This thesis describes a study into the relationship between leadership, motivation and the success of organizations. It focuses on the self-attributed motives and implicit motives of top managers in Dutch organizations. These motivation factors are studied in relation to the success of the companies where the participating managers work. The chosen perspective is that of the manager at the top of the organization: the governing body, the Executive Board (EB) or Board of Directors (BoD). The reasons for this are twofold: firstly, the members of this board have the final say within an organisation, and secondly this target group is rarely, if ever, the subject of scientific research. The majority of research into leadership is conducted at middle management level or below (Fisscher & Steensma, 2001). This is lamentable, because it is at the highest level that the key strategic decisions are taken.
Besides the motivational line of enquiry (what are the implicit and self-attributed motives of top managers in Dutch organizations?), this thesis also adopts a biographical line of enquiry which raises the following questions: where do top managers come from? Where and how did they grow up? How has their career evolved? The biographical line of enquiry dovetails with the motivational line, because top managers’ life and career stories have been used to investigate their motivation: as well as information about their motivation, this also sheds light on their background.