Erdem Erciyes


This thesis investigates the impact of culture, leadership, and power, on staff motivation in selected international organizations (IOs), and develops a theoretical framework to assist with the practice of workforce motivation. The main research question is: “How can supervisors motivate their staff in the context of IOs?” Utilizing critical theory as a paradigm of inquiry, the study’s philosophical perspective leans heavily on “phenomenology”. Conducting this research led to the realization that there are a few studies in the existing literature on this subject matter. After investigating grand theories, the meso theories which form the theoretical background of the research were chosen, as: McClelland motivational theory, the GLOBE study, implicit leadership theory, and, Schein’s culture and leadership theory. Concern for understanding the cultural aspect led to the result of utilizing critical ethnography methodology. Moreover, three chief methods were used: Semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and, non-participant observations. Based on volunteerism principle and quota sampling technique, twenty-two supervisors, and the same number of staff, from the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the World Health Organization (WHO), all headquartered in Geneva-Switzerland, took part in interviews and focus groups. Non-participatory, structured, and overt observations, were also carried out on a three-day working schedule for the four IOs participating in the study. The gathered information was analysed, using ethnographic data content analysis, and the rigour of research was ensured through utilizing the concepts of trustworthiness and reflexivity. For the first time in the existing literature, the findings of this research have established a theoretical framework which demonstrates how concepts related to staff motivation work in the context of IOs. It further develops a definition of International Culture, as a metamorphosed pattern of values, beliefs, assumptions, social ideas, language, symbols, rituals and working customs formed by the fusion of national cultures and organizational culture in international settings. Regarding power concept, although the establishment of IOs was influenced by Kantian deontological ethics, except for the ITC staff and one UNCTAD staff, all others supported the Machiavellian teleological approach. On the subject of motivation concept, it was recognised that nationality does not make an impact on staff motivation. In conclusion, this study provides some useful recommendations for supervisors, officials of IOs, and researchers.

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