This blog was originally posted on Identity Campaigning.
This TED Talk by Dan Pink lays it out beautifully. Extrinsic rewards (as presumed by the theory of self-interest) lead to poor performance in every situation except where (a) the rules are clearly defined and (b) the outcome is known in advance. The challenges we face are NOT this kind of problem.
Link to Video [Embedding doesn't seem to work on this site]
The science is clear. Extrinsic motivation kills creativity and perpetuates practices that are only suited to problems that have already been solved.
The alternative is also clear. Engage people at the level of personal identity and build social systems around what science tells us is the true nature of human behavior and you get surprisingly positive outcomes. Intrinsic motivation not only delivers pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors... it also delivers solutions to previously intractable problems.
Now and into the future, we must build our organizations around real human nature that arises through research in the cognitive and behavioral sciences.
Re-published from Cognitive Policy Works.