enjoyable, and we have separated between work and leisure where the former produces value but the latter produces enjoyment.

And if we want to create a better society

A more practical consequence is that if one optimizes his behavior towards producing value in which value is defined by external rewards, he also optimizes his behavior towards minimizing the enjoyment in his life, because resources like time and will-power are finite.

This means that, gradually as more individuals progress towards this optimization, the society – which is a system of relationships between people, will also progress towards materialism based on which relationships can only fragilely maintained. Thus, the society will cease to be a society because no individuals find value in interacting with each other meaningfully.

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