Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version

Fall 12-2012


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Marilyn L. Grady. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Kevin R. Wesley


The study of worker motivation and human motivation in general, has been the focus of psychologists, sociologists, behavioral scientists, and leadership theorists for more than a century. An understanding of the factors that motivate workers is critical not only to corporate executives who concentrate on the bottom line, but more importantly to the security of our nation as it relates to competing in the global market. The purpose of this mixed-methods study is to examine worker motivation in a Nebraska manufacturing company. A pragmatist worldview informs the convergent parallel design of this study, which consists of a qualitative strand using interviews and observation, and a quantitative strand using surveys. Factors pertaining to worker motivation identified through grounded theory methodology merge with data gathered from quantitative strategies to better understand this phenomenon through the experiences of the workers. The quantitative study relies upon survey data, which was designed using the elements of Frederick Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation (Herzberg, Mausner, & Synderman, 1959) as a basis. Congruence and incongruence between the motivation factors identified at the research site and those identified by Herzberg are examined using an interpretive qualitative approach and by merging qualitative and quantitative data through discussion and matrix integration. This dissertation builds on the fundamental tenets of Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation (Herzberg, et al., 1959) and provides insight into factors that motivate the workforce. The findings inform leaders and educators and aid in developing new curricula for workforce training that incorporates the factors of individual worker motivation. Understanding what motivates workers at the individual level will result in larger collective social benefits, private and social organizational success, and position the United States favorably to compete in the global marketplace.

Advisor: Marilyn L. Grady