PSY320 / Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation – General Electric

GE was founded in 1892 with the merger of two businesses, Edison General Electric Company, (founded by Thomas Edison) and The Thomas-Houston Company. ( Today many of Edison’s initial businesses are still in full swing at General Electric. GE offers a full line of products to the public.

The businesses that go under the General Electric umbrella is: Commercial Finance, Consumer Finance, Consumer & Industrial (Appliances and Lighting) Energy, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Insurance, Transportation (Aircraft and Railway) and NBC. ( GE continues to acquire businesses the produce growth amongst their numbers.

Recently GE announced a record 15.6 billion dollars in earnings for 2003. In addition to this information 9 of the 11 businesses reported double-digit growth in 2003, ensuring stockholders that GE once again is a company here to stay. During the days of integrity, and immoral issues at corporate level, GE continues to be voted the most respected corporation in the world. This is the sixth straight year that GE has received this award. This year GE ranked number 1 in the fields of integrity, corporate governance, and creating shareholder social responsibility. (


As per the chart above it is easy to see that GE continues to increase in cumulative dividend growth year after year. Some of the financial highlights for 2002 were $131.7 billion in revenue, Net earnings of $14.1 billion, International Revenue of $52.9 billion and Total Assets of $575.0 billion. Previous years are as follows:

Year Consolidated Revenues Earnings Per Share Cumulative Cash Flow

1997 $89 Billion $.83 $30 billion

1998 $100 Billion $.96 $44 billion

1999 $110 billion $1.02 $53.8 billion

2000 $132 billion $1.32 $68.2 billion

2001 $125.9 billion $1.41 $84.9 billion


Rewards can be used in many different ways. For instance some or a lot of people in this world like to have someone recognize that they did a good job and all they would like is for someone to say thank you. Other types of rewards are what are called Thanks Awards. There are awards that allow the person to spend money for what they want. Recipients will receive an email the next business day with a link to the award site to choose a $25 certificate from more than 400 merchants.

The recipients will be given the option of where to have the certificate mailed to them. From there they can click on a web link that will display all of the merchants. This allow for everyone to pick and choose things that they want or to spend time with other people. There is a limit of how many a single individual can receive in one year. They can only receive 4 a year so it would make it to where people will not get board of them right away.

There are other awards that can be given out for people that really go the extra mile. GEM Awards are to recognize individuals or teams for creative or unusual efforts on a particular project and for other noteworthy achievements. It is an ideal way to recognize the extra hours devoted to a project or to acknowledge continuing contributions above and beyond the expected level of performance. These awards start at $50 to $250 for each award that is given to person who matches the criteria for going that that extra mile. There are two other types of awards and they are called Management or President’s Awards.

The Management Award is to recognize individuals or teams with a specific impact on operational effectiveness and performance and provide tangible business benefits. The President’s Award is to recognize individuals and teams making exceptional contributions that have an immediate and significant impact on GEMS’ strategic imperatives. The amount for these types of awards start at $300 to $3,000 and the individuals can use the money as they see fit.


The greatest thing about working for company such as GE is that they realize that their success is because of their employees. They spend more $2 million dollars a year to thank their employees but more importantly to keep their employees motivated (GEMS, 2004). GE motivates their employee with numerous programs that have been previously discussed. GE counts on their employees to have intrinsic motivation but know that sometimes-extrinsic motivators are necessary.

Extrinsic motivators come from both environmental incentives and consequences (pg. 119). GE has provided many incentives for their employees. Incentives are emotional events that will attract an employee to toward a particular course of action (pg. 120). GE has found these incentives to be important in both attracting new employees and the retention of the talent they already employee. They want their employees to enjoy coming to work so they increase the productivity of their employees.

The reason why GE is successful with their incentives that they offer their employees is because they follow the basic rules of keeping their employees motivated. The first thing that GE does is to ensure that all their incentives are available to all their employees. They also use employee surveys to see the type of incentives employees really want. GE realizes that if the incentives are not something their employees want then it will fail to motivate them. This does not mean there is not room for improvement.

Even with the great incentives that GE offer there is still room for improvement. A simple way to improve their system would be to offer more informal incentives. These could include just a simple thank you or even sponsoring a lunch for their employees. Sometimes a “trophy value” can last longer than cash. Good examples of this would taking a picture of the employee being congratulated by his or her manager then display the photo in a prominent location. Another good way is to have an outstanding employee to mentor another employee (Ruffolo, 2000). These are simple ways to help keep employees motivated.