An Analysis on the Definition of motivation


The term motivation is derived from the Latin word for movement (movere), means to move, push or persuade to act for satisfying a need (Butkus & Green, 1999) . Atkinson (1964) defines motivation as "the contemporary influence on direction, vigor, and persistence of action" whereas Vroom (1964) defines it as "a process governing choice made by persons...among alternative forms of voluntary activity".

Additionally, motivation is concerned with the factors that influence people to behave in certain ways. The three components of motivation as listed by Arnold et al (1991) are:

direction - what a person is trying to do;

effort - how hard a person is trying

persistence - how long a person keeps on trying.

Moreover, motivation is also defined as a set of interrelated beliefs and emotions that influence and direct behavior (Wentzel, 1999; see also Green, Martin, & Marsh, 2007; Martin, 2007, 2008a, 2008b, in press). They propose that relationships affect achievement motivation by directly influencing motivation's constituent beliefs and emotions.

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Allport (1954) referred past actions that led to positive outcomes would tend to be repeated, whereas past actions that led to negative outcomes would tend to diminish. Skinner (1953) and others argued that, over time, individuals learn contingent relationships between actions and their consequences and that these contingencies guide future behavior. Reinforcement models continue to thrive today as explanatory vehicles for understanding work motivation and job performance, as well as in the workplace in various performance management programs (Komaki, 2003).


Motivation at work can take place in two ways. First, people can motivate themselves by seeking, finding and carrying out work that satisfies their needs or leads them to expect that their goals will be achieved. Secondly, people can be motivated by management through such methods as pay, praise, etc.

There are two types of motivation as originally identified by Herzberg et al (1957):

2.1.1 Intrinsic motivation - the self-generated factors that influence people to behave in a particular way. These factors include responsibility, autonomy, scope to use and develop skills and abilities, interesting and challenging work and opportunities for advancement.

Intrinsic motivation as a predictor of performance is strongly supported by research in sports (Callahan et al., 2003 ) and educational settings (Lin et al.,2003; Vansteenkiste et al.,2004; Wang and Guthrie, 2004). Moreover, a few studies have found a positive relationship between intrinsic motivation and work performance in work organizations cited by Gagne and Deci (2005).

2.1.2 Extrinsic motivation - what is done to or for people to motivate them? This includes rewards, such as increased pay, praise, or promotion, and punishments, such as disciplinary action, withholding pay, or criticism. Extrinsic motivators can have an immediate and powerful effect, but it will not necessarily last long.

2.2 Evolution of motivation

By the 1950s, several new models of work motivation emerged, which collectively have been referred to as content theories, since their principal aim was to identify factors associated with motivation which includes Maslow's (1954) Needs theory, which suggests that, as individuals develop, they work their way up a hierarchy based on the fulfillment of a series of prioritized needs, including physiological, safety and security, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. Alderfer (1972) later adapted this model to encompass just three needs: existence, relatedness, and growth.

A second need theory of the same era, first introduced by Murray (1938) but more fully developed by McClelland (1961, 1971), ignored the concept of a hierarchy and focused instead on the motivational potency of an array of distinct and clearly defined needs, including achievement, affiliation, power, and autonomy. McClelland argued that, at any given time, individuals possess several often competing needs that serve to motivate behavior when activated. This contrasts with Maslow's notion of a steady progression over time up a hypothetical hierarchy as individuals grow and mature. Herzberg (1966; Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959) sought to understand how work activities and the nature of one's job influence motivation and performance.

In his motivation-hygiene theory, Herzberg argued that work motivation is largely influenced by the extent to which a job is intrinsically challenging and provides opportunities for recognition and reinforcement. Herzberg saw the context surrounding a job (hygiene factors) as being far more temporal in terms of leading to satisfaction and future motivation. Herzberg deserves credit for introducing the field to the role of job design as a key factor in work motivation and job attitudes. In subsequent work, Hackman and Oldham (1976) and others have extended this line of research as it relates to work design, motivation, and job performance, while others, including Deci (1975; Ryan & Deci, 2000), have articulated theories focusing specifically on task based intrinsic versus extrinsic factors in motivation (e.g. self-determination theory).

2.3 Models of motivation

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There are four well-established models of motivation:

(1) the rational-economic;

(2) the social;

(3) the self-actualizing; and

(4) the complex models.

The first three of these can be regarded as content models of motivation. Content theories of motivation try to explain the factors within persons which motivate them. The complex model introduces some aspects of the process theory of motivation.

2.3.1 The rational-economic model

This suggests that people are motivated primarily by economic self-interest, and will act to maximize their own financial and material rewards (F.W Taylor, 1947). People's motivation then can be controlled largely by offering or withholding financial rewards. Underlying this model are the assumptions that people are passive, are inclined to assert less rather than more effort, are unwilling to take responsibility, and are interested in work for what they can get out of it financially.

2.3.2 The social model

The work of Elton Mayo is famously known as "Hawthorne Experiments." This model can be summarized in the following terms (Mayo, 1975):

People at work are motivated primarily by social needs, such as the need for friendship and acceptance, and their sense of identity is formed through relationships with other people.

As a result of increased mechanization and rationalization, work has lost some of its meaning, and people increasingly seek meaning in social relationships at work.

People are more responsive to the pressures of their peer groups at work than to management controls and incentives.

People respond when management meets their needs for belonging, acceptance and sense of identity.

2.3.3 The self-actualizing model

Maslow (1970) developed the idea of self-actualization needs. According to him self-actualization is the need a person has to fulfil his or her capabilities and potential.

The model further indicates that the following motivate people:

• Human needs fall into a hierarchy from the most basic physiological needs to needs for self-actualization (Maslow, 1970). As the basic needs are met, energy is released for the satisfaction of higher needs. Everyone seeks a sense of meaning and accomplishment in their work (see Figure 1). Findikci (2006) stated that an individual's level of motivation is dependent on the material and social benefits he/she gains from the institution they work in.

• Individuals like to exercise autonomy and independence and to develop skills.

• People are primarily self-motivated and self-controlled.

•There is no inherent conflict between self-actualization and more effective organizational performance. People are happy to integrate their goals with those of the organization.

Figure 1 - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Source: Abraham H. Maslow - Towards a Psychology of Being, D. Van Nostrand Company, 1968

2.3.4 The complex model

Schein (1980) argues that the problem with each of the preceding models of human behaviour is their claim to universality and generality. Schein, instead, sees human nature as complex, with human needs and motivations varying according to the different circumstances people face, their life experience, expectations and age. People are motivated to work when they believe that they can get what they want from their jobs. This might include the satisfaction of safety needs, the excitement of doing challenging work, or the ability to set and achieve goals. Schein also introduces the concept of a psychological contract which is essentially a set of expectations on both sides and where a match is important if efforts to improve motivation are likely to be effective.

2.4 Cognitive theory

On the other hand, perhaps best known of the cognitive theories is expectancy theory.

Expectancy theory derives from the early work of Lewin (1938) and Tolman (1959), who saw behavior as purposeful, goal directed, and largely based on conscious intentions. Vroom (1964) presented the first systematic formulation of expectancy theory as it related to the workplace. He argued that employees tend to rationally evaluate various on-the-job work behaviors (e.g., working harder) and then choose those behaviors they believe will lead to their most valued work-related rewards and outcomes (e.g., a promotion).

On the other hand, Porter and Lawler (1968) expanded Vroom's initial work to recognize the role of individual differences (e.g., employee abilities and skills) and role clarity in linking job effort to actual job performance. They also clarified the relationship between performance and subsequent satisfaction, arguing that this relationship is mediated by the extent and quality of the rewards employees receive in exchange for good job performance. That is, if superior performance in the past failed to lead to superior rewards, future employee effort may suffer as incentives and the reward system lose credibility in the employee's eyes.

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Since its initial publication, a number of scholars have worked to extend or further refine the basic cognitive expectancy framework to reflect emerging research findings and new theoretical developments (e.g., Kanfer, 1990; Mitchell, 1997). For example, expectancy theory has been used to study forms of work behavior other than job performance, including employee absenteeism, turnover, and organizational citizenship behavior (Mobley, 1977; Mowday, Porter, & Steers, 1982; Organ, 1988; Porter & Steers, 1973; Steers & Rhodes, 1978). Researchers have also linked group expectations and social influences to individual work motivation decisions (Porter, Lawler, & Hackman, 1975). Finally, basic expectancy principles have been incorporated into several emerging models of cross-cultural influences on work motivation and job performance (Bhagat & McQuaid, 1982; Earley, 1997; Steers & Sanchez-Runde, 2001; Triandis, 1995).

In addition to expectancy theory, another cognitive theory of work motivation has been the Equity theory. Adams (1963) introduced equity theory to explain how employees respond both cognitively and behaviorally to perceived unfairness in the workplace (Mowday & Colwell, 2003, and Weick, Bougon, & Maruyama, 1976). Stajkovic and Luthans (1998, 2003) found considerable support for the role of self-efficacy in determining work-related performance, particularly as moderated by task complexity and locus of control.

2.5 Frederick Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory:

Herzberg et al. (1957) argued that satisfiers or motivators are closely related to self-actualization needs. Motivators include the work itself, recognition, advancement and responsibility. Motivators are intrinsic factors directly related to the job and largely internal to the individual. Dissatisfiers or hygiene factors relate to Maslow's lower level needs. These include company policy and administration, salary, working conditions and interpersonal relations. Hygienes are extrinsic factors, which the organization largely determines and improvement in these dissatisfiers would remove dissatisfaction, but would not elicit positive motivation. Positive motivation comes only from accomplishing a meaningful and challenging task.

Herzberg devised his theory on the question: "What do people want from their jobs?" Later, he concluded that opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction. Removing dissatisfying characteristics from a job does not necessarily make the job satisfying. He states that presence of certain factors in the organization is natural and the presence of the same does not lead to motivation. However, their non presence leads to demotivation. In similar manner there are certain factors, the absence of which causes no dissatisfaction, but their presence has motivational impact.

Hertzberg's study is recognized to have some limitations. The results obtained from his study by professional workers may not be applicable to all groups. Moreover, he uses satisfaction and motivation as interchangeable, and there is an embedded assumption that increased satisfaction leads to increased motivation and this is not always the case. Nevertheless, the distinction between satisfiers and dissatisfiers is useful, and the recognition that some factors contribute to positive motivation while others can only minimize dissatisfaction is important.

2.5.1 Reservations about Herzberg's theory

Herzberg's two-factor model has been criticized because no attempt was made to measure the relationship between satisfaction and performance. The Herzberg theory continues to thrive; partly because for the layman it is easy to understand and seems to be based on 'real-life' rather than academic abstraction, and partly because it fits in well with the highly respected ideas of Maslow (1954) and McGregor (1960) in its emphasis on the positive value of the intrinsic motivating factors.

2.6 Financial rewards

Lecturers are appointed to a single salary scale. Their position on that scale is determined by their qualifications and experience, and possibly previous salary, at the time of their appointment. Progression through the scale is by annual increments. In some institutions additional increments may be awarded for special achievements. In some subject areas, notably the professional disciplines, it is possible for academic staff to earn additional income by participation in external, income-generating activities, but arrangements surrounding these opportunities vary between institutions. Deeprose (1994) examined that the effective reward system improve employee motivation and increases employee productivity which contribute to better enhanced organizational performance.

2.7 The culture of teaching and higher education

Higher education is by culture a developmental environment. All staff have a significant role as lecturers, and are subject to the person-to-person pressure to perform that is inherent in this contact. Most staff gain gratification from working with students and witnessing the achievement and development of those students. This is associated with having a professional pride in their work. It is important for them to be accepted by the students when they work as a leader and facilitator. Frustration may develop from dissatisfiers which prevent lecturers from doing a good job towards quality education, including poor timetable organization, inadequate maintenance of educational equipment, or too many assorted demands on their time. A key task of the teacher is to ensure the motivation of students (Deniz et al., 2006). Once achieved this links directly to the teacher's own motivation level.

2.8 Diversity of lecturer experience and roles

It is easy to view the lecturer in higher education as a body, and to seek to introduce motivation and rewards for the body as a whole. It is important to recognize that lecturers are motivated by different factors, depending on their length of service in higher education, their other work experience, their age, their aspirations with respect to career development and the relative priorities which they attach to achievement and social factors, such as their personal life and being accepted as a team member.

2.9 Strategies for motivation

In an environment where there is already a strong culture of quality education, strategies of motivation to support self actualization and growth are strong contenders. These include the following:

2.9.1 Opportunities for personal development

It includes:

experience in teaching different groups of students;

visiting students on work placement;

research and publishing activities;


study for higher degrees;

attendance at conferences and workshops;

management/team leadership experience;

training in teaching and/or management skills.

2.9.2 Managing dissatisfiers

The manager has a significant role in eliminating or reducing dissatisfiers. This is often achieved through negotiation and allocation of resources. This must clearly be achieved within organizational constraints, and where it is not possible to modify the dissatisfiers, managers should seek to eliminate their effects and communicate the constraints. For example, currently all funding to higher education institutions is based on student numbers. Lecturers need to appreciate that staffing resources in specific subject areas are determined by such criteria and not by the number of teaching or contact hours. Communication is necessary to ensure that staff expectations change with the changes in the environment.

2.9.3 The financial dimension

The usual strategies for financial motivation are performance-related pay and promotion. Such strategies are not usually within the control of the individual head of department and will be controlled by institutional norms and Funding Council initiatives. Thus, when the opportunity arises, these strategies can be used by the individual manager to encourage motivation, but their intermittent and uncontrollable nature presents a lot of problems.

2.10 Motivation through Rewards

Managers have found that rewards play a significant role in motivating employees to work harder and longer. This section, therefore, attempts to identify the numerous types for rewards that can be administered by managers.

There are two types of rewards: Extrinsic and Intrinsic.

Extrinsic rewards are external outcomes granted to someone by others, such as money, employee benefits, promotions, recognition, status symbols, and praise. In other words, this kind of reward is provided by another person or by organizational system to individuals.

In contrast, intrinsic reward derives internally from individuals and can be experienced through their work, such as the feelings of competency, sense of accomplishment, personal development and self-esteem. The importance of being self-administered offers great advantages and power of "motivating from within".

Training and development

"Training is the systematic modification of behavior through learning which occurs as a result of education, instruction, development and planned experience." Gong et al.(1998) stated that quality starts and improves with training. Hence, training acts as an intrinsic motivator, develops the competences of employees and improves their performance. Garvin (1987) examined the impact of training on performance and found that in manufacturing units, quality oriented and job-specific training helps to achieve higher levels of quality in outputs and productivity.

2.11 Definition of Quality Education

Despite the prominence of "quality" as the motivating factor for educational planning, approaches to quality can vary widely. In fact, "quality" is mostly used in a detached way, assuming consensus both on what the term means and on the desirability of the various educational aims and approaches promoted under the banner of quality. Whether explicit or implicit, a vision of educational quality is always embedded within countries' policies and programs. The term "quality" is derived from the latin word "qualitas", which means the degree of excellence of a thing (Oxford Dictionary, 2003).

Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that States are requested to recognize that education should be directed at developing the child's personality and talents, preparing the child for active life as an adult, fostering respect for basic human rights and developing respect for the child's own cultural and national values and those of others (United Nations, 1989). Therefore, everyone has the right not only to receive education, but also to receive education of high quality.

"Quality of education" has been described as the success with which an institution provides educational environments which enable students effectively to achieve worthwhile learning goals including appropriate academic standards (Gordon and Partington, 1993).

Nightingale and O'Neil (1994) suggest that in looking for a meaningful definition of quality in learning among higher education, education should be looked as a transformative process involving a change in roles of the student and the teacher, and geared to an assumption of quality being part of a continuous improvement process. Teaching Experience other studies of the effects of teacher on student learning have found a relationship between teachers' effectiveness and their years of experience (Hammond, 2000).

2.12 Visions of quality for education

Harvey (1995) provides a useful framework for thinking about quality by outlining five goals for education that define the vision of quality within individual systems. Education systems vary in emphasizing a single vision or, more commonly, a mixture of the five goals:

Education quality as exceptionality

Education quality as consistency

Education quality as fitness-for-purpose

Education quality as value for money

Education quality as transformative potential (Kubow and Fossum 2003).

2.13 Approaches to quality education

The 2005 EFA Monitoring Report: The Quality Imperative points out that "agreement about the objectives and aims of education will frame any discussion of quality and that such agreement embodies moral, political, and epistemological issues that are frequently invisible or ignored" (UNESCO 2004, p. 37). The report further emphasizes that different notions of quality are associated with different educational traditions and approaches:

2.13.1 The humanist approach

It is one of the precursors of constructivism, focuses on learners constructing their own meanings and integrating theory and practice as a basis for social action. Quality within this tradition is interpreted as the extent to which learners translate learning into social action.

2.13.2 The behaviorist approach

It means heading in another direction and assumes that students must be led and their behavior controlled to specific ends, with quality measured in precise, incremental learning terms.

2.13.3 Critical approaches

On the other hand, focus on inequality in access to and outcomes of education and on education's role in legitimising and reproducing existing social structures. Quality education within this tradition is seen as prompting social change, encouraging critical analysis of social power relations, and ensuring that learners participate actively in the design of their learning experience.

2.13.4 Indigenous approaches

This approach to quality reject mainstream education imported from the centers of power, assure relevance to local content, and include the knowledge of the whole community (UNESCO 2004, pp. 32-35).

Whatever the broader vision of quality, most countries' policies define two key elements as the basis of quality: students' cognitive development and social/creative/ emotional development. (UNESCO 2004, p.29).

Sculley's (1988) prediction about the global renaissance of higher education is reassuring since he sees 'every person and every culture, as well as every country's educational institutions, having much to teach and much to learn'.

2.14 Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education

The quality assurance in tertiary education has been described by Bogue and Saunders (1992) as a process and practice primarily concerned with 'conformance to mission specifications and goal achievement within the publicly accepted standards of accountability and integrity'.

Frazer (1992), who has classified prevailing quality assurance systems, on the basis of their ownership and funding, into university-owned, governmental and non-governmental systems, adopted another approach. From this perspective, ownership is seen to influence the level of institutional autonomy fostered, the value placed on academic freedom, the extent of external political control and the extent of faculty commitment to the quality assurance systems (Gaither, 1998).

Tertiary institutions are not unlike other organisations. They rely on quality of service to their customers, i.e. students, in order to remain competitive. Quality in tertiary education is not interested only in tangibles such as lecture venues, course materials and the like. It is also heavily dependent on the institution's human resources to provide a good service to its customers (Yeo, 2009). Acosta (2000) states that university teaching usually takes the form of one of three methods: the lecture; tutorial work; and practical and projects.

In order to stimulate involvement in class discussions some lecturers employ formal mechanisms for grading participation (Maznevski, 1996). However, lecturers should explain to students the value of engaging in a brainstorming phase as a stepping stone towards class discussion. Chong and Farago (1999) claimed that visual images are idea catalysts for discussion in the multicultural classroom and hence a key element in the transformation process toward inclusive instruction, thus making an effort to search for relevant video-clips to be shown during workshops, tools which are very powerful in triggering class debates.

High-quality interaction and active participation, however, cannot be achieved through good intentions, or mere administrative decree, alone. Good relationships among students and a good rapport between the students and the lecturer are a conditio sine qua non to creating an environment of comfort, trust and mutual respect, in which open discussion, exchange and examination of ideas, as well as active participation are not inhibited by fear (Billingsley, 1999).

Tompson and Tompson (1996) observed, the idea that of without trusting relationships learning is stunted finds theoretical support in Maslow's model of 'hierarchy of needs', according to which individuals are unlikely to engage in self-actualization activities, such as challenging intellectual debates and discussions, unless security, social and esteem needs have already been satisfied. They also suggested a number of strategies such as ice-breaking activities, clear communication, non-threatening atmosphere etc aimed at facilitating students' adjustment and social integration and hence at fostering trusting relationships across differences.

2.16 Learning and teaching styles

When considering the quality of teaching in higher education, one needs to resist the temptation of seeking simplistic and single dimensional classifications, rankings and explanations. The notion of quality is not a simple one; rather it is problematic, contested and multidimensional and requires examination at institutional, departmental and individual levels (Elton, 1998).

It has been argued that many of the factors contributing to high quality education are related to particular teaching and learning styles. The empirical work of Lammers and Murphy (2002), who studied the delivery of sessions in a range of academic disciplines in a US university, indicated that lecturers had a role in giving information. Effective higher education involves the appropriate blend of physical factors such as the course characteristics and classroom arrangement and "instructor factors" such as enthusiasm, expertise and teaching style. Many students usually value lecturers who are encouraging, constructive and positive and transmit enthusiasm for their subject.

Other key "style" factors which are crucial to the complex interactions of higher education are considered to be democratic participation and transformative, collaborative and critical learning that values and encourages diversity (D'Andrea and Gosling, 2001).

2.17 The student/ lecturer relationship

Andreson (2000) emphasises on the importance of interactions and stresses that students' engagement with the subject and the passion and enthusiasm conveyed to them by lecturers. This passion and enthusiasm helps to demonstrate to students that the lecturer cares about them and that there is concern about their intellectual growth. However, there are worries amongst many academics that the increase in student numbers in higher education (Gibbs, 2001), with the consequent greater use of e-learning and resource-based learning, will adversely affect the student/lecturer relationship. This is because it is considered to be far more difficult to impart enthusiasm and passion through a computer programme than it is with face-to-face contact (Nixon et al., 1998).

Andreson (2000) and Nixon et al. (1998) also argue that the nexus between teaching and research is highly influential. Research provides an added dimension to teaching and allows the development of a collaborative relationship between lecturer and students within a learning community. In such a community the subject is therefore more likely to be accessible and transparent to the student.

Hill and MacGregor (1998) similarly found that students are greatly supported by those lecturers who are an integral part of their learning experiences and who actively collaborate in the learning process. The importance of lecturer/student interaction and how students welcome lecturers who are "easy to be with" and who help them to learn is essential. Morton-Cooper and Palmer (1993) argue that students particularly value traits of responsiveness and trustworthiness in their lecturers.

On the other hand, Rowland et al. (1998) reject the notion of an automatic synergistic relationship between teaching and research, arguing that they do not necessarily complement each other. They identified a reconceptualisation of the role of academic staff with an increasing separation of research and teaching. This has been largely due to differential funding and an emphasis on research and teaching as two distinct and unrelated functions. This dichotomy has developed through the financial imperative of achieving the highest possible research assessment exercise scores and, contrarily the exhortations of staff development and education development units for staff to improve their teaching skills.

Elton (1998) regards high teaching quality as quite essential to excellence in higher education. He argues that there has to be change in attitudes amongst certain academics who believe that their main task is to profess their discipline. Such academics consider that they are professors or lecturers rather than teachers or facilitators of learning. Elton believes that, first teaching involves adequate and appropriate proficiency in organisation, presentation, assessment and evaluation. Having gained competence in these areas, the journey towards teaching excellence then involves the development of dimensions of individual excellence such as empathy, self-reflection, innovation and pedagogic and subject research. He argues that a fundamental prerequisite for teaching excellence is a trained teaching profession.

Goldenberg and Dietrich (2002) argue that the educational experience must be evaluated more broadly than behavioural outcomes. Likewise, there is also the need for a positive atmosphere that goes beyond the need of a well-structured lesson and pleasant learning environment. They recommend a more humanistic/educative approach for a quality experience. They explain how students want to find meaning and significance in authentic personal experiences. It seems that it is the quality of the interaction that leads to the quality of the learning experience where lecturer/student and student/student relationships are the key.