Evaluating Motivation Theories And Their Implications

2443 words (10 pages) Essay in Business

5/12/16 Business Reference this

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Motivation is derived from the word “motive” which means needs, desires, wants or drives within the individuals. Motivation is a process that begins with physiological or psychological urge or requirement. It is a tool that helps to stimulate an action or a drive that is aimed to achieve some goal or incentive.

It is a process of stimulating people into actions that are helpful to accomplish the desired goals. In the work goal context psychological factors stimulating the people’s behavior can be:

Desire for money

Job satisfaction

Team work



The most important function of managers and leaders in an organization is to create willingness amongst the employees to perform to the best of their abilities. Thus, it is the role of leaders to arouse interest of employees towards their jobs. The process of motivation consists of three stages which are:

Drive or a felt need.

A stimulus in which needs have to aroused.

When needs are satisfied, the accomplishment of goals.

Therefore, we can say that motivation is a psychological phenomenon which describes that wants and needs of the individual have to be tackled by framing an incentive plan.

In modern society, one of the significant problems for all cultures and organization is to provide jobs for all those who want and are able to work. In fact employee motivation is very popular among the management circles. It is a key factor in arbitrating management style as well as in determining productivity.

Motivation by many writers/authors has been defined as the drive or gear to make people convince in do some actions to achieve certain goals. The drive to do something can be from internal sources or external sources. Moreover we can say that motivation is the available factors that are given to individuals to satisfy their wants wither personal or professional.

There are two basic types of motivation;

Intrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic Motivation

This type of motivation comes from within the inner self of an individual or we can say that these are the internal factors that are driven by the interest and enjoyment in the job itself what the individual is doing rather than relying on the external factors. Explanations of the intrinsic motivation can be found in the context of Fritz Heider’s attribution theory, Bandura’s work on self-efficiency and Deci and Ryan’s cognitive evaluation theory. The intrinsic motivation can be produced within then individuals by identifying their psychological needs related to the jobs they are performing. Involving the employees in the decision making process by letting them participate in giving suggestions regarding designation of jobs, their interest in the related jobs, their priority related to the specific job, comfortable level to a certain job etc.; this practice can help managers to increase the intrinsic motivation within the employees of the organization and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness by achieving goals within specified time.

Extrinsic Motivation

All the external factors like rewards like money, promotions, recognition, coercion, threats of punishments are responsible for the extrinsic motivation for the individual. Likewise competition is one most commonly used extrinsic factor that encourages the performer to win and beat others. A crowd cheering on the individual and trophies are also extrinsic factors to make the individual to win the game.

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The most famous theory explaining g the extrinsic motivation is the Self-determination theory which proposes that external motivation can be adopted by the individual if the tasks fits with their values and their needs and therefore helps them to fulfill their basic psychological needs.


What exactly are the motivators for the people, and how they work? There is no definite answer despite Herzberg’s assertion to the contrary. It will depend upon different societies, different individuals, different job levels and different organizations. There is probably no universal motivator for all mankind, neither any single motivating force for any individual. It is a mixture of needs regarding the nature of people and the type of society and culture they are living in.

Managers are responsible for motivating the employees and to differentiate between the operating goals and job related needs of the employees or it is the responsibility of the managers or leaders to device some goal setting process with employees participation, to make them feel their value in the decision making process. This is already a formidable job

Motivation starts with a good example, leaders who hope to motivate must reflect the vision, mission and culture of the organization they are working in to lead. The example set by them will be the one which their subordinates will. For example if the head of an organization preaches about integrity and ethics in public, but in private cheats on his expense reports, the real example he sets is one of dishonesty. On the other hand, a manager / leader who show the value in the team work and is willing to help teams and in need is representing the right example. Colleen Barrett, President of South West Airlines, is someone who puts the need of individuals and the organization first, she exemplify the culture.

Five major approaches that have led to our understanding of motivation are Maslow’s need-hierarchy theory, Herzberg’s two- factor theory, Vroom’s expectancy theory, Adams’ equity theory, and Skinner’s reinforcement theory. (John Baldoni, Motivation secrets of great leaders, Pager 6.)

Theories of Motivation and its implications

The Motivation thoughts were mainly developed around 1950’s. The main theories were made during the period. These three classical theories are.

Maslow Hierarchy of needs theory

Herzberg’s Two factor theory

Theory X and Theory Y

To understand the word motivation and its implications, it is the responsibility of the managers to be aware of the behavior of people and the way of thinking of these people. The study of human mind and behavior is important to learn about implication of motivation.

If we study the term motivation in psychology, the term motivation means the reason for engaging in a particular behavior or action, or we can say that motivation is the “why” behind any given action. A vast amount of research regarding motivation theory has been conducted over the course of decades, with many diverging theories.

There are three generally accepted schools of thoughts in regard to motivational psychology. Among the well-known theories of motivation, Sigmund Freud “Theory X” is the first one. This theory is used to motivate the people who have negative characteristics like who are lazy and who lack vision, ambition, self-centered and who try to avoid doing work at all costs and do the bare minimum. The implications with reference to Freud’s viewpoint; he enlightened the need of motivating employees through the use of external factors such as rewards, manipulation or punishment.

“Theory Y” is the second theory developed by Douglas McGregor, which assumed the best drives in people. These are the people who really show interest in work, learning and self-improvement. This theory implicates that people are self-motivated to do their jobs and they work for themselves, not for the fear of punishment or any reward, thus no need for external motivating factor to make the people work.

Abraham Maslow, a behavioral psychologist and theorists, developed a “Hierarchy of Needs theory”. Maslow envisioned this theory as five levels of needs of people. According to him he sets the basic principle behind this theory that human beings are motivated by meeting their most important and basic needs first like food, clothing and shelter. Maslow’s hierarchy contains five levels; each successive level can be attained by meeting those beneath it. They are physiological needs, security needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization. According to Maslow, employees’ lower level needs would have to be met in order for them to achieve a higher level of motivation.

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Reinforcement Theory

Reinforcement theory provided the strongest support for explaining differences in the use of NMR: High-use managers were reinforced for using NMR (most notably by their employees), while low-use managers were not reinforced for using the behavior, perhaps in part because they seldom displayed the behavior.

Reinforcement theory provides implication for managers in how to motivate employees. Firstly the managers should keep in mind that motivated behavior of the staff is influences by their learning which is acceptable and what is unacceptable to the organization. When motivating g the employees the managers should follow the below:

They should tell the employees what they can do to get positive reinforcement, informing the work standards and the type of behavior that is acceptable.

Tell employees what they are doing wrong; in case there is no feedback in the form of rewards, employees should be informed with the reason. Provision of this information will allow the employees to improve their behavior.

Base the rewards on Performance; managers should have a clear reward system, the higher the performance the higher should be the reward.

Expectancy Theory

Humans use to predict about the likely happenings of future, so expectations for the future events are created. If things seems to be reasonably likely attractive, we know how to get there and we believe that we can make the difference, this feeling will motivate us to do something that make this future come true.

Implications of this theory for the mangers; motivation is a combination of:

Valence: this is the value of the perceived outcome (the reward).

Instrumentality: to have faith on oneself that if one completes certain events then he can achieve the outcome or goal (clear path).

Expectancy: The belief that one is able to complete the actions (one’s capability).

The theory or the combinations of motivation theories, managers will use to influence their employees to increase productivity and efficiency.

It has been .

It has been observed by Freud and McGregor, generally speaking, motivation can be felt either of the two ways i.e. positive or negative. Employees can be motivated using negative motivating factors i.e. fear of failure, fear of losing favor, fear of losing a job, and if an employee is being consistently motivated by fear, he will be unsatisfied in effective and inefficient. On the other hand if the employee is motivated by positive factors like appreciation, to share in success of the company , he will feel satisfied., worthy and will be more productive and efficient.

If any organization adopted Maslow’s approach to Motivation, it would pursue to meet the most basic needs of their employees in order to equip them for the higher levels of performance. While providing resources to meet one’s basic psychological needs like food, shelter and clothing is as simple as writing a paycheck. For the organization, to help their employees in achieving the higher levels of motivation like self-esteem and social needs is more complicated.

Still, these needs can be remedied through various vehicles like employee interaction and genuine praise, appreciation, and recognition from supervisors. If an organization can free their employees from the pressures of fulfilling lower level needs, their employees will feel comfortable and capable to operate at their greatest potential.


During the integration process of Lehman and Barclays, motivation of the Lehman staff was of the major apprehension to increase the organizational commitment on the Barclay’s management and organization. To develop the organization commitment was to develop trust of Lehman’s staff on the management of Barclay’s. This was dependable with the Social Identity Theory of organizational behavior according to which the trust of employees in their leaders and managers lead to strong benefits to the organizations including the increase in organization commitment.

General Electric is held as an example of good business practices. The company has been turned around by Jack Walsh who has been responsible for many of the procedures and the overall culture and philosophy which has been put into place to upsurge efficiency, productivity and motivation. When looking at the way how motivation is taking place there is a strong learning towards human relations school of thought where man is seen as social rather economic. When the CEO of General Electric Jack Walsh was asked that according to him which motivating factor was more rewarding of the employees money or recognition, he replied; “You have to get rewarded in the soul and the Wallet” (Lewis, 2000; 7). This is indicative of the way employees are motivated and the underlying philosophies which are present at General Electric. According to the statement by Walsh we can say that employees need to be appreciated and empowered in order to act, they also need to be rewarded in physical terms as well as recognition.


Research often finds that internal motivating factors prove more efficient than any externally motivating force. The aim for any organization and its management is to create an environment where the employees are provided with the opportunities; where they can motivate themselves and achieve the desired goals. So the managers must act as the motivating force for the employees.

Managers in any organization are responsible to act as a motivating tool. There are different types of people in an organization, some are efficient workers, some are average workers and some like to avoid work maybe due to lack of interest in the job. Mangers are responsible to identify the type of workers they are working with and simultaneously make a motivation plan to increase efficiency and productivity of the workers. Employees who are self-motivated need less attention; they can just be motivated when their work is recognized. Moreover, more attention should be given to the employees who don’t show interest in the work either by giving them incentives or rewards so that they remained geared up, and on the other hand they can also be given the fear of punishment depending upon the situation. The last but not the least the workers who are average workers can be motivated by the combination of rewards and recognition both so they can perform to the best of their abilities.

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