PhD Oral Exam - Zhe Ni Wang, Business Administration
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
In the workplace, employees often have multiple tasks that they need to complete, and it is likely that their motivation varies with each task (Fernet, Senécal, Guay, Marsh, & Dowson, 2008). It is also likely that employees’ motivation fluctuates during the day and/or over the course of a relatively short period of time (e.g., a few months) because of the various kinds of tasks that they perform and/or experience at work, and that these fluctuations in motivation affect their psychological health. Self-determination theory (“SDT”; Deci & Ryan, 1985a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b) offers a multi-dimensional understanding of motivation, one that differentiates not only between levels (quantity) of motivation, but between dimensions (quality) of motivation as well. Drawing on SDT, the hierarchical model of motivation (“H-SDT”; Vallerand, 1997; Vallerand & Ratelle, 2002), and the organismic dialectical approach to forming a multi-dimensional understanding of psychological health, the present study seeks to examine how changes in basic needs satisfaction/frustration lead to changes in motivation and in subjective well-being/ill-being while accounting for characteristics of the work context. The research for this thesis was carried out in the form of two empirical studies. In Study One, I examined the dynamic nature of employees’ daily work motivation pertaining to different tasks using the day reconstruction method (“DRM”; Kahneman, Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2004), which is a sophisticated structural survey framework that allows participants to systematically reconstruct all of their contextual, relational, as well as perceptual understandings of their workday in a time-sequential manner. I then analyzed the data through multi-level structural equation modelling (“SEM”). The results of this study showed that the basic three needs-supportive characteristics (“NSCs”) of each work task positively promoted employees’ well-being in the workplace, and that such positive relationships were mediated by autonomous situational motivation. In Study Two, I examined the dynamic process that outlines how changes in basic needs satisfaction/frustration predict changes in employees’ well-being/ill-being through changes in work motivation over time in a dual-path model. To do so, I collected data on three different occasions from field-working employees during a period of four months, and analysed these data using latent growth modelling (“LGM”). The results of this study showed that increases in employees’ basic needs satisfaction directly led to increases in well-being while increases in employees’ needs frustration led to increases in ill-being over time without significant mediation effects from changes in autonomous and controlled work motivation. For both Study One and Study Two, I discuss the theoretical and practical implications of their results, the studies’ limitations, as well as possible directions for future research.