What drives motivated agents: the ‘right’ mission or sharing it with the principal?


Motivated agents are characterized by increasing their effort, if their work generates not only a monetary return for them but also a benefit for a mission they support. While their motivation may stem from working for their preferred (i.e., the ‘right’ mission, it may also be the principal’s choice of the right mission (i.e., a mission preference match) that motivates them. We investigate experimentally to what extent these two motivations are driving the effect of a mission on agent effort. We find that agents mostly care about whether the principal shares their mission. It seems that the full potential of ‘motivation by mission’ is realized only when principals share as well as support the agents’ mission, stressing the importance of identity aspects in labor market settings.

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics