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Since I did a mental double-take at the final phrase, let me share the Wiki definition: "Social undermining is the expression of negative emotions directed towards a particular person or negative evaluations of the person as a way to prevent the person from achieving his or her goals. This behavior can often be attributed to certain feelings, such as dislike or anger."

It all makes sense to me, Ann. Every end is shaped by the means employed to achieve it. Also, no one ever does anything they don't believe is in their best interest.

Interesting line of thought, thanks, Ann, but not particularly helpful at the level of the average HR professional. I found this observation a bit too high level to be of value in building a total rewards strategy:

I think intrinsic motivation is at its best when used to promote freedom, including the freedom to pursue material rewards. I think undermining theory is at its worst when it implies support for freedom except when people choose materialism, capitalism, or values different from those of undermining theorists.

PS. Not really sure what the final paragraph quoted above means. Very convoluted.

Maxwell: maybe you missed my comment before yours, clarifying the "undermining intrinsic motivation" topic. Suspect the meaning is on multiple levels here. Praising freedom to choose anything not politically incorrect is hypocritical, for instance. Criticizing extrinsic rewards that reinforce commercial behaviors would be another application. I think. See Dan Ariely PhD's research proving that social motivational impulses can be extinguished (undermined) by commercial reinforcements, and vice versa.

What makes people tick is part of HR. Which "motivations" drive action is vital to compensation practice. But perhaps Ann meant something different ...

Thanks Jim and Maxwell for the commentary.

Agree that the final paragraph, particularly his point on undermining theory, is challenging. Thanks, Jim for providing a definition and context for us to use in unpacking and understanding it. Difficult or not, I believe his point is an important one that Jim has summarized well (thanks Jim!). Every end IS shaped by the means employed to achieve it. AND no one ever does anything they don't believe is in their best interest (or in support of an objective THEY hold dear). If you don't buy that, you aren't grasping the bigger picture that Dr. Reiss is attempting to paint.

Too high level for the average HR Professional building total rewards strategy? I appreciate the point Maxwell but hope (and believe) you underestimate us - and yourself. I'd point you to the link above on the importance of careful assessment of the context, circumstances and competing priorities. Reward strategy is a tricky balancing act.

Thanks again for the commentary and thoughts - much appreciated!

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