GRA 2267 Motivational Science―Creating Work Motivation and Motivating Work Environments

GRA 2267 Motivational Science―Creating Work Motivation and Motivating Work Environments

Course code: 
GRA 2267
Leadership and Organizational Behaviour
Course coordinator: 
Christina G. Leonore Nerstad
Anton Gollwitzer
Course name in Norwegian: 
Motivational Science―Creating Work Motivation and Motivating Work Environments
Product category: 
MSc in Leadership and Organisational Psychology
2023 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

Why do we do the things we do at work? Understanding the answer to this question has for a long time been a goal of psychologists, philosophers, employers, employees, and researchers. Motivational science, and work motivation which falls within such a science, addresses this question and its possible answers from various angles. Motivational science seeks to understand the influence, interplay, and mechanisms by which internal and external forces influence the direction, intensity, and/or persistence of behavior. Theory and research on work motivation aims to understand and describe the processes, mechanisms, and boundary conditions which influence work related behaviors.

From a practical perspective, the study of work motivation refers not just to understanding the forces and psychological processes that impinge on employee behavior. It also refers to the application of that understanding to the arrangement of work conditions and implementation of management practices that encourage and sustain employee resource allocations in the form of time, effort, cooperation, knowledge sharing and transfer.

This course will review theory and research in the field of motivational science in the workplace, and how it can be applied toward managing human resources effectively and serve as an integral part of the performance equation at all levels in organizations. Students will gain understanding of motivation in historical perspective, as a process, its sources, its boundary conditions, and its relationship with work-related outcomes. The course will also address how to facilitate motivating work environments and in turn adaptive motivation so that employees continue to enjoy their work and achieve their personal and organizational goals.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

By the end of the course the candidate:

  • has advanced knowledge within the academic field of motivational science in the workplace.
  • has advanced knowledge about a selection of motivational theories.
  • has advanced knowledge about the methods used to assess work motivation.
  • has specialized knowledge about the sources, boundary conditions, and consequences of motivation in the workplace.
  • can apply knowledge from the field of motivational science to develop strategies to sustain, develop, and increase work motivation in the workplace.
Learning outcomes - Skills

By the end of the course the candidate:

  • can analyse and critically evaluate theories and studies in motivational science.
  • can use motivational theories to structure and formulate scholarly arguments.
  • can analyse existing theories, methods and interpretations in the motivational science field and work independently on practical and theoretical problems.
  • can use relevant knowledge from motivational theories and related empirical evidence when making and implementing decisions in organizations.
  • Conveys advanced knowledge through presentation and discussion.
General Competence

By the end of the course the candidate:

  • can critically examine and use different theoretical approaches and perspectives from the field of motivational science to understand and analyse various situations and issues relating to work motivation.
  • can critically reflect upon, communicate, and discuss a selection of theories and research findings from the motivational science field.
  • can communicate about academic issues, analyses, and conclusions in the motivational science field, both with specialists and the general public.
Course content

Topics covered in the course include:

  • Motivation and emotion at work
  • Psychological needs and implicit motives at work
  • Autonomous and controlled work motivation
  • Work related goal setting, striving, and achievement goals
  • Mindsets and personal control beliefs
  • Self-regulation and growth motivation
  • Unconscious work motivation
  • Work motivational environments
  • Work motivational interventions
Teaching and learning activities

The course is structured as a combination of lectures, discussions, in-class activities, and asynchronous/synchronous group work. It requires a substantial amount of preparation by the students and active involvement during class. A course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of 160-180 hours.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

Please note that while attendance in the lectures is not mandatory, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class that is not included on Itslearning, textbook, or articles.

All literature in the course is mandatory. For the course paper, it is expected that the students use the course literature and show mastery and understanding of the material covered in the course. The course paper counts 100% of the final grade and is supposed to be written by up to 3 students (graded as a group).

Approximately 12 hours of the total course will be asynchronous.


All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.


Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

Required prerequisite knowledge


Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
Group/Individual (1 - 3)
1 Week(s)
Course paper
Exam code: 
GRA 22672
Grading scale: 
Examination when next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
Total weight: 
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.