Instant price

Struggling with your work?

Get it right the first time & learn smarter today

Place an Order
Banner ad for Viper plagiarism checker

Business Essays – Motivation In Business

Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional academic writers. You can view samples of our professional work here.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Motivation In Business.


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 employees and what can employers do to motivate their internal customers has been the focus of research by many researchers and the topic has gained special prominence in recent years. This is mainly because motivated employees can provide a firm with a distinctive advantage and a comptetitive edge and by being more productive they can help organisation thrive and survive. There are two schools of thought on motivational theories, the scientific school of thought and the behavioural school of thought.

Scientific Model

The basis of scientific management is considering 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.

Frederic Taylor, (1856-1915) 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) Taylor’s machine model was a success and did increase production and profitability because rational rules replaced trial and error and management became more formalized which eventually led to increased efficiency. But Taylor’s treatment of human beings like machines faced resistance from managers and workers who considered this way of working as “dehumanization of work”. One of the other features of Taylor’s work was stop-watch timing as the basis of observations and breaking the timings down into elements. This method also faced stiff group resistance because no one likes to be so close monitored for each little part of the work he/she does.

Despite its criticisms, Taylor’s methods had a great impact on work because he invented a new, efficient and more productive way to work that changed the complete nature of the industry. Before scientific management, departments such as work study, personnel, maintenance and quality control did not exist. (Buford, 2000) The core elements of scientific management remain popular and have only been modified and updated to suit the current scenario.

Behavioural approach

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

1. Self Actualization 2. Esteem 3. Social 4. Safety 5. Physiological

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. Maslow’s theory of needs has been wider recognised and is being practiced by managers across the globe. The theory’s ease of understanding and intuitive logic makes it easy to implement, but there is no empirical evidence to validate the theory and there is no metric to measure the success of the theory after being implemented. So, the quantitative impact of Maslow’s theories cannot be accurately measured.

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. The theory concentrates around the fact that the opposite to satisfaction is not dissatisfaction and merely removing dissatisfying characteristics from a job does not necessarily makes the job satisfying. Herzberg stresses that both the approaches (hygiene and motivational) should be done simultaneously to be effective. Herzberg’s theory, in a way, is a modification to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Some critics term Herzberg’s theory as vague, but considering today’s business world where job context and content are major issues, the theory if practiced effectively can give good results because it is based on superb motivational ideas.

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. The theory states that the strength of an individual’s motivation will depend on the extent to which they expect the results of their efforts to contribute towards their personal needs or goals and posits that motivation is a result of a rational calculation(Vroom, 1964) The calculation is based on people’s beliefs (pointed above) about the probability that effort will lead to performance (expectancy), multiplied by the probability that performance will lead to reward (instrumentality), multiplied by the perceived value of the reward (valence) (Source) Vroom argues that the equation Motivation = Expectancy * Instrumentality * Valence can be used to predict whether a particular reward will motivate an individual or not.

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) Critics have applauded the basics of Vroom’s theory but questions have been raised about the validity over the motivation equation as a product of expectancy, instrumentality and valence.

Porter-Lawler Expectancy theory

Porter-Lawler’s 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. The theory 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. The theory along with equity theory demonstrates the importance of avoiding discriminatory practices in the workplace and states that it is imperative for employees to give equal treatment to employees on the job.

Elton Mayo with his behavioural experiments known as “Hawthorne Experiments” was among the first few to analyse the human aspects of motivation He conclusions were that motivation was a very complex subject and was not only about pay, work condition and morale but also about psychological and social factors. He concluded that the need for recognition and a sense of belonging were very important motivational factors.

Reinforcement based approach to motivation

Reinforcement was propounded by Skinner and this theory is based on motivation approaches are in some way similar to expectancy theory as both consider the process by which an individual chooses behaviour in a particular situation. It emphasises re-designing the external environment by making positive changes to encourage motivation. Skinner states that work environment should be made suitable to the individuals and that punishments actually leads to frustration and de-motivation. This approach explains the role of rewards in greater detail as they cause the behaviour to change or remain the same. Expectancy theory focuses more on behaviour choices, and reinforcement theory focuses more on the consequences of those choices (Skinner, 1953)

Other theories of behavioral motivation are Adams theory of Equity and Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y.

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.

Comparison of Scientific and Behaviour approach

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. According to this view, people want to contribute to organisational effectiveness and want to make a genuine contribution towards its success. Scientific management is an effective technique for a capitalist system and a money economy where the company’s sole objective is the improvement of efficiency and profitability. (Higgins, 2004). In today’s workplace environment, where company’s success is judged by various qualitative parameters and where employee motivation forms a significant input to organisation’s success, human approach to management is more suited.


Motivation remains a challenge for organizations today. With the changing environment, the solution to motivation problems are becoming even more complex. This is due, in part, to the fact that what motivates employees changes constantly (Bowen & Radhakrishna, 2001) Managers need to understand what motivates employees within the context of the roles they perform and understand the process, theories, and fundamental components of motivation. Regardless of which theory is followed, interesting work and employee pay are important links to higher motivation. Options such as job enlargement, job enrichment, promotions, monetary and non-monetary compensation should be considered. Research done by (Higgins, 2004) has come out with ten most motivating factors which are: interesting work, good wages, full appreciation of work done, job security, good working conditions, promotions and growth in the organization, feeling of being in on things, personal loyalty to employees, tactful discipline, and sympathetic help with personal problems. The key to motivating employees is to know what motivates them and designing a motivation program based on those needs.

Books and Journal

Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology. New York: Academic Press.
Bedeian, A. G. (2003). Management (3rd ed.). New York: Dryden Press.
Bowen, B. E., & Radhakrishna, R. B. (1991). Job satisfaction of agricultural education faculty: A constant phenomena. Journal of Agricultural Education, 32 (2). 16-22.
Buford, J. A., Jr., Bedeian, A. G., & Lindner, J. R. (2005). Management in Extension (3rd ed.). Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Extension.
Buford, J. A., Jr. (2000). Extension management in the information age. Journal of Extension, 28 (1).
Dickson, W. J. (1973). Hawthorne experiments. In C. Heyel (ed.), The encyclopedia of management, 2nd ed. (pp. 298-302). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Harpaz, I. (2004). The importance of work goals: an international perspective. Journal of International Business Studies, 21. 75-93.
Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., & Snyderman, B. B. (1959). The motivation to work. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Higgins, J. M. (2004). The management challenge (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan.
Kovach, K. A. (1997). What motivates employees? Workers and supervisors give different answers. Business Horizons, 30. 58-65.
Kreitner, R. (2005). Management (6th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, July 1943. 370-396.
Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science and Human Behavior. New York: Free Press.
Smith, G. P. (1994). Motivation. In W. Tracey (ed.), Human resources management and development handbook (2nd ed.).
Terpstra, D. E. (2005). Theories of motivation: borrowing the best. Personnel Journal, 58. 376.
Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work and motivation. New York: Wiley .

Web sites
(Web 1) Motivation theorists and their theories (online) (cited 15 December) Available from
(Web 2) Motivation (online) (cited 16 December) Available from URL

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Request Removal

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the UK Essays website then please click on the link below to request removal:

More from UK Essays