The Earliest Studies On Motivation Commerce Essay

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Motivations and behaviors are come into being on the basis of the need. Without need, nobody will have any motivations,needless to say taking any actions. After generating the need, then the need will lead to motivation, and the motivation will become the direct reason for causing actions if the person has a specific target. But not all motivations will inevitably lead to acts. Among various motivations, only the dominant motivation will lead to behaviours. Therefore, in order to inspire employees generating the behavior which are expect by the organization, managers need to set some goals based on the need of employees. Then inspiring employees to generate the dominant motivations which are benefit to the organization through goal-setting. So they will take actions in a manner the organization expects.

The earliest studies on motivation were carried out by the ancient Greek philosophers, who primarily focused on the motivation with the concept of seeking pleasures by individuals. They argued that motivation was the psychological activity of seeking for pleasure and avoiding pains. Therefore, the motivation models in earlier times were mostly connected human beings' instinct. The most representative scholar at that time was James and Freud,

In 1890, James proposed that the human beings not only had human nature but also other social instincts, such as compassion, modesty, sociality and so on. Besides that, in common, this kind of instinct usually has a purpose. But Freud has different views on the instinct. He holds the opinion that the human beings' instinct contains neither conscious purpose nor established direction. And the ways of satisfing the instinct could aquired by study. He thinks the most important human instincts are the ones of living and death.

However, in 1940s, the instinct theory was replaced by the drive model, which was originally put forward by Woodworth, he argues that drive is the intrinsic power for people to do something. Later, American psychologist C.Hull who belonged to the behaviourial school explained the motivation of the behaviour through the view that the individuals usually maintained a balance in their mind and then proposed the drive-reduction theory(Hull, 1943). There are two aspects the drive-reduction theory reflects on. Firstly, all individual's activities are due to the driving forces coming from the physical needs. From example, the lack of nutrition generates the drive of hunger. Secondly, in the behavior acting of individuals, if the result of this behaviour can meet the needs caused by the driving forces, it will reduce this driving force. And then, the same action will recur in the future. The theory is only a sample explanation of the relationship between incentives and reaction but can not explain the profound motivations about complicated behavious. Therefore, in the modern psychology, drive-reduction theory is no longer appreciated.

When psychologists concentrated on instinct and drive, managers focused on something practical. The representatives were achievements made by Herzberg and his peers, they were the first group of scholars who studied the factors that affected employees' satisfaction(Herzberg, 1959). They said the relationships between individuals and their work is complex. The individual's attitude toward working plays a very important roles on determining the success and failure about the working task. He believes the factors those affect employees' enthusiasm could be divided into two according to the different driving functions. The first one is called "hygiene factors". The hygiene factors related to the extrinsic ones related to the working environment ang conditions such as company policy , administration, relationships with supervisors, working conditions, wages, relationships with colleague, personal life, relationships with subordinate, status, security and so on. Once such factors or needs haven't been satisfied, it will lead to the employees' dissatisfaction, furtherly reduce employees' enthusiasm. But the satisfaction of these needs will not improve employees' enthusiasm. Then the other factor called ''motivation factors" which fully connects with the working content. The motivation factors maily include achievements, approval of working performance, attraction of the working itself, responsibilities, promotion, growth and so on. If these needs have been met, it will generate a good influence on improving employees' enthusiasm and satisfaction. While, even if these needs haven't been satisfied, it will not make too much dissatisfaction. Herzberg's two -factor theory emphasizes the intrinsic motivation, it plays an epoch-making role in organizational behavior study, and providing a new idea for managers to stimulate the motivation of their staffs. This theory reminds managers of distinguishing "hygiene factors" and "motivation factors" in the management progress. Especially the managers should pay proper attention on the hygiene factors, neither ignoring nor over-emphasizing. Because it can only lower the dissatisfaction but can not improve the satisfaction level. If managers want to keep a durable and efficient inspiration to the employees' motivation, they should improve the content of the work, the work task redesign, and pay attention to employees' growth, development, and promotion opportunities. and give staff the spirit-encouraging, besides the praise and recognition.

Since 1930s, employees' motivation had become the study theme of both industrial psychology and industrial organization theory. The period from 1960s to the early of 1970s was regarded as the golden times for working motivation theories. According to the study on different relationships of behaviors and different sidesof incentives, it can be divided into many factions.

Content-based motivation theory puts emphsis on the content and structure of needs and how to promote the people's behavior. It contains ERG theory and McClelland's need theory.

Firstly, Clayton Alderfer amended the maslow's hierarchy of needs theory, and proposed the ERG theory(Alderfer, 1969). He thinks there are three types of core need, "existence need ","relatedness need " and "growth need". The existence need refers to physical needs and material needs, the relatedness need refers to maintenance for the human relation, and the growth need refers to the need for personal development. Some critics view that the two-factor theory is more practical than the former ones.

In 1950s, McClelland, the professor at Harvard University and his students David McClell , John Atkinson presented the achievement need theory. This theory has maken a lot of research on the need for successful fact, it says that the need for success is challenging and triggering the pleasure of people, which has a main influence on people's motivation.(McClelland,1950s).They believes that needs are based on personality and develop as people interacting with the environment. All the people possess the need for achivement, power, and affiliation, but to varying degree. One of the three need tends to be dominant in each one of us and motivates our behaviors. The need for achivement contains the drive to excel,to achive in relation to a set of standards,and to srive to succeed. The need for power mainly includes the need to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise. The need for affiliation means the desire for friendly and close personal relationships. So I think the achievers prefer the jobs which can offer personal responsibility, feedback, and moderate risks.

Unlike the content theory, the process incentive theory focuses on the process of how people choose their actions to be carried out. Namely, how to produce behavior, how to maintain or put an end to the development process of a motivation or behavior.It mainly contains the expectation theory and the fairness theory.

The expetation theory was firstly proposed by Victor Vroom in 1964, he says that individuals are not just motivated or unmotivated, but that to what extent motivations are dependent on the working conditions(Vroom, 1964). Vroom refers to the belief that individuals believe that a certain action or endeavor would reward with some good results they have expected. Firstly, expectation (E) , refers to a certain intensity of incentive which can push people's hard working towards the selected target and reach the subjective probability of the desired performance level. Secondly, instrumentality (I) , it mans the the subjective probality of obtaining reward after reaching the expected performance level. Thirdly, value(V), refers to the size of relative value in mind about rewards. A person's enthusiasm for the targeted reward is the product of E,V, I. , and depends on the three relationships: the relationship between effort and work performance; the desirability of various work reward and different performance levels, the reward and the personal need. Therefore, When applying this theory, general managers would rather grasp the incentive messures with the biggest value to the staff than the common ones, as well as increase the value at the maximum probability, control the actual and expected probability, and widen the gap of the different value in order to trenchant or punish clearly. On the basis of the theory, later in 1968, Porter and Lawer made further research which mainly aimed at the executives in this field so as to indentify the variations in employees' capabilities and skills. And their study justified the relationship between working performance and satisfaction (Porter & Lawer, 1968).

The evaluation of reward

Ability and quality

Hard work


Inside salary

Outside salary

The fairness of reward



Environme-ntal restrictions

The frame of Porter and Lawer's expectation theory

Some critics suggest that application of this theory is very limited to some extent. If the individual can clearly recognize the relationships between effort and performance, performance and reward, the reward and personal need, the prediction rate of this theory will be higher, but only a few can see the high correlation between their performance and rewards. Therefore, some scholars think this theory taking on the idealism color.

Ameirican psychologist Adams advocates stimulating employees' motivation from the perspective of fairness and proposed fairness theory in 1956. Adams refers the individuals not only focus on their absolute returns but also more attention to the obtained results after comparing the effort they have invested , the income they have got with those of others'(Adams,1956). The investing here, including the personal effort, the past working experience, the educational bacground, time, capacity and so on; the income here includes salary, reward, recognition, promotion, training, working conditions and so on.. Above all, Adams views, the emergence of personal fairness mostly depends on the income and investment ratio between their own and others. By comparison with other people in their same field, then they would judge if they are being treated equitably. When they are similar in the result of outcome to input ratio compared with the other group or person, the people are likely to feel they are treated fairly with their social exchange. But when they perceive the ratios are quite different, the people would regard it as inequity. In application,organizations should consider sharing the formulating of allocated decisions,adopting some means to maintain the consistency of programs, and taking similar measures to improve the sense of procedural justice and increasing the perception level of employees' dignity, care and respect. However, there are still some key issues which are not prominent in this theory,such as how the staff define their inputs and outputs, how to accumulate and distribute the weights on various components of their own inputs and outputs, and when the perception of inputs and outputs will change under different circumstances etc.

At the same time, the behavior modification theory researches on how to change and transform people's behavior and change a negative act into a positive one. The main representatives are reinforcement theory, the set-backs theory, and the attribution theory.

In the 1970s, Skinner, the USA psychologist and behavioral scientist proposed the reinforcement theory, it refers to the personal behavior is a response to the external environment. Therefore, it is possible to change behaviors as long as changing the external environment stimulations(Skinner,1972). The theory that basing on principles about reiforcement focuses on understanding and rehabilitating the personal behavior. In terms of that, it means the consequences (reward or punishment) of the positive or negative point to a certain act, to some extent, it determines whether such an act will recur in the future. According to the nature and purpose of strengthening, the theory divides the enforcement into positive and negative enhanced. It refers to, in management, positive reinforcement is to reward behaviors those the organization need so that to strengthen them; negative strengthening is to punish those who act incompatible with the organization, then weaken the act. Positive reinforcement methods include bonuses, recognition of the achievement, praise, improving the working environment and relationships, promotion, arranging to afford challenging tasks, and giving the opportunities to learn and grow. The negative enhanced methods include criticism, punishment, demotion, and sometimes, refusing to give awards is also necessary. In the light of enhancement theory, we can investigate the enhanced cycle of each one so that the manager can adopt different enhanced frequencies and patterns; set a comprehensive goal and realize it step by step, at the same time, it suggest we should strengthen behavior continuously ; enhance and feedback timely; investigate reaction of everyone to the award and punishment, then combining rewards and punishments together but prior to reward.

Another point of behavior modification theory views that the personal behavior is the result of the ideological guidance, the representative is an American psychologists, B. Weiner, studied the motivition from the perspective of cognitive psychology, and proposed the attribution model of achievements motivition(Weiner,1974). It says that the analysis in success and failure of individuals is the key to understand the achievement acts. The personal consciousness to reasons for success or failure directly affects the adherence ,strength, choice of the personal achievement act . Actually, the attribution theory had been initiatively proposed by the Austrian social psychologists Heider in 1950s, he said, the success of individuals, can be attributed to their own efforts or capacity. And the failure can be attributed to environmental or fault. Both within and outside causes can be divided into stable or instable ones. If the success is due to the capacity, then the cause is stable, but if due to efforts, it is not stable. Furtherly, Weiner divided reasons for the success and failure into four factors: effort, capacity, luck, and the difficult degree of task, and three dimensions: firstly, the intrinsic and extrinsic causes; the stable and instable causes; the controlled and uncontrolled causes. Then combine the two together. It says, such as efforts, individual capacity and personality is the intrinsic courses, and the difficulty degree of the task, family condition is the extrinsic and stable causes; in turn the effort, luck, mood is not stable. Meanwhile, the effort can be controlled by the individual, but luck, is not the subject the individualcan can control.

Compared with attribution theory that only considers the motivation as the result of the promotion of interior understanding, the setback theory views that the motivition is jointly inspired both by the transformation of internal idea and stimulation of external environment(Adams,1963). Concretly, it refers to what people would react after confronting setbacks and how the managers take appropriate measures for the staff. The setbacks theory researches on what individual would react after encountering the setback and how the managers take appropriate measures to guide employee's behaviour and help employees overcome setbacks , so that the employees can treat the job on a positive view. It should be noted that frustration is a subjective feeling, confronting with the same experience, some people may constitute a strong frustration of the situation, while others are not. Therefore, before taking messures, we should disguish the two and take different messures.

The background of the theory dates from the 1930s to1950s when Edward Tolman and Kurt Lewin argued that interaction between people's perceived environment and their characteristics resulted in human behaviors(Lewin,1958). As individuals' living space form their psychological, social groups and their environment form social field. A person's status depends on his area, and his region have relationship with other group members.

In addition to the content theory, process theory, and behavioral modification theory, Robert House integrates the three incentive theories into a new theory called comprehensive incentive theory which summarizes the internal and external factors through a model. It can be abstracted into the formula:


There formular contains three elements:

Vit - the value of the position itself;

EiaVia- the incentive effect inside induced by the completed task;

EiaΣEejVej-the sum of all result caused by external rewards(Robert,1971). Therefore, the primary thought highlights the incentive effect of the task itself, the expected probality and value we can get from the completed task, and aslo takes into account the incentives obtained from the reward for the completion of the task, it tells us to inspire the staff with both intrinsic and extrinsic incentives.

In the late 1960s, after Victor Vroom, the American management scientist E. Locke (EA Locke) and Hughes (CL Huse), who proposed the "Goal Setting theory" believed that to achieve a challenging goal of work is also the main excitation source of motivation. He says, the goal itself has the function of encouragement, as the goal can transfer people's needs into motivations. Therefore, people would work towards a certain direction and make comparisons between the results of their actions and the setting goal. If there are some disconnections existed, they adjust their actions to accommodate the certain aim. As the result, the goal is realized at the end. It also refers to, firstly, those goals which can be easily achieved are lack of challenge and can not mobilize the people's striving spirit effectively. Therefore, goals with a certain difficulties to be achieved need to be set, but these goals should also avoid to be set much higher beyond employees' capacity. The goals of appropriate difficulty would enhance the employees' performances properly (Locke, 1981). Secondly, the clarity of objectives similarly have an effect on the achievement of goals. Usually the abstract goals will not motivate people significantly. So a specific and concret goal would enhance the employees' performances, because of its clear and detailed direction for people to struggle, and people could find the gap between the goal and their current condition clearly. Besides that, the acceptability of goals will also influence the achievement of the goal. The aim could play its due incentive functions only when the workers accept the organizational objectives, and coordinate these goals with their own goals. For this reason, workers should be allowed to participate in the formulation of organizational goals, which can increase the acceptability of goals better than simply imposing the target on staff by the managers, in this way the staff can make efforts to achieve goals as their own affairs so as to enhance the incentive target. So when a harder aim is accepted, better results would be produced relative the setting of an easier goal.

Aslo in the late 1960s, one scholar pointed out that the fun of job itself makes the previous reward of hard work intrinsic. However, with the progressing of external rewards for work effort, it may reduce the overall level of motivation of individuals. This is the cognitive evaluation theory and with its developmemnt its latest achievement is self-consistent theory. This theory explores the consistency between the reason for the pursuit of their goals and the core value of their interests(Charms,1968). For example, if the reason for pursuing goals is also their intrinsic interest, there will be more likely to achieve goals, and even if the targets were not met, they will be aslo very happy.



Individual efforts

Individual performance

Organization rewards

Personal goal

Objective performance evaluation system


Leading needs

Fair comparison

Need for

High achievement

The internal motivition

Target behavior

The integration of contemporary incentive theory(Schuster,1993)

The modern motivition theory

The founder of the social study school, Bandura, from the angle of social study, proposed the self-efficacy theory in 1982, it is aslo called social cognitive theory. It explains the reason for the generation of motivition in a special situation. The theory refers to, when a person confronts with a special task, the feeling of it is determined by the assessment of the self-efficacy(Bandura,1997). Bandura says, generally, the person stressing low efficiency sense of his responsibility will tend to give up easily when confronting with the complex environment or negative feedback; however, the person with high efficiency sense of responsibility will redouble its effort to meet the challenges. The theory as well as points out that there are four following conditions to improve the self-efficacy:enactive mastery , vicarious modeling, verbal persuation, arousal. In conclusion, this theory is applicable to explain motivition of challenging behavior.

To support the Cognitive evaluation theory, Ryan and Deci divided the motivition of the behavior into intrinsic motivition and extrinsic motivition. The intrinsic motivition means that the person feeling very happy in this act, and regarding it as valuable behavior, so that this kind of motivition will generate sufficiently intrinsic incentives. On the contrary, the extrinsic motivition will impel the person to do something through the complishment or punishment. Then Ryan and Deci investiged that there were mainly three kind of intrinsic motivitions existed among people: the motivition of learning, the motivition of achievement, the motivition of experience stimulation. As to the result of the behavior, they refer to two parts, the one is controlling elements, the other is information elements. If there is a remarkable controlling elements, the individual will be considered as being conducted by the extrinsic motivition; otherwise, it tends to attribute the individual's act into the intrinsic motivition (Ryan, Deci, 2000). So this theory can help us recognize the different motivitions, and take acount which kind of intrinsic motivition dominates the individual's behavior and adjust the controlling factor or information factor according to the need of environment (Nucci, 2003).

Randolph says employee involvement is a process which can have a good effect on employees' performance(Randolph,2000).Through it, managers want to encourage employees making more commitments for organizations' success. This implies the logic of basis that if employees participate in the decision related to themselves, possess more autonomy for their working life, they will have more passion, satisfactory, loyalty and perform more efficiently. The traditionally representative participation refers to a small group of employees representing other employees to participate in decision-making but not all the employee participate(Heller, 1998). But "staff involved" including participation in management refers that subordinates could share decision-making authority with their supervisors in a large extent. Employee stock ownership plans proposed by Scoot is a welfare policy that employees could obtain the equity of their company. It could improve the potential of employees' satisfaction and working motivation. In order to make this potential turn into reality, staff should experience the feeling to be the master of organization psychologically. It means that employees not only possess financial shares but also have the opportunity to know the operating conditions of the organization and could affect the policy of the organization. There are evidences to show that the sense of ownership and the type of participating in management could significantly improve the organizational performance.

And researchers made a great contribution in the development of relevant concepts and positivism in the field of goal setting, procedure fairness, reform and creation, and cross-cultural influences on working performance. For instance, Greenberg has made extensive and deep research on procedure fairness and believed that working approaches or process which satisfies employers may be affected by organizational policies (Greenberg, 1990). And the same story was told in 1990s. However, there were novel theories. For instance, in terms of cultural influences on working motivations, Yamauchi and Li made a comparison of working motivation between Chinese college students and their Japanese counterparts, and they found out that Chinese students have stronger motivations in terms of working achievement than their Japanese peers (Yamauchi & Li, 1993). In the field of studying cultural, special attention should be paid to cultural differences. However, up to now, there is still lack of unified theory to guide the researches in the field of working motivations. Besides, progress also has been made in working team and it primarily includes two parts: the working design of working team composed of volunteers and the influences of goal setting made by working teams. For instance, Jin made research on the influences of different types of working teams on working motivations, and he found out that working team constituting volunteers had stronger working motivations, was more likely to make cooperation between each other, as well as had higher job satisfactions. Therefore, job performance has been enhanced both qualitatively and quantitatively (Jin, 1993).

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