Prosocial impact and need satisfaction: keys to innovation

Innovative work behavior plays an important role in achieving progress in organizations. In this article, I discuss a study by Papachristopoulos et al. (2023), which examines how basic psychological needs and prosocial motivation influence creativity and innovative work behavior (IWB) within organizations.

Background of the research

The study focused on the influence of prosocial motivation and prosocial impact on creativity and innovative work behavior (IWB). In addition, from the theoretical framework of self-determination theory, the researchers looked at the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, relatedness and also benevolence, playing a role in promoting these work-related outcomes.

The study

The researchers collected data from 528 employees from Greece and Canada. They examined the relationships between the following variables:

► Independent Variables :

  • Prosocial Motivation: the motivation of individuals to perform actions that benefit others.
  • Prosocial Impact: individuals' perception that their work behavior has a positive effect on others.
  • Need satisfaction: This includes the satisfaction of basic psychological needs identified in self-determination theory, including:
    • Autonomy: The sense of voluntariness and choice in actions.
    • Competence: The sense of competence and effectiveness in interactions with the social environment.
    • Connectedness: Experiencing a sense of connection and bonding with others.
    • Benevolence: A possible fourth need, related to positively influencing others.

► Dependent Variables :

  • Creativity: Generating original and valuable ideas.
  • Innovative Work Behavior (IWB): the behavior aimed at creating, introducing and applying new ideas, processes, products or procedures within a work environment.


The following results were found:

  • Both prosocial motivation and prosocial impact correlated positively with innovative work behavior and creativity.
  • Autonomy and competence satisfaction mediated the relationship between perceived social impact and the work outcomes examined.
  • Prosocial motivation moderated the relationship between benevolence satisfaction and innovative work behavior.

► These findings support the idea that organizations that encourage and support employee initiatives to make a positive difference in the lives of others promote creativity and innovative work behavior at work. The research highlighted the importance of prosociality in the workplace for encouraging innovation and creativity.

Discussion and implications

The study underlines the importance of satisfying basic psychological needs (including the need for benevolence) for stimulating creativity and innovative work behavior. These findings provide valuable insights for organizations striving to foster a work environment that encourages creativity and innovation.

► People are essentially social beings. When we have the feeling that we contribute something to the well-being of others, we function better and are more innovative.