Case Study Analysis: The Case of Suzanne Chalmers and the Four-Drive Theory

Battling employee turnover has become challenging for Advanced Photonics, Inc. (API) due to the increasing competition from start-up companies that foster innovation and attract industry giants’ risk-seeking employees. The case of Suzanne Chalmers is indicative of the company’s mixed success in producing staff retention strategies that would consider leaving intentions aside from financial causes. This report instrumentalizes the four-drive theory to explain the situation’s root causes, produce strategies to prevent similar incidents, and offer an implementable solution that API can proceed with to strengthen non-financial employee motivation methods.

The events and their underlying causes deserve special attention and constitute a major point of learning for the organization. Suzanne scheduled a meeting with Thomas Chan and announced her willingness to quit despite considering API’s workplace environment as positive (McShane & Von Glinow, 2010). The model of organizational behavior that links employee motivation to four distinct drives is instrumental in comprehending the company’s inability to prevent Suzanne from leaving her job. As per the theory of four drives, employee motivation is predicted by the interplay of four primary drives, including the desire to achieve/acquire, belong/bond, comprehend and accept challenges, and defend/define (Furneaux & Rieser, 2022). Emphasizing the first pair of motivators in the form of offering higher wages and financial incentives without acknowledging the other three desires is a common staff retention approach for multiple companies, including API. API’s willingness to prioritize environmental variables, such as external competition, and oversimplify individual-level motivation by reducing it to the need for wealth is problematic.

The core reason behind the engineer’s readiness to leave her well-paid job is API’s suboptimal performance in terms of recognizing the comprehension/challenge driving force of motivation. Also, the current situation stems from the failure to establish motivation strategies that would be of interest to employees with dissimilar motivational profiles. Prior to the incident, API relied on higher wages as an approach to retention, with little evidence of team-building efforts and attempts to combine various drives for optimal results (McShane & Von Glinow, 2010). Suzanne made it clear that she needed to get away from work for a long time. She did not react to API’s staff retention tactics that played on employees’ potential desire to feel special or earn even more money. During his conversation with Suzanne, Thomas offered a range of options focused on maintaining her financial independence and even highlighting the professional’s indispensability through exclusive working conditions (McShane & Von Glinow, 2010). These strategies would be effective when dealing with employees motivated by financial concerns (achievement and acquisition) and the desire to stay connected with the company (belonging and bonding) rather than challenge-seekers.

Suzanne’s actions after her decision, including joining a start-up company offering lower wages but more share purchasing options for employees, indicate API’s negligence of the third drive – comprehending and being challenged. There are two possible solutions for the organization to prevent similar scenarios involving other talented employees. The first strategy is focused on organizational variables, job tasks’ flexibility and diversity, and employees’ opportunities for ongoing learning. From Suzanne’s responses, she might be tired of performing the same responsibilities and probably wants to reduce her degree of specialization and become responsible for a wider variety of tasks (McShane & Von Glinow, 2010). With that in mind, the first solution involves empowering API’s employees to participate in more activities by creating opportunities for ongoing learning and job promotions. The second solution is to follow the example of smaller start-up companies and offer more stock options while also cutting salaries to compete with API’s more innovative competitors in terms of the share option potential. Both solutions seek to diversify API’s offer to employees by recognizing the drive pertaining to being challenged and accessing new experiences.

As for the final recommendation, the first proposed strategy presents a better option and should be implemented. There are three reasons for giving preference to this strategy. To start with, this approach will not involve wage reductions, thus maintaining API’s attractiveness and overall competitiveness as an employer. Next, the strategy will create additional opportunities for employees who wish to perform other duties without affecting staff members who prefer the development of subject-matter expertise and inflexibility. Finally, it can remove API’s excessive focus on the desire for acquisition by adding opportunities for challenge-seekers and those wishing to work for a fair and respected employer and avoid losing bonds with colleagues.

The solution could be implemented by following three job process restructuring steps. Firstly, with the help of API’s HR department, the consultant team would survey employees to comprehend their career development needs and establish proper timelines for employee advancement for each role. Secondly, the team would instruct API’s leadership on creating processes to implement peer coaching. This could facilitate the exchange of experiences and employee movement across departments. Thirdly, API would establish a professional development committee to provide individualized career advice and conduct specialized training for employees who wish to change the structure of their responsibilities.

Finally, the proposed solution’s both positive outcomes and unwanted effects require consideration. The anticipated results include a considerable reduction in API’s employee turnover rate, increased employee satisfaction, and a new corporate culture conducive to creativity and learning from colleagues. The downsides are the risks of role conflict in the workplace and competition between long-term colleagues that strive to perform the same set of activities. Despite these challenges, by enabling API to appeal to several basic desires in turnover prevention endeavors, the strategy would strengthen its position as a market leader.


Furneaux, B., & Rieser, L. (2022). User motivation in application abandonment: A four-drives model. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 26(1), 49-89. Web.

McShane, S., & Von Glinow, M. A. (2010). Organizational behavior: Emerging knowledge and practice for the real world (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Cite this paper

Select style


BusinessEssay. (2023, March 23). Case Study Analysis: The Case of Suzanne Chalmers and the Four-Drive Theory. Retrieved from


BusinessEssay. (2023, March 23). Case Study Analysis: The Case of Suzanne Chalmers and the Four-Drive Theory.

Work Cited

"Case Study Analysis: The Case of Suzanne Chalmers and the Four-Drive Theory." BusinessEssay, 23 Mar. 2023,


BusinessEssay. (2023) 'Case Study Analysis: The Case of Suzanne Chalmers and the Four-Drive Theory'. 23 March.


BusinessEssay. 2023. "Case Study Analysis: The Case of Suzanne Chalmers and the Four-Drive Theory." March 23, 2023.

1. BusinessEssay. "Case Study Analysis: The Case of Suzanne Chalmers and the Four-Drive Theory." March 23, 2023.


BusinessEssay. "Case Study Analysis: The Case of Suzanne Chalmers and the Four-Drive Theory." March 23, 2023.