Assessing Motivation And Theories Of Motivation Commerce Essay

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Motivation can be identified as "an internal state . . . giving rise to a desire or pressure to act". (Westwood, 1992 cited in Furnham, et al., 2009, p. 765)

High performances of the employees are essential for the companies' success. The managers, therefore, need to find the ways how to get the workers to do their job effectively. Since motivation has been one of the certain issues in the organizational behaviour field, many theories of motivation have been developed, including Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Herzberg's Motivation-hygiene theory or Hackman's Job characteristics theory. (Knights& Willmott, 2007, p.70)

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

The motivation theory of the American psychologist Maslow (1943) suggests that the needs and the desires of a human being also determine their behaviour. It is stressed that individuals have needs which can be arranged in hierarchies of prepotency. When one set of needs is satisfied, another set of needs on a higher level of the hierarchy comes out. The behaviour is said to be determined by unsatisfied needs. Maslow (1943, p.375) argues that 'a want that is satisfied is no longer a want.'

The five levels of the Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Herzberg: Motivation-hygiene theory´

The motivation-hygiene theory (Herzberg, 2003, p.91) concludes that factors that cause job satisfaction and evoke motivation (motivator factors) are not the same as that causing job dissatisfaction (hygiene factors). Hence, 'the opposite of job dissatisfaction is not job satisfaction, but no job dissatisfaction.' (Herzberg, 2003, p.91)

Lists of motivator and hygiene factors had been set up:

Motivator factors

Hygiene factors


company policy

recognition for achievement


the work itself



interpersonal relationships

growth or advancement

working conditions




Hackman: Job characteristics theory

The studies of Hackman and Oldham (1974, 1975 cited in Oldham, 1976, p.560) showed that job characteristics can influence the employees' motivation. The author states that employees can gain experiences and achieve growth, given that they work under effectively established work conditions.

The following core job characteristics had been identified:

Task significance

Task identity

Skill variety



For as the level of internal motivation of an employee increases, the level of their work performance also increases, it is suggested that the job characteristics should be improved in order to achieve employee's higher work performance. (Hackman and Oldham, 1974, 1975 cited in Oldham, 1976, p.560)

Motivation: Pay & Rewards

One of the aims of the present studies in the area of organizational behaviour is to explore the extent to which rewards can affect employee's motivation.

There is an overall belief that individuals will show a higher performance if there is some sort of compensation they can gain. Some managers believe to prevent some organisational issues by giving rewards (which is considered to be an incentive) to employees. The truth is, however, that if a company does not reward its employees for their work, the company risks losing them. (Stewart III, et al., 1993, p. 37-39) After all, the workforce should be paid for the effort produced.

Rewarding workers can be beneficial for organisations. As suggested by Eisenberg, et al. (1999 cited in Eisenberg& Aselage, 2009, p.1), reward given to an employee for a high performance increases their perception of self-determination. The individual thus believes in being good at performing certain job which raises his/her interest in job. Motivation either to do well or to gain a reward consequently increases at the same time. Stewart III, et al. (1993, p.42) state that satisfaction and respect are also incentives to involvement and committed work of high quality.

Locke and Latham (2002 cited in Eisenberg& Aselage, 2009, p.2-9 ) propose that 'rewards would tend to increase the desirability of achieving the goal upon which the reward is contingent, and so individuals would become more committed to that goal.' This is referred to as 'performance pressure'. The employees will take it for necessary to show high performance and, in doing so; involve the most of their creativity. Their desire to achieve a particular goal causes the increase of job interest as well as the increase of motivation.

The workforce, however, should be always rewarded according to the effort made. An employee can become unmotivated and discouraged if the salary he/she gets is too low or inadequate to the scope of employment.

Motivation: Job design

Management has to deal also with finding 'creative ways to unlock the potential that exists in the overwhelming majority of our work force.' (Guest, 1981, p.46)

Based on Job characteristics theory (Hackman and Oldham, 1974, 1975 cited in Oldham, 1976, p.560) it is stated that the job design can have a big effect on employee's internal motivation. As written above, there are five core characteristics of jobs (task significance, task identity, skill variety, autonomy and feedback). According to Oldham (1976, p.560) individuals are most motivated if they do a job that has those characteristics highly developed. The author suggests that the work motivation and performance of an employee can be determined by their good job match.

Garg and Rastogi (2006, p.578-9) in their recent research paper propose that internal factors of the organization can have a big influence on motivation of the workforce.

An employee care about the way the company recruits, hires, rewards, trains and treats its workforces. Nevertheless, the employees are the company's workforce. What a company should be particular about is to ensure the possibility for its people to make a progress and develop opportunities in work. Human resource management and human performance improvement are therefore important aspects of work design that can have an impact on employee's motivation.

Jobs should be designed ergonomically. It is important to create a safe and secure working environment that would fit to employees. A worker should not use technology or do a task he/she is not capable of, or authorized to.

Leaders play a vital role in an organisation. Their job is to motivate and encourage their employees in order to make them follow the company policy with the design of work chosen and to get the best out of them. It is in leaders' own interest to connect with the employees.

Organisational culture also plays a large role. Creating a community and social interaction between employees and employers must be enabled in order to attain workplace spirituality. Oldham (1976, p.561) also argues that interpersonal satisfaction matters. If an employee gets along well with the others, he/she can be more productive and pay more attention to work instead of being burdened with conflicts or disturbing stimuli.

A well elaborated job design can help the organisation both in achieving its goals as well as in creating conditions for the motivation increase of its employees. This, after all, also leads to company's success, since fully motivated employees are more committed to the company or their work and, in being so, perform better. (Garg and Rastogi, 2006, p.582)

Motivation: Pay vs. Job design

According to the Maslow's hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1943), the need of being rewarded plays a vital role. Reward in form of money satisfies in the first place the basic physiological needs (as a means of obtaining the gratification of e.g. hunger drive). The desire to be highly evaluated is ranked as an esteem need, given that a significant compensation is seen as a positive feedback causing the person's perception of self-determination to increase. A high salary can give an individual a sense of confidence, independence, prestige or recognition and respect from the others. One's need for self-actualization, on the other hand, can be satisfied by a good job match. As Maslow (1943, p. 382) states, one has a 'desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.' As already described, job characteristics do matter. For an individual wants to develop and acquire knowledge, a fitted job broadening his/her horizons would be a means to meet this need. Considering that one's behaviour is influenced (thus motivated) by desires that need to be met (Maslow, 1943, p.375), it can be concluded that, in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, job design has a bigger affect on motivation than reward. Yet the need of self-actualization is on a higher level of the hierarchy of prepotency than the esteem need.

Based on investigations (Herzberg, 2003, p. 90), several motivator and hygiene factors had been recognized. Whereas pay (salary) was only identified as a hygiene factor- a factor that contributes to dissatisfaction if it is not gratified, many aspects of job design had been included in the list of motivator factors as well as in the list of hygiene factors. Yet the job design is very complex and has numerous aspects. Therefore, whether a certain issue causes job satisfaction or dissatisfaction, job and its aspects have a greater influence on motivating employees. Moreover, by recommending to achieve employees' motivation by directing the motivator factors (by enhancing the content of job, e.g. by job enrichment), the motivation-hygiene theory gives job design more importance in affecting workers' drive.

Hackman and Oldham (1974, 1975 cited in Oldham, 1976, p.560) emphasize only the importance of job design, whilst claiming that an employee seeking for either psychological or intellectual growth will be motivated mostly by concert of core job characteristics.

Another example supporting the significance of a matching job design is the case of a promotion. It can be questioned whether a promotion leads immediately to a person's satisfaction even though a person gains recognition and respect from the others. A new, more time demanding job with new responsibilities and obligations does not necessarily have to fit to the employee although a higher salary is offered. Especially those settled could agree, since they would spend more time at work on the expense of their families.

So far all of the theories of motivation previously discussed and described supported the statement that job design has a bigger affect on motivating employees. It is to be acknowledged that people tend to subordinate themselves especially if they have no current prospects. People in need of money are willing to do any insignificant job but the questions remaining are: Can the management maximise their potential? Are they really motivated to perform well? Are they eager to fully commit themselves to a job taken only for shortage reasons?

In order to assess whether pay or job design is more important in affecting motivation; it is, however, necessary to point out the importance of the individual difference. (Furnham, et al., 2009, p. 767) For every human being is different, his or her attitudes towards work also vary. Individuals do not always share the same values - what is important for one person, does not necessarily have to be important for another person. One decides for a particular job because of an attractive salary, the other might be more attracted by a time not-demanding job.


It can be concluded that both, pay and job design, play a vital role in affecting motivation. However, as previously discussed, it is suggested that job design in general has a more significant effect on motivating employees. Individual differences should not be disregarded nor neglected though. Hence this statement should not be applied on everyone.