18 May 2022


Drive: The Surprising Things that Motivate Us (2009) Review

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Academic level: Master’s

Paper type: Book Report

Words: 1666

Pages: 6

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Drive: The Surprising Things that Motivate Us (2009) is a book written by Daniel H Pink which describes how intrinsic factors motivate people into doing certain activities. The book tries to debunk lifelong theories which have attributed external factors as sources of motivation for humans and other animals. Those extrinsic factors include rewards and punishments which make a person or an animal take or leave certain behaviors. The author starts by highlighting previous studies about motivation and how it shaped human life for centuries. He classifies motivation in three different classes and how each type has directed people to take certain actions. The first category includes decisions and actions human beings and other animals take to survive. They include looking for food to avoid hunger and looking for a mate to satisfy sexual needs. The second category includes actions and decisions human beings and animals may take or leave to get a reward or avoid punishment (Pink, 2009, p. 10) . Therefore, a person will consider the external gain or pain before deciding on the behavior to adapt or leave. The third type includes internal factors that make a person or an animal take certain actions or behavior. One may derive personal satisfaction or may have a particular purpose in undertaking a certain activity and thus the person does not need external motivation. The book illustrates the limitations of using extrinsic motivation and the need to rely on intrinsic one.

Roles of the Author’s Concepts in Human Resource Management

Extrinsic Motivation

The author explains how intrinsic and extrinsic motivation plays significant roles in human or animal behavior. He classifies extrinsic motivation in two categories namely, due to survival and to get a reward or avoid a punishment. Therefore, there are certain activities a person undertakes as a means of survival and thus will do them to gain personal satisfaction. Therefore, such a person will undertake those tasks as long as the need is there. This feature can turn disadvantageous to a company as a person may work within a certain limit which indicates satisfaction. In an organizational setting, Daniel suggests that the employer needs to pay workers fairly so that they don’t work only to satisfy human needs. The second category of motivation involves undertaking a certain activity or adopting a particular behavior to get a specific reward or avoid a punishment. Therefore, the person will commit to such a task depending on the presence of external motivation. It means that failure to induce such factors will make the person stop undertaking the activity or go back to the former behavior. However, reward or punishment motivation has various limitations in human life. First, this type of motivation antagonizes how people organize their activities as it focuses on the results rather than the process to achieve certain goals. The author likens this phenomenon to an organization formed for profit and another one started with a view of solving a particular problem in society. The first one will always target getting as much profit as possible irrespective of the means used (Pink, 2009, p. 7) . Therefore, workers in such an organization will put effort up to a certain level which might be the profit margin the management intends to achieve. The second limitation of reward or punishment-driven motivation is its failure to equip a person with rational thinking. Therefore, people tend to hold bad behaviors or investments hoping to get higher gain without thinking about the real value one loses for such a decision. Lastly, reward or punishment-driven motivation is its failure to fit in heuristic tasks and thus less creativity. This type of motivation programs a person to undertake certain activities using particular models without looking for alternatives.

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Intrinsic Motivation


Purpose involves goals and objectives a person wishes to achieve when undertaking a particular activity. It is an internal factor that contributes to a person adopting or leaving certain behavior or action. Therefore, one decides when and what to do without waiting for instructions from another person. The purpose concept plays a significant role in the human resource management of any organization. First, a worker may want to achieve certain personal goals and thus the need to put the effort into a particular activity. Those personal objectives may include the need to finish a specific task within a given period or gaining experience. To instil this motivation among employees, the human resource department needs to encourage them to set personal goals which are aligned with the organization’s mission and objectives. The department can also assure workers material support in achieving personal goals.


Autonomy is a person’s ability to make informed and independent decisions without external influence. In Daniel’s intrinsic motivation theory, a person may be motivated to undertake a particular activity or adopt a certain behavior as a way of exercising independence in thinking. Independent thinking comes with a trust other people may have in an individual and this may give one a personal gratification. In a business setting, many workers feel the need to exercise independent decision-making and thus undertaking certain activities or adoption of a particular behavior. Therefore, the human resource department needs to create a conducive environment where workers can exercise autonomy and make independent decisions (Pink, 2009, p 14-20) . This strategy may include adopting a flexible schedule and allowing workers to have a modest dressing while at work. Autonomy may lead to creativity within a company as workers innovate different strategies to use in undertaking certain tasks.


Mastery may motivate a person to undertake certain activities to get the necessary skills. Therefore, the repetition of such activity may make an individual to gain mastery and thus developing a behavior. Such a person derives self-gratification from the learning process and thus the person will not need external motivation to undertake the activity. Within an organization, there might be workers who wish to gain skills in a particular field, and thus the need for the human resource department to give them space and resources to achieve this goal. Therefore, motivating such workers with external incentives might interrupt their learning process and thus unable to master certain skills.

Professional Assessment Merit of Ideas the Author Present

Intrinsic Motivation

The author insinuated that the best motivation comes from internal factors which make a person undertake certain activities or adopt a particular behavior. From the previous researches, people tend to produce better results when having an internal drive rather than waiting for an external reward. Daniel claims that a person with intrinsic motivation will work towards achieving certain goals and won’t have any timeframe to complete the task. On the other hand, a person with extrinsic motivation will depend on a particular reward and thus the activity or the behavior’s timeframe depends on the existence of external factors. The stoppage of those rewards leads to the extinction of a particular behavior. There are various advantages an organization can derive from intrinsic motivation. The first advantage of using intrinsic motivation is its ability to bring high performance. Many studies have revealed that a person depending on internal motivation is likely to produce better results than the one waiting for rewards or avoiding punishment. In extrinsic motivation, the organization has to depend on cash or other material incentives to encourage hard work within an organization. Therefore, the cost of achieving certain goals will be high and thus having little or no net benefit. However, in intrinsic motivation, a person is inspired by a personal desire to achieve a certain goal and thus does not depend on external factors to reach that objective. Therefore, such motivated workers will significantly help a company achieve its goals with minimal or at no cost. The second advantage of intrinsic motivation is the ability to bring creativity and innovation. A person having this motivation seeks autonomy and independence in doing certain tasks and thus developing new methods and techniques (Pink, 2009, p. 49) . Lastly, intrinsic motivation leads to good behavior. A person develops a particular behavior out of the will to help other members of society by solving different problems. Therefore, such a person will not take a fake trait to get a certain reward or avoid a particular punishment.

Ideas to Apply in an Organizational or Personal Situation

The author has demonstrated how people have for a long time applied extrinsic motivation without getting desired results and thus the need to have an intrinsic one. In a personal situation, one should have an internal drive to achieve certain objectives without waiting for external rewards. In doing so, the person develops a long-lasting behavior and thus can reach greater heights as compared to the one depending on rewards. There are various situations where an organization can apply intrinsic motivation to encourage better performance and good behavior among workers. First, the management needs to give workers space to explore their autonomy as one of the ways to encourage intrinsic motivation. The company avoids incurring costs of rewarding workers who reach certain goals (Pink, 2009, p. 10-15) . Encouraging workers to have intrinsic motivation also encourages creativity in an organization as employees develop efficient methods or techniques for undertaking certain tasks or reaching particular goals. Secondly, the management needs to encourage workers to have a purpose while undertaking their duties. This strategy involves allowing employees to set personal goals they would want to achieve in their various positions. To facilitate this purpose, the management provides financial and material support each employee needs. Lastly, the management can allow workers to experiment with various capabilities in their fields and thus gaining the necessary skills required for different duties. Those skills contribute to better performance as the worker gains personal gratification from learning to perfect a particular activity. However, there are certain situations where dependence on intrinsic motivation leads to negative results for the organization. Not all employees are internally motivated and thus giving them more autonomy and freedom might lead to poor performance and the inability to reach the set goals. Therefore, the management needs to apply rewards and punishments to a certain level to achieve uniformity in the workforce. For instance, the organization can give workers a minimum number of objectives to achieve within a specific period, failure to which can lead to certain penalties. The management can also give little bonuses to employees who reach certain minimum goals as a way of encouraging them to put more effort.


The book illustrates the limitations of using extrinsic motivation and the need to rely on intrinsic one. For many years, people have believed that external factors influence people to undertake certain activities or adopt particular behaviors. However, the author reveals that through intrinsic motivation, people can produce a better performance on a personal and organizational level. Intrinsic motivation is divided into three categories, namely, purpose, autonomy, and mastery. A person may have an internal drive to achieve a certain goal, gain skills, or independence in thinking. Intrinsic motivation may have various benefits to an organization including high performance, good behavior, and creativity among workers. However, one cannot disregard the contribution of extrinsic motivation despite having various limitations.


Pink, D. (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us . Riverhead Books.

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