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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Hardcover edition
AuthorDaniel H. Pink
PublisherRiverhead Hardcover
Publication date
December 29, 2009
Publication placeUnited States
Media typePrint (Hardback), E-book, Audiobook

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is a non-fiction book written by Daniel Pink. The book was published in 2009 by Riverhead Hardcover. It argues that human motivation is largely intrinsic and that the aspects of this motivation can be divided into autonomy, mastery, and purpose.[1] He argues against old models of motivation driven by rewards and fear of punishment, dominated by extrinsic factors such as money.[2][3]


The central claim of the book is that higher pay and bonuses result in better performance within the workplace only if tasks consist of basic mechanical skills. If the task involved cognitive skills, decision-making, creativity, or higher-order thinking, higher pay resulted in lower performance. Pink suggests, "You should pay enough to take the issue of money off the table". Much of the book is based on studies done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other universities,[4]

To motivate employees who work beyond basic tasks, Pink believes that supporting employees in the following areas will result in increased performance and satisfaction:

  • Autonomy – A desire to be self directed, it increases engagement over compliance.
  • Mastery – The urge to get better skilled.
  • Purpose – The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. Businesses that only focus on profits without valuing purpose will end up with poor customer service and unhappy employees.[5]


Stefan Stern, writing for the Los Angeles Times calls the book, "short, punchy, energetic and not subtle", praising the writing, but simultaneously argues that Pink overstates his case.[6] In The Guardian, William Leith identifies Drive as vying for attention "in the Gladwell market", but praises it for its "inspiring" message that views work as art as it inspires more than the "carrot-and-stick."[7]


  1. ^ Silber, Kenneth (May 7, 2010). "MIND Reviews: Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us". Scientific American. Archived from the original on 2012-10-14.
  2. ^ Eisenberg, Richard (January 29, 2010). "'Drive' author Daniel Pink: Raises make bad motivators". USA Today.
  3. ^ Cameron, Chris (May 14, 2010). "Weekend Reading: Drive, by Daniel Pink".
  4. ^ Ariely, Dan; Gneezy, Uri; Loewenstein, George; Mazar, Nina (July 2008). "Large Stakes and Big Mistakes" (PDF). Review of Economic Studies (76): 451–469.
  5. ^ Pink, Daniel H. Drive: (2009) The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead Books, New York, New York
  6. ^ Stern, Stefan (8 August 2010). "Book review: 'Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us' by Daniel Pink". L.A. Times. California Times. Retrieved 5 April 2023.
  7. ^ Leith, William (27 February 2010). "What Works by Hamish McRae and Drive by Daniel H Pink". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 April 2023.

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