Robert Lane
The Market Experience

Satisfaction of intrinsic work enjoyment is associated with mental and physical health, higher life and work satisfaction, contributions to the work enjoyment of others, a tendency to choose more challenging leisure activities, and socialization of children into a culture of work rather than of money.

Intrinsic enjoyment of work facilitates a variety of forms of learning, including those we have associated with human development: cognitive complexity, self-attribution, and self-esteem.

Intrinsic satisfaction with work is especially important in, and probably crucial to, creativity on the job. Thus, partly because hidden costs only occur where the jobs have challenging and creative features, intrinsic work enjoyment is closely associated with invention, discovery, and creativity. The point is not tautological, however, for it seems that pay sometimes actually reduces creativity and high standards of performance in jobs where these qualities are called for. Scientists are protected from hidden costs by the separation of their extrinsic rewards from the sources of their self-esteem.

But intrinsic values are marked by genuine social defects: they cannot be so easily shared and therefore are more 'selfish'; unlike material values, they are less constrained by opposing interests; they may take ugly forms of revenge or cruelty; unlike market values, they do not necessarily lead to the production of something someone wants; they rest on misleading theories of dispositional and personal attribution; and, to challenge the chief virtue that Deci has said inheres in them, they do not provide greater scope for self-determination than does a secure income or money in the bank.

The distribution of intrinsic rewards incurs justice problems that are at least different from those in distributing income and possibly more serious. Although overall life satisfaction is more equally distributed than income, 'good jobs' yielding intrinsic rewards are less equally distributed. For this, there is no corrective machinery in the market. The market's criterion for distributing income rests on the justice of deserts, contribution to productivity (profits) and thus to national wealth. This criterion is not available for distributing intrinsic rewards, however, for whereas workers' contributions to productivity may be substantial, to use productivity criteria is to violate the very concept of the intrinsic. Another source of injustice lies in the lack of taxation of the psychic income from intrinsic work enjoyment, making equality of sacrifice impossible. For equity theory based on the market's idea that work is an 'input' or cost, recasting work as a benefit disturbs the cost-benefit ratios on which the theory depends.

Whereas the immediacy of intrinsic rewards implies a kind of carpe diem, deferring the gratification of intrinsic motivation may mean relying in the present on extrinsic gratification, thus risking habituation to extrinsic rewards.

If one attempts to perfect the personality-economy fit so that those who prefer extrinsic rewards get their wishes and those who prefer intrinsic rewards also get their wishes, one deprives the extrinsically rewarded of the benefits associated with intrinsic rewards, for example, longer life, a greater probability of long-term happiness. A better solution is to seek to promote intrinsic rewards in work that is socially productive.

  The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,

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Through Eden took their solitary way.