Motivations are based on the human relationship needs. Here in this essay, I have categorized these drives into the need to win competition (CP), to acquire friendship and to be trusted (therefore to trust) (FT), gaining control (of self or others) (CT), as well as the (notorious) sexual needs. A Freudian psychologist may even further argue that all non-sexual relationship needs are basis for obtaining a successful sexual relationship. Here, however, I would argue that the evolution of human civilization might have changed that situation.
From a caveman's perspective (hinting at non-intelligent beings), the ultimate evolutionary goal would be to survive and reproduce. FT provides a drastic increase of survival possibility by enabling formation of functional groups and specialization, thus could be selected over generation. Along with the formation of groups comes with the group dynamics: how to keep the individual (yourself) worthy to the group. Naturally, winners of competition and politics would be rewarded (much) more than the losers. As the group gains power over the outsiders (environment) to the point of where human civilizations' had stood thousands of years ago, the CP and CT would become even more important as the winners will almost certainly have better access to the group technology and services thus chances of survival. The processes of individual success' out-motivating the group survival, in my opinion, inaugurated the naive* motivations for war and crime.
The classical and contemporary theory of motivators in management researches separately concluded two groups of factor that intrinsically motivates employee: one set includes achievement, power, and affiliation; the other autonomy, master, and purpose. Both sets of motivators can also be seen as aggregated expressions of (my) three groups of wills for (non-sexual) relationship.
The first two cases of achievement and power correlates quite perfectly with the will to compete (CP) and will to control (CT). Although I would like to make the point that it does not seem to be a one-to-one mapping, i.e. there are elements of competition and attempt for control in both achievers and power-grabbers.
Studies had shown* that the majority of the population would be motivated by affiliation, i.e. preferences to work with people that they like over they don't. In my opinion, this greater general appeal of friendship and trust is the basis for the evolutionary success of human over other species. Traditionally, (as seen in the broader animal kingdom) the best collateral success lies within the best collaboration. It can be further examined when most people show their affiliation towards the complex and elegant ant-cities and bee-hives. (It is always effective to examine one's own characteristics by examining what one likes).
The pursue of mastery, as much as I disgust myself for it, is* driven mostly by a need to win competition and be unique. Maybe someone out there could stand up and justify in perfect confidence and integrity that they want to master something just to master the art; I could not. Memories still floats that I was shocked as my parents' friends' children of mastery of 古筝 as a result of years and years of tireless practices. That is still the most effective remedy to keep myself practice piano/keyboard every time (or envy of other young successful pianist and how I perceive myself as having not much less talent but just less determination). However, I would agree that there is a fundamental element of pursue of beauty that drives the progress of arts and (natural/mathematical) sciences within humanity. But this "art appreciation" will not drive mastery but just curiosity.
The need for autonomy, the most "shockingly" to the classical economists and rapidly implemented in industries all the way from Best Buy to Google today, is mostly a result of the will for control and trust (or friendship) along with the always presenting (but may vary in strength) ego. The ego component is greatly rewarded for differential and lateral thinking as higher diversity always yield highly diversified solutions (which may in turn contains a vary good one). The fundamental emotional factor, the will to control, contributes in the sense that every entity operates most fluently (not most efficiently) with self-governance. The need for being trusted also gives in as you need to perform well and not disappointing to make sure that you can get your trust over and over again (for exploitation in cases of evil).
Purpose, the overarching theme of today's play on motivation theory, is actually a combination of all the emotional factors I've discussed thus far. With enough friendship and trust (or love for hippies), one person, as a member of a group, will see a need to "do something worthy" in return to the group. It is also a result of competition (CP) and governance (CT) as to be the leader and winner of the group, you need an overarching goal that would unites the group further and bring the most the best.
As a abrupt conclusion as a result of need to finish a required 10 page meaningless paper (gosh, I would autonomy in college!), it is interesting to note that the societal rewards toward collaboration and innovation really had diversified and expanded our understanding of functional motivators in a group, to compete (竞争和特立), govern (自主与控制), and love (博爱而非狭隘).
Since the beginning of my contemplation, I had "discovered" that the generally short-lived but very strong power of well-organized religions can be predicted with the above discussed relationship motivator. To "prove" this point, I gave a simplified standard religion model/principles:
1. A belief in abstract entities that will give humanity purpose(s)
2. An expressed intention to spread this belief to "save" the suffered (non-believers)
3. Concrete practices that is deemed to be bring down the great purpose to a bite-size
4. the strongest form usually have a single (omnipotent) deified human figure
Within this model, every followers can satisfy a great portion of their relationship needs through the means of purpose fulfillment as they engage in missionary activities and cult practices. They can further satisfy their love/trust/affiliation need with the "brothers and sisters." The elimination of internal competition are usually transferred towards the non-believers. As a result, the only blocking factor for generic followers is the need to control as usually a hierarchy exists within strong religion. On the other hand, as I hinted above, I believe autonomy or the self portion of will to control is usually the inefficient but innovative (diversifying) factor of a group. As a result, a strong religion will produce monstrous power as their views are contemporary and promising and their processes are effective and efficient, but will die-off soon for not being able to adopt changes in the environment (not innovative) and lack of autonomy (this sounds like a strong culture! oh, management classes). One of the greatest success (and fail) story that I love (and most familiar with) is the play of "communism" flag by the CCP especially during the period of cultural revolution. They employed the exact principles that I just discussed towards the innocent people of China, who at the time needs a strong culture and never seen aggressive religion before. [If this comparison offended, please give me mercy. My knowledge of religion are not taught, but self-instructed. So it could be very, very biased.]