How does it feel and how does it look? The role of employee motivation in organizational learning type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Employees' work outcomes vary as a function of their focus on exploring new possibilities versus exploiting current opportunities. But what determines how employees divide their attention between these contrasting work behaviors? Drawing on studies on work motivation and employees' impression management concerns, we examine how intrinsic work motivation and self-enhancement motivation relate to the exploration–exploitation balance and how environmental dynamism moderates these relationships. Based on the analyses of a sample of 638 employees in 34 organizations in Finland, we find that intrinsic work motivation is positively associated with employees' focus on exploration relative to exploitation. By contrast, self-enhancement motivation negatively associates with exploration relative to exploitation, but this relationship is nonlinear, such that as self-enhancement motivation increases, its positive association with exploitation diminishes. The findings also show that the hypothesized nonlinear relationship between self-enhancement motivation and exploration is particularly pronounced in stable business environments. Our findings contribute to organizational learning research and provide a new theoretical perspective on pursuing exploration and exploitation in organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-955
Issue number8
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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