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In relation to answering the research questions of finding the relationship between self-development and completion of an individual development plan and knowing the factors that lead to the successful completion of an Individual Development Plan using the theoretical framework of Self  Determination Theory (SDT)  by Ryan and Deci (2000) concerning Autonomy Orientation, controlled orientation, and Impersonal Orientation of the motivational theory of SDT, this literature review provides a way to discuss and analyze the various theories and concepts as used by other authors in relation to employee self-development.

This literature review will discuss, the history of employee self-development, intrinsic motivation as it affects self-development, human behavior, the role of supervisor in self-development, performance feedback, empower work environment, continuous learning organization and the factors influencing the choice of development behavior.


1. History of employee self-development

The history of employee self-development may be deemed to have started by the time that there was employer-employee relationship created and this could be as old as when business entities got started.  If employees want to produce, output for his/her employer, it cannot be assumed that he or she is not making an organized effort to strive and transcend mediocrity.

Such is also expected since the employer should expect no less than the best of the employee since customers happen to look for the best quality of the product or best service offered and made available in the market.  When an employee strives for self-development, the employee may be actually doing what satisfies his/her person’s inner being as he/she finds meaning or happiness in life or as answer to an economic, social or other need.  Work is an expression of man’s lot in life itself, so that removing one’s work could amount to depriving a great part of a person’s life.

It can even be asserted that the purpose of all of man’s education whether in science or humanities, his sole purpose is actually self-actualization through  self-development, because in the end,  a fulfilled or self-actualized life alone would give the satisfaction that human person lives life meaningfully (V. Jayaram, 2007).

2. Intrinsic Motivation

Inherent in a person’s desire for employee self- development is motivation, which could be either intrinsic or extrinsic.  Although the focus of this paper is intrinsic motivation, there is strong ground to distinguish it from external motivation for better understanding.

One gets motivated if one is moved to do something and to feel no impetus or inspiration to act is therefore characterized as unmotivated.  Since people have different amounts and different kinds of motivation,  there is basis to investigate the matter if one would attempt to approach how to use the same in employee self-development.

Orientation of motivation refers to the causal attitudes and goals that produce action.  Hence, it is “the why of actions” (Ryan and  Deci, 2000b).  To illustrate by authors, a student can be greatly emotivated to do homework due to curiosity and interests or the same student just want to do the same passionate study to be able to please a teacher or have parent’s approval.

  It would be more reasonable under the concept of intrinsic motivation, that the student’s motivation for learning a new set of skills is due to his or her understanding about the potential  value of the activity in producing goods and with all the privileges of what good grade could afford.  In the given examples the amount of motivation may indeed be the same but what varies from the nature and focus of the motivation (Ryan and  Deci, 2000b).

In SDT, Deci & Ryan (1985) distinguished between different types of motivation based on the different reasons or goals that give rise to an action with the most basic distinction between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.  The first type of motivation would refer to doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable while the latter would be doing something because it leads to separable outcome.

The more than three decades of research have shown that the quality of experience and performance can vary differently when one is behaving for intrinsic versus extrinsic reasons, thus knowing the difference between the two should be important in knowing on which part should intervention come given corresponding cost in any intervention made for employee self-development either financially or in some other aspects like the risks of committing errors and the cost of experimenting based on untested knowledge (Ryan and  Deci, 2000b). The authors did revisit  the classic distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and summarized the functional difference of these two general types of  motivation (Ryan and  Deci, 2000b).

Intrinsic motivation has been an important topic in the academic work as from it one could observe a normal source of learning and achievement that can seen in practices of parents and teachers (Ryan & Stiller, 1991).  Intrinsic motivation is believed to  produce  high-quality learning and creativity and is especially important in understanding in detail the factors and forces that create rather than destroy motivation  (Ryan and  Deci, 2000b).

The classic definition between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as revisited by Ryan and  Deci, (2000b) was focused on detailing the conditions that promote each.  Thus in the same study, the authors were concerned  “with how teachers, parents and other socialize can lead students to internalize the responsibility and sense of value for extrinsic goals, or alternatively, how can they foster the more typically depicted “alienated” type of extrinsic motivation that is associated with low student persistence, interest, and involvement” (Ryan and  Deci, 2000b).

In the study, Ryan and  Deci, (2000b) defined  intrinsic motivation “as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfaction rather than some separable consequence.”  They argued that an intrinsically motivated  person is moved to act for fun or challenged entailed rather than because of external prods, pressures, or rewards.  Citing the work White (1959), they asserted that the phenomenon on intrinsic motivation was first acknowledged within experimental studies of animal behavior, where it was discovered that many organisms engaged in exploratory, playful, and curiosity-driven behaviors even in the absence of reinforcement or reward (Ryan and  Deci, 2000b).

In appreciating the presence of the spontaneous behaviors, which they found to be clearly bestowing adaptive benefits on the organism,  they asserted that said behaviors appear not to been done for any such instrumental reason, but rather for the positive experiences associated with exercising and extending ones capacities.  They also asserted that in humans, intrinsic motivation is not in the only motivation, or even of volitional activity, but it is a pervasive and important one (Ryan and Deci, 2000b).  Such a finding provides that motivation is part of nature of humans.

In  finding that  humans under normal circumstance to be  active, inquisitive, curious, and playful creatures from birth and onwards as they  display an ever-present readiness to learn and explore, extraneous incentives would seem to be of little use (Ryan and Deci, 2000b).  In seeing this inherent and natural motivational tendency to grow in knowledge and skills, the authors found  a decisive element in human development  cognitively, socially and even physically.  To be inclined to have interest in innovation, to absorb actively, and to apply human skills creatively, such is asserted to be found throughout life from childhood (Ryan and Deci, 2000b).

For the purpose of this paper, there is strong reason to be affected by the findings of Ryan and Deci (2000b) although, in one sense, intrinsic motivation exists within individuals, in another sense intrinsic motivation exists in the relation between individuals and activities.  They noted that people are intrinsically motivated for some activities and not others, and not everyone is intrinsically motivated for any particular task.  Thus, they asserted that because intrinsic motivation exists in the nexus between the person and the task, some persons have defined intrinsic motivation in terms of the task being interesting while others have defined it in terms of the satisfactions a person gains from intrinsically motivated engagement (Ryan and Deci, 2000b).

3. Human behavior

Human behavior is an indispensable concept in relation to motivation since knowing and understanding how human behaves given a stimulus could produce a motivation is paramount in self-development.  In management, several behavioral theories became favorite subjects of study and investigation with purpose of motivating people as way to increase performance of employees.

Ryan, and  Deci (2000a) argued that since intrinsic motivation exists in the connection between  a person and task, some authors have defined intrinsic motivation in terms of the tasks being interesting while others have defined it in terms of the satisfactions a person may get from intrinsically motivated task engagement.

The authors believed in part, that these different definitions derived from the fact that the concept of intrinsic motivation was proposed as a critical reaction to the two behavioral theories that were dominant in empirical psychology from the 1940s to the 1960s.  They were specifically referring to  the operant theory (Skinner, 1953 ) which maintained that all behaviors are motivated by rewards which may be in the form of money or food,  intrinsically motivated activities were said to be ones for which reward was made relevant in the activity itself (Ryan, and  Deci (2000a).

Another important theory on behavior that could affect the design of employee development plan is the learning theory (Hull, 1953) which asserts in contrast that that all behaviors are moved and affected by physiological drives including their derivatives.  This theory in turn argues for the greater influence of intrinsically motivated activities that provide one’s satisfaction because of the natural psychological needs (Ryan and Deci, 2000a).

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