Analyze Existing Theories Of Motivation And Design A Specific Theory Of Motivation Business Essay

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Executive Summary

Employees acting towards company goals and having a strong desire to remain in the organization are important for the success of a company. In order to generate such organizational commitment of employees, the knowledge about what motivates and satisfies them is essential.

The purpose of this report is to analyze existing theories of motivation and design a specific theory of motivation for the selected company. A justification and application of it are presented as well.

The result shows that skills, task identity, task significance, autonomy, feedback, environment, job security, and compensation are important factors for the motivation of employees.

Declaration

I certify this work is the result of my own investigations, except where otherwise stated. All references have been duly cited.

Signed

Student Name: NGAN Yuen Kwan Student No.: 0911867106533

(University of Wales)

Student No.: 9638989

(Lingnan Life)

Table of Contents

Introduction 4

Literature Review 5

Discussions and Analysis 12

Conclusion and Recommendations 17

References 20

Introduction

AXA Asia Pacific Holdings is part of the Global AXA Group, one of the world's foremost investment and insurance companies. Based in Hong Kong, the AXA Asia Life Regional Centre is responsible for supporting the Group's existing operations in Hong Kong, China and South East Asia, propelling its perpetual growth, and looking for new markets and business development opportunities for AXA in Asia.

AXA China Region, was formed after the acquisition of Sentry Assurance International Limited by National Mutual in 1986, has been a leading insurer in Hong Kong and Macau for over 20 years. AXA China Region is a wholly-owned subsidiary, and is one of the largest life insurers in Hong Kong.

In 2006, AXA APH acquired MLC (Hong Kong) Limited and re-branded to AXA (Hong Kong) Life Insurance Company Limited. In 2007, AXA APH acquired Winterthur Life (Hong Kong) Limited and re-branded to AXA Wealth Management (Hong Kong) Limited.

Given that most major theories of motivation date back many years it is inevitable that questions will be raised about their relevance today. This report aims to illustrate a new theory of work motivation, and justify its value and applications for AXA China Region.

Literature Review

Since motivation deals with factors that energize, direct and sustain behavior, there are a lot of important variables, which may influence an individual's motivation at work. These variables can be distinguished in three groups: characteristics of the individual, job characteristics, and work environment characteristics (Steers and Porter, 1983).

Motivation

Motivation is the activation or energization of goal-oriented behavior. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. According to various theories, motivation may be rooted in the basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, hobby, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, selfishness, morality, or avoiding mortality.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology, proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human Developmental psychology, all of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans.

Source: Psychology - The Search for Understanding, 1987

Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg's two-factor theory states that there are certain factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction, while a separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction. (Herzberg, 1959) Essentially, hygiene factors are needed to ensure an employee is not dissatisfied. Motivation factors are needed to motivate an employee to higher performance. Herzberg also further classified our actions and how and why we do them. For example, if you perform a work-related action because you have to then that is classed as movement, but if you perform a work-related action because you want to then that is classed as motivation.

Source: The Managerial Choice: To be Efficient or to be Human, 1982

McClelland's Need Theory

The theory is a motivational model that attempts to explain how the needs for achievement, power, and affiliation affect the actions of people from a managerial context.

For need for achievement, people who are achievement-motivated typically prefer to master a task or situation. They prefer working on tasks of moderate difficulty, prefer work in which the results are based on their effort rather than on luck, and prefer to receive feedback on their work. For need for affiliation, people who have a need for affiliation prefer to spend time creating and maintaining social relationships, being a part of groups, and desire feeling loved and accepted. For need for power, people in this group do not typically make effective managers because they worry too much about how others will feel about them. This motivational need stems from one's desire to influence, teach, or encourage others. People in this category enjoy work and place a high value on discipline. This can be positively applied to help accomplish group goals and to help others in the group feel competent about their work. (McClelland, 1958)

Vroom's Expectancy Theory

This theory is about the mental processes regarding choice, or choosing. It predicts that employees in an organization will be motivated when they believe that:

putting in more effort will yield better job performance

better job performance will lead to organizational rewards

these predicted organizational rewards are valued by the employee in question (Montana and Charnov, 2008)

Vroom's model is based on three concepts:

Valence - Strength of an individual's preference for a particular outcome. For the valence to be positive, the person must prefer attaining the outcome to not attaining it

Instrumentality - Means of the first level outcome in obtaining the desired second level outcome; the degree to which a first level outcome will lead to the second level outcome

Expectancy - Probability or strength of belief that a particular action will lead to a particular first level outcome (Subba Rao, 2000)

Source: Vroom's expectancy theory and the public library customer motivation model, 2007

Porter-Lawler Expectancy Theory

Porter-Lawler's expectancy theory is much on the same lines as Vroom's and suggests that levels of motivation are based more on the value that individuals place on the reward. Actual performance in a job is primarily determined by the effort spent and is also affected by the person's ability to do the job and his perception of what the required task is. It states that performance is the responsible factor that leads to intrinsic as well as extrinsic rewards and these rewards, along with the equity of individual leads to satisfaction. Hence, satisfaction of the individual depends upon the fairness of the reward (Bowen, 1991) Porter and Lawler point out that perceived inequality in this model plays a pivotal role in job satisfaction. The perception of equal or unequal reward may cause dissatisfaction which means that organizations have to continuously keep evaluating their reward system.

Source: Montana and Charnov, 2008

Adams' Equity Theory

Equity theory attempts to explain relational satisfaction in terms of perceptions of fair/unfair distributions of resources within interpersonal relationships. An individual will consider that he is treated fairly if he perceives the ratio of his inputs to his outcomes to be equivalent to those around him. Thus, all else being equal, it would be acceptable for a more senior colleague to receive higher compensation, since the value of his experience (an input) is higher. The way people base their experience with satisfaction for their job is to make comparisons with themselves to the people they work with. If an employee notices that another person is getting more recognition and rewards for their contributions, even when both have done the same amount and quality of work, it would persuade the employee to be dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction would result in the employee feeling underappreciated and perhaps worthless. This is in direct contrast with the idea of equity theory, the idea is to have the rewards (outcomes) be directly related with the quality and quantity of the employees contributions (inputs). If both employees were perhaps rewarded the same, it would help the workforce realize that the organization is fair, observant, and appreciative. (Carrell and Dittrich, 1978)

Source: A New Perspective on Equity Theory: The Equity Sensitivity Construct, 1987

Locke's Goal Theory

For goals to increase performance, one must define them as difficult to achieve and as specific. Goals can affect performance in three ways:

goals narrow attention and direct efforts to goal-relevant activities, and away from perceived undesirable and goal-irrelevant actions

goals can lead to more effort. For example, if one typically produces 4 widgets an hour, and has the goal of producing 6, one may work more intensely than one would otherwise in order to reach the goal

goals influence persistence. One becomes more prone to work through setbacks or to work harder if pursuing a goal

There are 4 factors affecting the goal-directed efforts. Goal difficulty is the level of difficulty to achieve the goal. Goal Commitment is the extent to which a person is interested to reach the goal. Goal specificity means the goal should be relatively clear and precise in its target. Goal acceptance is the extent to which a person adopts a goal as his or her own. (Locke, 2001)

Discussions and Analysis

According to the above-mentioned literature review in the field of motivation and job satisfaction and interview to the Human Resources Department of the company, skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, feedback, environment, job security, and compensation are the most critical factors for the motivation of employees and their satisfaction with the job.

It seems to be an increasing tendency in the use of skills, task identity, task significance, autonomy, feedback, and environment with increasing age of the employees. The differences in skills, task significance, and autonomy are thereby of a weak nature. That may be caused by the fact that with increasing age most of the employees do more advanced things and more difficult tasks, and receive more responsibility due to more experiences. Moreover, the age groups show no differences in terms of job security and compensation. Considering the gender, except for the environment, no differences among men and woman can be stated. This weak difference might be due to the fact that most of the women are working in the office, whereas the majority of the men are working in the production. In addition, there are no differences in the evaluation of the work situation and the satisfaction with the work regarding the marital status.

These differences are due to the work itself. Leading persons perceived all job factors to a higher extent at work than non-leading persons did. These differences are of a weak nature and are due to a broader work area and more responsibility of leading persons. Regarding the years in the company, skills, task identity, and task significance show no differences from up to 2 years to 10 years in the company. However, after more than 10 years a sharp increase regarding those factors is noticeable. The fact that the skills of a person are more used and the person receives more tasks, when staying longer in the company may be an explanation for that. Moreover, people who have been working a long time in the company are higher up in the organization and have more challenges in their work. The consideration of autonomy, feedback, environment, and compensation shows no differences among the groups. In addition, job security suggests a noticeable increase after 5 years, and persists at that high level. The reasons are in the steadily increasing success of the company.

Considering all individual characteristics, each subgroup evaluated the presence of feedback at work as low in comparison to the other factors. Job security was evaluated as highest, and often higher perceived at work than importance was attached to it. The reasons for that is the success of the company, and the fact that information about the actual situation of the company are given regularly to the employees.

The comparison of the data concerning gender, marital status, leading/non-leading position revealed no differences. Furthermore, there are no differences among the age groups concerning the importance attributed to the factors examined in that study. However, it seems to be a tendency that older people do not attach as much importance to the feedback as younger people do. That can be explained with the increasing experiences as well. Regarding the years in the company no differences except for the use of a variety of skills and the environmental aspect are evident. Both factors show an increase during the first 10 years in the company and suddenly decrease for a noticeable extent after more than 10 years. For instance, the employees may have achieved some kind of maturity in their job. They know their work very well and maybe some of them do not like to receive more tasks, and to learn new things. Another reason could be that those people may have more challenging jobs and thus attach not as much importance to the use of a variety of skills anymore. The differences regarding the environment may be due to the fact that those people have more experiences, and work more on their own, and may have a less need for feedback provided in discussions with other persons all the time. Moreover, the difference may be caused by the fact that people who are a long time in the company know most of the employees, and feel comfortable with their environment and therefore do not attach as much importance to the environmental aspect in comparison to persons who have not been working so long in the company. Another reason could be that some of the employees will retire in a couple of years, and therefore consider the environmental aspect as not as important anymore.

Taking into consideration all individual characteristics, task identity and autonomy were evaluated by each subgroup as not as important as the other job factors, whereas the environmental aspect was rated as very important. The reasons for that may be that people are aware that many tasks are not possible to maintain by one person and that work may also be of interest and meaningfulness without a high degree of task significance. In addition, the environment is highly important since people spend a lot of time at work and like to have good relationships with their colleagues, to speak about something else other than work, to feel comfortable, and to feel that their health is not at risk in any way. The employees, regardless of the respective subgroup, evaluated the importance of the benefits offered by the company as similar.

Since the strongest motivators seem to be things that people value but lack, the following motivators can be identified in order to increase the internal motivation and job satisfaction for the respective subgroups. The motivators are listed according to their motivating strength [the strongest factor first and the less strongest but still weak influencing factor last].

Feedback

Skills

Task Significance

Environment

Compensation

Age

ï‚£ 30

1

2

2

3

4

31 - 45

1

2

3

3

4

 46

1

-

-

2

-

Gender

Male

1

3

3

2

4

Female

1

-

2

3

3

Marital Status

Married

1

4

2

3

5

Unmarried

1

2

4

3

5

Position

Leading

1

-

-

-

-

Non-leading

1

2

2

2

3

Years in the company

ï‚£ 2 years

1

2

3

2

4

2 - 5 years

1

3

1

2

4

> 5 - 10 years

1

2

3

4

5

> 10 years

1

-

-

-

2

The strongest motivator regarding all subgroups is the feedback. Therefore, special attention should be given to that factor in order to increase the internal motivation and job satisfaction. Moreover, one should have in mind that the environment and compensation do not actually present motivators. However, their fulfillment to a certain extent provides the basis for taking advantage of challenges in the job and to reduce job dissatisfaction.

Considering the whole, all differences figured out in this research are a starting point to look at the employees' work situation in more detail and to think about how to design the work in order to provide the employees to a higher extent with intrinsic motivators such as feedback, skills, task significance, and task identity. In addition, special attention should be given to the environmental aspect and the compensation, since they make a contribution to the well being of humans and provide the basis for the use of challenges offered by the job. Furthermore, all factors examined in this study contribute to the organizational commitment of employees. The intrinsic factors, on the one hand, may influence a person's willingness to expend considerable efforts toward the goals of the company and to remain in the company. The extrinsic factors, on the other hand, may contribute to the behavioral commitment. Factors external to the work situation such as the economic situation, mobility, and other employers may influence an individual's desire to stay in the company as well.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Motivation is a highly complex phenomenon (Bent, et al., 1999) that influences and is influenced by a large number of factors in the organizational environment (Steers and Porter, 1991). The study of motivation is concerned with why individuals think and behave as they do (Mullin, 1999; Weiner, 1992; Wagner, 1999). A great amount of definitions are presented by literature, for example, Vignali (1997) points out that motivation is a process that triggers individuals to act as they do. Analoui (2000) sees motivation as a drive within the individual necessary to direct that person's actions and behavior towards the achievement of some goals, and focuses, according to Luthans (1995) and Mullins (1999), on the fulfillment of certain needs and expectations.

The results of this analysis offer a starting point to think about the actual work conditions and their changes in order to provide a basis for a higher motivation of employees. Not only differences and similarities in the work motivation and satisfaction of employees regarding certain individual characteristics, but also the reasons for that are examined in this study. Moreover, factors that have to be enhanced at work in order to increase the motivation and therefore the commitment toward the company are figured out.

The use of quantitative as well as qualitative methods enabled me to investigate the problem under analysis in more depth and to increase the quality and the value of the research and its results. The collection of the quantitative data and their analysis by the use of the mean count for objectivity and reliability of the research.

The results are not only of value for the company where the survey was carried out but they also contribute in my opinion to previous research done in the field of motivation and work. Similarities and differences regarding certain individual characteristics are shown and this knowledge can be used to motivate a group of employees, sharing the same individual characteristic, in the same way. However, the investigation was only performed in one production company. A survey carried out in several companies in the same industry might be of higher significance regarding the similarities and differences among the subgroups of the respective individual feature. In addition, the combination of subgroups of several individual characteristics may offer additional interesting findings regarding the motivation of employees.

The facts mentioned above contribute to an individual's desire to stay in the company instead of looking around for another employer. Thereby, the payment level, benefits, work condition, and job security in comparison to other employers, low mobility, amount of employers, and the economic situation are of importance.

Motivation is a continual process and needs to be sustained and developed as individual and organizational factors change over time. It may be of interest to have a continuous view of what motivates the employees and provides them with satisfaction. Furthermore, it may be interesting to compare the received results with similar surveys done in the same industry. Unfortunately, such data is not accessible, therefore, it may be recommended to do a new survey every second year in order to determine the degree of job satisfaction and to figure out the factors, which are valued and lacked by the respective subgroups. A comparison of the surveys may provide the company with useful information about the success or failure of changes regarding the work and the development in the job satisfaction of the employees.

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