Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 128, Issue 4, pp 803–816 | Cite as

The Neglected Ethical and Spiritual Motivations in the Workplace

  • Manuel Guillén
  • Ignacio Ferrero
  • W. Michael Hoffman


Understanding what motivates employees is essential to the success of organizational objectives. Therefore, properly capturing and explaining the full range of such motivations are important. However, the classical and most popular theories describing employee motives have neglected, if not omitted entirely, the importance of the ethical and spiritual dimensions of motivation. This has led to a model of a person as self-interested, amoral, and non-spiritual. In this paper, we attempt to expose this omission and offer a more complete taxonomy of motivations which include these dimensions. Although more work will need to be done to fully develop the ethical and spiritual dimensions of motivation, the expanded taxonomy will provide the foundations and serve as a guide for such further research. Furthermore, this new categorization of motivations brings out the full dimensions of being human, which promises to lead to improved management practices with regard to employees and foster greater human flourishing in the workplace.


Ethical motivations Flourishing in the workplace Human motivation taxonomy Motivations in the workplace Religious motivations and spiritual motivations 



The authors would like to thank Juan Nunez for his comment on the first version of this paper, presented by Professor Guillén at the Harvard University Real Colegio Complutense (RCC), in September 2011, with the title “Human motivations: are they really human?”. This first version did not include spiritual and religious motivations. The final draft is the result of many hours of cooperation and work among the three authors, and it would not have been possible without the stimulating support of the staff of the Center for Business Ethics (CBE) at Bentley University. The authors would also like to give special thanks to the members of the Institute for Ethics in Communication and Organizations (IECO) at the University of Valencia, for their suggestions and inestimable help. IECO and CBE are official partner organizations. As a way of giving thanks, the authors agree on calling this taxonomy: "The IECO Matrix of Motivations."


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Guillén
    • 1
  • Ignacio Ferrero
    • 2
  • W. Michael Hoffman
    • 3
  1. 1.Management DepartmentUniversity of Valencia School of Economics and IECOValenciaSpain
  2. 2.School of EconomicsUniversity of Navarra Campus UniversitarioPamplonaSpain
  3. 3.Center for Business EthicsBentley University (USA)WalthamUSA

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