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Cummins, JA 2016, 'A grounded theory approach to understanding the motivational characteristics of young agricultural professionals in developing countries', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright JA Cummins 2016


Young agricultural professionals are challenged by a work environment often characterised by severe resource constraints, poor governance practices and corrupting influences, particularly in developing countries. Understanding the mechanisms that drive motivation and in turn behaviour is essential if the management and work environment is to be improved for young professionals. This research thesis aims to examine and identify the relationships between personal and situational characteristics and motivational behaviour.

Using a case study approach, a total of 72 young professionals were interviewed. They came from Eritrea, Niger, Iraq, India, the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and Australia.

The framework developed for this study was based on a mixed methods approach, combining grounded theory and action research. The study initially focused on motivation and its influence on behaviour, but the grounded theory approach directed the research towards the coping mechanisms and resilience of the participants as part of the emergence of new theory. An assessment of the relevance to the research population of a wide range of established and recognised motivational models and theories concluded that these theories largely had little application to the research population since these studies had been undertaken in the context of developed countries. As a result it was necessary to examine more critically and in-depth the characteristics associated with the research population.

The richness of information and the detailed analysis led to the discovery of four key characteristics considered crucial to the development of intrinsically sourced motivation characteristics amongst the research population. These are: resilience, mateship, authenticity and altruism. The environments in which many of the research subjects operated in rarely supported extrinsically sourced motivational behaviour, with subjects being driven by internally sourced intrinsic motivations.

A range of intervention strategies have been developed in this study, with the aim of providing enhanced support for young professionals based on underlying principles that can be applied to both developing and developed countries. Intervention is considered appropriate where there is a desire on the part of the organisations involved to embrace change. Without this, any intervention effort is likely to be a wasted exercise.