David McClelland's research on the need for achievement has determined that achievement-motivated people have in common the following: a preference for working on tasks of moderate difficulty, a preference for situations in which performance is due to their efforts rather than other factors, such as luck; and they desire more feedback on their successes and failures.
In "A Red Flag in the Brain Game," Hamm discusses the U.S' decreasing achievement success in college programming contests. He sheds light on many factors contributing to the problem, including the : "the thrill factor, or lack thereof. Given the opportunity to make a mint on Wall Street or land a comfortable academic job, many math and science students are turning away from software" (Hamm).
This also ties in to Dan Pink's speech on motivation on how most studies showed that those who attempted to complete a task with extrinsic motivation performed more poorly in comparison to those who did not. Pink also shares some company methods that have lead to achievement success. He stresses that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are key--it's not all about the money. I think that the managers today should keep this in mind when trying to rally achievement success within the company.
Source: Hamm, Steve. "A RED FLAG IN THE BRAIN GAME." BusinessWeek 3982 (2006): 32-35. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 22 Feb. 2010.