Motivation is fundamental to human behaviour. Bartol and Martin (1998)
define motivation as the force that energises behaviour, gives direction to
behaviour, and underlies the tendency to persist. Similarly, Greenberg and
Baron (1997) define motivation as “the set of processes that arouse, direct,
and maintain human behaviour toward attaining some goal”. There are three
key parts to this definition: arousal, drive, and mobilisation of effort.
Arousal is the initial feeling of interest that a person has toward attaining a
particular goal. The second aspect of the definition, direction, is what people
will do and actions they will take to get closer to attaining the end result. For
instance, in the American culture, if an individual is trying to get the next
promotion, he will probably stay at work late to do additional work and develop
excellent relationships with the key decision-makers. The third element
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of this definition of motivation, mobilisation of effort, refers to the
persistence or maintenance of the behaviour until the goal is attained. This
means that the candidate desiring a promotion will continue the aforementioned
behaviour until promotion is reached.Motivation has been defined as the psychological process that gives behaviour purpose and direction (Kreitner, 1995); an internal drive to satisfy an unsatisfied need (Higgins, 1994); and the will to achieve (Bedeian, 1993). In psychology, motivation refers to the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of behavior (Green, 1995). In simplistic terms, we can define motivation as the desire and willingness to do something and the inner force that helps individuals achieve their goals. Understanding what motivates Indian youths in to take u employment in the UK is one fo the objectives of this study. The study starts off by discussing the relevant motivation theories to better understand the motivational divers.
Schools of Thought
There are two schools of thought on motivational theories, the scientific school of thought and the behavioural school of thought.
The scientific management considers employees as an input to the production of goods and services. The approach stresses on scientific selection, training and development of workers instead of allowing them to choose their own tasks and training methods and its objective is to carry out work in accordance with scientifically devised procedures. One of the pioneers and inventor of scientific approach to management was Frederick Taylor (1856-1915) who was the first to analyse human behaviour scientifically with his machine model by making individuals into the equivalent of machine parts. He broke down the tasks to its smallest unit to figure out the best approach. After careful analysis of the job, workers were trained to do only those motions essential to the task. Taylor attempted to make a science for each element of work and restrict behavioural alternatives facing worker and looked at interaction of human characteristics, social environment, task, and physical environment, capacity, speed, durability and cost. The overall goal was to remove human variability (Terpstra, 2005).
Unlike scientific approach behaviour approach places emphasis on what motivates people and seeks to identify and account for the specific influences that motivate people. Some of the distinguished theories of behavioural approach to motivation are discussed below.
Maslow (1943) put forward the ‘hierarchy of needs theory' which saw human needs in the form of a hierarchy, ascending from lowest to the highest. He argued that lower level needs had to be satisfied before the next higher level need and once one set of needs is satisfied, this kind of need ceases to be a motivator.
The five needs are:
- Physiological needs - These are the most basic human needs which are important for sustenance like food, water, warmth, shelter, sleep etc. Maslow argued that unless physiological needs are satisfied to a degree, no other motivating factor can work.
- Safety or Security needs - These are needs to be free of physical danger and emotional harm like the fear of losing a job, property, food or shelter. It relates to security, protection and stability in the personal events of everyday life.
- Social Needs - These are needs for love, affection and belongingness and social acceptance. People are social beings and try to satisfy their needs for acceptance and friendship.
- Esteem - Once people's social needs are satisfied, they look for esteem (reputation). This need produces such satisfaction as power, prestige status and self confidence. It includes both internal esteem factors like self-respect, autonomy, achievements and external esteem factors such as recognition and attention as well as personal sense of competence. (Source)
- .Self actualization - This need is the drive to become what one is capable of becoming. It's the need to grow and use abilities to the fullest potential. It includes growth and self-fulfillment by achieving one's potential to accomplish something
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Looking at Maslow's hierarchy of needs triangle, as each needs are substantially satisfied, the next need becomes dominant. (eg. esteem needs become dominant after social needs are satisfied).Also, when a need gets substantially satisfied, it stops to be motivating. The crux of Maslow's theory is to focus on finding out the level of hierarchy the person is in and focusing on satisfying his/her needs and the needs above it.
Frederick Herzberg's (1959) famous quote says ““If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” Herzberg's motivational theory has a two component approach and is known as the two-factor theory. His theory suggests that things which prevent dissatisfaction are not the same as things which create satisfaction. (Herzberg, 1959) When people are dissatisfied (de-motivated) with their work it is usually because of discontent with environmental factors which he terms as “Hygiene Factors". These hygiene factors include factors such as, security, status, relationship with subordinates, personal life, salary, work conditions, relationship with supervisor, company policy and administration (Bedeian, 2003). These are the factors whose presence in the organization is natural and does not lead to motivation, however its absence does lead to de-motivation. Hygiene factors include the work and the organizational environment. The second component of the theory involves factors whose absence causes no dissatisfaction but whose presence has huge motivational value. Herzberg terms these factors as ‘Motivational factors' which are factors such as growth prospects, career progression and advancement, responsibility, challenges, recognition and achievements.
Diagramatic representation of Herzberg two-factor theory (Taken from Web 2)
Vroom's Expectancy Theory
Vroom's expectancy theory argues that motivation is based on values and beliefs of individuals and examines motives through the perception of what a person believes will happen. It is based on the belief that employee effort will lead to performance and performance will lead to rewards (Vroom, 1964). The theory states that individuals can be motivated if they believe that there is a positive correlation between the efforts they put in and their performance and when that favourable performance leads to a reward. Consequently, the reward helps satisfy an important need and the desire to satisfy that need is strong enough to make the efforts worth wile. Vroom's theory can apply to any apply to any situation where someone does something because they expect a certain outcome. The theory is about the associations people make towards expected outcomes and the contribution they feel they can make towards those outcomes (Bowen,1991)
Most of the behavioural theories seem to borrow a little from each other. Maslow's theory concentrates on basic human needs, Herzberg's two factor theory brings out the distinction between motivation-demotivation. Because of its quantitative nature, Vroom's theory, is more suited to managers trying to gauge the effect of decisions on employees. Maslow describes which outcomes people are motivated by and Vroom describes whether they will act based upon their experience and expectations. (Harpaz,2004) Maslow's theory can be too simple and rigid for today's environment. Porter-Lawler model brings out the perceived inequality and brings out the demerits of discriminatory practices which may be more suitable for more diversified workforce. All behavioral theories have their own significance and its up to the management to decide which theory to apply. Application of motivational theories is purely contextual and specific to a particular workforce. Workplace might merge two theories and apply some of the features of each. Because of its contextual nature, none of the theories are generic and better than the other. However, there is an underlying difference between the two approaches to motivation. Scientific approach assumes that work is inherently unpleasant to most people and the financial incentive is more important to them than other factors such as nature of job, role profile, work environment etc. While the behavioural approach to management emphasises the role of social processes in organisations and stresses on belongingness and the need to feel useful. It emphasises that these human needs motivate employees more than money.
Motivational Drivers and the drive factors
In recent years, the international mobility of trained personnel has increased owing to the growth of the knowledge financial system, the graduating globalization of markets and firms, the increasing demand for rare abilities, and wider political and economic concerns. There has been an ever-increasing discussion about the impetus and consequences of such relocation as a way of lessening domestic skill constrictions. (Pearson and Morrell, 2002). Drive factors are those things that create an urge within you to say good-bye to your nation to go to other country. Drive factors recognized by Awases, Gbary, & Chatora (2003) consist of monetary factors (substandard wages), institutional factors (dearth of appropriate work amenities and tools), professional factors (dearth of career growth prospect) and political factors (socio-political insecurity).
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Draw factors consist of those things that gravitate the populace on the way to another nation. Drag factors promoting immigration comprises of opportunities for professional growth, ambition for a fine living standard, personal protection, better earnings and learning opportunities (Kingma, 2001; Buchan, 2001). As per the literature, different nations have experienced different influences because of the draw-drive of global relocation. Constructive influences are the financial profits linked with the production of remittance earnings (Huston, 2006). It is expected that that internationally, remittances account for more than 70 billion dollars to world economies (Oulton, 2004). More generally, however, contributor nations report “brain drain”- the loss of trained workers and the loss of investment in learning (Kline, 2003) that is experienced when rare human resources move somewhere else. Global relocation intimidates international health because the “loss of human resources due to immigration of expert health staff to bloomed nations generally gives rise to a loss of ability of health systems in budding nations to give health care justifiably” (ICN, 2004). Immigration of personnel also chips away at the ability of nations to meet international, local and nationwide promises and even their own growth (ICN, 2004). For these reasons, the Commonwealth Code of Practice for the International Recruitment of Health Workers (2003) does not encourages the aimed recruitment of health personnel from nations which are facing shortages. Aiken, Buchan, Sochalski, Nichols, & Powell (2004) agree, arguing that budding nations are required to do all they can to generate sustainable expert personnel that meet their own requirements.
As a result of that, both political and socio-economic state of affairs should be regarded as imperative drive factors for mass departure from different nations (Massey et al., 1999). Yet, the question remains as to which are the driving factors that make people leave their country and how immigration actually happens. From a neoclassical financial point of view, flows of toil shift from low-pay and low-employment nations to high-remuneration and high-employment nations. It is supposed that the individuals' cogent resolution to leave his country is all because of a comparison between the prospective earnings level in the host nation and their real earnings in their own nation. After analyzing everything in terms of cost-benefit one takes decision to leave his country if he/she finds that the benefits are greater than the costs over a certain period of time. (Borjas, 1990).
The decision makers
Nevertheless, choices to go to the other country are not made by a single person, but it rather involves larger units of people associated with one another. (households or families). As a straight reaction to neoclassical molds, which believe a rational entity acting in a socio-economic vacuum, quite a few intellectual taking the home plan approach affirm that choices to go to the other country are not made by a single person but by bigger units of people related to one another, i.e. home or families (Hondagneu- Sotelo, 1994). From an financial point of view, Stark and associates recommended that individuals in home or families take action as a group not only to capitalize on the projected earnings, but also to reduce the risks related to a number of market breakdowns (e.g., credit and insurance markets). For underprivileged families in budding nations, institutional instruments for managing risk are not perfect, present, or accessible, which makes migration a viable strategy so as to branch out risks (Stark, 1991).
The participating recruitment on behalf of the hosting nation is also a key factor describing the primary connection between the labor marketplace of the receiving country and migrants from budding nations. Requirement of overseas personnel in these societies is all because of the incapability of local companies to employ personnel for the secondary segment of the financial system. Local companies start searching for overseas personnel, since indigenous personnel are not "ready" to work under stiff circumstances, low wages, insecurity, and dearth of better scope in future. (Massey et al., 1998) Both draw and drive factors zero in on circumstances that generate global immigration flows. However, as the time passes, new and self-governing factors, like social set of connections and institutional constructions, grow as a result of immigration. These growths help, in turn, to perpetuate immigration over time (Massey et al., 1998).
It has been recommended that draw and drive factors inspire personnel to migrate and look for job in other country where drive factors are reasons to migrate like low wages, restricted career prospects, joblessness or civil turbulence and draw factors are inspirations or circumstances that draw immigrants to other nations like demand for personnel or a better quality of life. This notion has been further developed to classify personnel as lasting or short-term migrants based on their reasons for migrating. For instance, permanent migrants may be 'financial migrants' who are fascinated to better living standards and who may send small fortunes to their homeland or 'career migrants' who are fascinated to improved career prospects. Short-terms movers are those who are on a 'working holiday' where know-how is used to business travel, or 'the study tour' where new information and methods are obtained for use when they get back to their home (Buchan et al,1997).
Westcott and Whitcombe (2003) propose that the benefits provided by the globalization of professional remedy have not been fully comprehended, mainly in reference to teaching. One research has been done to notify writers of UK speech and language treatment syllabus by making use of the standpoints of existing and past global learners (Marshall et al., 2004).
The inspirations, experiences and standpoints of global health and social concern experts nonetheless have not been comprehensively explored, chiefly in reference to labor force dynamics, personnel suppleness (Nancarrow, 2003) and the understanding and managing of the international flow of health and social concern personnel. This pilot research intends to seize beginning data on the viewpoints and purposes of health and social care experts of non-UK origin and training who have at some juncture migrated to and worked in the UK.
The main inspirations for this set of experts to work in the UK were journey, money and career prospects. These inspirations match with study conducted by Buchan (2000), whereby most respondent in this research were 'short-term movers', following 'the working holiday'. This was chiefly true for those who are from Australia and New Zealand. By the same token, respondents were comparatively youthful. These results epitomize study conducted by Birrell et al (2001) who reports 70% of Australian experts who work abroad get back and are generally aged between 20 and 30. Also showed in this research was a inclination for globally skilled health personnel to fill short-term, locum positions in the NHS. A report for the UK Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (Buchan and O'May,2000), identifies a key 'draw' factor for abroad physiotherapists is the relative ease with which they can find relatively well paid short-term work in the UK, giving them better choice over the locality and period of service.
When probing the perspectives and understandings of the respondents, it is imperative to consider their original inspirations to migrate to the UK and how this may influence their understandings and viewpoints. For instance, the greater parts of respondents were inspired to shift to the UK by the chance to tour. Opinion may then be from the viewpoints of a holiday enjoyer, working to finance travels rather than from the viewpoint of a full time worker working to pay a mortgage, for instance. Intensions can also be changed over time depending on different conditions, for instance the intensions of and enticements for immigrating nurses to the UK have been made known to change over time as individual and socio-economic conditions change (Allan and Larsen, 2003).
It has also been seen in the UK that people give up the UK business segments mainly because of the dearth of ways and means, paucity of self-government and feeling underprivileged (Pearson et al., 2004). In the like manner, a group of UK physiotherapy students and experts noticed physiotherapy in the NHS to be living stressful and having more workload, paucity of workers and equipments in the ramshackle stage (Park et al., 2003).
UK Job Market and the related motivational factors for Indian Youths
In UK, the fastest growing segments of the foreign workforce have been in financial service and technical field. The explosive growth in the use of foreign professionals in the high-tech area--highly educated workers skilled in new technologies-has been reported by many like (Source).
(Source) states that the core work dimensions like skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback influence three critical psychological states (experienced meaningfulness of the work, experienced responsibility for outcomes of the work, and knowledge of the actual results of work activities). These states, in turn, are predicted to lead to four possible outcomes (level of internal work motivation, quality of work performance, level of satisfaction with the work, and levels of absenteeism and turnover). Three factors affect the relationship between core job characteristics and outcomes: an individual's growth need strength (the degree to which individuals need personal growth and development on the job), job context satisfactions (with pay, job security, coworkers, and supervisors), and knowledge and skill. In other words, individuals are more likely to be motivated by job characteristics if they have high growth need strength, if they are satisfied with other aspects of the job context such as pay and job security, and if they have the knowledge and skills needed to perform well.
In relation to the private-public motivational differences, the empirical research
confirmed similarities between employees concerning the fulfilment of their
achievement and self-actualisation needs (Posner and Schmidt, 1996). The need for
job security has also been found to be similar in the two sectors (Gabris and Simo,
1995), while Rainey (1982) concluded that public sector managers cared less about
monetary rewards compared to private sector managers. On the contrary, the
opportunity to serve society and the public interest matter more to public than private
employees (Crewson, 1997; Rainey, 1982). Turning more specifically to the relationship
between public sector performance and motivation, the empirical investigation on the
topic is limited, mainly due to the difficulties associated with the measurement of
public sector outcomes (Stein, 1986). The seminal studies of Crewson (1997) and Brewer
and Selden (1998) have documented the positive correlation of the two concepts and
initialized several surveys thereafter. Following research that attempted to survey the
impact of motivation on performance considered only a few factors that affect
organisational outcomes (Brewer and Selden, 2000) and was mainly centred on the
provision of extrinsic incentives. Thus, Paarsch and Shearer (2000) indicated a positive
association among work outcomes, public employees' motivation and
performance-related pay designs, whereas Wright (2007) implied the positive
relationship between the availability of extrinsic rewards and organisational
performance. Concerning the intrinsic type of motivation, Rainey and Steinbauer
(1999) suggested that the effectiveness and performance of public agencies may be
enhanced by three interrelated levels of rewards, namely task, mission and public
service, Wright (2007) emphasized on public ethos, while Frank and Lewis (2004) have
stressed the importance of public employees in such work characteristics as
meaningful service and job security. The most important variable, which affects the 1st hidden unit with its presence, is
the provision of pay incentives (x2). The 1st hidden node is also strongly affected by
increased security in the workplace (x5) and partially affected by communication and
cooperation in the working environment (x3) and limited opportunities offered to
employees to take responsibilities (x12). Following our literature review and theoretical
development section, results from Table IV indicate that the 1st hidden unit (h1)
represents the extrinsic type of motivation. The 2nd hidden unit is also affected by the
motivator item x12 (though in this case in a positive way); namely the opportunity
offered to employees to take responsibilities. Opportunity for hierarchical
advancement (x4) is the second highest in importance variable. The other relevant
contributory weights ranked in order are the opportunities to advance the field of
employees' expertise (x7) and the need for competence (x11). Accordingly, it seems
plausible to support that the 2nd hidden unit (h2) represents the intrinsic type of
motivation. The weights from the hidden units (h1 and h2) to the output unit ( y) are
presented in Table VI. Our findings indicate that in the extended public sector of Greece public
administrators attempt to motivate their employees and improve productivity by
emphasizing on extrinsic rewards and more specifically by the provision of fair wages
and increased job security. However, the effectiveness of this pattern is strongly
questionable for the years to come for two reasons: First, some recent amendments to
the existing legislation and the restructuring and downsizing of the public sector in
Greece will lead to the decline of traditional job security (Portugal also seems to
comprise a similar interesting case). Second, partly as a result of the economic policy
adopted by the Greek governments, the increased level of unemployment in Greece
(approximately 10 per cent in 2005) and the fact that in recent years we have witnessed
an unparalleled decline in union membership in the public sector, it is hard to support
an optimistic scenario concerning an increase in the wage range that would satisfy
public servants. In addition, the evidence provided strongly challenges the benefits of
using external rewards as a way to trigger higher performance levels. Although pay
and benefits might inspire some people to excel in public sector jobs, our empirical
findings stress the importance of intrinsic incentives upon the performance of the
organisations under investigation. Finally, our results record the existence of a
multifaceted context of employees' needs and satisfaction determinants, which is
strongly differentiated in relation to their demographic characteristics and ability.
Whereas, financial rewards continue to have considerable appeal among employees,
intrinsic incentives (creative work, recognition for achievements, more autonomy
within the workplace) seem also to generate high performance. This is another
argument to support the synergistic effect between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation,
indicating the complexity of the motivational construct and underling the difficulty to
capture effectively all its facets in a real world setting.
This article aimed to examine the relevance of three theories of motivation -
Maslow's Need Hierarchy, Herzberg's Two Factor Theory and Vroom's
Expectancy Theory - to employees in the United States and in Japan. This
article tried to show that different cultural backgrounds have an impact on
the relative importance of different motivational drivers. For example,
American employees are driven by improving themselves and their own positions
in life, an individualistic approach, whereas Japanese employees are
motivated by the success of the group as a whole, which is a collectivistic
approach. Theorists and practitioners continue to look for universal laws or
motivational techniques that can be applied among the different cultural
groups. Tests on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs have shown that individuals
across the world are motivated by essentially the same fundamental human
needs. The main difference between Japanese and American employees lies
in their definitions of need satisfaction. For example, self-actualisation is
likely to mean different things to employees from individualistic cultures
than it does to employees from collectivistic cultures.
Volume 26 Number 1 2003 37
Do All Carrots
Look The Same?
As the world becomes increasingly a global economy, further research is
needed to show managers how they can best manage individuals from different
cultural backgrounds. How might Chinese workers be motivated?
There is evidence from studies undertaken in China, and among Chinese
cultures, that particular motivational considerations apply in the Chinese
context, and that certain motivational techniques have been successfully
developed and employed. Child (1994) believes (following Tung, 1991) that the
way Chinese enterprises motivate employees can be understood within Katz
and Kahn's (1978) model of “rule enforcement”, “external rewards” and
“internalised motivation”. By expanding this model slightly, we can produce at
least a partial explanatory model of motivation which may be employed in the
Chinese context, and from this to make certain propositions about how MNCs
may better motivate their Chinese employees, as follows.
Rule enforcement (acceptance of the legitimacy of role prescription and
Rather than the use of rules and role prescriptions being seen as addressing
uncertainty avoidance, it may be regarded as a form of role protection in the
Chinese context. Child (1994) provides the example of job descriptions carrying
little motivational content in terms of tasks or objectives to be achieved, but as
an insurance against being asked to take on additional and unknown duties and
against being overworked. This may also be indicative of the avoidance motive,
in not wanting to take risks because of a deep seated fear of punishment.
However, the reverse side of the coin is the incentive to find ways around tightly
enforced regulations in state enterprises in order to facilitate their running.
Therefore, in order first to provide employees with a psychologically safe
foundation from which to work effectively:
Proposition 1: There is a need to structure work tightly around well defined
parameters which are documented, communicated and accepted by
employees and supervisors, with an emphasis on role protection as well as
External rewards (attaching of incentives to produce desired performance
Material incentives have been used by China's economic reformers in order to
stimulate performance (Child, 1994). In terms of reward systems there is
evidence that money is important in China as a motivator for employees. Also
individual bonuses have existed in China since 1978 (Locket, 1987) and
performance-related bonus incentives schemes since 1983 (Cyr and Frost, 1991).
Cyr and Frost (1991) report on a survey undertaken in Eastern China in 1989
which indicates that workers would rather function in a system where pay is
based on individual performance. However, there has been a tendency towards
low differentiation of pay in an egalitarian reward system, reflecting a need to
minimise competition and foster harmony in the workplace: a reflection of a
strongly collectivist culture. Where pay differentials exist they are often based
on length of service, perhaps reflecting respect for old age. It is also the case that
state enterprise employees' wage structures are extremely complex and based
on a whole number of different subsidies, bonuses and allowances (Henley and
Nyaw, 1987; Laaksonen, 1988). Employees may be reluctant to leave this type of
system in favour of a less socially supportive one. Although there is
contradictory information about the desirability of performance-related pay, we
know that there is a strong tradition of status accorded by ascription rather
than achievement, and often based on age and length of service. Even in
European countries which are more ascriptive than the UK or USA, Managing
by Objectives (MBO) type systems have been largely unsuccessful, particularly
when related to pay (for the example of France, see Barsoux and Lawrence
(1990)) as young, high performing new-comers to the organization may be
rewarded more highly than those of a higher status in the organization.
Individual performance incentives also often ignore the longer-term, groupfocused
performance which may be more important in a collectivist society, and
instead focus on the short-term performance of individuals in isolation. Also,
within Chinese society, there is an expectation that the enterprise will take care
of employees through housing and other social benefits, which must have a
strong loyalty effect. On an understanding that performance is short-term,
while loyalty and belongingness are long-term:
Proposition 2: Systems of pay should retain a strong element of reward
through loyalty and seniority, as well as “belongingness” elements such as
Internalised motivation (the internalisation of organizational and political
A major source of internalised motivation in China has been through political
indoctrination and campaigning (Tung, 1991). For example, there have been a
number of “emulation campaigns” in communist China following the Soviet
pattern where workers are encouraged to strive to become “labour heroes”.
Chimezie et al. (1993) describe this as an attempt to appeal to high performers
who might otherwise feel inhibited to perform in an exemplary manner in an
egalitarian culture. Such practices largely have been discredited since the events
in Tiananmen Square in 1989. However, a modern day equivalent can be seen in
Japanese companies in China which send their best workers to Japan in order to
learn from example and from being exposed to a foreign culture (Ireland, 1991).
Through this exposure and emulation there is more willingness to change.
In addition, by building on a sense of belongingness and loyalty of Chinese
workers, there is a good opportunity to develop internalised motivation from
developing corporate identity through a strong organizational culture (see
Child, 1994). Indeed, foreign companies may have a particular kudos for
Chinese workers, and this could be built on to encourage long term loyalty.
Effective supervision would involve doing by example. New patterns of
behaviour (including creativity and innovation) could be encouraged by
emulation, both in the workplace and on training courses in China and, where
appropriate (particularly for managerial and supervisory staff who can act as
role models) abroad. Hence:
Proposition 3: A focus should be placed on building corporate identity
through effective induction and subsequent training programmes in order to
promote “the way we do things around here”, as well as developing
supervisors who can act as role models in developing and changing workrelated
behaviour towards that supported by the corporate culture.
Intrinsic motivation (the intrinsic attractiveness of the job)
In a study of six Chinese enterprises in 1985 and again in 1990, Child (1994)
found that employees were satisfied with the intrinsic job content and
challenge, and opportunities to enjoy social relationships in the workplace.
However, there was dissatisfaction with the prospects for advancement and
promotion. This led him to conclude that enterprises could unleash a
considerable motivational potential by creating opportunities for employees to
advance. This bears out the known historical problems of hierarchy and
advancement which we have discussed above. If we take the total employment
experience of Chinese employees, and examine how we might develop the
attractiveness of this, it could well be in the formulation of a career path for
those who have successfully taken on board those work behaviours which are
seen as appropriate to the organisational culture, and who themselves can act
as role models in supervisory and management positions. Hence:
Proposition 4: In order to develop loyalty, identity with the organisation,
requisite work related behaviour and intrinsic motivation for the total
employment experience, a clear career path should be visible for employees
who can develop effectively as future role models.
We now turn to the practices operated by foreign MNCs in China, to see how
they try to motivate Chinese employees, and then to evaluate these practices
against their apparent successes or failures.
How do foreign enterprises motivate Chinese workers?
Following the above discussion on the appropriateness of motivational
practices with Chinese workers, what do foreign companies in China actually
do? An in-depth survey of motivational policies and methods used in 13
international enterprises in China (see Table I) was carried out by the second
author in Beijing, by interviewing key managers who were most directly
involved in the formulation of motivation policies and their implementation
(principally human resource managers, chief executives and production
managers as appropriate to the enterprise), both foreign and PRC Chinese.
These key managers, who had been subjected to Western practices, had some
familiarity with data collection methods and interview techniques and were
familiar with the management of indigenous Chinese employees. They were
seen as the best source of information.
First order data collection from Chinese workers and management was felt
not to be suitable. Shenkar and Glinow's (1994) review of the literature provides
almost insurmountable methodological problems, which the current authors
felt were beyond the scope of this study to address. These include for
questionnaires: unfamiliarity; a tendency to complete mid-range values; failure
to distinguish among variables and the production of halo effects far more likely
than for Western respondents; problems with answering hypothetical
questions; using the group rather than self as the frame of references; and
reporting a desired rather than an actual state. For interviews problems include:
reserving the most important points to the end; and “face” introducing
distortions (see also Adler et al., 1989; Bond and Hwang, 1986; Metzger, 1977;
Managers were asked to describe the type of motivational techniques and
methods they actually employed, and the rationale for doing so. In order to
avoid a direct examination of methods company by company, we have
generalized the results from the 13 companies as far as possible, and have
pointed out exceptions where appropriate. We have subsequently classified
their responses in terms of the modified Katz and Kahn (1978 ) model outlined
above, as follows.
We first look at role allocation and performance by looking at the way
responsibility is given and the way performance is directed through goal
Company Type of organization parent company Sector
ABB Joint venture Swiss/Swedish Electrical engineering and
AEG Representative office German Electro-electronics
Beijing Toronto Hotel Joint venture Chinese Hotel
Coopers & Lybrand Joint venture American Auditing
EAC Representative office Danish (LOTS) graphics divisions
ICI Foreign company British Chemicals
Jardine Matheson- Joint venture Hong Kong Building services
Services Co. Ltd
Jianguo Hotel Joint venture American Hotel
Jing Guang Centre Joint venture Hotel
Maersk (China) Foreign company Danish Shipping
Shipping Co. Ltd
(A.P. Moller Group)
Northern Telecom Foreign company Canadian Telecommunications
Novo Nordisk Foreign company Danish Pharmaceuticals/
Price Waterhouse Joint venture American Auditing/taxation/
setting and appraisal, and then enforcement through sanctions for nonperformance,
and reinforcement through praise.
Responsibility. Generally there is a guarded attitude towards giving too much
responsibility on the available evidence that workers like guidance and there is
some fear of making mistakes resulting in inaction. Particularly older workers
prefer clear instructions, although it was noted that many younger workers also
prefer such an approach. Motivation is also seen as rising when more
responsibility is given to employees in their own area. However, this is seen to
come with experience, where, depending on the individual, more responsibility
may be given. There is little evidence of precise job descriptions being used, and
instructions seem to relate to the job at hand. General rules of conduct exist in
some companies, and in one company these are made clear in a two-day
induction session: no spitting, no smoking, how to dress and cut your hair (an
in-house hairdresser is employed).
Goal setting and appraisal. Several companies use goal setting extensively,
and see it as useful. This involves the setting of individual targets, face-to-face
performance discussions, and weekly to annual appraisals, depending on the
Pressure and punishment. Direct punishment was only found in the hotel
sector where some of the companies punish their staff for bad behaviour and
not working. Deductions from salary or bonuses are seen to give positive
results. For some offences up to three warnings can be given before dismissal.
Penalty schemes for non-attendance at training sessions are also in operation.
The use of pressure and punishment of this kind was not identified in
companies outside the hotel industry.
Praise. Companies seem not to praise their employees very often. Individual
praise in front of the group is not often used deliberately except in the hotel
industry. A view elsewhere is that this may be negative or embarrassing.
Incentives within the companies surveyed involve packages which include to a
greater or lesser extent, money, bonus systems, and welfare benefits.
Money. Generally money is seen as important for recruiting and retaining
employees, but not as a real motivator. It is seen as a hygiene factor in that it
keeps staff in the company.
Bonus systems. By law, a large part of an employee's salary comprises
bonuses and subsidies. This overlaps to a certain extent with the welfare
package. Despite this, one company pays a fixed salary only. Some companies
offer performance-related bonuses. One company has established smaller units
or profit centres where performance measurement is undertaken monthly, and
on which basis a bonus is paid to employees within the profit centre, with an
element of the bonus reflecting also the performance of the company as a whole.
Generally, it is seen that bonuses relating to individual performance would
improve motivation, but this is not widespread.
Welfare package. This is seen as necessary but is not believed to motivate.
The provision of housing in state companies causes problems when foreign
companies do not provide housing. By moving to a foreign company, employees
lose their house. There is therefore pressure on foreign companies to provide
housing or an associated benefit. Company provision of local housing also may
cut down on commuting time, which may benefit productivity. Some companies
provide housing loans. For example, one company provided a ten-year tax free
loan to key staff who had been in the company for at least five years. This type
of provision is not seen as so important for younger employees living with
parents. As Chinese workers give up benefits when they move to a foreign
company, this has implications for recruitment.
There is evidence that some efforts are being made by foreign companies to
engender corporate loyalty and belongingness through internalising factors of
motivation, which combine elements of example setting, training, and social
building initiatives. However, the evidence that companies are deliberately
attempting to foster identification with the company is not overwhelming.
Identification with company. Managers from at least two companies thought
that working for a foreign joint venture or Fortune 500 company engendered
pride in its employees. One company has a desire to promote a company culture
without being specific about how they should do this, although the training
aspects described below can be seen to contribute to corporate identity. One
company also involves employees more by use of a suggestion box, a
communication letter which did not last very long due to turnover and lack of
resources, service campaigns, honesty campaigns, a smiling campaign, and
badges and certificates for best workers.
Training. Most companies report some form of training as part of their
motivational programme. Examples include lunch-time learning where the
company buys lunch while courses in computing, languages or technology may
be conducted. On-the-job training for one company takes place in China, while
their top engineers are sent to Europe for one month a year to attend special
courses. One company has set up a (transient) business school in China based at
local hotels for a few days at a time, with a view to setting up a permanent
classroom in the near future.
This type of activity is seen as enhancing the “Western spirit”, providing
better qualifications and chances of promotion, and in some cases a chance of
going abroad to train. There is also a danger of losing employees when they go
abroad, and one company has adopted the practice of sending only married men
abroad, to try to ensure that they return home. Other companies use the
incentive of promotion on their return home. However, one hotel reported
having to compel staff to attend training courses. When forced to participate,
employees argue that they prefer to learn the handouts by heart, although the
purpose might be to teach them to work in unforeseen circumstances.
Punishment is given for non-attendance at training courses in this instance.
Setting a good example. It is generally seen as important that the supervisor
or manager should set a good example to employees, although this is not
viewed particularly as a general policy. It is seen more importantly as
motivating employees to do the job, as often when the boss is away employees
are reluctant to work.
Staff outings and activities. Several companies regard staff outings as
motivators. Some companies encourage employees to organise these
themselves, others have an impressive list of company organised activities,
including sports, dancing, birthday parties, annual staff parties, events with
relatives, and seminars.
We use the term intrinsic motivation widely here to refer to the total
employment experience. Under this heading the job itself, including working
conditions, job design and social aspects of work, as well as career, can be
identified as providing some degree of intrinsic motivation from the sample of
Working conditions. There are some differences of opinion regarding the
importance of working conditions. Generally Chinese workers are used to a
lower standard from state owned companies and tend to have low expectations.
Therefore air conditioning, for example, is believed by one company not to be
overly important. In another company, employees in the hot summer prefer to
stay in the cool office rather than to go home. So environmental factors are likely
to serve as an added bonus if available. There is also a view that Chinese
employees expect a European working environment if working for a European
company, and therefore expectations are generally high. In this vein, the
availability of computers is used in one company to feed the perception by
Chinese workers of computers as a status symbol. This may also be seen as a
mechanism to enhance identification with a foreign company.
Job rotation and enrichment. Lip service seems to be paid to job rotation and
enrichment schemes, as there is little evidence of these being used, or when used
being particularly effective. When managers were probed, one mentioned the
possibility of sending a secretary from Beijing to work in Shanghai. In another
company the human resource department recommends job rotation for its
Chinese workforce. However, supervisors and managers around the company
have resisted implementing such a scheme.
Social l ife at work. This aspect was not spontaneously mentioned by
interviewed managers. One said that he spends longer talking to workers
(including small talk) than in the West. He also spends more time with his local
staff on social events outside normal working hours (such social events and
activities have been discussed above under internalised motivation, and overlap
with this aspect). There does not seem to be any mechanism used to encourage
and foster the social dimension of work at the workplace, and this aspect seems
to be left to extra mural activities.
Promotion and career in company. Rapid promotion through an extensive
staff ranking system is seen in one company as a very important motivational
mechanism. As the company is successful in China, it can offer more
opportunities with the growth of the company. All other companies were silent
on the positive use of career planning and promotion as a motivational tool.
How successful are Western motivational techniques in China?
We now address the question of whether or not the motivational techniques
used by foreign MNCs and joint ventures in China have the desired effects of
motivating Chinese employees. We know that there are problems generally of
productivity and retention of staff, as we noted above. Especially, some of the
companies sampled report high turnover rates, and a lack of flexibility in their
financial resources to be able to introduce some of the measures they would like.
One of the high performers in China has a well developed career planning and
promotion policy as we saw, and this seems to have positive repercussions for
its ongoing success. We are largely unable to compare directly financial success
with the use of specific motivational techniques. This is simply because
financial information is not readily available, and because of the methodological
difficulties in establishing a connection between these variables in the presence
of so many other contributing factors. We therefore evaluate motivational
policies both in terms of the companies' own admissions of success or failure in
the area of human resource management, and against the four propositions
regarding good practice which we outlined above.
We first proposed (Proposition 1) that companies should structure work
parameters tightly within a well communicated statement which seeks to
protect the employee within the role defined. Information coming from the
sample companies suggests that this is not happening. Rule enforcement relates
more to instructions for individual tasks, some goal setting, and the use of
punishment and praise in at least one sector. Companies report a reluctance of
employees to take on responsibility or to show initiative, and to be involved in
participative decision making. They also report a need to closely supervise staff
in order for them to work effectively (which may also be indicative of other
problems). It would seem that the issues associated with rule enforcement and
role protection is not therefore being directly addressed.
Proposition 2 suggests that a system of pay should retain a reward for loyalty and
seniority as well as a “belongingness” element such as housing allowances. Yet
companies are reporting problems associated with a lack of an effective reward
systems, such as staff turnover (often directly identified with pay) a lack of
productivity (sometimes associated with housing problems) and a general lack of
loyalty to the company through job hopping to get more pay. We saw above that
motivational practices in companies centre on pay as a hygiene or holding factor
and concentrate on a fixed salary plus some element of performance bonus, and
reluctantly welfare provision such as benefits for housing. This does not seem to
be seen as a motivational pushing influence or incentive.
In our Proposition 3 we suggest that corporate identity should be inculcated by
effective induction and training programmes, and the development of supervisors
as role models. We noted above that companies in our sample were keen to
promote a company culture, but this was only generally addressed through
training, and to a certain extent through organising out-of-work social activities.
We have already indicated that companies identify a problem of a lack of loyalty
and subsequent turnover, and it may be that companies are not doing enough in
this area. One company even reports that employees have to be made to go to
training sessions. This may be that the training is viewed as irrelevant, or that it
does not have an effect of inculcating corporate identity. The other side of the coin
is that training may be effective in developing transferable skills (companies
report a lack of experience and relevant skills among recruits, particularly when
they come from the public sector). This can only add to employees' subsequent
attraction to other foreign companies after a couple of years' experience and
training in one foreign company, and may result in job-hopping.
Our final Proposition, 4, suggests that a clear career path should be identifiable
for employees in order to encourage them to develop as future role models and
to instil intrinsic motivation for the total employment experience. Yet only one
company really took career development seriously, and this was one of the most
successful companies in our sample. Other companies identified a lack of
resources in order to accomplish this. Other indicators of a lack of intrinsic
motivation reported by companies were absenteeism, particularly at busy times
and false expectations of a European working environment and attractiveness
of the job, causing employees to become bored and disillusioned.
To summarise, the problems of motivation and performance identified by
companies include high levels of turnover, absenteeism, lack of productivity
and a reluctance to take on responsibility and make decisions without guidance.
These seem to be ongoing issues which must reflect on the efficacy of current
organisational policies on motivating Chinese employees.