Human motivation is defined as the psychological force that generates complex cycles of goal-directed thought and behavior. Such thought and behavior is ultimately directed toward the achievement of the fundamental goal of inclusive fitness (Bernard, Mills, Swenson, and Walsh, 2005), where individuals strive to match their internal needs to actual or potential resources in their life space. Motivation is what animates us, what prompts us to launch actions, to reach decisions, to make choices, and to persist in the pursuit of courses of action until their completion. Accordingly, scholars studying human motivation intend to unveil the processes by which an individual’s internal, psychological forces in conjunction with external, environmental forces determine the direction, intensity, and persistence of personal behavior aimed at goal attainment (Kanfer, 2009). In preparing this chapter, we have chosen to focus specifically on the complex interplay between endogenous forces, such as internal drives and beliefs, and exogenous forces, such as changes in the stability of rewards, within the work environment. Furthermore, because the study of motivation is extremely vast, we have currently chosen to restrict ourselves to focusing solely on work motivation within work environments. It is definitely included in the immense field of human motivation and it provides a key determinant of reactions to downsizing in organizations.
One recent and dramatic example of how a work environment may rapidly change is the traumatic closure of Deutsche Post World Net operations in Wilmington, Ohio, which has received considerable national media attention in the United States. At the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, the DHL division of Deutsche Post World Net employed approximately 8,000 workers in Wilmington, Ohio, which was the seat of US domestic air shipping operations. By 2008, DHL announced the phased closure of shipping activities and by the end of operations approximately 7,500 employees were laid off (Lynch, 2008). Although only a portion of the laid off employees were from Wilmington, the layoffs still effectively devastated the local economy (Driehaus, 2008).