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This article describes a survey which aims to identify the relative importance of a set of factors that affect the motivation of software engineers at work. The conceptual underpinnings of human motivation used in the research are the expectancy theory and the motivation-hygiene theory. In the study, a survey was conducted involving 176 software engineers from the State of Pernambuco, Brazil. Data collected with the survey received statistical treatment to test correlation among the motivational factors, and the existing correlations were used to create a partial order relation that reflects relative importance, or systemic influence, among motivational factors. This is an important result for the definition of motivational programs in software organizations. The findings of this study contribute to the construction of empirically based methods for building and developing effective software engineering teams.