Motivation Theory and Practice in Companies

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The purpose of this essay is to review the definition of motivation, compare equity theory and, expectancy theory. Several theorists have different views on what motivates an individual. One factor that is held in common however, people can be motivated, just with different implementation of concepts used. The several theories reviewed will be compared to others that are reviewed with the research accomplished. The theories and concepts affiliated with them will show the processes and results of employees who express these beliefs and the positive and negative consequences within them.

Motivation, though difficult to define is "an act or process of motivating; the condition of being motivated; a force, stimulus, or influence: incentive or drive" (Webster's Dictionary, nd). This is the job of the manager to use motivation to stimulate and lead the employees to accomplish acts and tasks. The study of motivation assists leaders influencing the employees with the tasks, and practices pursued and achieved. This also helps determining why an employee may or may not persist in their action over time (Daft & Marcic, 2004, p. 444). Historically, many theorists have studied the practices in the processes in human behavior and what creates motivational conditions. The techniques used vary from leader to leader, however the goal remains the same. All enterprises seek to have teams with knowledge, job satisfaction and punctuality with tasks achieved.

Expectancy Theory, Vroom vs. Equity Theory, Adams

Vroom's expectancy theory assumes that behavior results from conscious choices among alternatives whose purpose it is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The key elements to this theory are referred to as Expectancy (E), Instrumentality (I), and Valence (V). Critical to the understanding of the theory is the understanding that each of these factors represents a belief (Deeprose, 1994, p142).

"Equity is a subjective evaluation, not an objective one. Based on the comparison that individual's use, each individual is likely to develop different perceptions of equity" (Scholl, 2000). Equity theory attempts to explain relational satisfaction in terms of perceptions of fair and unfair distributions of resources within interpersonal relationships. Equity theory is considered as one of the justice theories. This theory was first developed in 1963 by John Stacey Adams (Scholl, 2000).

Comparing expectancy theory and the equity theory in a diversified workplace can be difficult due the conflicts that may occur with personal beliefs with the law. The theories also display different types of rewards and expectations from the employer. Financial bonuses and raises are not the only recognition factor that can be given out to display gratitude on tasks achieved (Stajkovic & Luthans, 2001).

Cultural Diversification

"The term culture refers to a way of life-traditions and customs-transmitted through learning, which play a vital role in molding the beliefs and behavior of the people exposed to them" (Kottack & Kozaitis, p 2). Diversity can be defined as differences in age, culture, function, gender, language, national origin, race, regional origin, religion, sexual orientation and other factors. Today a global business culture will respect all employees regardless of their diversity, and will foster the ability to express individuality and contribute their knowledge and strengths toward achieving a common goal or goals to become a top tier corporation (Essner, 2010).


Maslow is a noted theorist who developed the hierarchy of needs theory when studying human behavior, needs, and reactions to results and consequences. The basic needs are listed in five categories and are physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization and are put into a hierarchical order. Fulfillment of these needs is reactive from lower level to higher level needs. "The progression leads to self actualization, as being the highest level" (Daft & Marcic, pp. 447-49).


Another noted theorist is McGregor. McGregor had a hierarchy of needs theory "extensive background in management and consultation; he was also a trained psychologist hierarchy of needs theory" (Daft & Marcic, p. 37). In 1960, McGregor published a book called, "The Human Side of Enterprise." In his book he examined two models which he called Theory X and Theory Y.

According to the text referenced, "The Theory X management assumes most people prefer to be directed, are not interested in assuming responsibility, and want safety above everything. Management attempts to structure control and closely supervise their employees with no opportunity to fulfill them (Daft & Marcic, p. 37).

McGregor developed Theory Y. Theory Y explains why individuals behave differently in the same situations. According to the theory developed by McGregor, it is assumed people are not by nature lazy and unreliable. The theory explains that people can be self directed and creative at work if properly motivated. It is essential for management to create an environment and culture where employees can display this behavior. Theory Y affects the determination of promotions and salaries and the development of effective managers. McGregor found that Theory Y as beneficial to participative problem solving. Once a manager that has a Theory Y mind set is willing to give their employees some freedom in completing a project, they will find that the participative approach to problem solving leads to much improved results. McGregor theorized that employees contribute to the organizations well being, if he or she are treated responsible and valued as employees.


Herzberg focused upon employee job satisfaction (Berrett, 2002). The theory that was created through him was devolved from Herzberg interviewing a group of employees to find out what made them satisfied and dissatisfied with their jobs. His interviews revealed that there are two fundamental dimensions to job satisfaction: motivation and hygiene. Motivation factors include achievement, recognition, responsibility and job advancement (Berrett, 2002). These are the job elements that fulfill individuals' needs. Hygiene factors, on the other hand, do not motivate but can minimize dissatisfaction. Examples of hygiene factors include reasonable salary, interpersonal relations and good working conditions. These factors are associated with the employee's environment. According to Herzberg, if a manager pays close attention to both of these factors; they will create good employee satisfaction.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic

According to Nahavandhi (2003), scientists have learned that there are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is by far the better of the two because it motivates people to achieve goals from within themselves. People feel a desire or drive to do something, and they behave in ways to accomplish that. Extrinsic motivation is created from external factors outside of us that influence our internal needs, wants, and subsequent behaviors. Those external factors can include rewards, recognition, bonuses, promotions, and praise. When thinking in terms of motivating employees, a manager should try to help an employee make the connection between their inner drives to fulfill their personal needs and what that might mean in terms of working hard and smart on the job (Deci, 1975). When employees identify their own welfare with that of their employer, they'll naturally work harder (Bruce & Pepitone, p 2-4).

Managers who are able to understand the importance of motivating their workers they will have a better chance of reducing the typical labor problems faced in today's work environment, for example, turnovers, absenteeism and low productivity. One recent study found that high employee motivation goes hand-in-hand with high organizational performance and profits (Daft & Marcic, p. 445). Managers can use motivation theory and practices to help satisfy employee's needs and at the same time encourage high work performance. In order for managers to increase high performance in their employees, managers need to learn to interact with employees to make their work more efficient and effective. There are several techniques a manager can use to help their employees feel more motivated on the job and help build the connection between their own interests and the interests of the organization.

Managers need to make the employees feel challenged with diversified tasks and reap the satisfaction rather than doing the same job the same way. Most employees seek improvement if the motivational techniques are used and become more capable at their jobs. With this, employees should be told that by exceeding the existing requirements in their jobs, it can only help them advance and grow within the company (Bruce & Pepitone, pp. 40-41).

Diversification in the workforce has proven to be successful for enterprises that use the correct strategy and theories for the employee base. The fact remains that the corporate culture must have common ground in certain respects in order to minimize the theories used. There are situations however, that different managers will use different theories of reward and recognition in the enterprise.

Specific examples of this concept are Home Depot Inc. There are employees that prefer the large discounts received worldwide from an array of companies, and there are employees that are motivated by the profit sharing given at the end of the fiscal year. Home Depot pays these bonuses upon performance of the specific stores success and thrives upon the concept that the company is built from the employees rather than the CEO. This concept is supported by the upper powers throughout the organization and is proven by the concepts used during hiring, and employee loyalty.

Mary Kay, Inc. has a different concept with recognition as this company gives prizes upon performance. This is built upon the independent sales that are accomplished per individual. The prizes can include vacations, automobiles, gift cards, and an array of other gifts. The gift giving process generally occurs during meetings with many sales representatives attending worldwide and this is a concept that has been successful in motivating the sales teams for over two decades.

With the concepts and theories being successful for two major enterprises that are world renowned, the theories can be justified to being successful for all of the scientists listed, due to the blend that each company has used. The goal is bottom-line profits for organizations, and this can be created by developing the correct mix of motivational factors within the internal population, keeping corporate governance, stakeholder satisfaction, and an array of other concepts that are needed in order to keep a company above the breakeven point. Motivation is achievable, however, developing the correct theories and concepts must be done with a tactful and critically thinking management team.


The diversification in culture and theories developed express many different forms of thought, communication and diversification which enhance globalization and expansion in enterprises. The ramifications and consequences of not understanding an employee's needs is a cause of business failure and can be avoided with implementing the correct tools of motivation within the internal population. All the theories researched agree upon one detrimental fact, and that is individuals can be motivated, it is up to management to determine the correct tools to create a successful team however. Many motivational tools have been built into successful industries, not all are successful in every population. The main factor that must be realized is corporate governance within the implementation, in order to keep the theory in legal and ethical boundaries.