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Study on theories of motivation

There a number of theories been developed as an attempt to identify and explain what motivates employees within the organization. Ivancevich and Matteson (1999) mention that motivation is a tough concept to measure and thus it illicited manipulating by certain conditions and observing how behavior changes with those conditions.

There are two groups of motivational theories is can be seen, they are:

Early motivation theories and

Contemporary theories.

Early motivational theories

Though there are some motivational theories old and outdated they form the foundation of new motivational theories. Among some early motivational theories some of the theories are still very popular. They are-

Maslow’s theory

Herzberg theory

McGregor theory

These theories are described in detail below,

Employee motivation is basically based on a force that pushes people to make a particular job choice, remain at the job and put all his efforts on it (Simons & Enz, 1995). Motivational need theorists derive that a need can evolve from physiological or psychological deficiencies that arouse behavior (Ramlall, 2004). Ramlall (2004) refers to employee motivation need theories are defined by as “internal factors that energize behavior.” Robbins (1993) (as cited by Ramlall, 2004) defined motivation as the willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organizational goals, conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some individual need. Therefore to engage in the practice of motivating employees, employers must understand the unsatisfied needs of the employee groups. (Ramlall, 2004) defined unsatisfied needs as tension that stimulates drives within the individual. This type of tension represents a goal for the worker because the worker carries out ‘search’ behavior to satisfy the deficient need, thereby reducing the perceived tension (Ramlall, 2004).

Maslow’s Theory

According to Maslow (1943) human needs can be arranged in a hierarchical manner with lower level needs being a prerequisite of higher order needs. The bottom tier consists of physiological needs, i.e.: food and shelter. After an individual has accomplished gratification of the physiological needs, the next tier progresses to needs consisting of: safety and security needs. Needs for love, affection, and belongingness exist in the tier above safety and security, and begins to start higher level needs as the two bottom tiers were physical needs. This next tier above social needs consists of ego and esteem needs. After these needs are met the final tier consists of the need for self- actualization, to be completely developed as a person. (Maslow, 1943) According to Maslow, (as cited by Tesone, 2005) self-actualization or ego needs could never be fully satisfied. Champagne and McAfee in their book, Motivating Strategies for Performance and Productivity: A Guide to Human Resource Development, (as cited in Ramlall, 2004), provided a list of employee needs based on Maslow’s hierarchy. However, depending on the worker and organization, these needs can vary (Ramlall, 2004).

Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, adapted from Champagne & McAfee, (1989), (as cited by Ramlall, 2004).

Criticism of Maslow’s Theory:

- Maslow’s theory of motivation is really very popular theory of motivation but it has some criticism is well. Rodgers (2004) provides an argument against Maslow’s framework of motivation. He stated that it is too rigid. He also mentioned that people, depending on the current situation, can alternate between or occupy levels simultaneously. This suggests that, although Maslow’s theory is more dynamic than the Standardization-Adaptation analyses, it still does not account for the fact that societies can change direction. As a result, the following cases will be discussed in terms of the mentioned theories, but as most cannot account for every situation, it will be made clear that the frameworks are not perfect explanations, just that some are better than others.

- Previously Steers and Porter (as cited by Ramlall, 2004) conducted work on it and stated that angers have the responsibility to create proper climate so that employees may develop to their full potential. The need for self-actualization could possibly be achieved in a ‘healthy’ work environment (Schrage, 2000). However, Maslow states that although the workplace may offer opportunities to become self-actualized, many humans do not need to, “grow or evolve on personal levels,” (Tesone, 2005). There is a premise that employees that are happier will be more productive. In the same thought there is debate that happy employees are not productive (Saari & Judge, 2004). Employee motivation need theories imply that humans have an intrinsic.

- Maslow states that although the workplace may offer opportunities to become self-actualized, many humans do not (Schrage, 2000).

- Employee motivation need theories imply that humans have an intrinsic need to, “grow or evolve on personal levels,” (Tesone, 2005). There is a premise that employees that are happier will be more productive. In the same thought there is debate that happy employees are not productive (Saari & Judge, 2004).

- Maslow indicate that all people could reach self-actualization, yet result form his own study indicate that only a limited number of well-known individual demonstrate characteristic of self actualization person (Dimitrelis, 2003).

- Another criticism of this theory is persons self respect need. For example a person willing to leave his job rather than self-respect, but if he starve like for six month period or more, may be prepared to take even at a price of his self-respect (Vroom and Deci, 1970).

- Longitudinal studiers by Hall and Nougaim (1968) and Lawler and Suttle (1972) Wahba and Bridwell (1976) studied by Wahba and Bridwell (1976) found that there is no supporting evidence which support that human needs are classified only five categories or this contraries are structured in a hierarchy. How ever they found of two types need, they are – deficiency and growth needs.

-Another weakness of this theory is, employees basic need varied over time to time, it is not fixed (Wiley, 1997)

- According to Pinder (1998) this theory of motivation is very paradoxical of all current motivational theories. According to him there was a lack of research support and low scientific validity and applicability of this theory still remains today.

- From the study of Paney (1970), Roberts, Walter and Miles (1971) further carried by Herman and Haulin (1973) all show that need categories are independent as factors. Maslow’s assertion that a satisfied need is not a motive is the basis of a number of studies (Hall and Nougaim, 1968; Lawler and Suttle, 1972; Newman 1948), which have tested the proposition that satisfaction of a need reduces the importance of that need.

Despite the criticism of the Maslow’s theory of motivation it remains one of the most widely publicized and acknowledge theories of motivation.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation

Psychologist Frederick Herzberg and his colleagues (1959) proposed his Two-Factor Theory of Human Motivation, which is also known as Motivation-Hygiene Theory (as cited Ramlall, 2004). Two-factor theory derived and developed from the work of Mayo and Coch & French by Herzberg (1959), (as cited Ramlall, 2004). Herzberg believed that there is a basic existence of relationship between individuals and their jobs, where job can be done depending on individuals’ attitudes towards their jobs (Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman, 1959).

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory is based on the results of research based on the factors in a workplace that lead to employee satisfaction. Herzberg (1959) apply a survey titled, “What do people want from their jobs?” to gain insights into what workplace factors people perceived as satisfying and dissatisfying. He asked people to describe in detail which workplace factors led to satisfaction and which factors led to dissatisfaction, and then he separated the results and classified them.

In the figures 2 and 3 below show the factors that led to extreme satisfaction and dissatisfaction, respectively (Herzberg, 2003).

Figure 2: Factors that lead to extreme job satisfaction according to Herzberg (2003)

Figure 2: Factors that lead to extreme job dissatisfaction according to Herzberg (2003)

From the survey Herzberg found, people have a completely different set of factors which satisfy them in comparison to the factors that dissatisfy them at workplace (Gray and Stark, 1984). From the survey it is clear that there is an apparent connection between the individuals and the job. Some factors always focused on job satisfaction on the other hand there are some factors which influence on job dissatisfaction. Some internal factors like achievement, recognition, advancement and growth are connected with job satisfactions. At the same time, some external factors, like company policy and administration, supervision, work condition, and salary, are connected with job dissatisfactions Steers (as cited by Ramlall, 2004). Herzberg called the factors that led to employee satisfaction motivation factor and factors that led to dissatisfaction; he called them hygiene factors (Gray and Stark, 1984)

For employee job satisfaction Hygiene factors must have to be present. Herzberg noticed that, for the employee motivation theory, the opposite of satisfaction in work place is not dissatisfaction. According to Gray and Stark, (1984), eliminating factors that lead to dissatisfaction in the workplace cannot ensure that workers are satisfied. Factors that lead to job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction are completely independent from each other. At the end Herzberg mentioned, eliminating the dissatisfaction factors from the workplace does not guarantee employees’ satisfaction, but it can produce peaceful work environment; therefore, eliminating or minimizing these factors that lead to dissatisfaction will simply pacify employees, but will not motivate them (Robbins, 2005). In addition, Herberg’s theory indicates than if managers want to satisfy their employees, the managers need to incorporate motivation factors in the workplace.

Criticism of Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation

There are many researchers and managers did agree with Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, but there still it has some criticism (Robbins, 2005).

- The first criticism of Herzberg research design is lacking in rigor, in terms of ensuring participants responded honestly to the survey questions (Robbins, 2005). Because the participants may have inadvertently been dishonest in their responses.

- The second criticism of Herzberg’s model is his research method which was qualitative and as a consequence, the questions were open-ended (Robbins, 2005). This allowed participants to answer the questions in ways that were uniquely their own. Different people can use different ways to answer the same questions which can make it difficult to accurately construe the results of a qualitative survey.

- A third criticism of this model is Herzberg did not evaluate the overall satisfaction of the employee (Robbins, 2005). The reason is one person may like one part of the job and may not like another part of the job. It does not mean that the employee is satisfied or dissatisfied with the job as a whole. It is clear that some aspects of the job are satisfying and other may be dissatisfying.

- Another criticism of Herzberg’s theory is ignoring the fact that circumstances change, which means that what satisfies an employee one day, may not satisfy the same employee the next day, much less another generation of workers (Robbins, 2005).

Inspite off all these criticisms of Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, it is still a very popular in management practice in the modern business.

Theory X and Y

McGregor (1960), Theory X and Y is one of the popular theories of motivation. After three decades of research in working conditions and workers’ attitudes toward their jobs McGregor (1960) wrote The Human Side of Enterprise (Bobic & Davis, 2003). McGregor did research on motivation and how workers were motivated, and how managers and supervisors could encourage motivation (Bobic & Davis, 2003). To explore this needs based motivation theory, McGregor drew upon the works of Agrygis, Herzberg, and later Maslow, which would be one the most important foundations for his theory according to Bobic & Davis (2003). McGregor’s 1960 Theory, there are two extreme opposite kind of people: basically one is positive, and the other is negative. McGregor named these two states of humanness as Theory Y and Theory X.

Theory X:

Theory X depends on three premises, they are,

(1.) Peoples dislike to work and they will avoid it when they can,

(2.) From the belief of premise one, humans must be coerced, controlled, directed, threatened with punishment to get them to put adequate effort to work,

(3.) Peoples prefer to be directed, avoid responsibility, possess little ambition, and desire security, (McGregor, 1960; Bobic & Davis, 2003).

Assumption of Theory X is that workers are more interested in attaining the lower needs such as safety and physiological needs, and Theory Y is after higher level needs such as social or esteem needs (McGregor, 1960; Bobic & Davis, 2003). That’s the reason why the Theory X assumptions are more autocratic and dictated, looks to humans as cost centers on the other hand Theory Y assumptions are democratic and contributing, employees are as resources that can be used for return on investment (Strauss, 2002; Schrage, 2000).

Theory Y:

There are six assumptions in Theory Y. they are as follows:

(1.) Theory Y states that the average human does not dislike work and will expend physical and mental energy in work as naturally as play or rest,

(2.) Peoples will exercise self-control and self-directions to the objectives that they are committed so external control. Threat of punishment is not the only way to bring effort toward the organization’s goals,

(3.) Commitment to any objectives is a function of the rewards which is associated with their achievement,

(4.) The average people learns under proper conditions to accept and seek responsibility,

(5.) The capacity to exercise is a high degree of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in the solution of organizational problems widely, not narrowly distributed in the employees population,

(6.) In modern industrial life, the intellectual possibilities of the human being are only partially utilized, (McGregor, 1960; Bobic & Davis, 2003).

Criticism of McGregor theory:

Like other theories this theory of motivation is not out of criticism. Bobic & Davis (2003) mentioned that workers experience a different type of environment than that of the time. The Human Side of Enterprise was published, Maslow’s hierarchy needs to be questioned, and the concept of creativity is multidimensional. Bobic and Davis (2003) argue that the foundations and assumptions that Theory Y is better must be reconsidered.

According to Salaman, (1979) (as cited by Bobic & Davis, 2003), Theory Y is considered to be a hypocritical form of Theory X, or it does not work in the real world may want to consider the mismatch of method to manager (Bobic & Davis, 2003). From a study of Staw & Epstein (2000), shows that no matter what the management method is, it is the fact that people had to be managed (Bobic & Davis, 2003). This was the original belief of McGregor’s and the reason he is categorized in the “human relations” school of management (Bobic & Davis, 2003; Strauss, 2002).

Another weakness of this theory is, there is a lack of research proving which theory is better and which theory can motivate employees more efficiently (Gray and Stark, 1984).

(2) Contemporary theory of motivation

Contemporary theories focus on description of motivated behavior, are concerned with detailing the manner in which individual behavior energize, directed, maintained stopped Ivancevich and Matteson (1999). Important contemporary theories included-

Expectancy theory

Equity theory

Goal setting theory

Reinforcement theory

Job design theory

These theories are described in detail below,

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

Expectancy theory was proposed and developed by Victor Vroom (1964) and it attempts to identify the reasons for choices individuals make when faced with various alternatives (Rappaport, 2004). This theory based on three components. They are valence, instrumentality, and expectancy (Vroom, 1964), (Isaac, Zerbe, & Pitt, 2001; Rappaport, 2004),

- Instrumentality – perceived performance reward relationship

- Expectancy – the perceived effort performance relationship

- Valence – the value the individual places on a given reward.

According to Robbins (2005), expectancy theory argues that “the strength of a tendency to act in a certain way depends on the strength of an expectation that act will be followed by a given outcome and on the alternativeness of that outcome to the individual.” Thus an employee will be motivated to exert a high level of effort when he or she believes that effort will lead to a good outcome, such as a performance appraisal.

The theory is said to focus on the psychological factors that instigate and direct behaviour (Rappaport, 2004):

Instrumentality – The performance will lead to an outcome for the individual which perceived performance reward relationship

Expectancy – The personal expenditure of effort will lead to a good enough level of performance which perceived effort performance relationship

Valence – The outcome has value for the individual i.e., may be on a given reward.

Figure: 4 Vroom’s Expectancy Theory (Source: Robbins 2005: 190)

The expectancy theory argues that people’s behavior result from conscious choices when given a range of alternatives and these choices are related to psychological processes (Ramlall, 2004).

Valence is developed from prior work developed by Lewin (1938), & Tolman (1959), (as cited by Vroom, 1964) to understood to describe preferences (Vroom, 1964). Outcome can positive or negative (Vroom, 1964). Vroom (1964) describe that there may be differences between the expected satisfaction to receive and the actual satisfaction. Anticipated satisfaction is noted as valence, and actual satisfaction is labeled as value (Vroom, 1964). This theory also highlights the level of motivation as compared to the outcome of performance (Ramlall, 2004). Though outcomes are not always positive or negative valent to the individual’s that expected to satisfying or dissatisfying them. Performance may be enhanced to improve status at work through promotion (Vroom, 1964).

Instrumentality is the second postulate which is explained as a probability belief linking one outcome to other outcomes, (Ramlall, 2004). An outcome will be positively valent if the individual believes that the outcome contains high instrumentality avoidance of negatively valent outcomes (Ramlall, 2004).

The last concept of the theory is expectancy. Vroom (1964) defines expectancy as the passing belief that an instance will be followed by a particular outcome. This differs from the concept of instrumentality because it is an outcome to outcome association, whereas expectancy is an action outcome association (Vroom, 1964).

Figure: 3 - Vroom’s Expectancy model,

The individual will feel motivated when three conditions are perceived:

Criticism of the Expectancy Theory:

Like other motivational theories expectancy theory is not out from criticism. It is criticized for its inability. It is not able to clearly specify which outcomes are relevant to which individual and also in which situation (Tyilana, 2005). This theory also lacks the empirical support for the concepts of expectancy, instrumentality and valence.

Tyilana (2005) also found that it focused on individual perceptions of the work environment and the interactions of that context with one’s personal expectations

Equity Theory

Equity theory was developed by Stacy Adams in (1965). Adams developed his inequity theory based on the work of Festinger (1957) (as cited by Adams, 1963) and his theory of cognitive dissonance. It is based on the premise that individuals are not only concerned about the absolute quantity of the rewards they receive for their efforts, but also on the relationship of this quantity to what others receive (Ramlall, 2004). Adam’s equity theory mainly compares the job inputs and outputs of employees to others in a similar work situation (Robbins, 2005).

The Inputs are what individuals (employees) bring to the job; such as qualifications, skills, effort and experiences and the outputs are what individuals receive from a job; such as pay, recognition, benefits and satisfaction.

According to Schermerhorn (2001), when people believe that they have been treated unfairly in relation to others, tension is created. Ramlall (2004) argues that tension that provides the basis for motivation as people strive for what they perceive as equity and fairness. Then people respond to received negative inequity by changing, for example work inputs, rewards received or their situation.

According to Carrell & Dittrich (1978) equity theory contains three main grounds:

Employees should sense that their contributions are returned in a fair and equitable manner, (Carrell & Dittrich, 1978).

Social comparison, how employees believe their outcomes should be returned based on their inputs. (Adams, 1963; Carrell & Dittrich, 1978).

Finally the theory suggests that if an employee senses themselves in an inequitable situation, they will seek to reduce the inequity (Adams, 1963; Carrell & Dittrich, 1978).

Criticism for the Adam’s equity theory

Criticism equity theory stems from the following issues (Pinder, 1998):

This study has been predominantly conducted in a laboratory setting, generally over very short period of time. That’s why its applicability of this theory questioned and it may not provide a good result in real life situation.

In here pay has been used as a primary outcome to experimental subjects in exchange of their work or labour. Other alternatives motivators were ignored.

In this research it largely ignored the issue of which referent the subjects have used to compare themselves in order to establish the equity level. Referent can be their college, family members, friends, or any other.

Pinder (1998), also questioned about the scientific validity of the research, according to him utilization of ploys can be generated into the minds of the experimental subject.

Goal-setting Theory

It is one of the cognitive theories of motivation. It is based on the intention to work towards a goal are a predominant source of motivation (Robbins, 2005). According to Locke and Latham (1990) (as cited by Yearta, Maitlis & Briner, 1995) goal setting theory assume that human behavior is purposeful and that goals energies, directs and sustains an individual’s towards performing a particular action. In there further argument Locke & Latham (2002) mentioned that goals affect performance via four mechanisms:

Goals serve a directive function towards goal-relevant activities.

Goals have an energizing function; higher goals lead to greater effort than general goals

Goals affect persistence; it always motivate to complete the tasks

Goals affect action indirectly by leading to the arousal by discovery and use of task, knowledge and strategies,

Organization has to set specific, challenging and clarify goals and priorities them (Schermerhorn, 2001) for the successful implication of this on management in the organization. These goals should have some level of commitment from the employees. When goals have been achieved, feedback should be given and accomplished goals should be rewarded.

Criticism of Goal-setting theory:

This theory is one of the most successful theories of work motivation in the present time; however it is not immune to criticism. Many critics argue that goal-setting researchers have failed to explore initiations to the theory. According to (Pinder, 1998), it comes from a narrow, one-dimensional view of logical positivism of the world. Critics also argue that the work has been conducted in tightly controlled laboratory conditions, which may not work appropriately in real world organizational settings. Another finding was that the goal-setting formula was ineffective in situations in which the person found the task is novel or complex (Pinder, 1998).

Reinforcement Theory:

Reinforcement theory basically gives a view about behavior being caused largely by one’s environment (Robbins, 2005). Schermerhorn (2001) mentioned that this theory focus on the impact of the external environment consequences on behavior. It gives a clear view of behavior weather it is positive or negative. If the behavoiur is positive it increases the probability of being repeated for a pleasant consequence and if it is negative reinforcement it will increases the frequency of a behavior through the contingent removal of an unpleasant consequences (Schermerhorn, 2001).

Criticism of the reinforcement theory:

Robbins (2005) criticized the theory by mentioning that the reinforcement theory is not viewed strictly as a theory of motivation; however it provides a helpful technique foe analyzing the control of behavior.

Job Design Theory:

The ground of Job design theory is the task itself to motivate employee (Ramlall, 2004). Elements of a job design in any organization can increase or decreases the effort (Robbins, 2005). Hackman and Oldham (1976) had done a research on job design. They extend the theory of Porters and Lawler’s expectation theory. According to them job characteristic can motivate individual. Their argument on job design is similar to the work of Herzberg on job enrichment. They mention that effective job design and matching the correct people for the correct work are the major concern of motivation. When right people will work in right place then there is no need to force, bribe or trick them to work hard and perform well in the job. They mention three important conditions for motivation. First one is the employee must have the idea and knowledge about the possible outcomes of his or her job. Secondly the employee needs to experience the responsibility for his or her outcomes of work. When they do well they need to feel pride and also need to feel concern when they cannot achieve the goal. Thirdly the employee should feel work as being meaningful. According to them this three factors will create strong internal motivation among the employee (Pinnington & Edward, 2000).

Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1976). Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 16, 250-279.

Robbins (2005) further argued in the job characteristic model that any job can be described in terms of five core dimensions,

Skill variety

Task identity

Task significance

Autonomy

Feedback

Skill variety, task identity and task significance are critical psychological stages that combine to create meaningful work, and when they are present, the greater the employees’ motivation, performance and satisfaction (Robbins, 2005).

Criticism of Job design:

This model is unable to be generalized beyond a small sample according to Pinder, (1998).

This research argues that some workers will works will rather prefer other incentives like pay, job security, better work environment etc, Katz (as cited by Pinder, 1998). In further argument states that employees who have been established in their jobs for moderate periods of time will be like to benefit from the potential outcomes of job design.

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