Towards an Understanding of Work Motivation in Temporary Organizations


By Dr. Ravikiran Dwivedula
American College of Dubai, UAE

Prof Christophe Bredillet
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Canada 

Prof Ralf Müller
Dept. of Leadership & Organizational Behaviour, BI Norwegian Business School


The purpose of this study is to propose an operational definition of work motivation in temporary organizations. We use job design perspective of work motivation as a theoretical lens. We present an extensive review of job design theories from I/O psychology and present the work motivation literature from temporary organizations along these theories. We then identify items for the work motivation construct based on this literature review. We empirically test the reliability and validity of these items using a survey with a sample of 199 project workers. The findings confirm the previously established construct of work motivation. Academic and managerial implications of these findings are discussed.

Key Words: Work Motivation, Project Management, Temporary Organizations


Work motivation is a driver to organization’s performance. Work motivation as a topic draws interest both from practitioners, and academic. It has been shown to lead to attitudinal, behaviour (Pierce, Gardner, Dunham, & Cummings, 1993) and performance outcomes (Moorehead& Griffin, 1998). Hence, it has important implications for managing the workforce. From an academic perspective, work motivation is a key construct in organizational research, where much research has been dedicated to an understanding of its antecedents and outcomes (Moorehead, & Griffin, 1998). While it has been extensively studied in Industrial/ Organizational (I/O) psychology literature, research from project management discipline on this topic has been modest and sporadic. In the current paper, we address this research gap. The present study contributes to the extant literature by suggesting an operational framework of work motivation for temporary organizations. To do this, we set the following objectives for this study:

  1. To consolidate the literature review on work motivation in temporary organizations by establishing a theory base
  2. To propose a possible operational definition of work motivation in temporary organizations.

Organization of the paper. We have organized this paper as follows. First, we will review the major theories of work motivation from the Industrial/ Organizational (I/O) psychology literature. We will refer to the context or the job design perspective of work motivation. Second, we will review literature on work motivation in temporary organizations along the major theories of work motivation identified from the I/O psychology literature. Third, we will present the research design where we empirically test the proposed construct of work motivation. Fourth, we will present the findings. Fifth, we will discuss the findings in detail, followed by the concluding remarks.


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 2nd annual University of Maryland Project Management Symposium in College Park, Maryland, USA in June 2015. It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.


About the Authors


pmwj38-Sep2015-Dwivedula-PHOTO1Dr. Ravikiran Dwivedua

Dubai, UAE



Dr. Ravikiran Dwivedula
(Ravi) is an Associate Professor of Management, and MBA Program Director with American College of Dubai, UAE. His research interests are broadly in the area of Work Motivation, and Employee Commitment in Temporary Organizations. His teaches Human Resource Management, Organization Behavior, and Project Management. He has been a contributor and reviewer for major project management journals such as Project Management Journal, and International Journal of Project Management. He has also presented and reviewed papers for major research conferences including PMI Research Conferences, EURAM, and IRNOP. He can be contacted at [email protected]


Ppmwj38-Sep2015-Dwivedula-PHOTO2 BREDILLETrof Christophe Bredillet




Professor Christophe N. Bredillet
, PhD, D.Sc., IPMA Level A, FAPM is professor of project management at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR). He is the Scientific Director, Société française pour l¹avancement du Management de Projet (SMaP) and adjunct Professor at Queensland University of Technology’ (QUT) Project Management Academy. He specializes in the fields of Portfolio, Program & Project Management (P3M). From 2012 to 2015, he was the Director of the QUT Project Management Academy. Before joining QUT, he was Senior Consultant World Bank and, from 1992 to 2010, he was the Dean of Postgraduate Programs and Professor of Strategic Management and P3M at ESC Lille. His main interests and research activities are in the field of Philosophy of Science and Practice in P3M, including dynamic of evolution of the field, bodies of knowledge, standards, and their link with capability development, capacity building, governance and performance. He was Executive Editor of Project Management Journal® between 2004 and 2012. In 2012, he received the prestigious Manfred Saynish Foundation for Project Management (MSPM) – Project Management Innovation Award for his contribution to a philosophy of science with respect to complex project management.  He can be contacted at [email protected]


pmwj38-Sep2015-Dwivedula-PHOTO3 MULLERDr Ralf Müller




Dr Ralf Müller
is Professor of Project Management and former Associate Dean at BI Norwegian Business School, as well as adjunct and visiting professor at many institutions worldwide. He lectures and researches in leadership, governance of projects, organizational project management, and research methods. He is the (co-)author of more than 160 academic publications. Among the many awards he received is the 2015 PMI Research Achievement Award (a life-time achievement award), and the 2012 IPMA Research Award, which he received together with Monique Aubry and Brian Hobbs. Before joining academia, he spent 30 years in the industry consulting with large enterprises and governments in more than 50 different countries for their project management and governance. He also held related line management positions, such as the Worldwide Director of Project Management at NCR Corporation. Professor Müller can be contacted at [email protected]