Motivating Employees and Volunteers of International Organisations: Do Values Matter?

To what extent does the fit between personal values and the organizational values of an IO foster the working motivation of its employees and volunteers?

Project Summary

Motivated employees are the cornerstones of all organisations, in the private-, the public- and the non-profit sectors, as work motivation is one crucial determinant of individual and organisational performance. Many paradigms and theories sought to answer the longstanding question: «What motivates employees?». In the study of organisational behaviour, work motivation has held an important position and it has been approached in terms of needs, traits, values and context.

This project tries to identify the combination of factors explaining why employees and volunteers of international organisations show various levels of work motivation. In particular, it focuses on the impacts of values, considered here as higher order drives, on work motivation. In a nutshell, the research question is: «To what extent does the fit between personal values and the organizational values of an IO foster the working motivation of its employees and volunteers?».

Working Paper

A survey-based choice experiment on the local elite’s demand for development

Little rigorous evidence exists about the properties of local demand for development measured against various international goals propagated by the United Nations and other donor agencies. This paper uses an elite survey including a choice experiment to evaluate the income and price elasticity of stated demand for 14 development areas in Guyana, Malawi, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Turkey. The Almost Ideal Demand System (AIDS) models for primary and secondary areas of development are estimated. While the primary set, including education, HIV/AIDS and power infrastructure, is inelastic to increases in income, the secondary set, including biodiversity, clean air and forest protection, is mostly income elastic. In addition, non-monetary factors such as the elite’s professional affiliation, education and gender, are found to exhibit stronger influence on their demand for the secondary set than the primary set. These findings suggest that, despite the recent efforts to widen the scope of international development goals, the local elite’s demand priorities will continue to lie with the primary areas of development, which may lead to important policy implications.


Stress and turnover intents in international organizations: social support and work–life balance as resources

This study investigates whether work opportunities have an impact on stress and the related turnover intentions of employees working in intergovernmental international organizations (IOs). It contextualizes the job resources and demands model within IOs’ specific work conditions. The empirical test is based on original data from a survey administered in four major organizations of the United Nations system. Results demonstrate that social work opportunities and work–life balance are organizational levers reducing stress and willingness to quit for employees who are facing red tape or the stresses of being an expatriate. In this context, the relationships between these work opportunities and turnover intention are partially mediated by stress. Contextualized HR management propositions are made to help organizations coping with these management challenges.

Research Team

David Giauque
University of Lausanne

Simon Hug
University of Geneva

Frédéric Varone
University of Geneva

Simon Anderfuhren-Biget
Principal Member
University of Geneva

Ursula Häfliger
Principal Member
University of Zurich





Policy domains


Host Institution