How Ability, Motivation, and Opportunity Drive Individual Performance Behaviors in Projects: Tests of Competing Theories

Martin Morgan Tuuli*, Henk Van Rhee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Organizations continue to struggle with underperforming workforces in projects. The ability-motivation-opportunity (AMO) framework may hold the key to determining what factors can foster improved performance in projects. Despite decades of research, however, the precise interplay of ability, motivation, and opportunity, as well as how they influence behavior, remains largely unclear. In the literature, four competing theories specify the mechanisms by which ability, motivation, and opportunity influence behaviors. However, there is a dearth of empirical studies comparing the various theories. This research shed light on which theory better predicts how ability, motivation, and opportunity influence performance behaviors, because the differences between the four theories are not merely conceptual but have vastly different implications for practice. The findings suggested that, empirically, performance behaviors are better predicted by the additive theory, which states that, on average, ability, motivation, and opportunity contribute additively to an individual's performance behaviors. Interestingly, this study also found support for the notion that ability, motivation, and opportunity are singly necessary for performance behaviors to occur. Taken together, the findings imply that the necessity of minimal levels of ability, motivation, and opportunity applies at high(er) levels of performance behaviors whereas the additive model explains the average effect of ability, motivation, and opportunity on performance behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04021070
JournalJournal of Management in Engineering
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Society of Civil Engineers.

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