A guy named Frederick Hertzberg suggested that employees are motivated by a hierarchy of needs.
They start at the very low levels: Physical Environment, Salary, Job Security, Status, etc.
Then they proceed to higher levels. Recognition is actually the second highest motivator, and it certainly is a motivator for some. But Google is actually a good example of Hertzberg's highest motivator which is achievement: people are motivated by the work itself. Self-actualization.
That was Abraham Maslow.