A reader suggests some reading for Professor Fryer and his colleagues. Fryer has spent years searching for the incentive that works. This reader says he should stop searching and read an article by Frederick Herzberg.  No, it did not appear in the Teachers College Record or the Harvard Educational Review or Phi Delta Kappan or an AERA journal. This is the classic article to which he refers:

Check out the <i>Harvard Business Review</i>.  There is a classic article there from the  . . . 1950s?  1968 originally? often reprinted . . . Frederick Herzberg, “One more time:  How do you motivate employees, <i>Harvard Business Review</i>, 46 (January/February), 53–62.

Motivator-Hygiene Theory.  Loss aversion?  That’s a demotivator, a destroyer of motivation, a destroyer of teams — and ultimately it can lead to violent revolution.

<b>Motivators</b>, in order that Herzberg first found them:  Achievement, Recognition, the Work Itself, Responsibility, Advancement, Growth. Later research notes people will work hard to get on a winning team with good people (but not a winning team with schmucks).

Hygiene factors, or dissatisfiers, again in order:  Policy and Administration, Supervision, Relationship with Supervisor, Work Conditions, <b>Salary</b>, Relationship with Peers, Personal Life, Relationships with Subordinates, Status, Security.  Notice how far down the ladder is “Salary,” but notice that it will dissatisfy, and is NEVER a motivator (except for a about 14 days after a significant pay raise, Herzberg hypothesized).

Fryer’s an economist?  We need a psychologist, a coach, a leader, and a pastor, and we get an economist?  Is this the same guy who figured it would be cheaper to pay the odd successful wrongful death tort suit instead of spending $1.89 to fix the Ford Pinto gas tank?

Give me an economist who values human life over machination, please.  Can we sue him for economic malpractice?  Terroristic threats?  Call Homeland Security.  Get him out of the building.  Don’t listen to him until he gets an appointment to get the word from Herzberg.

(Herzberg is dead, I know.  Loss-aversion should be dead, too.)

Why in the world aren’t they consulting the hard literature and research on motivation, instead of inventing new Hunger Games?  Is that Fryer I hear quacking in the background?