‘Gold’, ‘Ribbon’ or ‘Puzzle’: What motivates researchers to work in Research and Technology Organizations

Arho Suominen (Corresponding Author), Henni Kauppinen, Kirsi Hyytinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper employs the motivational trichotomy of financial rewards, reputational rewards, and intrinsic satisfaction (gold, ribbon, and puzzle) to analyze the role of motivation in the context of research and technology organizations. This research is based on a case study that used an online questionnaire survey of 421 scientists from a large multi-technology Research and Technology Organization. The paper draws from previous work on scientists’ orientations toward outcomes and exploitation of research results and finds that the typology of motivational schemes differ. In the study's context, our analysis did not find advancing academic research to be the main motivator, but rather being able to exploit results. However, within the exploitation mode, the results show that all four factors, gold, challenge, engineering, and basic research, motivate researchers’ activities. The study highlights the Research and Technology Organizations’ differences compared to universities. The findings also suggest that the role of grand societal challenges is emerging as a distinct motivator, aside from a basic research-oriented advancement of science.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120882
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Knowledge transfer
  • Research and Technology Organizations
  • Research motivation
  • Self-determination theory


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