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Regular version of the site

Article

Service or Devotion? Motivation Patterns of Russian Researchers

Foresight and STI Governance. 2017. Vol. 11. No. 2. P. 54-66.

Most current studies of highly-skilled personnel argue that the intrinsic personal motivation is their main feature and this motivation has a non-linear connection with external management actions. In order to attract scientists to the sector of research and development, as well as to maintain the competitiveness of national science, a special environment must be created, which will encourage a high level of self-motivation among researchers. An analysis of motivation patterns of researchers provided in this paper is based on data from the international project, «Careers of Doctorate Holders», (CDH) and its Russian counterpart, «Monitoring survey of Highly Qualified R&D Personnel». One of the goals was to investigate the stability and variability of researcher’s motivation during the different periods of a career, such as professional choice, current work activity and a hypothetical situation of a job change.

The eight most common patterns of motivation were identified and they can be considered as the basic motivational structures of researchers. Most of these patterns include a focus on the creative and innovative nature of scientific work. The second important component is the independence and relative autonomy, which is typical for research activity. Economic motives are rarely important when choosing an academic career; however, they play an important instrumental role in the actual scientific work, since an appropriate material base is required for the successful achievement of a researcher’s professional goals. A hypothetical situation of a job change, including moving abroad (for a long or limited time) also shows the priority of internal personal motives over external ones, which are associated with the material conditions.

The opportunity for professional and personal achievements plays the role of a trigger for the high-level motivation of R&D personnel. The main drivers of research motivation are self-realization, improvement of skills and competences, therefore the professional environment must be organized properly to promote the advancement of intellectual workers. Management based primarily on the external rewards may even reduce personal motivation, since it transforms people’s natural enthusiasm and interest to only material goods. The obtained research results give us reason to argue that the Russian scientific policy agenda must include the creation and maintenance of adequate conditions in which research potential can be fully realized and where the personal reputation of the scientist will be recognized.