Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Michelle T. Violanti

Committee Members

John Haas, Kenneth Levine, Joan Rentsch


To be successful at work, individuals need to be productive. To be productive, environmental factors such proper equipment and abilities must be present, but employees must also possess some level of motivation to perform tasks correctly. To further uncover how and why employees are motivated this research project was designed to answer the overarching question: How are employees across organization types motivated by communication at work? Ten in-depth interviews, to redundancy, of full-time employees in different types of organizations comprise the starting data to answer this question. From this work, the researcher can offer greater insight into the motivation of employees by sharing their own words.

After interview data were collected and transcribed, analysis provided six themes that impact employee motivation at work: work performance, attitude, goal setting, performance feedback, empowerment/power and job satisfaction. Those themes were narrowed to focus on the communication oriented themes, goal setting, performance feedback, empowerment/power and job satisfaction. To fulfill the purpose of this project, responses were then used to guide and create a survey study to assess the extent to which organizational employees see these factors as motivating them at work. Based on the analysis from the qualitative potion of this work, two research questions were composed: Which combination of the following best predicts motivation: goal setting, performance feedback, empowerment/power and job satisfaction? And, which combination of the following best predicts job satisfaction: goal setting, performance feedback, empowerment/power and motivation? To answer these questions, a survey instrument was created. To test the instrument a pretest was facilitated using 166 college students who were currently working, or who had worked in the past. The resulting online instrument was facilitated by a snowball sample, which produced 181 adult participants who were currently working full-time, or had worked full-time in the past. Results of this study are encouraging as they indicate that demographic information does not have a statistically significant impact workplace motivation but communication themes do have a statistically significant impact. A full data analysis, limitations and suggestions for future research are also provided.

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Communication Commons