The Study Of Motivation And Hr Business Essay

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The study of motivation is concerned, with why people behave in a certain way. The basic underlying question is `why do people do what they do? In general terms, motivation can be described as the direction and persistence of action. It is also concerned with why people choose a particular course of action in preference to others, and why they continue with a chosen action, often over a long period, and in the face of difficulties and problems.

From a review of motivation theory, Mitchell identifies four common characteristics, which underline the definition of motivation.

Motivation is typified as an individual phenomenon: Every person is unique and all the major theories of motivation allow for this uniqueness to be demonstrated in one-way or another.

Motivation is described, usually, as international: Motivation is assumed to be under the worker's control, and behaviors that are influenced by motivation, such as effort expended, are seen as choice of action.

Motivation is multifaceted: The two factors of greatest importance: a) what gets people activated and b) the force of an individual to engage in desired behavior (direction or choice of behavior).

The purpose of motivational theories is to predict behavior: Motivation is not the behavior itself, and it is not performance. Motivation concern action and

The internal and external forces, which influence a person's choice of action.

Needs or


Desired goals

Driving force

(behaviour or action)

Result in to achieve


Which provide


Fig. A simple illustration of the basic motivational model


These various needs and expectations can be categorized in a number of ways- for example the simple divisions into psychological and social motives, or into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation: is related to tangible rewards such as salary and fringe benefits, promotion, contract of service, the work environment and conditions of work. Such tangible rewards are often determined at the organizational levels and may be largely outside the control of individual managers.

Intrinsic motivation: is related to psychological rewards such as the opportunity to use one's ability, a sense of challenge and achievement, receiving appreciation, positive recognition, and being treated in a caring and considerate manner. The psychological rewards are those that can usually be determined by the actions and behavior of individual managers.

Broad classification for motivation to work: As starting point, the following is a useful, broad, and three-fold classification for the motivation to work.

Economic rewards_ such as pay, fringe benefits, pension rights, material goods, and security. This is an instrumental orientation to work and concerned with other things.

Intrinsic satisfaction- derived from the nature of the work itself, interest in the job, personal growth and development. This is personal orientation to work and concerned with oneself.

Social relationship- such as friendships, group working, and the desire for affiliation, status and dependency. This is relational orientation to work and concerned with other people.


Economic needs motivation

Earlier writers, such as Taylor, believed in economic needs motivation. Obtaining the highest possible wages through working in the most efficient and productive way would motivate workers. For Taylor, motivation was a comparatively simple issue- what the workers wanted from their employers more than anything else was high wages. This approach is the rational-economic concept of motivation.

Social concept of motivation

The human relations writers, demonstrated that people go to work to satisfy a range of different needs, and simply for monetary rewards. They emphasized the importance of the social needs of individuals, and gave recognition to the work organization as a social organization. The human relations approach to organization and management led to the social concept of motivation.


The subsequent attention to the social organization and the theories of individual motivation, gave rise to the work of the nonhuman writers. These writers adopted a more psychological orientation to motivation. Greater attention was focused on the content and meaning of the task, and attempts to make-work more intrinsically satisfying. The major focus of concern was the personal adjustment of the individual within the work situation. This approach is the self-actualization concept of motivation.

Complex-man concept of motivation

The contingency approach to organization and management takes the view that there are a large number of variables, which influence organizational performance. Contingency theory is concerned more with differences between organizations than with similarities. Managers must be adoptable, and vary their behavior according to the particular situation and the different needs and motivation of staff, the varying situational factors together with the complicated nature of human behavior lead to the Complex-man concept of motivation.


There are many competing theories, which attempt to explain the nature of motivation. These theories are all at least partially true, and all help to explain the behavior of certain people at certain times. The usual approach to the study of motivation is through an understanding of internal cognitive processes - that is what people feel and how they think. This understanding should help the manager to predict likely behavior of staff in given situations. These different cognitive theories of motivation are usually divided into two contrasting approaches.

Content Theories: attempt to explain those specific things, which actually motivate the individual at work. These theories are concerned with identifying people's needs and their relative strengths, and the goals they peruse in order to satisfy these needs. Content theories place emphasis on the nature of needs and what motivates.

Process theories: attempt to identify the relationship among the dynamic variables, which make up motivation. These theories are concerned more with how behavior is initiated, directed and sustained. Process theories place emphasis on the actual process of motivation.


Major content theories of motivation include:

Mallow's hierarchy of needs model

Herzberg`s two factor theory

Alderfer`s modified need hierarchy model

McClelland's achievement motivation theory.


Maslow`s hierarchy of needs theory proposes that humans are motivated by multiple needs and that these needs exist in a hierarchical order. Maslow identified five general types of motivating needs.

Physiological needs: These are the most basic humans physical needs, including foods, water, and sex. In the organizational setting, these are reflected in the needs for adequate heat, air and base salary to ensure survival.

Safety needs: these are the needs for a safe and secure physical and emotional environment and freedom from threats, that is, for freedom from violence and for an orderly society. In an organizational workplace, safety needs reflect the needs for safe jobs, fringe benefits and job security.

Social needs: these needs reflect the desire to be accepted by one's peers, have friendships, be part of a group, and be loved. In the organization, these needs influence the desire for good relationships with coworkers, participation in a work group, and a positive relationship with supervisors.

Esteem needs: these needs relate to the desire for a positive self-image and to receive attention, recognition, and appreciation from others. Within organizations, esteem needs reflects a motivation for recognition, an increase in responsibility, high status, and credit for contributions to the organizations.

Self-actualization needs: These represent the need for self-fulfillment, which is the highest need category. They concern developing one's full potential, increasing one's competence, and becoming a better person. Self-actualization needs can be met in the organization by providing people with opportunities to grow, be creative and acquire training for challenging assignments and advancement.

Fig. Maslow`s hierarchy of needs model







Based on Maslows theory, once lower level needs have been satisfied giving more of the same does not provide motivation. Individual advance up the hierarchy as each lower level need becomes satisfied. Therefore, to provide motivation for a change in behavior, the manager must direct attention to the next higher level of needs that seeks satisfaction.

However there are a number of problems in relating Maslow`s theory to the work situation. These include the following:

People do not necessarily satisfy their needs, especially higher level needs, just through the work situation. They satisfy them through other areas of their life as well. Therefore the manager would need to have a complete understanding of people's private and social life, not just their behavior at work.

There is doubt about the time which elapses between the satisfaction of a lower level need and the emergence of a higher level needs.

Individual differences mean that people place different values on the same need.

Some rewards or outcomes at work satisfy more than one need. Higher salary or promotion can be applied to all levels of the hierarchy.

Even for people, within the same level of hierarchy, the motivating factors will not be the same. There are many different ways in which people may seek satisfaction of, for example, their esteem needs.

Maslow viewed satisfaction as the main motivational outcome of behavior. But job satisfaction does not necessarily lead to improve work performance.

Despite criticisms and doubted about its limitations, the theory has had a significant impact on management approaches to motivation and the design of organizations to meet individual needs. It is a convenient framework for viewing the different needs and expectations that people have, where they are in the hierarchy, and the different motivators that might be applied to people at different levels.

Table: Applying Maslow`s need hierarchy

Needs levels

General rewards

Organizational factors


Food, Water, Sex, sleep


Pleasant working condition



Safety, security, stability, protection

Safe working condition

Company benefits

Job security


Love, Affection

Friendly supervision

Professional association


Self-esteem, self-respect, prestige, status

Social recognition,

Job title

High status job


Growth, advancement, creativity

Challenging job,

Opportunities for creativity

Achievement in work

Advancement in the organization


The hygiene theory or two factor model of satisfiers and dissatisfies was developed by F. Herzberg. He concluded that certain factors lead to job satisfaction, which he termed Motivators and certain factors could lead to dissatisfaction termed hygiene factors

Hygiene factors (leading to dissatisfaction)

Motivators (leading to satisfaction)

Policies and administration


Working conditions


Job security


Relationship with subordinates




Growth and Development


The implication of the Two-factor theory is clear for managers. Providing hygiene factors will eliminate employee's dissatisfaction but will not motivate workers to high achievement levels. On the other hand, recognition, challenge, and opportunity for personal growth are powerful motivators and will promote high satisfaction and performance. The manager's role is to remove dissatisfiers - that is, provide hygiene factors sufficient to meet basic needs - and then use motivators to meet higher level needs and influence employees toward greater achievement and satisfaction.


The model condenses Maslow`s five levels of need into only three levels based on the core needs of existence, relatedness and growth (ERG theory).

Existence needs: are concerned with sustaining human existence and survival, and cover physiological and safety needs of a material nature.

Relatedness needs: are concerned with relationships to the social environment, and cover love or belonging, affiliation and meaningful interpersonal relationships of a safety or esteem nature.

Growth needs: are concerned with the development of potential and cover esteem and self-actualization.

Alderfer proposed a number of basic propositions relating to the three need relationships. Some of these propositions followed Maslow`s theory, some were the reverse of the theory.

Unlike Maslow`s theory, the result of Alderfer`s work suggest that lower level needs do not have to be satisfied before a higher level need emerges as a motivating influence.

Table: Linking Maslow`s, Alderfer`s and Herzberg`s theories of motivation

Maslow`s hierarchy of needs

Alderfer`s ERG theory

Herzberg`s two-factor theory




Hygiene factors








Scientific management and the work of F.W Taylor

The Hawthorne experiments and Human relations aspects

Development of many competing theories on the nature of

Work motivation


Emphasis on what motivates individuals: Major writers under this heading include

·Maslow ·Alderfer · Herzberg · McClelland


Emphasis on the actual process of motivation, Major theories under this heading include:

Expectancy theories · Equity theories · Goal theory


Fig. An overview of main theories of work motivation


Process theories explain how workers select behavioral actions to meet their needs and determine whether their choices were successfully. There are two basic process theories: Equity theory and Expectancy theory

EQUITY THEORY: focuses on individuals perceptions of how fairly they are treated compared with others. Equity theory proposes that people are motivated to seek social equity in the rewards they expect for performance.

According to equity theory if people perceive their compensation as equal to what others receive for similar contributions, they will believe that their treatment is fair and equitable. People evaluate equity by a ratio of imputes to outcomes. Imputes to a job include education, experience, efforts, and ability. Outcome from a job include pay, recognition, benefits and promotions. Inequity occurs when the input-outcome ratios are out of balance. Such as when a person with a high level of education or experience receives the same salary as a new, less educated employee. The most common methods for reducing a perceived inequity are:

Change inputs: a person may choose to increase or decrease his or her inputs to the organization. For example, underpaid individuals may reduce their level of efforts or increase their absenteeism. Over paid people may increase their efforts on the job.

Change outcomes: A person may change their outcomes. An underpaid person may request a salary increase or bigger office. A union may try to improve wages and working conditions in order to be consistent with a comparable union whose members make more money.

Distort perceptions: People may distort perceptions of equity if they are unable to change inputs or outcomes. They may artificially increase the status attached to their jobs or distort others perceived rewards to bring equity into balance.

Leave the job: people who feel inequitably treated may decide to leave their jobs rather than suffer the inequity of being under or overpaid.

The implication of equity theory for managers is that employees indeed evaluate the perceived equity of their rewards compared to others. An increase in salary or a promotion will have no motivational effect if it is perceived as inequitable relative to that of other employees.

EXPECTANCY THEORY: Expectancy theory suggests that motivation depends on individual's expectations about their ability to perform tasks and receive desired rewards.

Expectancy theory postulates that:

Level of Motivation = Valency * Expectancy

Valancy is the extent to which the outcome of the activity and its success matters to the individual.

Expectancy is the individual's expectation of whether or not his efforts will succeed.

Vroom points out that for high motivation both parts of the formula must be high. If the individual is different to the success of his efforts even the expectation of success will not create motivation. If he is hostile to the objective, motivation may even be negative. Similarly motivation may be very low despite high valancy, if the individual feels that the task is hopeless.

THE IMPLICATION FOR MANAGERS: The expectancy theory of motivation is personalized to subordinates needs and goals. Manager's responsibility is to help subordinates meet their needs and at the same time attain organizational goals. Managers must try to find a match between a subordinates skills and abilities and the job demands. To increase motivation, managers can clarify individual's needs, define the outcomes available from the organization and ensure that each individual has the ability and support needed to attain outcomes.

Motivation strategies: Motivation strategies aim to create a working environment and to develop policies and practices which will provide for higher levels of performance from employees. They will be concerned with:

Measuring motivation to provide an indication of areas where motivational practices need to be improved.

Ensuring, so far as possible, that employees feel they are valued

Developing behavioral commitment.

Developing an organization climate which will foster motivation.

Improving leadership skills.

Job design

Performance management

Reward management

People only come to work for money

People do come work for money, ie they have economic motives. It is unlikely that they come only for money. The reasons why people work have been studied by various writers and researchers. In several cases, assumptions about peoples behavior have been considered as important as research evidence.

In the first twenty five years of this century the assumptions made by owners and managers were that people come to work primarily to fulfill economic needs. Therefore pay and monetary incentives are the key to employees motivation. Examples of this concept are F.W.Taylor and the scientific managers.

By the 1930s it was becoming evident, on the basis of research studies such as the Hawthorne experiments, that people have other needs, especially needs relating to personal relationships. In other words, whilst many is still an important factor, it is by no means an over-riding now.

Since the period following World-war two, a number of theorists and research workers have concluded that people have a variety of needs at work. In particular, there is strong evidence, from the work of social scientists such as Herzberg, that people seek self-actualization at work, i.e. they seek to realize full potential.

The implication of self-actualization are the people seek more than financial returns from work. They seek more than friendly relationships. What they are looking for are opportunities to exercise responsibility, to obtain a sense of achievement and to develop new ways of doing things.

In the final analysis people come to work for a variety of motives. Each person has his or her own set of priorities. The challenge for modern management is to be aware of these needs and to meet them in an adaptable manner.