participants in the Stanford LEAD Program

Motivating Employees

Motivating employees to provide consummate effort — going above and beyond nominal job requirements — is a key to organizational success. But motivation is not a one-size-fits-all task.

What you should do to motivate your employees depends on a host of factors specific to your situation. And it requires you to understand the relationship your employees have with your organization, with their job, and with the work they do.

That relationship is both economic and social in character, so understanding it requires that you employ both economic and social psychological perspectives. In this course, we develop both perspectives, seeing how and when the two are complementary and how and when they conflict.

Course Introduction


Key Topics

  • Motivation as alignment of interests
  • The economic theory of incentives: What is it, and what are its strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do senior executives say about effective motivation
  • Employment as an ongoing economic relationship: Transaction-cost economics
  • Employment as a social relationship
  • Social-psychological theories of motivation
  • Motivation and teams
  • Motivation and your employees


Marineh Lalikian
Director, Stanford LEAD Online Business Program Executive Education