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Interventions to support autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs in organizations: A systematic review with recommendations for research and practice

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Abstract

Organizational research underpinned by self-determination theory (SDT) has grown substantially over the past decade. However, the effectiveness of interventions designed to promote support for basic psychological needs in organizations remains ill documented. We thus report the results of a qualitative systematic review and synthesis of SDT-informed studies of interventions to cultivate autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs, and in turn, autonomous motivation in organizational contexts. Studies were included in the review if they evaluated the effect of interventions to develop autonomy-, competence-, or relatedness-supportive work climates or leader behaviours. A systematic search yielded ten eligible field studies for inclusion: three randomized-controlled trials and seven non-randomized intervention studies (combined N = 2,337). Seven studies yielded mostly favourable effects, two yielded mixed effects, and one study showed no evidence of change post-intervention. Substantial heterogeneity in intervention format and delivery existed across studies. Studies pointed towards possible moderators of effectiveness. Interventions were more effective at spawning change at the proximal (leader) level than at the distal (subordinate) level, though few studies tracked employees over time to comprehensively evaluate long-term transfer. Bias assessments showed that risk of bias was moderate or high across studies. We discuss overall implications of the review and suggest several recommendations for future intervention research and practice. Practitioner points Interventions to help leaders to support subordinates' basic psychological needs are effective in creating change in leader behaviour.

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... First, we recommend that organizations design and implement intervention practices based on SDT principles to train supervisors to become more need-supportive and less need-thwarting toward their followers during interactions. Moreover, previous intervention studies provided evidence that leaders' motivating style is amenable and can be trained (Hardré & Reeve, 2009;Slemp, et al., 2021), such as employing self-reflections and one-on-one consultations to effectively enhance supervisors' need-supportive styles (Demerouti et al., 2019;Slemp, et al., 2021). ...
... First, we recommend that organizations design and implement intervention practices based on SDT principles to train supervisors to become more need-supportive and less need-thwarting toward their followers during interactions. Moreover, previous intervention studies provided evidence that leaders' motivating style is amenable and can be trained (Hardré & Reeve, 2009;Slemp, et al., 2021), such as employing self-reflections and one-on-one consultations to effectively enhance supervisors' need-supportive styles (Demerouti et al., 2019;Slemp, et al., 2021). ...
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... In the context of workplace mistreatment, practitioners may want to especially focus on fulfilling employees' need for relatedness, such as through constructive conflict management training (Einarsen et al., 2018) or by introducing networking and support events (e.g., Slemp et al., 2021). ...
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... Disiplin kerja akan meningkat apabila kebutuhan pegawai dapat terpenuhi. Kebutuhan dimaksud adalah kebutuhan dasar (Noltemeyer et al., 2021), yaitu berupa gaji yang diterima setiap bulan dan tidak mengalami keterlambatan pembayaran (Slemp et al., 2021). Kebutuhan selanjutnya adalah kebutuhan promosi jabatan, misalnya; promosi mengikuti diklat, promosi peningkatan karir dan promosi lainya yang dapat meningkatkan kepuasan para pegawai (Cui et al., 2021). ...
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... Need satisfaction, autonomous motivation, and subjective vitality increased, and amotivation and perceived stress decreased for participants in the experimental condition and review research has also confirmed that need-supportive behaviors at the workplace were effective in increasing workers' intrinsic motivation, performance, and job-related behaviors (Cerasoli et al., 2016;Slemp et al., 2021;Van den Broeck et al., 2016). ...
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... Dit zou te maken kunnen hebben met het niet betrekken van medewerkers in de co-creatiefase en hen niet actief laten deelnemen aan het trainingsprogramma. Een recent metaonderzoek naar leiderschapsinterventies op basis van de zelfdeterminatietheorie vond dat veel vergelijkbare interventies geen tot minimale spillover-effecten realiseerden (Slemp et al., 2021 ...
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... One possibility would be for managers to be instructed via training sessions on how to promote autonomy in the workplace and to take into account the ideas of others (see Su & Reeve, 2011). Also, other programs could be created to improve the cohesion between employees so that they feel part of a group (Slemp et al., 2021). ...
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Drawing on Job Demands-Resources and Self-Determination theories, this study investigates the relationship between two categories of environmental stressors (operational and organizational) and two indicators of ill-being (burnout and mental health complaints). It also studies the moderating role of psychological needs satisfaction in this relationship. The results showed that environmental stressors are positively related to burnout and mental health complaints in a sample of 345 Romanian correctional officers. Also, high needs for autonomy and relatedness moderated the relationship between stressors and ill-being. Satisfaction of the need for competence, in turn, did not moderate this relationship. This research demonstrates the essential role that satisfying psychological needs plays for the correctional officers' ill-being. The buffering roles of satisfaction of the needs for autonomy and relatedness in the stressor-strain relationship elicits a better understanding of the psychological resources that help maintain low levels of burnout and mental health complaints.
... SDT has been so far very useful in explaining individuals' optimal functioning in the workplace, which has been consistently found to exert positive influence on important organizational outcomes, such as engagement, performance, innovation and employee retention (see for instance, Brunelle and Fortin 2021;Olafsen et al. 2018;Slemp et al. 2021). Indeed, by developing a work context that favors the fulfillment of employees' basic needs, organizations can improve productivity and commitment (Gagné and Deci 2005). ...
Conference Paper
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... SDT is an evidence-based theory that, when applied in an organizational setting, allows us to have a positive impact on workers' attitudes and behaviours. It also proposes a well-validated model for what to do to advance and sustain motivation and engagement (Hardré & Reeve, 2009;Slemp et al., 2021). For example, many well-validated metrics of the motivational and emotional components that influence outcomes such as engagement were used in this intervention study. ...
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The present paper describes a quasi-experimental research presenting a workplace training program aimed at helping managers to be more supportive of their employees’ autonomy. Drawing on Self-Determination Theory, we built a pre/post questionnaire design measuring perceived autonomy support, need satisfaction, need frustration, autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, work engagement, and job burnout. Seven managers were trained according to the autonomy support training program. We assessed 39 of their employees before and after the intervention. Moreover, 133 employees whose managers were not included in the training program constituted the control group. Regarding the experimental group, the results showed significant statistical differences regarding perceived autonomy support from managers, autonomous motivation, need satisfaction, work engagement, and job burnout. No significant effects regarding perceived autonomy support from coworkers, controlled motivation, or need frustration were observed. This study provides added value for theory on need satisfaction and demonstrates that training managers to be need supportive may be effective in improving positive work-related outcomes and reducing negative outcomes.
... Cheon et al., 2018;Cheon & Reeve, 2013;Raabe et al., 2019). Insights from these studies along with recommendations from Slemp et al. (2021) on designing effective need supportive interventions may help inform future practice and research for interventions designed for sport and exercise settings. Future research that comprehensively evaluates the causal benefits of coach autonomy supportive training will help to confirm whether corresponding benefits exist in sport and exercise settings, as has been shown in comparable literatures (e.g. ...
... Avey et al. (2011) showed that when leaders enact the features of psychological capital (i.e., hope, optimism, resilience, and selfesteem), follower positivity and performance were enhanced. However, a potential risk of interventions targeting leaders is that changes in leader behavior do not always trickle down to the subordinate level (Slemp et al., 2021). ...
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... Supporting workers autonomy can be done by 1) providing opportunities for choices concerning the what, where, and how to do their work, as well as providing input, 2) encouraging self-initiation, 3) providing rationals for the decisions made by the organization and management, and clarifying them if necessary, 4) listening to and acknowledging employees' point of view, emotions, and disagreements, and 5) avoiding the use of rewards and sections to motivate behaviors (Ryan & Deci, 2017;Slemp et al., 2018). Research supports that leaders can learn to be more autonomy supportive and that interventions designed to increase autonomy support in organizations are effective (see Slemp et al., 2021). Importantly, to develop a passion for work, individuals need to find a work domain that is interesting to them, in which they feel competent or see that they can become competent, which they can identify with and that fits within their self-concept. ...
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The present intervention study examined whether physical education (PE) teachers can learn to make use of autonomy-supportive and structuring teaching strategies. In a sample of 39 teachers (31 men, M = 38.51 ± 10.44 years) and 669 students (424 boys, M = 14.58 ± 1.92 years), we investigated whether a professional development training grounded in self-determination theory led to changes in (a) teachers' beliefs about the effectiveness and feasibility of autonomy-supportive and structuring strategies and (b) teachers' in-class reliance on these strategies, as rated by teachers, external observers, and students. The intervention led to positive changes in teachers' beliefs regarding both autonomy support and structure. As for teachers' actual teaching behavior, the intervention was successful in increasing autonomy support according to students and external observers, while resulting in positive changes in teacher-reported structure. Implications for professional development and recommendations for future research are discussed.
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The present study investigates the possible mechanisms involved in the link between daily job crafting and daily work engagement. Using self-determination theory, we hypothesize that daily job crafting is positively related to daily work engagement through momentary need satisfaction and momentary engagement. Additionally, using self-regulation theory, we predict that daily job crafting is negatively related to daily work engagement, through momentary energy depletion and (reduced) momentary work engagement. Participants from various occupational sectors (N = 66) responded to a daily diary questionnaire (N = 261) as well as momentary, task-related items (N = 1539) using a day reconstruction method at the end of each of four working days. The results of multilevel modeling were generally supportive of the hypotheses. We conclude that daily job crafting can have both positive and negative implications for daily work engagement, and discuss the practical implications of our findings.
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A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted of the techniques used to promote psychological need satisfaction and motivation within health interventions based on self-determination theory (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2017). Eight databases were searched from 1970-2017. Studies including a control group and reporting pre- and post-intervention ratings of SDT-related psychosocial mediators (namely perceived autonomy support, need satisfaction and motivation) with children or adults were included. Risk of bias was assessed using items from the Cochrane risk of bias tool. 2496 articles were identified of which 74 met inclusion criteria; 80% were RCTs or cluster RCTs. Techniques to promote need supportive environments were coded according to two established taxonomies (BCTv1 and MIT), and 21 SDT-specific techniques, and grouped into 18 SDT based strategies. Weighted mean effect sizes were computed using a random effects model; perceived autonomy support g = 0.84, autonomy g = 0.81, competence g = 0.63, relatedness g = 0.28, and motivation g = 0.41. One-to-one interventions resulted in greater competence satisfaction than group-based (g = 0.96 vs. 0.28), and competence satisfaction was greater for adults (g = 0.95) than children (g = 0.11). Meta-regression analysis showed that individual strategies had limited independent impact on outcomes, endorsing the suggestion that a need supportive environment requires the combination of multiple co-acting techniques.
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Employees often self-initiate changes to their jobs, a process referred to as job crafting, yet we know little about why and how they initiate such changes. In this paper, we introduce and test an extended framework for job crafting, incorporating individuals’ needs and regulatory focus. Our theoretical model posits that individual needs provide employees with the motivation to engage in distinct job-crafting strategies—task, relationship, skill, and cognitive crafting—and that work-related regulatory focus will be associated with promotion- or prevention-oriented forms of these strategies. Across three independent studies and using distinct research designs (Study 1: N = 421 employees; Study 2: N = 144, using experience sampling data; Study 3: N = 388, using a lagged study design), our findings suggest that distinct job-crafting strategies, and their promotion- and prevention-oriented forms, can be meaningfully distinguished and that individual needs (for autonomy, competence, and relatedness) at work differentially shape job-crafting strategies. We also find that promotion- and prevention-oriented forms of job-crafting vary in their relationship with innovative work performance, and we find partial support for work-related regulatory focus strengthening the indirect effect of individual needs on innovative work performance via corresponding forms of job crafting. Our findings suggest that both individual needs and work-related regulatory focus are related to why and how employees will choose to craft their jobs, as well as to the consequences job crafting will have in organizations.
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Can gender-based diversity programs benefit everyone? We tested whether and how a broadening participation program intended to benefit women working within male-dominated academic fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, may relate to job satisfaction for all who feel involved. Informed by self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2012), we designed and tested a gender-diversity program that supported women faculty’s psychological need for autonomy, relatedness, and competence through their involvement in five activities embedded in three “ADVANCE Project TRACS” (Transformation through Relatedness Autonomy and Competence Support) initiatives. Longitudinal repeated measures collected over 3 years from men and women tenure track faculty across disciplines show that for everyone, involvement with the program predicted a significant positive change in psychological need satisfaction. This change was associated with positive changes in job satisfaction over time. Results demonstrate the success of this particular program, and suggest that diversity programs that target one group can have wide-spread positive impacts on all who feel involved.
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In this article, we review theory and research on strengths use in an organizational context. We identify important antecedents of strengths use, including personal initiative, organizational support for strengths use, autonomy, and opportunities for development. In addition, we position strengths use in Job Demands–Resources theory as one of the possible proactive behaviors that may foster the acquisition of personal and job resources, and indirectly promote work engagement and performance. Since strengths use has important ramifications for employee functioning, strengths use interventions seem an important next step in strengths use research. We outline important questions for future research, and discuss practical implications of our theoretical analysis. We conclude that organizations should encourage employees to use their strengths, because when employees capitalize on their strong points, they can be authentic, feel energized, and flourish.
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Background: According to Self-Determination Theory, teachers and sport coaches can differ in the motivating style they rely upon to motivate young people. When endorsing an autonomy-supportive motivating style, instructors try to identify, vitalize, and nurture youngsters’ inner motivational resources. In contrast, instructors with a dominant controlling motivating style rather pressure youngsters to think, feel, or behave in prescribed ways. While the dimensions of autonomy support and control can be conceptually differentiated, in reality both dimensions may co-occur to different degrees. Purpose: The present study investigates to what extent perceived autonomy support and control can be combined and which motivating style then yields the most optimal pattern of outcomes. Research design: Multi-Study with Cross-Sectional Design. Findings: In two studies, conducted among elite athletes (N = 202; Mage = 15.63; SD = 1.70) and students in physical education (N = 647; Mage = 13.27; SD = 0.68) reporting on their instructor’s motivating style, cluster analyses systematically pointed towards the extraction of four motivating profiles. Two of these groups were characterized by the dominant presence of either autonomy support (i.e. high-autonomy support) or control (i.e. high control), while the two dimensions were found to be equally present in the two remaining groups (i.e. high–high or low–low). Results revealed that the high-autonomy support group showed to the most optimal pattern of outcomes (e.g. need satisfaction, autonomous motivation), while the high-control group yielded the least optimal pattern of outcomes. Results further showed that perceiving one’s instructor as high on control is detrimental (e.g. higher need frustration, amotivation) even when the instructor is additionally perceived to be autonomy-supportive. Finally, it appeared better to be relatively uninvolved than to be perceived as exclusively high on control. Conclusions: When coaches or teachers are perceived to be high on autonomy support and low on control, this is likely to benefit youngsters’ motivation and well-being. Also, while some instructors, particularly those who are functioning in a more competitive context where pressure is considered more normative, may endorse the belief that the combination of autonomy support and control yields the most effective cocktail to motivate young people (e.g. using competitive and game-based activities to make it fun, while treating ‘the losers’ with punishments such as push-ups or humiliating comments), this perspective is not supported by the findings of the current study. Apart, from its theoretical relevance, the findings of the present study are valuable for future intervention development.
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Leadership development programs are common in sports, but seldom evaluated, hence, we have limited knowledge about what the participants actually learn and the impact these programs have on sports clubs’ daily operations. The purpose of the present study was to integrate a transfer of training model with self-determination theory to understand predictors of learning and training transfer, following a leadership development program among organizational leaders in Swedish sports clubs. Bayesian multilevel path analysis showed that autonomous motivation and an autonomy-supportive implementation of the program positively predicted near transfer (i.e., immediately after the training program) and that perceiving an autonomy-supportive climate in the sports club positively predicted far transfer (i.e., one year after the training program). This study extends previous research by integrating a transfer of training model with self-determination theory and identified important motivational factors that influence near and far training transfer.
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This study examined the impact of a job crafting intervention based on job demands-resources (JD-R) theory. We hypothesized that the intervention would influence participants’ job crafting behaviours, as well as their job demands, job resources, and personal resources. In addition, we hypothesized a positive impact of the intervention on work engagement and self-rated job performance. The study used a quasi-experimental design with a control group. Teachers (N = 75) participated in the job crafting intervention on three occasions with 9 weeks in-between the first and second measurement, and 1 year in-between the second and third measurement. Results showed that the intervention had a significant impact on participants’ job crafting behaviours, both at time 2 and time 3. In addition, the results showed a significant increase of performance feedback, opportunities for professional development, self-efficacy, and job performance 1 year after the job crafting intervention. Participants’ levels of job demands, resilience, and work engagement did not change. We discuss the implications of these findings for JD-R theory and practice.
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Fineman raises concerns regarding the implications of positive scholarship for organizational theory and managerial practice. I suggest that illuminating positive states, dynamics, and outcomes enriches theoretical perspectives and invites new directions for empirical research. Gaining a deep understanding of generative mechanisms may ultimately enhance the quality of life for individuals who work within and are affected by work organizations.
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We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test the effects of a self-determination theory-based intervention on athlete motivation and burnout. In addition, we examined the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention. We randomly assigned youth Gaelic football coaches (N =6) and their teams to an experimental or a delayed treatment control group (n = 3 each group). We employed linear mixed modeling to analyze changes in player motivation and burnout as a result of their coach participating in a 12-week SDT-based intervention. In addition, we conducted a fidelity assessment to examine whether the intervention was implemented as planned. The findings demonstrated the feasibility and acceptability of implementing a self-determination theory-based intervention in the coaching domain. In addition, this study demonstrated favorable trends in the quality of player motivation and burnout symptoms as a result of an SDT-based intervention.
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This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence and implementation of a training emphasizing the use of autonomy supportive coaching behaviors among youth soccer coaches in game-play situations as well as evaluating its effects on motivational processes among athletes. Participants included youth sport soccer coaches and their intact teams. Coaches received a series of autonomy-supportive coaching training interventions based on successful programs in general and physical education (Reeve, Jang, Carrell, Jeon & Barch, 2004; Cheon, Reeve & Moon, 2012). Athletes completed questionnaires to assess perceived autonomy support, basic need satisfaction, and motivation (Harris & Watson, 2011). Observations indicated coaches were not able to significantly modify their behaviors, yet reflectively reported modest implementation of autonomy supportive behaviors. Coaches believed the training influenced their coaching style/philosophy in regards to the coach-athlete relationship and communication styles, emphasizing choice and rationales. Continued research is needed to enhance use of autonomy supportive behaviors with volunteer coaches in a youth sport environment.
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IntroductionIndividual studiesThe summary effectHeterogeneity of effect sizesSummary points
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Behavioral analyses of 3 adolescents show that 3 months of targeted family problem-solving training can decrease drug use and school failure by the end of a 1 1/4 year follow-up while control behaviors remain stable. Some findings, however, reflected incomplete understanding of the controlling variables: (a) lengthy delays before behavioral improvement, (b) recurrences of the problem behavior and subsequent recoveries during follow-up, and (c) correlated changes in the home and school environments. It is suggested that systematic study of relevant variables in the intervention could reduce behavioral variability and further increase understanding of adolescent drug use.