It is easy to see that some individuals are more motivated than others. However, the reasons for that motivation are more difficult to determine. When defining motivation it is important to look at the interaction between the individual and the situation. There are three key elements that help us define motivation. The first is intensity or how hard the person tries to accomplish the task. The second element is direction and that is the effort that is channeled toward organizational goals. The final element is persistency or how long a person can maintain the effort.
There are number of theories of motivation that help us gain a better understanding of the concept. Some of the earlier theories are not entirely valid anymore but they are still used by many managers.
The first theory was developed by Abraham Maslow in the 1950’s. His theory states that with every individual there is a hierarchy of five needs. As each need is met or satisfied, the next need becomes dominant. His theory posits that individuals are stuck in their existing need level until it is satisfied and then they can move on to the next level. For example, until their safety needs are met, they will not be able to move on to the social level.
Douglas McGregor added to the motivation work done in the 1950’s and developed the theory called Theory X, Theory Y. He believed that there are two distinct views of human beings that managers hold. The Theory X view is basically negative and believes that workers have little ambition, dislike work, and avoid responsibility. The Theory Y view is in contrast to X and believes that workers tend to be self-directed, enjoy work, and accept responsibility. Managers will modify their behavior toward employees based on what view they hold about them.
Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory is another one of the earlier developed theories. This theory sets forth that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not opposites but two separate ideas. There are a set of factors that when present will help to avoid dissatisfaction in workers. This group is called the hygiene factors and includes such things as salary, working conditions, and company policies. There is another set of factors that when present will help to cause satisfaction in workers. This group is called motivators and includes things such as growth, responsibility, and achievement. These sets are distinct and the presence of hygiene factors does not cause satisfaction, it just helps avoid dissatisfaction.
There are a number of criticisms of the two-factor theory. There are some questions about the study itself. First, the participants had a self-serving bias. When things are going well, they will take credit themselves. When things are not going well, they tend to blame it on the environment or others. The second criticism is that the raters will incorporate their own biases in their observations. Finally, Herzberg’s look at satisfaction had some errors in it as there was no attempt to measure overall satisfaction and he assumed a relationship between satisfaction and productivity.
The final earlier theory of needs we will look at is McClelland’s need theory. He bases his theory on the idea that people are motivated in the workplace by three main needs. The first need is the need for achievement or the drive to excel in relation to a set of defined standards. The second is the need for power, to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise. The final need addressed in this theory is the need for affiliation. Affiliation looks at the relationship aspect and the desire for close relationships. People will have varying levels of these needs, which make this theory difficult to measure.
The need that has received the most attention by researchers is the need for achievement. Achievers will carefully measure the odds and try to take on activities that are challenging but not too high-risk. They tend to be motivated in jobs that are more individualistic in nature and provide regular and effective feedback. Achievers tend to not make good managers because they have more of a personal focus. Strong managers have a higher level of need for power and a lower level of need for affiliation as they are trying to motivate a team to move toward a given direction.
There are a number of contemporary theories of motivation that have utilized the older theories to provide us with a deeper understanding of motivation in the workplace.
The self-determination theory states that people prefer to have control over their actions. So when they are required to do something they previously freely chose, it will diminish their motivation. This theory sets forth that in the workplace, intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are not independent of one another. In fact, the presence of extrinsic rewards may decrease the intrinsic rewards. In addition to extrinsic rewards, managers need to realize the importance of using goal setting and verbal rewards as a method to increase motivation.
Edwin Locke developed what is called the goal-setting theory. The idea behind this theory is that goals that are specific and effectively difficult can lead to higher performance if they include self-generated feedback. A difficult goal will help the individual to focus and direct attention as well as energize them to work harder. The difficulty of the goal will increase persistence and force people to be more effective and efficient. The relationship between goals and performance depends on how committed the individual is to the goal as well as how specific the tasks are. Most of the research has been done in the United States so the applicability of this theory to other cultures is suspect.
An implementation of the goal-setting theory is Management by Objectives, better known as MBO. MBO is a systematic way to utilize goal-setting theory, in which goals are set jointly by managers and employees. The goals must be tangible, verifiable, and measurable in order to be effective. The manager helps to break down the organizational goals into smaller more specific goals for the employee. In order for MBO to be effective, the goals must be specific, the employees must participate in the goal setting, there must be a defined time period, and feedback must be incorporated into the process.
Another theory of motivation is the self-efficacy theory developed by Albert Bandura. This theory is based on an individual’s belief that he or she is capable of performing a task. This theory is a complement to the goal-setting theory as it incorporates goals into the process. Higher efficacy is related to greater confidence, greater persistence in the face of difficulties, and responding to negative feedback with working harder, not shutting down.
Self-efficacy can be increased in several ways. The first is increasing your mastery of a task/skill. Another way is to model your actions after someone else who performs the task effectively and applying their actions to your own. The final methods to increase self-efficacy is to receive verbal persuasion through others as well as getting excited about completing the task.
The Reinforcement Theory is based on the goal-setting theory we looked at earlier. However, it focuses on behaviors instead of cognitive factors. This theory believes that reinforcement conditions behavior and by reinforcing certain behaviors we can increase the types of behaviors that impact organizational effectiveness in a positive way. This theory is based on the idea that behavior is environmentally caused. Behavior is believed to be based on the consequences and not on thoughts, feelings, or attitudes. This theory is not technically a motivational theory, rather it is a method used to analyze behavior. It is important to keep in mind that reinforcement does impact behavior but it is not the only factor that does so.
Adam’s equity theory utilizes perception theory that we looked at in previous chapters. The idea is that employees compare their ratios of outcomes to inputs of others they see as relevant. When they see the ratios as equal, there is a perceived state of equity and no tension arises. However, when they perceive the ratios to be unequal, they may experience anger or guilt, depending on the result of the equity analysis, and then tension can arise. This tension can motivate people to act in a way to bring the situation into a more equitable state.
There are four different type of situations that arise with the equity theory’s relevant others; they are as follows: * Self-inside where the person compares themselves with someone else within the organization who holds a different job; * Self-outside where the person compares themselves with someone outside of the organization with a different job; * Other-inside where the person compares another individual or group of individuals within the organization; and * Other-outside where the person compares another individual or group of individuals outside of the organization. All these factors are based on the individual’s perceptions of what is equitable or fair.
Employees will often react strongly to situations they perceive as inequitable. They normally engage in behaviors to create equity, such as slacking off when they feel they are working harder than others or quitting when they see no way to make things equitable. There are also some responses to inequitable pay that employees engage, such as producing more when they are overpaid or producing lower quality outputs when they feel they are underpaid.
The justice and equity theory is based on perceived equity in the workplace. For organizational justice to be perceived, there must be distributive justice, procedural justice, and interactional justice. Distributive justice is the fairness in which the outcomes are distributed or experienced. The procedural justice focuses not on the outcomes but on the process itself. Interactional justice focuses on how you are treated during the process.
The most commonly used and widely accepted theory of motivation is Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Theory. This theory argues that the strength of a tendency to act in a certain way is dependent on the strength of the expectation that they will receive a given outcome and that the outcome is desired. Employees are willing to work harder if they believe that their actions will get them an outcome they desire. For example, employees are willing to work long and hard hours if they know that they will be rewarded through promotion, recognition, or pay in response to their hard work.
This graph looks at integrating the various motivational theories we have looked at. It is based on Vroom’s expectancy theory. This graph looks at individual effort and recognizes that it can be impacted by opportunity. Goals effect behavior and will definitely influence individual effort. Employees will exert a lot of effort if they perceive that effort will help them perform better and receive rewards for that performance. This also assumes that the rewards are based on a fair and objective appraisal process as perceived by the individual. If equity is perceived, motivation is high.
Unfortunately, in the area of motivation theory, the vast majority of research has been done in the United Sates and is culturally bound. There does seem to be a universal acceptance that a desire for interesting work is common across the globe, but there is no research to support this.
There are a number of theories that can increase our understanding as managers about motivation in the workplace. It is important to utilize these theories when designing workplace programs and procedures.
Chapter Learning Objectives
• After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
– Describe the three elements of motivation.
– Identify four early theories of motivation and evaluate their
– Apply the predictions of the self-determination theory to intrinsic and
– Compare and contrast goal-setting theory and management by
– Contrast reinforcement theory and goal-setting theory.
– Demonstrate how organizational justice is a refinement of equity
– Apply the key tenets of expectancy theory to motivating employees.
– Compare contemporary theories of motivation.
– Explain to what degree motivation theories are culture-bound.
The result of the interaction between the individual
and the situation.
•The processes that account for an individual’s
intensity, direction, and persistence of effort
toward attaining a goal – specifically, an
•Three key elements:
– Intensity – how hard a person tries
– Direction – effort that is channeled toward, and
consistent with, organizational goals
– Persistence – how long a person can maintain
Early Theories of MotivationThese early theories may not be
valid, but they do form the basis for
contemporary theories and are still
used by practicing managers.
1.Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
2.McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y
3.Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory
4.McClelland’s Theory of Needs
1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
There is a hierarchy of five needs. As each need is substantially
satisfied, the next need becomes dominant.
– Individuals cannot
move to the next
higher level until all
needs at the
level are satisfied
– Must move in
2. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y
• Two distinct views of human beings: Theory X
(basically negative) and Theory Y (positive).
– Managers used a set of assumptions based on
– The assumptions molded their behavior toward
3. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory
Key Point: Satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not opposites
but separate constructs
Criticisms of the Two-Factor
TheoryHerzberg says that hygiene factors must be met to
remove dissatisfaction. If motivators are given,
then satisfaction can occur.
•Herzberg is limited by his methodology
– Participants had self-serving bias
•Reliability of raters questioned
– Bias or errors of observation
•No overall measure of satisfaction was used
•Herzberg assumed, but didn’t research, a strong
relationship between satisfaction and productivity
4. McClelland’s Three Needs
• Need for Achievement (nAch)
– The drive to excel, to achieve in relation to a set of
standards, to strive to succeed
• Need for Power (nPow)
– The need to make others behave in a way that they would
not have behaved otherwise
• Need for Affiliation (nAff)
– The desire for friendly and close interpersonal
• People have varying levels of each of the three needs.
– Hard to measure
Performance Predictions for High-nAch People
• People with a high need for achievement are likely to:
– Prefer to undertake activities with a 50/50 chance of
success, avoiding very low- or high-risk situations
– Be motivated in jobs that offer high degree of personal
responsibility, feedback, and moderate risk
– Not necessarily make good managers – too personal a
focus. Most good general managers are NOT high on nAch
– Need high level of nPow and low nAff for managerial
• Good research support, but it is not a very practical theory
1. Self-Determination Theory
2. Goal-Setting Theory
– Management by Objectives (MBO)
• Self-Efficacy Theory
– Also known as Social Cognitive Theory or Social Learning
1. Reinforcement Theory
2. Equity Theory
3. Expectancy Theory
Contemporary Theories of
1. Self-Determination Theory
People prefer to feel they have control over their actions, so
anything that makes a previously enjoyed task feel more like an
obligation than a freely chosen activity will undermine
•Major Implications for Work Rewards
– Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are not independent
– Extrinsic rewards may decrease intrinsic rewards
– Goal setting is more effective in improving motivation
– Verbal rewards increase intrinsic motivation; tangible rewards
2. Locke’s Goal-Setting Theory
• Basic Premise:
– That specific and difficult goals, with self-generated
feedback, lead to higher performance
• Difficult Goals:
– Focus and direct attention
– Energize the person to work harder
– Difficulty increases persistence
– Force people to be more effective and efficient
• Relationship between goals and performance depends on:
– Goal commitment (the more public the better!)
– Task characteristics (simple, well-learned)
• MBO is a systematic way to utilize goal-setting.
• Goals must be:
• Corporate goals are broken down into smaller,
more specific goals at each level of organization.
• Four common ingredients to MBO programs:
– Goal specificity
– Participative decision making
– Explicit time period
– Performance feedback
Implementation of Goal-Setting: Management by Objectives
3. Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Theory
• Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief that he or
she is capable of performing a task.
– Higher efficacy is related to:
• Greater confidence
• Greater persistence in the face of difficulties
• Better response to negative feedback (work harder)
– Self-efficacy complements goal-setting theory
Given Hard Goal
Higher Self-Set Goal
• Enactive mastery
– Most important source of efficacy
– Gaining relevant experience with task or job
– “Practice makes perfect”
• Vicarious modeling
– Increasing confidence by watching others perform the task
– Most effective when observer sees the model to be similar to him- or
• Verbal persuasion
– Motivation through verbal conviction
– Pygmalion and Galatea effects – self-fulfilling prophecies
– Getting “psyched up” – emotionally aroused – to complete task
– Can hurt performance if emotion is not a component of the task
• Similar to goal-setting theory, but focused on a behavioral
approach rather than a cognitive one.
– Behavior is environmentally caused
– Thought (internal cognitive event) is not important
• Feelings, attitudes, and expectations are ignored
– Behavior is controlled by its consequences – reinforcers
– Is not a motivational theory but a means of analysis of
– Reinforcement strongly influences behavior but is not likely
to be the sole cause
4. Reinforcement Theory
5. Adams’ Equity Theory
• Employees compare their ratios of outcomes-to-inputs of relevant others.
– When ratios are equal: state of equity exists – there is no tension as
the situation is considered fair
– When ratios are unequal: tension exists due to unfairness
• Underrewarded states cause anger
• Overrewarded states cause guilt
– Tension motivates people to act to bring their situation into equity
• There can be four referent comparisons:
• The person’s experience in a different job in the same
• The person’s experience in a different job in a different
• Another individual or group within the organization
• Another individual or group outside of the organization
Equity Theory’s “Relevant Others”
Reactions to Inequity
• Employee behaviors to create equity:
– Change inputs (slack off)
– Change outcomes (increase output)
– Distort/change perceptions of self
– Distort/change perceptions of others
– Choose a different referent person
– Leave the field (quit the job)
• Propositions relating to inequitable pay:
– Paid by time:
• Overrewarded employees produce more
• Underrewarded employees produce less with low quality
– Paid by quality:
• Overrewarded employees give higher quality
• Underrewarded employees make more of low quality
Justice and Equity Theory
of what is fair in
6. Vroom’s Expectancy Theory
The strength of a tendency to act in a certain
way depends on the strength of an
expectation that the act will be followed by a
given outcome and on the attractiveness of
the outcome to the individual.
success in getting
Valuation of the
Integrating Contemporary Motivation
• Based on Expectancy Theory
• Motivation theories are often culture-bound.
– Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory
• Order of needs is not universal
– McClelland’s three needs theory
• nAch presupposes a willingness to accept risk and
performance concerns – not universal traits
– Adams’ equity theory
• A desire for equity is not universal
• “Each according to his need” – socialist/former communists
• Desire for interesting work seems to be universal.
– There is some evidence that the intrinsic factors of Herzberg’s
two-factor theory may be universal
Summary and Managerial Implications
• Need Theories (Maslow, Alderfer, McClelland, Herzberg)
– Well known, but not very good predictors of behavior
• Goal-Setting Theory
– While limited in scope, good predictor
• Reinforcement Theory
– Powerful predictor in many work areas
• Equity Theory
– Best known for research in organizational justice
• Expectancy Theory
– Good predictor of performance variables but shares many
of the assumptions as rational decision making