Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

A theory of work gamification: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something cool?

Document type Article
Author Cardador, M. Teresa
Author Northcraft, Gregory B.
Author Whicker, Jordan
Journal Human Resource Management Review
Volume 27
Date 2017 06
ISSN 1053-4822
Pages 353-365


A key assumption driving organizations' adoption of work gamification – applying principles of digital and computer games to work contexts – is that such efforts increase worker motivation, effectiveness, and performance. This paper presents a theory of work gamification, positioning work gamification as an intended enhancement of traditional performance management systems which promotes increased worker access to performance information, and improves task enjoyment. In addition to explaining why work gamification should be expected to have motivational and work effectiveness benefits, the theory also highlights the application and worker characteristics that may act as important boundary conditions to the efficacy of gamification applied to work. Theoretical and practical implications of work gamification are discussed.