Motivating and rewarding employees is one of the most important and one of the most challenging activities that managers perform. Successful managers, such as Angel Lorenzo, in our chapter-opening Manager’s Dilemma, understand that what motivates them personally may have little or no effect on others. Just because you’re motivated by being part of a cohesive work team, don’t assume everyone is. Or just because you’re motivated by challenging work doesn’t mean that everyone is. Effective managers who want their employees to put forth maximum effort recognize that they need to know how and why employees are motivated and to tailor their motivational practices to satisfy the needs and wants of those employees. To understand what motivation is, let’s begin by pointing out what motivation is not. Why? Because many people incorrectly view motivation as a personal trait—that is, a trait that some people have and others don’t. Although in reality a manager might describe a certain employee as unmotivated, our knowledge of motivation tells us that we can’t label people that way. What we do know is that motivation is the result of the interaction between the person and the situation. Certainly, individuals differ in motivational drive, but overall motivation varies from situation to situation. As we analyze the concept of motivation, keep in mind that the level of motivation varies both between individuals and within individuals at different times. Motivation is the willingness to exert high levels of effort to reach organizational goals, conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some individual need. Although, in general, motivation refers to effort exerted toward any goal, we’re referring to organizational goals because our focus is on work-related behavior. Three key elements can be seen in this definition: effort, organizational goals, and needs. The effort element is a measure of intensity or drive. A motivated person tries hard. But high levels of effort are unlikely to lead to favorable job performance unless the effort is channeled in a direction that benefits the organization. Therefore, we must consider the quality of the effort as well as its intensity. Effort that is directed toward, and consistent with, organizational goals is the kind of effort that we should be seeking. Finally, we will treat motivation as a need-satisfying process. A need refers to some internal state that makes certain outcomes appear attractive. An unsatisfied need creates tension that stimulates drives within an individual. These drives lead to a search behavior to find particular goals that, if attained, will satisfy the need and reduce the tension.

We can say that motivated employees are in a state of tension. To relieve this tension, they exert effort. The greater the tension, the higher the effort level. If this effort leads to need satisfaction, it reduces tension. Because we’re interested in work behavior, this tension-reduction effort must also be directed toward organizational goals. Therefore, inherent in our definition of motivation is the requirement that the individual’s needs be compatible with the organization’s goals. When the two don’t match, individuals may exert high levels of effort that run counter to the interests of the organization. Incidentally, this isn’t all that unusual. Some employees regularly spend a lot of time talking with friends at work to satisfy their social need. There’s a high level of effort but little being done in the way of work.

Motivating high levels of employee performance is an important organizational consideration. Both academic researchers and practicing managers have been trying to understand and explain employee motivation for years. In this chapter, we’re going to first look at the early motivation theories and then at the contemporary theories. We’ll finish by looking at some current issues in motivation and then providing some practical suggestions managers can use in motivating employees

Work motivation explains why workers behave as they do. Four prominent theories about work motivation—need theory, expectancy theory, equity theory, and procedural justice theory—provide complementary approaches to understanding and managing motivation in organizations. Each theory answers different questions about the motivational process.

1.  Work motivation refers to the psychological forces within a person that determine the direction of the person’s behavior, level of effort, and level of performance in an organization in the face of obstacles. Motivation is distinct from performance; other factors besides motivation (e.g., ability and task difficulty) influence performance.

2.  Intrinsically motivated behavior is behavior performed for its own sake. Extrinsically motivated behavior is behavior performed to acquire material or social rewards or to avoid punishment.

3.  Need theory, expectancy theory, equity theory, and procedural justice theory are complementary approaches to understanding motivation. Each answers different questions about the nature and management of motivation in organizations.

4.  Need theories of motivation identify the needs that workers are motivated to satisfy on the job. Two major need theories of motivation are Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Alderfer’s existencerelatedness-growth theory.

5.  Expectancy theory focuses on how workers decide what behaviors to engage in on the job and how much effort to exert. The three concepts in expectancy theory are valence (how desirable an outcome is to a worker), instrumentality (a worker’s perception about the extent to which a certain level of performance will lead to the attainment of a particular outcome), and expectancy (a worker’s perception about the extent to which effort will result in a certain level of performance). Valence, instrumentality, and expectancy combine to determine motivation.

6.  Equity theory proposes that workers compare their own outcome/input ratio (the ratio of the outcomes they receive from their jobs and from the organization to the inputs they contribute) to the outcome/input ratio of a referent. Unequal ratios create tension inside the worker, and the worker is motivated to restore equity. When the ratios are equal, workers are motivated to maintain their current ratio of outcomes and inputs if they want their outcomes to increase.

7.  Procedural justice theory is concerned with perceived fairness of the procedures used to make decisions about inputs, performance, and distribution of outcomes. How managers treat their subordinates and the extent to which they provide explanations for their decisions influence workers’ perceptions of procedural justice. When procedural justice is perceived to be low, motivation suffers because workers are not sure that their inputs and performance levels will be accurately assessed or that outcomes will be distributed in a fair manner.

Motivation “A state of mind, desire, energy or interest that translates into action”

or “The inner drive that directs a person’s behavior toward goals”

Motivation is central to understanding and managing organizational behavior because it influences workers’ behaviors, workers’ level of effort, and their persistence in the face of obstacles. This chapter discusses the differences between motivation and performance and between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Several theories of work motivation are described: need theory, expectancy theory, equity theory, and procedural justice theory.

Defining Motivation

“The processes that account for an individual’s intensity, direction and persistence of effort toward attaining a goal”

Key Elements

Intensity: how hard a person tries. Intensity is concerned with how hard a person tries. This is the element most of us focus on when we talk about motivation. Direction: toward beneficial goal. Direction is the orientation that benefits the organization.

Persistence: how long a person tries. Persistence is a measure of how long a person can maintain his/her effort. Motivated individuals stay with a task long enough to achieve their goal.

Motivational Theories

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Need theory is actually a collection of theories that focus on workers’ needs as the sources of motivation. Need theories propose that workers seek to satisfy many of their needs at work, so their behavior at work is oriented toward need satisfaction. A need is a requirement for survival and well-being. Previous chapters have described two theories, Hertzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory and McClelland’s descriptions of the needs for achievement, affiliation, and power. Two other content theories will be discussed, the theories of Abraham Maslow and Clay Alderfer.

Maslow suggested that all people seek to satisfy the same five needs—physiological needs, safety needs, need to belong, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. Maslow proposed that the needs be arranged in a hierarchy of importance, with the most basic or compelling needs—physiological and safety needs—at the bottom. Basic needs must be satisfied before an individual seeks to satisfy higher needs in the hierarchy. Maslow argued that once a need is satisfied, it is no longer a source of motivation. Maslow’s theory helps managers understand that workers’ needs differ and that motivation for one worker is not motivation for another. Managers must identify a worker’s needs and ensure satisfaction of these needs if desired behaviors are performed.

Organizations can help workers who are at different levels in Maslow’s hierarchy satisfy personal needs while also achieving organizational goals and a competitive advantage. Realizing that researchers wanted to feel proud of their work, the Unocal Corporation instituted Creativity Week to recognize scientists whose projects benefit the organization. While meeting the esteem needs of its scientists, Unocal also reinforces its goal of innovation.

1.  Physiological needs: food, drink, shelter, sexual satisfaction, and other physical requirements.

2.  Safety needs: security and protection from physical and emotional harm, as well as assurance that physical needs will continue to be met.

3.  Social needs: affection, belongingness, acceptance, and friendship.

4.  Esteem needs: internal esteem factors such as self-respect, autonomy, and achievement and external esteem factors such as status, recognition, and attention.

5.  Self-actualization needs: growth, achieving one’s potential, and self-fulfillment; the drive to become what one is capable of becoming.

In terms of motivation, Maslow argued that each level in the hierarchy must be substantially satisfied before the next is activated and that once a need is substantially satisfied it no longer motivates behavior. In other words, as each need is substantially satisfied, the next need becomes dominant. In terms of the individual moves up the needs hierarchy. From the standpoint of motivation, Maslow’s theory proposed that, although no need is ever fully satisfied, a substantially satisfied need will no longer motivate an individual. If you want to motivate someone, according to Maslow, you need to understand what level that person is on in the hierarchy and focus on satisfying needs at or above that level. Managers who accepted Maslow’s hierarchy attempted to change their organizations and management practices so that employees’ needs could be satisfied.

organizational behavior  MOTIVATION THE BASIC CONCEPT

In addition, Maslow separated the five needs into higher and lower levels. Physiological and safety needs were described as lower-order needs; social, esteem, and self-actualization were described as higher-order needs. The difference between the two levels was made on the premise that higher-order needs are satisfied internally while lower-order needs are predominantly satisfied externally. In fact, the natural conclusion from Maslow’s classification is that, in times of economic prosperity, almost all permanently employed workers have their lower-order needs substantially met.

Maslow’s need theory received wide recognition, especially among practicing managers during the 1960s and 1970s. This recognition can be attributed to the theory’s intuitive logic and ease of understanding. Unfortunately, however, research hasn’t generally validated the theory. Maslow provided no empirical support for his theory, and several studies that sought to validate it could not.

Basic assumptions

  • Once a need is satisfied, its role Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs declines
  • Needs are complex, with multiple needs acting simultaneously
  • Lower level needs must be satiated before higher level needs are activated
  • Individual and environment influence employee behavior
  • Individuals decide behavior, although environment can place constraints
  • Individuals have different needs/goals
  • Decide among alternatives based on perception of behavior leading to desired outcome
  • More ways exist to satisfy higher level needs

Alderfer’s ERG Theory

Clayton Alderfer’s existence-relatedness-growth (ERG) theory is also a need theory of work motivation. Alderfer reduces the number of needs from five to three and states that needs at more than one level can be motivators at any time. Like Maslow, Alderfer proposes a hierarchy of needs. Yet, he believes that when an individual has difficulty satisfying a higher-level need, motivation to satisfy lower-level needs increase A three-level hierarchical need theory of motivation that allows for movement up and down the hierarchy.

  • Existence Needs
  • Relatedness Needs
  • Growth Needs

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGregor is best known for his formulation of two sets of assumptions about human nature: Theory X and Theory Y. Very simply, Theory X presents an essentially negative view of people. It assumes that workers have little ambition, dislike work, want to avoid responsibility, and need to be closely controlled to work effectively. Theory Y offers a positive view. It assumes that workers can exercise self-direction, accept and actually seek out responsibility, and consider work to be a natural activity. McGregor believed that Theory Y assumptions better captured the true nature of workers and should guide management practice.

What did McGregor’s analysis imply about motivation? The answer is best expressed in the framework presented by Maslow. Theory X assumed that lower-order needs dominated individuals, and Theory Y assumed that higher-order needs dominated. McGregor himself held to the belief that the assumptions of Theory Y were more valid than those of Theory X. Therefore, he proposed that participation in decision making, responsible and challenging jobs, and good group relations would maximize employee motivation.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence to confirm that either set of assumptions is valid or that accepting Theory Y assumptions and altering your actions accordingly will make employees more motivated.

Under Theory X, the four assumptions held by managers are:

  • Employees inherently dislike work and, whenever possible, will attempt to avoid it.
  • Since employees dislike work, they must be coerced, controlled, or threatened with punishment to achieve goals.
  • Employee will avoid responsibilities and seek formal direction whenever possible.

Under Theory Y, the assumptions are:

  • Employees can view work as being as natural as rest or play.
  • People will exercise self-direction and self-control if they are committed to the objectives.
  • The average person can learn to accept, even seek, responsibility.
  • The ability to make innovative decisions is widely spread throughout the population and is not necessarily the sole responsibility of those in management positions.

Theory Z

“A management philosophy that stresses employee participation in all aspects of

company decision-making”

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