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Motivation and Membership

How do organisations motivate people to take on membership? With regard to psychological motivation, the meta-theoretical link always involves the regulation of needs: people do something because needs can be satisfied, or because uncomfortable feelings (fears) disappear, and they don’t do something, because the satisfying of needs is difficult or impossible, or because uncomfortable feelings (fears) threaten to arise.

Stefan Kuehl, in his highly recommended introductory book about organisations, names five variants about how organisations stimulate membership: money, coercion, identification with the purpose of the organisation, attractiveness of actions and collegiality. If one examines the reference to regulation of needs, one can see that all the named possibilities have a direct link to basic needs: ‘money’ enables security and freedom and reduces fear, ‘coercion’ limits freedom and reduces fear about one’s own decision, ‘identification with the purpose of an organisation’ enables individuality and belonging and reduces identity fears and the fear of responsibility, ‘attractiveness of actions’ enables uniqueness and freedom and reduces fear about adaptation, routines and discipline, collegiality enables closeness and belonging and reduces fear of isolation and exclusion. It is not a coincidence that the basic need ‘distance’ does not occur, because people who have a particular requirement for this are more likely to settle for independent working. They try to distance themselves from organisations and the dependence and communication obligations (closeness) which are associated with this.