Evaluating Theories and Applications of Organizational Behavior and Managing Motivation


Motivation can be defined as a set of processes that push and exert high levels of effort to maintain human behaviour towards the achievement of a particular goal. It is only reasonable to assume that every company or organization needs a motivated workforce. People are usually motivated towards actions that they believe will pay off. The work environment also affects a person's motivation level and the more conducive an environment is, the more motivated the workers will be. Motivation prompts a worker to fight towards achieving a certain goal. In some cases, those with lower potential outperform potential employees. This can therefore be a measure of how well motivated the workers are. Motivation of workers is an important factor that greatly affects individual performance. There are various motivation theories that have been put forward by scholars however; putting these education theories into practice so as get positive results is a huge task (Beck 280). Managers of organizations need, therefore, to adopt mechanisms to ensure that their workers are motivated enough for the overall performance of the organization. motivation in organizations vary depending on the type of organization and the type of work force they have which may either be casual, manual or professionals. Motivation may be in form of increased pay, huge bonuses, providing conducive environment within which workers find it easy to achieve their goals, giving proper training, resources, and information to achieve the goals among others.

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The right culture, management, and leadership styles can help an organization to achieve levels of highly motivated workers. Leadership and management styles differ with different organizations. A leader may be democratic, autocratic or action centered. However, a leader can take a few measures to achieve a highly motivated work force. These include allowing employees to reach their maximum potential, communicating regularly with your staff, working as a team with your staff, making proper delegations so that each member of the staff knows exactly what their responsibilities are, leading by demonstration, correcting mistakes in a proper way (Jex 350)

McClelland's acquired-needs theory, on the other hand proposes that people's needs are met over time and are usually shaped by the experiences the person goes through. The needs are achievement, affiliation, or power and these needs influence a person's motivation in job functions. Managers should therefore try to understand their employees' needs and look for ways in which they can help them to achieve these needs and in the process, keep them motivated for the job functions they have been assigned. However, for a manager to establish these needs, he needs to regularly communicate with his employees and create an environment within which the employees can air their views and communicate them to him. People with different needs need different types of motivation. For example, people with a high need for achievement should be motivated by being given exigent projects but those with goals that they can achieve. They should also be rewarded when they meet these goals. Those with a high need for affiliation should be provide with a work environment that is cooperative while those with a high needs for power should be put in positions to manage others.

According to Beck (290), workers are mainly motivated by pay. In his theory of scientific management, argued that workers need close supervision because naturally, they do not enjoy their work. Management should therefore split work large tasks into smaller parts. Managers should also ensure that they provide the right environment for the workers to be efficient. The workers should also be paid based on the quality of their output. This motivates the workers to maximize their productivity.

Another theory that looks into worker's motivations is Mayo's Human Relation School of Thought. He argued that workers should be treated as people who have valid opinions and people not only motivated by money but also by having their social needs met in the workplace. He set up a series of experiments and concluded that workers are bet motivated by better communication between the managers and the workers, greater manager involvement in the employees' lives, and workers working as teams. In businesses, managers should therefore strive to improve communication between them and the workers and promote increased use of teamwork between the employees (Beck 321).

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Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory focuses on the psychological needs of workers. He argued that human needs are at five levels and these needs need to be fulfilled at the workplace. Human needs according to Maslow are arranged into a hierarchy and a worker is motivated by having a higher-level need satisfied once the one in the lower level are satisfied. Organization managers should in this view, recognize the different motivational needs of the workers and therefore offer different incentives based on the workers' different needs.

Alderfer's ERG Theory is another theory that is closely related to Maslow's Hierarchy of Need. This theory states that there are 3 groups of needs i.e. Existence, Relatedness and Growth (ERG). Existence mainly deals with the provision of basic needs for existence; relatedness refers to the need to maintain inter personal relationships with others while growth refers to the need for personal development. Individuals may have more than one of the needs mentioned above at the same time. In addition, frustration by a person's lack of fulfillment of his needs will lead to regression in the work performance. Managers of organizations should try to ensure that they identify each person's needs (cite)

Another theory that has been put across to explain workers' motivation is Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory, which argued that some factors might be directly introduced to motivate workers (motivators). There were however other factors that if not present at the place of work, would de-motivate the workers. Job motivators focus on the job itself as well as whether it is interesting enough to keep the workers motivated. It also focuses on whether the job provides enough chances and opportunities for promotion, extra responsibilities, and recognition. Hygiene factors on the other hand focus on the factors that surround the job. For example, provision of safe working conditions. These conditions (hygiene factors) will however not make him work harder but will provide a conducive environment to motivate the workers once other incentives are provided.

This theory explains that organizations should come up with a platform for communication with their employees and improve the working conditions, nature, and content of the job tasks. This may be done by diversifying the tasks to be carried out thus reducing monotony of work and making work more interesting, another way could be through enriching workers by giving them an array of tasks that are more challenging, more complex, and more interesting. Employees should also be given more power in decision making on matters affecting their working spaces and their working life in general (Kreitner 392).

Over time, Vroom's Expectancy theory has become the most widely accepted motivation's theory. The theory states that an individual's strength and tendency to act in a specific way depends on the strength of the expected outcome and the attractiveness of that outcome. In an organization, therefore an employee will be motivated to better performance if he feels that better performance on his part will lead to some reward, be it personal achievement or rewards by the employer. Motivation according to this theory, leads satisfaction in form of rewards. Management should therefore strive to ensure that they offer attractive rewards to their staff to motivate them to work towards achieving set targets and honor the promises of rewarding them accordingly (Weiner 160)

Porter and Lawler also came up with a motivation theory. In their theory, they argued that job performance primarily depends on the effort put towards the job. They also argued that performance was also affected by an individual's capability to carry out the job and the perception he holds towards that particular job. In this theory, it can be concluded that performance leads to rewards that then lead to personal satisfaction based on the fairness of these rewards (Gary 25)

Jeremy Bentham's "Carrot and Stick Approach" is a motivation theory, which though old, still holds in some industries. It refers to the use of rewards and penalties to achieve desired output within a work setting. It argues that people are motivated by the desire to avoid pain and also the desire to find pleasure. This can be translated into the idea that if the worker thinks the punishment for not achieving is not very pleasant, he will strive hard to achieve. On the other hand, if he thinks the reward is good enough, he will work hard so as to be rewarded. Rewards may be in form of money pay or bonuses. Penalties on the other hand may be the fear to lose their jobs, demotion, and bonus reduction, among others.

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Douglas McGregor came up with another theory, the Theory of X and Y when it came to employee management. This theory states that employees can be managed in two ways, positively (Theory Y) or negatively (Theory X). Managers, according to McGregor have a set of assumptions towards their employees and these assumptions dictate their attitudes towards the employees (Gary 25). Assumptions of the Theory X are that employees always tend to avoid work when possible because they do not like to work. They therefore have to be forced to work and threatened with punishments to achieve the goals set for them. Under theory Y, McGregor makes the assumptions that if people are committed to their goals, they exercise self-control and self-direction. He also assumes that average human beings will take responsibility and come up with creative ways to solve an organization's problems. It also assumes that the use of physical and natural efforts used at work is natural. In an authoritarian style of leadership, the theory X is applicable where workers need to be forced to obedience. On the other hand, the Theory Y depicts a participatory approach to management in which views of the workers are integrated in the organization's decision-making. (Gary 76).


In today's work environment, people are constantly working towards self-actualization and satisfaction. This can be seen through the great need to acquire extra skills and improve on the already existing ones so that they can stand better chances in the job market. Though all the theories discussed above are valid, some of them do not actually fit into modern day's work environment, for example, the "Carrot and Stick Approach" and the Theory X of McGregor. People have a greater need towards self-achievement and actualization due to the growing perception of it among the working class. Maslow's hierarchy of needs largely applies in some job markets especially in the casual labour markets. People's basic needs have to met first to motivate them to achieve the goals to personal actualization.