Ashley Carson


This study examined organization development (OD) practitioners' perspectives on the relative importance of the five domains of a neuroscience-based motivation framework that categorizes common issues that trigger toward or away responses in the brain. The SCARF Model's five domains include Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness (Rock, 2008). This study sought to understand if practitioners' perspectives are in line with existing research and ultimately to identify the most effective practices that provide the highest level of benefit relative to reducing threat responses and increasing rewards. The first phase of this study employed an online survey using pairwise comparison, or forced choice, of each domain on a weighted scale. This methodology required explicit choices be made among each of the SCARF domains in order to answer a single question: Active management of which reward/threat trigger poses the greater benefit to a change effort, and by how much? The survey methodology resulted in a prioritization by 48 OD practitioner respondents that depicts the magnitude of each domain's benefit and ultimately implies that active management of the highest ranking domain (Fairness) offers significantly greater benefit than the other four. The second phase of this study included interviews of eight OD practitioners during which the survey results were presented. This phase of the study discovered a dominant theme of communication as a means of threat trigger mitigation and reward trigger maximization for all of the SCARF domains.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (MA) -- Organization Development; Management -- Psychological aspects; Success in business -- Psychological aspects; Organizational change

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Egan, Terri;