Date of Award

Winter 2003

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Debra A. Major

Committee Member

James P. Bliss

Committee Member

Bryan E. Porter

Committee Member

Dwight W. Allen


In an environment of changing psychological contracts, corporate downsizing, and increases in alternative self-paced training delivery channels, motivation to learn is believed to represent a key variable in employee self-development that distinguishes employees who will thrive from those who will not. Predicting this variable, then, becomes an important step in managing workforce development and helping employees help themselves. Therefore, the efficacy of relevant personality characteristics as predictors of motivation to learn was investigated. Proactive personality and the Big Five factors of personality were hypothesized to be predictive of motivation to learn. These personality variables are relevant because they have been demonstrated to have important impacts on similar work-related outcomes. Results indicated that proactive personality had a significant positive relationship with motivation to learn. Extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness also had significant positive relationships with motivation to learn. Neuroticism and agreeableness were not significantly related to motivation to learn. No evidence was found for the hypothesis that motivation to learn partially mediates the relationship between personality and participation in developmental activities. Results suggest that personality can be employed as a useful predictor of motivation to learn, which in turn predicts development behaviors. Application of these findings includes the design of employee selection for learning organizations and building an employee development process to fit the needs of employees with differing personalities and motivation to learn. Additional implications of motivation to learn in the workplace are discussed.


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