Sales Employees Or Sales Force Of Retail Sector Commerce Essay


Critical review of the literature helps the researcher in understanding the previous research and also to relate it with the current research questions and objectives (Saunders, 2007). Referencing previous literature always help the researcher in presenting his/her point of view in a logically argued way.

This discussion is regarding the sales employees or sales force of retail sector that are considered to be the back bone of any high street business. Quality work now has top priority in retail industry all over the world. The employee will only provide a quality work if s/he is motivated. So motivation plays a very important role in successful organizations.

2.2 Motivation

The term motivation is derived from a Latin word movere, meaning "to move" (Kreitner & Kinicki, 1998). Motivation is a power or energy to achieve a goal. Robbins (1993) has defined motivation as it is the "willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organizational goals, conditioned by the efforts ability to satisfy some individual need." In this context, need is described as an internal state that makes outcomes attractive. A tension is created whenever there is an unsatisfied need which stimulates drives within an individual. These drives then produce a search behavior to look for desired goals. If those particular goals are attained then it will satisfy the need which results in the release of tension (Robbins, 1993).

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Motivation is present whenever an individual has a clear vision and knowledge of what he/she wants to do and a faith in his/her own abilities. Naylor, Pritchard and Ilgen (1980) have described motivation as a process of assigning personal resources in the form of time and energy to different acts in a way that the foretaste affect resulting from these acts is maximized.

Podmoroff (2005) has argued that "Motivation is Universal; motivators are individual." Human beings are pre-wired to be motivated. Some thing gets us up every morning. Even if the only reason we get up is because we are hungry, we are still motivated to satisfy our need to eat. In work place, motivation is more complex, and what motivates some does not motivate others because every one is different. Lazenby (2008) found that a one-size-fits-all approach to employee motivation doesn't work. Different people are motivated by different things. Some people have a high need for recognition and appreciation, even when their work is not up to the standards, others just don't care about these things. Huczynski and Buchanan (2001) argued that if we understand someone's motives, we can potentially influence their behavior. Every individual has his own sets of priorities for which s/he is working. Motivation is very important because "people's behavior is determined by what motivates them" (Mullins, 2002). Even though we have different opinions on how to define motivation, we know motivation is important because we know that if we match two people of identical ability and give them the identical opportunity and conditions to achieve; the motivated person will surpass the unmotivated person in performance and outcome (Wlodkowski, 1999).

Unfortunately, motivation is not quite as simple as that! It involves the person making choices from the available alternatives, about how best to allocate his/her energy and time. According to Dixon (2003) Motivation cannot be achieved in a vacuum independent of the individual's needs, wants and fears. Thus the central problem of motivation, as far as the manager is concerned, is how to take a group of people together to work with all of them having different needs, wants, fears and personalities in order to accomplish the company's goals.

Armstrong (2006) has copied the three components of motivation originally described by Arnold (1991) which are:

Direction - what an individual is trying to achieve;

Effort - how hard an individual is trying;

Persistence - how long an individual keeps on trying.

High level of motivation can be achieved by an organization if they offer incentives, recognition and appreciation at work, and the opportunities to learn and grow with-in an organization. Armstrong (2006) has described a needs related model of the process of motivation in figure 1.

Establish goal


Take action

Attain goal

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Figure 2.1: The process of Motivation adapted from Michael Armstrong, 2006

Armstrong (2006) says that motivation is originated by some unsatisfied needs. These unsatisfied needs are responsible for creating wants, which lead to accomplish the desires. To satisfy the needs and wants, goals are generated or established and a behavior pathway is chosen which will accomplish that goal. The accomplishment of goal will lead to the satisfaction of need. This behavior will repeat again if the same need comes in to existence, whereas the same action will not be repeated if the goal is not accomplished. Hull (1951) has called this process of repetition of victorious behavior or actions as "reinforcement of law of effect".

Motivation is more than the overall effort that goes into a job; it is also work strategy. The things that decrease work motivation are objectives that keep changing, arbitrary performance standards, too few resources to get the work done, feedback that consists only of criticism, and disrespectful behavior (Pritchard and Ashwood, 2008). Whenever there is some need, the person uses some time frame, fixed or variable, and motivation process is allocated in this time frame. Naylor, Pritchard and Ilgen (1980) argued that the major implication of this time frame is that we cannot easily predict what a person will do at any given time. In most situations, the person probably cannot predict it himself.

2.3 Types of Motivation

Motivation is further categorized in to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. According to Clegg (2005) intrinsic motivation refers to those internal states that take us towards behaviors that directly meet self-actualization and belongingness needs. Whereas extrinsic motivation refers to those internal states that take us toward behaviors that directly meet esteem needs. Following table shows few examples of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation described by Deci and Ryan (1987).



Behavior motivated by intrinsic factors such as self expression, interest, and enjoyment.

Behavior motivated by extrinsic factors such as the promise of reward or threat of punishment.

Motivated to finish reading because you are interested.

Motivated to finish reading to meet a deadline

Working because you find the job stimulating and enjoyable.

Working because you need the money.

Challenging jobs because you want the challenge.

Challenging jobs because you are certain you will be fired.

Study to improve yourself.

Study to get a high paying job.

Motivated to work in difficult jobs that challenge you.

Motivated to work in difficult jobs to get the pay rise.

Table 2.1: Examples of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation adapted from Deci and Ryan (1987)

Vallerand (1997) argued that when the task is interesting, intrinsic motivation should lead to the most positive outcomes. However, when the last is less interesting or we can say dull, intrinsic motivation becomes less relevant and the most self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation should then be more pertinent and lead to the most positive outcomes. In the case of retail sector, employees who are working as a sales force will definitely be motivated by extrinsic factors (Vallerand, Pelletier, and Koestner, 2008). According to Michael Armstrong (2006) extrinsic motivators can have a direct and commanding effect, but it will not last long. The reason for this is their motivators which could be rewards, such as salary increment, promotion, or encouragement, and punishments, such as demotion, withholding pay, or denigration. Success in a market place is highly related to learning and how to motivate employees to learn (Argyres, 1991). Smith (1994) defined that motivated employees are needed if an organization wants to survive in a competitive market environment. Motivated employees will be able to contribute greatly to an organization's survival and success compared to less motivated employees. Employees with high levels of motivation produce service quality that can help an organization to achieve significant competitive advantage (Di Xie, 2005).

2.4 Motivation Theories

Motivation theory inspects the process of motivation by explaining individuals' behavior at work and also exams the way an individual put his/her efforts and the path he/she takes. It portrays what organizations do to support an individual to apply his/her efforts and skills in a way that will let an organization to achieve its goals along with gratifying his/her needs.

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Motivation theory for the workplace came in to existence in the middle of the twentieth century. The basic thought of motivation theory was to find the ways of making the workers happy. This could be possible if managers can discover some ideas to take workers "hearts and minds" with them in order to achieve company's goals. It was the first time when companies were growing in size and the fresh groups of managers were controlling the workforce and also getting maximum productivity from it.

Motivation theory is further categorized in to content theory and process theory.

2.4.1 Content Theory

Also known as need theory, which focuses on the content of motivation. It focuses on the exploration of factors that motivate people. These factors whatever physiological or psychological impel, sustain people's behavior (Derakhshan, 1996). It describes that motivation is essentially about taking action to satisfy needs and also to identify the important needs that influences the behavior of an individual. It mainly spotlights those internal factors that energize individuals' behavior. Some of the major content theories like Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Herzberg's theory, and Alderfer's ERG theory are discussed in this section.


Figure 2.2: Maslow hierarchy of needs adapted from

Maslow (1954) developed needs theory, who defined the concept of a hierarchy of needs which he believed were essential to the personality. He argued that an individual progress through five-level need system in a hierarchical fashion and that he/she do so one level at a time (Armstrong, 2006). Figure 2.2 shows the needs hierarchy.

Denhardt & Aristigueta (2008) have adapted the definitions of the above five needs defined by Maslow (1943) as follows:

Physiological Needs: Called the most "Prepotent" of needs, these address basic biological drives for food, air, water, and shelter.

Safety Needs: Once basic physical needs are met, human seek to gratify their needs for safety, security, and freedom from danger.

Social Needs: If both physiological and safety needs are substantially satisfied, then love, belongingness, and social needs will emerge.

Esteem Needs: these needs speak to our desire to have the recognition and attention from others that support positive self-esteem and a positive self-image. Armstrong (2006) has defined esteem needs as the need to have a constant, solidly based, high evaluation of oneself and to have the admiration of others.

Self-actualization: The highest level needs are those that cause us to seek self-fulfillment and "to become everything that one is capable of becoming."

A basic assumption of this model, according to Maslow, is that "man is a perpetually wanting animal" (Maslow, 1943). Denhardt & Aristigueta (2008) have explained it in another way that as we satisfy one type of need, other needs then occupy our attention. According to Maslow, as we reach increasingly higher levels of satisfaction for a particular need, that need decreases in potency as a motivator or we can say that we no longer will seek food when our hunger is adequately satisfied.

Maslow's needs hierarchy has an instinctive appeal and has been very influential, even though there has been relatively little research directly testing his propositions, and the research that has been carried out is not particularly supportive. Hall and Nougaim (1968) found that the more a need was met or satisfied, the more important it became. This is a direct contradiction of Maslow's idea about how the hierarchy functions. Lawler and Suttle (1972) also failed to find support for the model. Same results were found by Wahba and Bridwell (1976). According to Landy & Conte (2006) the reason of not finding the support for this model is because the theory was somewhat simplistic, not directly acknowledging that most of us have many different needs that operate simultaneously rather than one at a time. Armstrong (2006) argued that every individual have different priorities and it is not worth accepting that an individual needs move gradually up the hierarchy.

Maslow's theory of needs considers the fact that people constantly have some requirements from the outside world in order to feel satisfied. Hollyforde & Whiddett (2002) commented on Maslow's theory that this theory is often described as inflexible, in a way that shifting from one level of the hierarchy to another is only likely to happen if a lower need has been fulfilled. Maslow did not in reality say that. What he did say (Maslow, 1954) is:

"So far, our theoretical discussion may have given the impression that these five sets of needs are somehow in such terms as the following: if one need is satisfied, then another emerges."

It seems like this statement gives the false impression that a need must be fulfilled completely before the next need appears. Genuinely most of us who are normal are somewhat satisfied in all our basic needs and at the same time somewhat unsatisfied in all our basic needs (Hollyforde & Whiddett, 2002).

Maslow's theory is very popular, despite little validation of it in later research by Hall and Nougaim, (1968), and Lawler and Suttle, (1972). The theory has attracted criticism regarding its premise that people work on satisfying needs at a higher level only once all lower level needs have been met. Another major problem with the Maslow's needs theory is how to determine or calculate needs - both in terms of how strongly they are felt and of how someone knows they have been fulfilled (Wahba & Bridwell, 1976). According to Hollyforde & Whiddett (2002), the major issue with Maslow's need theory is how an observer can understand whether the person's needs have been met or not, particularly at top levels, as only the person itself can feel if it is met.

Since Maslow's need theory was introduced, psychologists have suggested a number of modifications. The first, proposed by Herzberg (1966) was called the two factor theory. He suggested that there were really two basic needs, not five, and that they were not so much hierarchically arranged as independent of one another. These two needs were called "hygiene needs" and "motivator needs". Hygiene needs are equal to Maslow's physical and security needs. Whereas motivator needs cover Maslow's social, esteem, and actualization needs. According to Gallos and Schein (2006) Herzberg's approach has more to do with job satisfaction than with human motivation. Herzberg believes that meeting hygiene needs eliminate dissatisfaction, but would not result in motivated behavior. In contrast, meeting motivator needs would result in the expenditure of effort as well as positive satisfaction (Landy & Conte, 2006).

According to Furnham (2005), the factors described by Herzberg two factor theory which leads to job satisfaction are those that gratify an individual's need for self actualization in their employment, and it is only from the performance of the task that individuals can benefit from the rewards that will strengthen their ambitions. Researchers since the 1970s who have tried to replicate Herzberg's findings have shown that both factors can lead to either satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Furnham (2005) also argued that the theory says nothing about individual differences, so that some people may be strongly in favour of job enrichment and others strongly against it. The "one shoe fits all" approach of considering everyone same may not have the desired effect because of the uniqueness of employees' needs, personalities and behavior. Judge, Bono and Locke (2000) believe that the theory should be laid to rest as the fact is various methodological errors were initiated into the early theory testing work. According to King (1970), same as with Maslow's theory, it was also difficult to determine exactly what Herzberg's theory might predict. Armstrong (2006) has also criticized Herzberg theory because no effort was made to calculate the connection between satisfaction and performance.

The second famous modification done on Maslow's need theory was by Clayton Alderfer called his ERG theory (1972). Alderfer's ERG theory is much simpler than Maslow's theory, in that Alderfer specifies that there are only three types of needs, but that they are not necessarily activated in any specific order. Furthermore, according to the theory any need may be activated at any time. The theory relates to three identified categories of needs that are existence, relatedness, and growth. The following table shows the relation of ERG theory with Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Alderfer's Needs

Concerned With

Maslow's Needs


Basic material needs for existence

(Physical + Safety) Needs


Desire to maintain interpersonal relations

Social Needs


Intrinsic desire for personal development and to be creative and to achieve full potential

(Esteem + Self-actualization) Needs

Table 2.2: Alderfer's ERG Thoery adapted from Biswajeet Pattanayak, (2005)

Pathanayak (2005) has explained three differences between ERG theory and Maslow's hierarchy of needs. First, the ERG theory allows for an individual to seek satisfaction of higher level needs before lower level needs are satisfied. Second, the ERG theory explains the differences in need preferences between cultures; therefore, the arrangement of needs can be different for different individuals. Third, which may be the most important aspect of the ERG theory, is the frustration-regression principle. The frustration-regression principle explains that when a barrier prevents an individual from obtaining a higher level need, a person may go back to a lower level need or vice versa to achieve satisfaction. According to Furnham (2005) the theory has not catch the attention as Maslow's theory, but appears as a sound alteration of it. He also argued that as compared to Maslow's theory, ERG is difficult to test.

There is a group of authors who are against the content theories of motivation. Newell and Grashina (2004) have argued that content theories of motivation are very similar to each other, but they fail to develop any algorithm that will work under any circumstance. They further criticized the content theories by saying that, the content theories only pay attention to analyze the factors used for motivation and do not analyze the process itself, which is done by process theories of motivation.

2.4.2 Process Theory

Process theory of motivation focuses on conscious human decision process as an explanation of motivation. The process theories are responsible for determining how individual behavior is keyed up, aimed at, and preserved in the precisely willed and self-directed human cognitive processes (Guest, 1992). Ivancevich and Matteson (1993) define that the process theory seeks to analyze how individual behavior is energized.

Process theory is also known as cognitive theory because it is concerned with people's perceptions of their working environment and the ways in which they interpret and understand it. Process theory provides a much more significant approach to motivation than the theories of Maslow and Herzberg (Guest, 1992). According to Armstrong (2006), the suggestions made by Guest in 1992 were proved to be wrong after extensive research. Some of the major process theories of motivation are expectancy theory, goal-setting theory, are equity theory.

Victor Vroom (1964) has formulated the Expectancy theory which presumes that individuals can decide which outcomes they fancy and can make realistic guesses of the chances of get hold of them. In other words, people look forward to a certain outcome, such as a certain incentive, if they behave in a certain way. Condrey & Perry (2005) explained that motivation is a product of the individual's expectancy that a certain effort will lead to the intended performance, the instrumentality of this performance to achieving a certain result, and the desirability of this result for the individual, Known as valence.


Figure 2.3: Block diagram of Vroom Expectancy Theory Adapted from

Vroom does not concentrate on needs, but rather focuses on outcomes. According to Armstrong (2006), the power of expectations may be based on past experiences, but individuals are regularly presented with new circumstances like job change, salary system, or working conditions enforced by management, where past experience is not a satisfactory guide to the allegations of the change. In such situations, there is a reduction in motivation. He further argued that motivation is only likely when a clearly recognized and practical connection exists between performance and outcome, and the outcome is considered as a way of gratifying needs.

Vroom proposed that an individual's faith about Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valence act together emotionally to create a motivational strength or energy such that the individual acts in ways that bring joy and avoid pain. Research has shown that high-performing employees believe that their behavior, or performance, leads to rewards that they desire, so there is an evidence for the validity of the theory (Gallos and Schein, 2006). According to Eugene F.McKenna (2000) this motivational strength or energy can be analyzed by using the following formula:

Motivation = Valance x Expectancy (Instrumentality)

The above equation can be used to specify and calculate job satisfaction, one's employment preference, the probability of continuing a work, and the effort an individual might boost in his/her job. Vroom's expectancy theory can be considered invaluable in terms of serving as a basis for further analysis and helping to "understand the complexity of motivation." (Callahan et al. 1986) Moreover, it aids managers to reflect on the different outcomes of behavior, it clarifies the relationship between organizational and individual goals and even suggests some managerial action, such as the design of training schemes and job design.

If few people find evidence in support of Vroom's expectancy theory (Van Eerde and Thierry, 1996), there are others who believe that the theory is fairly unrealistic as of the difficulty people are experiencing while trying to observe a correlation between performance and rewards. Eugene F.McKenna (2000) has argued that researchers have experienced some difficulty in replicating the original methodology.

2.5 Gender and Motivation

As there are equal number of male and female staff working in the retail sector, so we cannot ignore the physiological and psychological differences in them. There is an existence of gender differences influencing the motivation to work. Women's approach and preferences about work effort are dissimilar from their opposite gender. According to (Meece, 2006), women level of educational participation and occupational status have been substantially increased, where as the gender disparities still remain there. Bernstein and Tavris, (1999) has given a very different look of motivation in genders. They believe that women talk much about people and relationships and about appearance at work, while men talk much more about work and money. Maccoby and Jacklin (1974) state that there is evidence supported the difference in terms of "visuo-spatial ability, mathematical ability and aggressiveness (male scores high), and verbal ability (female higher)".Their conclusion shows that the similarities are more than differences between genders related to motivation (Mullins, 2002).

Hearn (1994) refers to Maccoby and Jacklin's (1974) examination of 1400 hundred studies of sex role differences which suggested that assumptions of difference in motivation, achievement and intelligence were rare. According to Wilson (2001), Organizational commitment is a term that has received a significant sum of consideration in management literature in recent years. The main focus is on the ways in which commitment can be used in relation to theories of motivation and job satisfaction. Barling et al. (1990) argue that job satisfaction, organizational climate and job involvement are significant predictors of company commitment (Wilson 2001).

A lot of research has been done related to differentiate between women and men motivation to work but no significant results has been found as they do not have same jobs or rewards and are complicated as human being (Bernstein and Tavris, 1999). It is a complex topic but cannot be ignored as the gender differences do exist and it plays a very important role in organizational success where they both work in an equal quantity.

2.6 Job Satisfaction

According to Thomson (1999), Herzberg has spent many years researching motivation in the work situation and its effects on job satisfaction. After a major study of engineers and accounts, he was able to show what kinds of events or activities led to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Following are the factors defined by Herzberg (1966) that contribute to both states.



the nature of the work itself



company policy and administration



interpersonal relationships

working conditions

Herzberg research found that the first five factors in the above list are the major determinants of job satisfaction where as the rest five are considered to be dissatisfaction factors.

Pugh and Hickson (1997) argued that Herzberg, when talking about job satisfaction was considering self-actualization needs, while those associated with job dissatisfaction were related to the need to avoid physical and social deprivation. Gallos and Schein (2006) has pointed out that Herzberg has explained that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction is not only different because of psychological factors, but it is also associated with an escalation phenomenon, or the principle of rising expectations: the more people receive, the more they want. They further argued that this principle is only true with job dissatisfaction. Herzberg has supported this escalation principle with an example that if a person receives a salary increase of £100 one year and then receives only £50 increase the following year. The second increase is a cut in pay so that person will not be happy with company's behavior and the chance of dissatisfaction in there (Gallos and Schein, 2006). It is the responsibility of managers to continue providing benefits, upgrade and incentives to their workers that will lead to greater job satisfaction.

Motivation of employees helps in developing their interest in work and then achieves the high level of performance. There is an old saying you can take a horse to the water but you cannot force it to drink; it will drink only if it's thirsty - same the case with people. They will work only when they want to work or else motivated to work. Why do we need motivated employees? The answer is survival (Smith, 1994). Motivation is a solution to the mystery of performance improvement. Performance is measured to be the function of ability and motivation. Thus,

Job performance = f(ability)(motivation).

Ability in turn depends on education, knowledge and training and its development is sluggish and lengthy process, where as motivation can be improved rapidly (adapted from Competitive and high performance organizations, such as high street retail stores, expect their workforce to perform above and beyond their formal duties in return for more tangible and symbolic rewards and support, including appreciation and respect (Beyth-Maron, el tl. 2006).

Arthur Brayfield and Harold Rothe (1951) proposed that job satisfaction is the "individual's attitude toward his work." An individual is only satisfied, if he/she is motivated to work. Lawler (1973) spotlighted the expectations rather than needs: 'Overall job satisfaction is determined by the difference between all those things a person feels he should receive from his job and all those things he actually does receive'. Locke (1969), however, dismisses both needs and expectations in favour of values. He defined job satisfaction as the enjoyable exciting state resulting from the assessment of an individual's job as attaining the accomplishment of his/her job values.

Motivation is concerned with the degree of inclination towards an activity, but that degree of inclination is determined by the pursuit of goals which will satisfy needs. What motivates, therefore, in a work context is the desire for job satisfaction; individuals are motivated to participate in activities that appear to them to be oriented towards job satisfaction. According to Linda Evans (1998) Job satisfaction is the state of brain covering all the emotions resolute by the degree to which individual recognizes his/her job associated needs to be met.

According to Beyth-Maron, el tl. (2006), Job characteristics and the nature of relationships between the employee (sales force) and the organization (Primark) are two sets of variables which are often studied in connection with satisfaction, identification with the organization, and motivation. Research studies on job characteristics rely on Hackman and Oldham (1975; 1976) theory and their model of the relationships between core job characteristics, critical psychological states, and their impact on several affective, motivational, and performance outcomes (Renn and Vandenberg 1995). It says that jobs which enable workers to exercise different skills and abilities, to complete identifiable pieces of work, to apprehend the importance of the job, to plan the work and its space, and which have a built-in feedback mechanism, lead to favorable results in terms of satisfaction, work motivation, and work performance.

Schneider (1980) found that job satisfaction was one of the major reasons for differences in employee's service delivery levels. Satisfied employees delivered high quality service compared to dissatisfied employees during the service encounter (Di Xie, 2005). According to Zeithaml & Bitner (2000), there is concrete evidence that satisfied employees make for satisfied customers. Employee is motivated to work only if he is satisfied with the job. It is very important for the organizations to measure the job satisfaction in the employees. It can be measured directly or indirectly. Locke (1976) has considered reasonable to measure the various job facets of job satisfaction since a job may consist of complicated tasks, roles, responsibilities, and outcomes.

2.7 Conclusion

There are many issues related to job satisfaction and motivation at work, including whether employees are really devoted to their work. Appling the above theories in different context have testified that they work flexibly depending on various situations and also it reminds that there is no specific one theory that can be applied to handle comprehensive practices in real world. Following table briefly describes the relevant theories related to the research question and out of those theories which one is more helpful in answering the research question.

Research Question


Conceptual framework

How much job satisfaction is important for the sales force & what factors lead to unsatisfied employees in Primark?

The first theory that was being discussed above is Maslow's hierarchy of needs which explains different factors that motivate humankind.

Second theory which was explained was Herzberg's two factor theory in which hygiene needs and motivator needs were critically discussed.

Third was Alderfer's ERG theory which explains that there are only three needs existence, relatedness and growth.

The last theory that was critically discussed was Victor Vroom Expectancy theory which assumes that people expect a certain outcome, such as a certain reward, if they behave in a certain way.

Maslow's theory defines human needs. Out of those needs in the hierarchy, physiological needs, safety needs and social needs are very important and directly related to the question.

Herzberg theory explains that meeting hygiene needs eliminate dissatisfaction, but would not result in motivated behavior, where as meeting motivator needs would result in expenditure of effort as well as positive satisfaction. Two factor theories is a modification of Maslow's theory and is also very important in relation to this research.

ERG theory is very similar to Maslow hierarchy of needs, the only difference is that any need may activate at any time.

As Vroom does not concentrate on needs (which are relevant in our case), but rather focuses on outcomes, so it's not helpful in answering the question.

Table 2.3: Relating research question with theories and conceptual framework