Rewards, Control and Open Source
Referencing: Studies Find Reward Often No Motivator
This is an interesting study that claims to show that getting paid for work can diminish the quality of the job. That, of course, is very interesting in the light of open source development.
People have often assumed that there must be some reward mechanism at work: peer recognition, some amount of fame, etc. But this suggests that the reward can be entirely internal, that doing the job is reward enough. Even more interesting, they say:
There is general agreement, however, that not all rewards have the same effect. Offering a flat fee for participating in an experiment - similar to an hourly wage in the workplace - usually does not reduce intrinsic motivation. It is only when the rewards are based on performing a given task or doing a good job at it - analogous to piece- rate payment and bonuses, respectively - that the problem develops. The key, then, lies in how a reward is experienced. If we come to view ourselves as working to get something, we will no longer find that activity worth doing in its own right.
That contradicts the ideas of performance bonuses, etc. As an aside, I've always had the opinion that independent contracting is much more satisfying than employment, and this may be why. When you consult or otherwise provide a service, the payment is more disassociated from the work - effectively it reverses the relationship. With employment it's "you do this, and I'll pay you that", while for the independent it is "you pay me this, and I'll do that" - a very subtle distinction, but it may be psychologically important because it reverses who is in control.
The study suggests that control is probably the most important factor in happiness and work satisfaction: the more control you have over your environment, the more your choices matter, the happier you will be. Sadly, many people have very little control of much in their lives, and may have no way to change that condition.
Open Source development does offer that control, which answers the skeptics questions as to why people do this apparently thankless work. But there may be more here: one of the complaints people sometimes have about open source projects is that they can run off on their own, ignoring custom and practise. That plainly is a control issue: the developer is "doing it my way".
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