Hvorfor gå på arbejde, hvis man har det dårligt – eller hvad motiverer medarbejdere i Fogedretten?

Annedorte Elklit Pedersen

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


The topic of this thesis is employee motivation, the key question being if there is a connection between the employee´s general motivation for work and whether he or she shows up at work or calls in sick when feeling not well. The topic is important for public sector leaders as there is a direct link between efficiency in the organization and the numbers of employees not working due to sickness. The thesis, therefore, studies differences in the narratives about motivation and absence due to sickness told by the leaders and the employees, and it analyses employee motivation to see if it is similar to what the leaders tell in their narratives. The thesis, i.a., is based six interviews with leaders as well as employees at the Enforcement Court in Copenhagen. The interviews were focused on the following questions: • Does it make a difference to motivation and absence due to sickness what kind of work tasks a person has – does the person feel, that it makes a difference whether or not he or she shows up at work? • How is the relationship between colleagues at work? • What are the person´s thoughts about absence due to sickness and thoughts about motivation? • Does leadership matter? The theoretic framework for the thesis is primarily Le Grand´s theory about Knights, Knaves, Queens and Pawns and theory about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, also including public service motivation (PSM). A narrative analysis is chosen to investigate how the employees see the world, and to establish if there is a connection between their own motivation for work and absence due to sickness in their stories. The first interesting thing is that all the persons interviewed, talked about their users in the same way. The users are beyond doubt seen as pawns; there are no queens as Le Grand uses the concept. The users are weak and vulnerable, when they meet the public sector - in this case the court. That is important when it comes to leadership and choosing the right incentives. The analysis shows that among the people working in the court are employees who see themselves as knights and people who see themselves as knaves. A knight is motivated by the thought of doing something good for the better of the common or helping the weak for no benefit of his own, whereas the knaves – in Le Grand´s theory – are people who are motivated by doing things that benefits themselves such as interesting work tasks, raise in salary, carrier opportunities etc. The leaders therefore must act covering both types of employees, mastering two ways of being in control/management, which is referred to as trust and mistrust when the users are so clearly pawns. It is noteworthy that the leaders´ narratives about the employee motivation are different from what the employees tell. The leaders tell that in their understanding all employees are seen as knights due to the fact they have chosen this particular work to have a meaningful job. But that is not the case; in fact there are many different reasons for the employees to work in that organization. PSM is also found in the stories of motivation from the employees interviewed - especially the subdimension compassion and user orientation, which can be explained by the fact that the employees all tell the same stories about the users and so clearly sees them as pawns. The analyses show that some employees have intrinsic motivation and some have extrinsic motivation and there is no connection to whether or not they are knights or knaves. On the contrary it shows that some of employees who are knights have intrinsic motivation, some have extrinsic motivation factors and the same goes for those employees who are knaves. It is, therefore, important that leaders can manage the differences and that they do not act as if all employees are motivated by the same set of factors. When it comes to absence due to sickness there are different narratives to be found. The analysis first looks into the employees telling about the formal procedures to see how they understand the procedures. It is interesting that they tell differently about the procedures; one doesn´t know them, one is rather scared of them and yet another doesn´t care about them. This is linked to the fact that the employees have different expectations about how the leaders deal with absence due to sickness. The different expectations are linked to the things what motivates the person in question. The conclusion, therefore, is that leaders must recognize and appreciate the various differences and not only lead the employees as knights but also as knaves. They must realize their employees are motivated in different ways when they decide how to carry out the management, i.e. how they will lead

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages45
SupervisorsSusanne Boch Waldorff