Motivation Governance

23 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2013

See all articles by Bruno S. Frey

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA; University of Basel

Margit Osterloh

University of Basel; Professor (em.) University of Zurich

Date Written: April 26, 2012


Standard economics uses a one-dimensional concept of motivation. It assumes that people are perfectly rational and are solely motivated in a selfish way. This essay argues that people differ in their preferences with respect to pro-social orientations, that preferences are plastic and systematically susceptible to the design of institutions, working conditions, and the quality of human interactions, that individuals partly lack self-control in following their preferences, and that preferences often are not known to the individuals and are wrongly interpreted. We discuss measures for motivation governance derived from the insights of psychological economics.

Suggested Citation

Frey, Bruno S. and Osterloh, Margit, Motivation Governance (April 26, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Bruno S. Frey (Contact Author)

CREMA ( email )

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Zurich, CH 8008
+41 44 380 00 78 (Phone)

University of Basel ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
Basel, 4002

Margit Osterloh

University of Basel ( email )

Petersplatz 1
Basel, CH-4003

Professor (em.) University of Zurich ( email )

Südstrasse 11
Zürich, CH-8008

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