In Search of Motivation for the Business Survey Response Task

Open access


Increasing reluctance of businesses to participate in surveys often leads to declining or low response rates, poor data quality and burden complaints, and suggests that a driving force, that is, the motivation for participation and accurate and timely response, is insufficient or lacking. Inspiration for ways to remedy this situation has already been sought in the psychological theory of self-determination; previous research has favored enhancement of intrinsic motivation compared to extrinsic motivation. Traditionally however, enhancing extrinsic motivation has been pervasive in business surveys. We therefore review this theory in the context of business surveys using empirical data from the Netherlands and Slovenia, and suggest that extrinsic motivation calls for at least as much attention as intrinsic motivation, that other sources of motivation may be relevant besides those stemming from the three fundamental psychological needs (competence, autonomy and relatedness), and that other approaches may have the potential to better explain some aspects of motivation in business surveys (e.g., implicit motives). We conclude with suggestions that survey organizations can consider when attempting to improve business survey response behavior.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Baruch Y. 1999. “Response Rate in Academic Studies -- A Comparative Analysis.” Human Relations 52: 421-438. DOI:

  • Baruch Y. and B.C. Holtom. 2008. “Survey Response Rate Levels and Trends in Organizational Research.” Human Relations 61: 1139-1160. DOI:

  • Bavdaž M. 2010. “The Multidimensional Integral Business Survey Response Model.” Survey Methodology 36: 81-93.

  • Bavdaž M. ed. 2011. Final Report Integrating Findings on Business Perspectives Related to NSIs’ Statistics. Deliverable 3.2 of the BLUE-ETS Project. Available at: (accessed October 2012).

  • Berglund F. G. Haraldsen and Ø. Kleven. 2013. “Causes and Consequences of Actual and Perceived Response Burden Based on Norwegian Data.” In Comparative Report on Integration of Case Study Results Related to Reduction of Response Burden and Motivation of Businesses for Accurate Reporting edited by D. Giesen M. Bavdaž and I. Bolko. Deliverable 8.1 of the BLUE-ETS Project. Available at: (accessed February 2013).

  • Bing M.N. J.M. LeBreton H.K. Davison D.Z. Migetz and L.R. James. 2007. “Integrating Implicit and Explicit Social Cognitions for Enhanced Personality Assessment: A General Framework for Choosing Measurement and Statistical Methods.” Organizational Research Methods 10: 346-389. DOI:

  • Bless H. G. Bohner N. Schwarz and F. Strack. 1990. “Mood and Persuasion: A Cognitive Response Analysis.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 16: 331-345. DOI:

  • Braun V. and V. Clarke. 2006. “Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology.” Qualitative Research in Psychology 3: 77-101. DOI:

  • Cameron J. K.M. Banko and W.D. Pierce. 2001. “Pervasive Negative Effects of Rewards on Intrinsic Motivation: The Myth Continues.” The Behavior Analyst 24: 1-44.

  • Carton J.S. 1996. “The Differential Effects of Tangible Rewards and Praise on Intrinsic Motivation: A Comparison of Cognitive Evaluation Theory and Operant Theory.” The Behavior Analyst 19: 237-255.

  • Coffey A. and P. Atkinson. 1996. Making Sense of Qualitative Data: Complementary Research Strategies. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.

  • Coyne I.T. 1997. “Sampling in Qualitative Research: Purposeful and Theoretical Sampling; Merging or Clear Boundaries?” Journal of Advanced Nursing 26: 623-630. DOI:

  • Cutcliffe J.R. 2000. “Methodological Issues in Grounded Theory.” Journal of Advanced Nursing 31: 1476-1484. DOI:

  • Cycyota C.S. and D.A. Harrison. 2006. “What (Not) to Expect When Surveying Executives: A Meta-Analysis of Top Manager Response Rates and Technique over Time.” Organizational Research Methods 9: 133-160. DOI:

  • Dale T. and G. Haraldsen eds. 2007. Handbook for Monitoring and Evaluating Business Survey Response Burdens Eurostat. Available at: MONITORING.pdf (accessed May 2014).

  • Davis W.R. and N. Pihama. 2009. “Survey Response as Organizational Behavior: An Analysis of the Annual Enterprise Survey 2003-2007.” New Zealand Association of Economists Conference 2009 1-16. New Zealand: New Zealand Association of Economists. Available at:¼1832&context¼eispapers (accessed May 2014).

  • Deci E.L. R. Koestner and M.R. Ryan. 1999. “A Meta-Analytic Review of Experiments Examining the Effect of Extrinsic Rewards on Intrinsic Motivation.” Psychological Bulletin 125: 627-668. DOI:

  • Deci E.L. and R.M. Ryan. 1980. “The Empirical Exploration of Intrinsic Motivational Processes.” In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology Vol. 13 edited by L. Berkowitz 40-80. New York/London: Academic Press Inc.

  • Deci E.L. and R.M. Ryan. 1985. Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior. New York: Plenum.

  • De Leeuw E. and W. De Heer. 2002. “Trends in Household Survey Nonresponse: A Longitudinal and International Comparison.” In Survey Nonresponse edited by R.M. Groves D.A. Dillman J.L. Eltinge and R.J.A. Little 41-54. New York: Wiley.

  • Dey I. 1993. Qualitative Data Analysis: A User-Friendly Guide for Social Scientists. London: Routledge Kegan Paul.

  • Fazio R.H. and M.A. Olson. 2003. “Implicit Measures in Social Cognition: Their Meaning and Use.” Annual Review of Psychology 54: 297-327. DOI:

  • Fredrickson B.L. 2001. “The Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology. The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions.” American Psychologist 56: 218-226. DOI:

  • Gagné M. and E.L. Deci. 2005. “Self-Determination Theory and Work Motivation.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 26: 331-362.

  • Gerber E.R. 1999. “The View from Anthropology: Ethnography and the Cognitive Interview.” In Cognition and Survey Research edited by M.G. Sirken D.J. Herrmann S. Schlechter N. Schwarz J.M. Tanur and R. Tourangeau 214-237. New York: Wiley-Interscience.

  • Giesen D. 2012 “Exploring Causes and Effects of Perceived Response Burden.” In Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Establishment Surveys (ICES IV) Montreal Canada 11-14 June 2012. Available at: meetings/ices/2012/papers/302171.pdf (accessed May 2014).

  • Giesen D. and J. Burger. 2013 “Measuring and Understanding Response Quality in the Structural Business Survey Questionnaires.” Paper prepared for the European Establishment Statistics Workshop Nuremberg Germany 9-11 September 2013. Available at: 456104004/Giesen%20Burger%202013.pdf (accessed May 2014).

  • Groves R.M. R.B. Cialdini and M.P. Couper. 1992. “Understanding The Decision to Participate in a Survey.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 56: 475-495. DOI:

  • Haines E.L. and K. Sumner. 2006. “Implicit Measurement of Attitudes Stereotypes and Self-Concepts in Organizations: Teaching Old Dogmas New Tricks.” Organizational Research Methods 9: 536-553. DOI:

  • Haraldsen G. J. Jones D. Giesen and L.C. Zhang. 2013. “Understanding and Coping with Response Burden.” In Designing and Conducting Business Surveys edited by G. Snijkers G. Haraldsen J. Jones and D. Willimack 219-252. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Hedlin D. T. Dale G. Haraldsen and J. Jones eds. 2005 Developing Methods for Assessing Perceived Response Burden. A Joint Report of Statistics Sweden Statistics Norway and the UK Office for National Statistics. Available at: (Accessed October 2006).

  • Hedlin D. H. Lindkvist H. Bäckstro¨m and J. Erikson. 2008. “An Experiment on Perceived Survey Response Burden Among Businesses.” Journal of Official Statistics 24: 301-318.

  • Janik F. and S. Kohaut. 2009 “Why Don’t They Answer? - Unit Non-Response in the IAB Establishment Panel.” FDZ Methodenreport Nr. 7/2009 Bundesagentur fu¨r Arbeit. Available at: (accessed February 2011).

  • Jobber D. J. Saunders and V.W. Mitchel. 2004. “Prepaid Monetary Incentive Effects on Mail Survey Response.” Journal of Business Research 57: 347-350. DOI:

  • Johnson R.E. and L. Steinman. 2009. “The Use of Implicit Measures for Organizational Research: An Empirical Example.” Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science 41: 202-212. DOI:

  • Kehr H.M. 2004. “Integrating Implicit Motives Explicit Motives and Perceived Abilities: The Compensatory Model of Work Motivation and Volition.” Academy of Management Review 29: 479-499. DOI:

  • Kennedy J. and P. Phipps. 1995 “Respondent Motivation Response Burden and Data Quality in the Survey of Employer-provided training.” Annual Meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research May 1995 Ft. Lauderdale FL. Available at: (accessed May 2014).

  • Kruglanski A.W. 1975. “The Endogenous-Exogenous Partition in Attribution Theory.” Psychological Review 82: 387-406. DOI:

  • McClelland D.C. J.W. Atkinson R. Clark and E.L. Lowell. 1953. The Achievement Motive. New York: Free Press.

  • McClelland D.C. 1985. “How Motives Skills and Values Determine What People Do.” American Psychologist 40: 812-825. DOI:

  • McClelland D.C. R. Koestner and J. Weinberger. 1989. “How Do Self-Attributed and Implicit Motives Differ?” Psychological Review 96: 690-702. DOI:

  • MacQueen K.M. E. McLellan K. Kay and B. Milstein. 1998. “Codebook Development for Team-Based Qualitative Analysis.” Cultural Anthropology Methods Journal 10: 31-36.

  • Ouellette J.A. and W. Wood. 1998. “Habit and Intention in Everyday Life: The Multiple Processes by Which Past Behavior Predicts Future Behavior.” Psychological Bulletin 124: 54-74. DOI:

  • Pittman T.S. A.K. Boggiano and D.N. Ruble. 1983. “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivational Orientations: Limiting Conditions on the Undermining and Enhancing Effects of Reward on Intrinsic Motivation.” In Teacher and student perceptions: implications for learning edited by J.M. Levine 319-340. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  • Porter S.R. 2004. “Raising Response Rates: What Works?” In New Directions for Institutional Research 2004: 5-21. Wiley Periodicals Inc. DOI:

  • Rivière P. 2002. “What Makes Business Statistics Special?” International Statistical Review 70: 145-159. DOI:

  • Rogelberg S.G. and J.M. Stanton. 2007. “Introduction: Understanding and Dealing With Organizational Survey Nonresponse.” Organizational Research Methods 10: 195-209. DOI:

  • Romero E.J. and K.W. Cruthirds. 2006. “The Use of Humor in the Workplace.” Academy of Management Perspectives 20: 58-69. DOI:

  • Rose D.S. S.D. Sidle and K.H. Griffith. 2007. “A Penny for Your Thoughts: Monetary Incentives Improve Response Rates for Company-Sponsored Employee Surveys.” Organizational Research Methods 10: 225-240. DOI:

  • Ryan R.M. and E.L. Deci. 2000. “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions.” Contemporary Educational Psychology 25: 54-67. DOI:

  • Ryan G.W. and H.R. Bernard. 2003. “Techniques to Identify Themes.” Field Methods 15: 85-109. DOI:

  • Sandelowski M. D. Holditch-Davis and B.G. Harris. 1992. “Using Qualitative and Quantitative Methods: the Transition to Parenthood of Infertile Couples.” In Qualitative Methods in Family Research edited by J.F. Gilgum K. Daly and G. Handel 301-322. London: Sage.

  • Seens D. 2010. Analysis of Regulatory Compliance Costs: Part II. Paperwork Time Burden Costs of Paperwork Compliance and Paperwork Simplification. Statistics Canada: Ottawa. Available at:$file/December-Decembre2010_eng.pdf (accessed September 2013).

  • Seiler C. 2010. “Dynamic Modelling of Nonresponse in Business Surveys.” In Technical Report Number 093 Department of Statistics University of Munich. Available at: (accessed February 2011).

  • Seo M.G. L.B. Feldman and J.M. Bartunek. 2004. “The Role of Affective Experience in Work Motivation.” Academy of Management Review 29: 423-439. DOI:

  • Silvester J. 2008. “Work and Organizational Psychology.” In The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology edited by C. Willig and W. Stainton-Rogers 489-505. London: Sage.

  • Snijkers G. G. Haraldsen J. Jones and D. Willimack. 2013. Designing and Conducting Business Surveys. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Stern P. 1980. “Grounded Theory Methodology its Uses and Applications.” Image 12: 20-23.

  • Strack F. and R. Deutsch. 2004. “Reflective and Impulsive Determinants of Social Behaviour.” Personality and Social Psychology Review 8: 220-247. DOI:

  • Strauss A. and J. Corbin. 1994. “Grounded Theory Methodology: an Overview.” In Handbook of Qualitative Research edited by N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln 273-285. London: Sage.

  • Tetlock P.E. 1985. “Accountability: A Social Check on the Fundamental Attribution Error.” Social Psychology Quarterly 48: 227-236.

  • Tomaskovic-Devey D. J. Leiter and S. Thompson. 1994. “Organizational Survey Nonresponse.” Administrative Science Quarterly 39: 439-457.

  • Tomaskovic-Devey D. J. Leiter and S. Thompson. 1995. “Item Nonresponse in Organizational Surveys.” Sociological Methodology 25: 77-110. DOI:

  • Torres van Grinsven V. I. Bolko M. Bavdaž and S. Biffignandi. 2011 “Motivation in Business Surveys.” In Proceedings of the BLUE-ETS Conference on Business Burden and Motivation in NSI Survey Statistics Netherlands Heerlen 22-23 March 2011 7-22. Available at: (accessed May 2014).

  • Uhlmann E.L. K. Leavitt J.I. Menges J. Koopman M. Howe and R.E. Johnson. 2012. “Getting Explicit About the Implicit: A Taxonomy of Implicit Measures and Guide for Their Use in Organizational Research.” Organizational Research Methods 15: 553-601. DOI:

  • Wenemark M. G. Hollman Frisman T. Svensson and M. Kristenson. 2010. “Respondent Satisfaction and Respondent Burden among Differently Motivated Participants in a Health-Related Survey.” Field Methods 22: 378-390. DOI:

  • Wenemark M. A. Persson H. Noorlind Brage T. Svensson and M. Kristenson. 2011. “Applying Motivation Theory to Achieve Increased Response Rates Respondent Satisfaction and Data Quality.” Journal of Official Statistics 27: 393-414.

  • Willimack D.K. E. Nichols and S. Sudman. 2002. “Understanding Unit and Item Nonresponse in Business Surveys.” In Survey Nonresponse edited by R.M. Groves D.A. Dillman J.L. Eltinge and R.J.A. Little 213-228. New York: Wiley.

  • Willis G.D. 2005. Cognitive Interviewing: A Tool for Improving Questionnaire Design. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications.

Journal information
Impact Factor

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.837
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.934

CiteScore 2018: 1.04

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.963
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.020

Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 383 244 51
PDF Downloads 149 92 5