Three C’s of Intrinsic Motivation

By John Dudovskiy

Intrinsic MotivationThomas (2009) offers a comprehensive analysis of issues associated with intrinsic motivation at work. The author argues that “intrinsic rewards come to workers directly from the work they do – satisfactions like pride of workmanship or the sense that they are really helping customers” (Thomas, 2009, p.13).

Three C’s of intrinsic motivation have been identified by Kohn (1993) as collaboration, content and choice. Specifically, according to Kohn (1993), collaboration involves creating an atmosphere where employees can cooperate with each-other as team members, whereas, content relates to understating the manner in which any specific job adds value and contributes to the achievement of organisational objectives. Choice element of intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, involves providing greater freedom and autonomy to employees in terms of dealing with their responsibilities, and increasing the level of their involvement in decision-making.

It is important to note that although the theoretical framework of three C’s of intrinsic motivation has been introduced by Kohn (1993) almost two decades ago; it is still adequately relevant in modern work environment.



Kohn, A. (1993) “Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes”

Thomas, K.T. (2009) “Intrinsic Motivation at Work: What Really Drives Employee Engagement” 2nd edition, Berrett-Koehler Store

Category: HRM