The Interconnection Between Motivation, Emotion, and Group Dynamics

Motivation in Group Dynamics 

By Dr. Monika Klein and Dr. Anna Rostomyan

Monika Klein and Anna Rostomyan consider the intricate relationship between motivation, emotion, and group dynamics within creative start-ups. By examining the BBVET project, the authors explore how these factors influence creativity, innovation, and the sustainable growth of entrepreneurial ventures. 

I. Introduction 

In recent years, the dynamics of motivation, emotion, and group interactions within the context of creative start-ups have garnered significant attention from researchers and practitioners alike. BBVET, as a representative endeavour in the realm of creative start-ups, provides an intriguing setting to investigate the intricate relationship between motivation and group dynamics. This article endeavours to delve into the nexus of motivational factors and their impact on group dynamics within the specific context of the BBVET project, ultimately aiming to shed light on the underlying mechanisms that drive creativity and innovation in start-up environments. Our research has shown that there is a close connection between motivation, emotion, and group dynamics. We have found that the success of the company revolves around the premise that the interplay of motivation, emotion, and group dynamics significantly influences the creative potential and overall success of start-up ventures. It is hypothesised that a strong alignment of individual and collective motivations, coupled with effective group dynamics, positively correlates with enhanced creativity, innovation and, ultimately, the sustainable growth of creative start-ups. 

II. About BBVET 

This article endeavours to delve into the nexus of motivational factors and their impact on group dynamics within the specific context of the BBVET project, ultimately aiming to shed light on the underlying mechanisms that drive creativity and innovation in start-up environments.

The ultimate aim of the BBVET project – Boosting Business Integration through Joint Vocational Education and Training. Financed by the Interreg South Baltic Programme and in line with the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, six project partners from five South Baltic country regions in Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden worked in collaboration to develop the first European one-year, cross-border curricula, which included long-term mobilities of 10 weeks. This would take place four times in four different partner countries. In line with the overall objective of the project to boost business in the South Baltic region, and in accordance with the EU goal to increase the mobility rate in vocational education and training (VET) by up to 10 per cent alongside implementing long-term cross-border mobilities in VET, the BBVET consortium presents the results and achievements of the project in this report. Participants combined education with working with business or developing their idea(s). The project dynamic was based on the Tuckman model of group development. 

The Tuckman model of group dynamics, created by psychologist Bruce Tuckman in 1965, describes the phases that groups experience as they collaborate towards a shared objective. The model includes four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing

  1. In the forming phase, members come together and acquaint themselves with one another. They communicate politely and cautiously as they grasp the tasks at hand and their roles within the group. This initial stage is characterised by a reliance on the leader for direction and guidance. 
  2. As teamwork progresses, varying opinions, work approaches, and personalities often lead to disagreements and power struggles. This is known as the storming phase, where members may challenge the leadership and compete for positions within the group. It is crucial for the group to set objectives and address conflicts effectively in order to move forward smoothly. 
  3. During the norming phase, differences are ironed out as common ground is established among members. They develop unity, define norms for conduct, and learn to value each other’s strengths. Communications strengthen while teamwork becomes more efficient as a collective unit. 
  4. The performing phase represents a phase of interdependence, adaptability, and productivity. Members of a team collaborate smoothly, utilising their strengths to reach the group’s goals. The team shows motivation, and decision-making is often decentralised, allowing members to take charge of their responsibilities. 

Tuckman later introduced a phase called adjourning, which involves wrapping up the task and eventually disbanding the group. This stage acknowledges the aspects of group disengagement and emphasises the importance of closure and reflection. The Tuckman model offers a structure for understanding the typical developmental stages that groups go through as they progress towards their objectives. It highlights the significance of leadership, communication, and conflict resolution in guiding groups through these stages, for optimal performance and successful results. This experience made us look more closely at the relationship between motivation, emotion, and the group dynamic. 

III. The Intersections of Motivation, Emotions, and Group Dynamic 

The relationship between motivation, emotion, and group dynamics in the context of creative start-ups has been a subject of substantial scholarly inquiry. Numerous studies have identified intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors in the context of start-ups. Intrinsic motivators, such as autonomy, mastery, and purpose, have been found to play a pivotal role in driving the motivation of individuals within start-up teams (Fisher et al., 2019). On the other hand, extrinsic factors, including financial rewards, awards, benefits, acknowledgement, and recognition, also significantly influence the motivation levels of individuals in start-up settings (Deci et al., 2017). 

When speaking about motivation in both our personal and professional lives, we have to state that according to Edward Murray (1964), there are two kinds of motivation that guide us throughout our lives, which are a) internal motivation, and b) external motivation. Let us have a closer look at the two: 

  1. Internal Motivation. This kind of motivation is our drive in life towards achieving a certain goal that matches our internal states: feelings, emotions, beliefs, desires, wishes, aspirations, and intentions. 
  2. External Motivation. This kind of motivation is derived from external sources, such as role models, success stories, rewards, awards, benefits, and some other extralinguistic factors, etc. 

Moreover, Murray (1964) states that our motivations are highly interrelated with our emotions and that our emotions may sometimes be generated based on our motivations, and vice versa, which comes to suggest the tight interconnection of motivation and emotion. According to Daniel Goleman (1995), motivation should be considered as one of the components of emotional intelligence, since, alongside other components like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management, and empathy, it is one of the fundamental keystones in achieving successful, peaceful, harmonious, and fruitful lives (both personal and professional). 

In psychology, there are different opinions and viewpoints regarding the nature of emotions, as the topic is a very multifaceted and deep one. Since emotions are regarded as responses to outward world stimuli, there arises the problem of its connection with motivators. Here, there are also opposing viewpoints: emotions are either put against motivators or seen in unison with them (Murray, 1964; Goleman, 1995). 

Our motivations are highly interrelated with our emotions and that our emotions may sometimes be generated based on our motivations, and vice versa, which comes to suggest the tight interconnection of motivation and emotion.

All emotions are, in essence, impulses to act, the instant plans for handling life that evolution has instilled in us, which guide us in analysing the perceived external stimuli. If we do a linguistic analysis, the very root of the word “emotion” is “motere”, the Latin verb designating “to move”, plus the prefix “e-” to denote “away”, suggesting that there is a hidden tendency to act implicit in each and every human emotion (Goleman, 1995:6). This very fact goes to prove that, in one way or another, the concepts or emotions and motivation are closely interrelated, as research shows where motivation can be conceived as our driving force towards accomplishing tasks and assignments. 

Moreover, it is also noteworthy that, though there are various classifications of emotions, generally the bewildering variety of emotions is grouped into two opposite poles, namely positive and negative, which are briefly presented below: 

  • Positive emotions express an attempt or an intention to include. They help us to work on learning more viewpoints, interact easily and peacefully with others, and enjoy changing things for the better. Positive emotions are fuelled by an underlying desire for enjoyment and unity. Positive emotions are, for example, joy, happiness, hilarity, bliss, glee, love, satisfaction, amusement, delight, pleasure, desire, peace, empathy, compassion, etc. 
  • Negative emotions express an attempt or intention to exclude. Negative emotions are fuelled by an underlying fear of the unknown. Negative emotions are sometimes perceived as threatening for the organism, although they are also essential for our survival. Negative emotions are, for example, apathy, grief, fear, hatred, jealousy, rage, annoyance, embarrassment, irritation, anxiety, hostility, agony, sadness, disgust, contempt, etc. (Rostomyan, 2020:33-4). 

Both of the aforementioned types of emotions are very important for the survival of humans and serve as guiding compasses in our lives (in both the personal and professional fields). Although some experts believe that negative emotions are something to get rid of (such as sadness, fear, or anger, etc.), they happen mostly because of the outward reality’s external factors.  

Therefore, a healthy management should attention to them, experience them in their breadth, and strive towards their metamorphosis into positive emotions, which are of course far more enjoyable and healthier for human existence. In this connection, it goes without saying that in cases where group participants (be it in professional or private settings) experience positive emotions towards one another, their interactions will be much more enjoyable, trustworthy, and efficient and they will be more motivated in their activities. Thus, in this case, the emotions of the employees are recognised, acknowledged, and appreciated, and their overall labour output will become more fruitful. 

Moreover, sometimes the emotions can be viewed not only in single performing agents, but also the whole collective (both positive and negative) within the team, and the leaders have to tackle the emotion dynamics of the corporation to ensure a smooth and productive cooperation of the whole group as one entity. Hence, group emotion, otherwise known as collective emotion,  refers to the moods, emotions and dispositional affects of a group of people that make up the team. It can be seen as either an emotional entity influencing individual members’ emotional states, or the sum of the individuals’ emotional states. 

In speaking about collective emotions, group dynamics, and emotion management, Goldenberg (2023) mentions that, when it comes to a collective’s emotions, aspirations, and motivations and the dynamics therein, leaders have to consider how interactions between individuals impact the overall emotion of the group in general. Then, they must understand how to tap into the strong emotions that employees are feeling and help to manage them. The key to this is understanding how emotion regulation works at the collective level. According to the author, emotion regulation involves changing the trajectory of an emotional response, and it’s something we do all the time. Surely, emotions have to regulated especially in the business sector in order to appear as sound professionals, and this can be achieved both individually and in groups through training (Rostomyan, 2020).  

When the team undergoes such negative emotions as distress, stress, irritation, despair, and / or frustration, it is the leader who manages them successfully towards a common goal, soothing their psyche. A vivid case is the great example of Steve Jobs who, when coming back to Apple back in 1997 and seeing that the whole team was undergoing stress because of the harsh competition with Microsoft, he refocused the team members and managed to distract the employees to have them focus on their work and have lower labour turnover and better business results. Jobs reached out to Bill Gates and the two signed a deal that made peace between the companies and the employees no longer felt under pressure and performed their best in achieving results. So this is a great example of how the leader managed to tackle the group emotions successfully. 

In this connection, it is noteworthy that the German scientist Peter Spiegel introduced the term “WeQ”, which denotes collective intelligence, going beyond the “ego” culture and building a harmonious “we” culture. WeQ, in fact, is the additive intelligence of the group members, which when put together stimulates the success of the company (Rostomyan, Rostomyan, Ternès, 2021). 

Research on group dynamics within start-ups underscores the significance of cohesive teamwork, effective communication, and shared vision in fostering creativity and innovation (Amabile, 1993). Additionally, the presence of diverse perspectives and complementary skill sets within start-up teams has been shown to enhance problem-solving abilities and spur innovative thinking (Eisenhardt and Martin, 2000). 

Several studies have delved into the intersection of motivation and group dynamics in the start-up context. The alignment of individual motivations with the overarching goals of the start-up has been found to be crucial for cohesive teamwork and sustained motivation (Grant, 2008). Moreover, the presence of a supportive and inclusive group dynamic has been linked to a higher propensity for risk-taking and experimentation, key drivers of innovation in start-ups (Edmondson, 1999). 

The culmination of motivation and group dynamics significantly impacts the sustainable growth of start-ups. Research suggests that start-ups characterised by high levels of motivation and positive group dynamics are more adept at navigating challenges, adapting to change, and sustaining their innovative edge over time (Rosing et al., 2018). 

This suggests that, when managers have an understanding of the aforementioned phases, the role of motivation, and collective emotion in the group dynamic, and lead their teams in line with those very motivations and emotions, they will consequently generate better labour output. 

IV. Key Theoretical Models of Motivation in Literature 

In literature, there are several key theoretical models of motivation. Below are presented various models essential in the analysis of group dynamics. 

Table 1. Theoretical Models of Motivation 

Name of Theory   
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs  Proposes that individuals have five levels of needs, which must be met in a specific order, starting from basic survival needs to self-actualisation. 
Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory  Differentiates between hygiene factors (which prevent dissatisfaction but do not motivate) and motivators (which actively create job satisfaction). 
McClelland’s Theory of Needs  Identifies three primary needs – achievement, affiliation, and power – as key drivers of human behaviour. 
Expectancy Theory  Suggests that motivation is influenced by a person’s belief in the likelihood of task completion, expected rewards, and the value of those rewards. 
Goal-Setting Theory  Highlights the impact of setting specific, challenging goals on performance, emphasising the importance of goal clarity and difficulty level. 

The literature reviewed underscores the intricate interplay between motivation and group dynamics in the context of creative start-ups. The alignment of individual motivations, effective group dynamics, and their impact on creativity, innovation, and sustainable growth are critical considerations for the success of start-up ventures. This review provides a foundation for further exploration of the BBVET project and its implications for understanding the dynamics of motivation and group interactions in the realm of creative start-ups. 

Group dynamics, defined as the unconscious psychological forces that influence a team’s behaviour and performance, play a pivotal role in unlocking team potential and enhancing productivity and morale. These forces are shaped by various factors, including the roles and responsibilities of team members, which significantly impact the group’s overall success. 

Thus, understanding and managing group dynamics effectively are crucial for fostering positive impacts such as increased motivation, psychological well-being, collaboration, and decision-making, while also mitigating negative effects like social loafing and conflict. Hence, managers have a key role in cultivating a positive group culture through strategies that promote trust, respect, and open communication. 

V. The Essential Role of Motivation in Group Dynamics 

Theories on motivation delve into identifying the elements that drive individuals. According to Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” theory, people are motivated by a hierarchy of needs starting from physiological requirements and progressing to higher-level aspirations like self-actualisation. Similarly, Frederick Herzberg’s “Two Factor Theory” distinguishes between hygiene factors (job security and working conditions) and motivators (e.g., recognition and personal growth), highlighting the significance of internal motivators in influencing individual performance. On the other hand, process theories focus on the cognitive processes that form the basis of motivation. Victor Vroom’s “Expectancy Theory” suggests that individuals are driven to act based on their expectations of achieving desired outcomes and their perception of how their efforts contribute to those outcomes. J. Stacy Adams’ “Equity Theory” proposes that individuals feel motivated when they perceive fairness and equity in how rewards and recognition are distributed. 

Understanding these motivation theories is essential for grasping group dynamics. Content theories shed light on the needs and goals of group members, underscoring the importance of addressing individual motivations within a group setting. Process theories highlight how individuals within a group engage in assessments and comparisons that influence their motivation to participate actively and collaborate effectively. 

The theories we have examined, such as Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” and McClelland’s “Theory of Needs”, provide an approach to comprehending the driving forces behind team performance.

Real-life scenarios provide examples of how motivation theories are put into action in group settings. For instance, in a software development team, applying Herzberg’s “Two Factor Theory” could involve offering opportunities for skill growth (motivation) along with maintaining working conditions (hygiene factor) to uphold motivation levels. In a healthcare team, implementing “Equity Theory” might mean ensuring fairness in workload distribution and acknowledging effort to foster motivation among team members. 

Thus, motivation plays a pivotal role in group unity, efficiency, cooperation, and overall group success. When individuals in a group are driven by factors like fulfilling work and acknowledgment, they tend to show greater dedication, teamwork, and proactivity in showcasing higher performance. On the other hand, a lack of motivation can result in disinterest conflicts and decreased productivity within the group. 

Throughout this conversation, we’ve delved into the connection between group dynamics and motivation, exploring the fundamental principles and practical strategies that illuminate how to unleash the potential within teams. The theories we have examined, such as Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” and McClelland’s “Theory of Needs”, provide an approach to comprehending the driving forces behind team performance. By integrating these theories with tactics like goal setting, promoting communication, and cultivating an inclusive team environment, leaders can cultivate a motivational culture that not only boosts productivity but also fosters innovation, communication, and collaboration. 

VI. Concluding Remarks 

This examination of the theoretical background and the factual research shows that there is a close connection between motivation, emotion, and group dynamics. The exploration extends beyond team management; it carries implications for organisational culture and leadership at large. A solid grasp of group dynamics coupled with facilitation of interactions lays the groundwork for enhanced team effectiveness, increased job satisfaction, psychological and emotional well-being, and overall organisational triumph. It is evident from the research that there exists room for development and creativity within teams as long as there is a continual dedication to grasping and implementing motivational principles alongside group dynamics, which also involves observation of emotions. Given these insights into group dynamics, further investigation into team behaviour and motivation in various scenarios is imperative for enhancing factual performance from which the whole team may benefit. 

About the Authors

Dr. Monika Klein

Dr. Monika Klein is a successful movie and design producer, as well as a digital and traditional art collector. Her movies get awards all over the world. She has written over 80 articles and books. She specialises in the economics of the creative sector, its impact on regional development, and business models of the creative and cultural sector. She knows all about design management and service design at the microeconomic level. At the same time, her goal is to find creative and imaginative solutions that focus on user needs, and to continue her planning and support of creative-sector activities in the functional, visual, emotional, and social spheres. 

Dr. Anna Rostomyan

Dr. Anna Rostomyan is an assistant professor, international author, researcher, editor, reviewer, speaker, translator, and certified EI coach. She received her doctorate degree with the highest grade (summa cum laude) in 2013 in close cooperation between the University of Freiburg (Switzerland) and Yerevan State University (Armenia), her alma mater, within the framework of scientific research funding. As a world-renowned author and scholar of five books and 50 publications worldwide, she reaches a readership of around 100 nationalities. Her main work focuses on the linguistic-cognitive analysis of emotions and their impact in everyday life, as well as in the economic, business, and scientific sectors. 

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