Session 14-15: Motivation

Motivation is a strong driving force. Hence, it is the most researched and worked topic in the organizational behavior. Motivation is the processes that account for an individual’s intensity, direction and persistence of effort toward attaining a goal.

Here the goal is defined in the context of organization.

There are three major points in the definition of motivation. They are;

Intensity: how hard a person tries?

Direction: how the effort is channeled?

Persistence: how long a person can keep trying for the goal?

Motivation is an intangible concept which requires you to look at various theories to understand it is better.

Classification of motives

  1. Primary Motives

Primary motives are essential for survival. They must be satisfied first before we can take up any other activity. Primary motives come to action when the physio­logical balance of the body is upset. This balance is called homeostasis. Examples are hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, maternal drive and so on

  1. Secondary Motives

Human life has not only just biological aspect but also social aspect. Hence human behavior is activated by the following social motives. Achievement motive, Affiliation motives, Aggression motives, Power motives, Curiosity motives are some of the examples. These are called social motives since they develop as a result of relationships with people.

The approaches/theories of motivation is basically divided into two and they are; Content and process theories.

Content theories of motivation deal with what motivates an individual

Process theories of motivation deal with the process behind the motivation. In essence, it says, how it motivated someone.

Another way of classifying motivation is chronological mode; early theories and contemporary theories. However, the note here takes the former approach of dividing it into content and process theories.

 i. Content theories of motivation

  1. Hierarchy of needs theory

The popular theory of motivation is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The theory postulates that within every human being, there is a hierarchy of five needs. Recently, a sixth need has been proposed for highest level-intrinsic values. The original five needs are;

Physiological: Includes hunger, thirst, shelter, sex and other bodily needs

Safety-security-Security and protection from physical and emotional harm

Social belongingness-Affection, belongingness, acceptance and friendship

Esteem-Internal factors such as self-respect, autonomy and achievement and external factors such as status, recognition and attention

Self- actualization: Drive to become what we are capable of becoming; includes growth, achieving our potential and self-fulfillment.

The concept of satisfaction progression hypothesis-Moving up to higher-level needs based on satisfied needs.

With Maslow, satisfaction-progression plays an important part. Individuals move up the need hierarchy as a result of satisfying lower order needs. In Alderfer’s ERG theory, this isn’t necessarily so. The progression upward from relatedness satisfaction to growth desires does not presume the satisfaction of a person’s existence needs.

  2. ERG theory of Motivation

To bring Maslow’s need hierarchy theory of motivation in synchronization with empirical research, Clayton Alderfer redefined it in his own terms. His rework is called as ERG theory of motivation. He re-categorized Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into three simpler and broader classes of needs:

  • Existence needs-These include need for basic material necessities. In short, it includes an individual’s physiological and physical safety needs.
  • Relatedness needs-These include the aspiration individuals have for maintaining significant interpersonal relationships (be it with family, peers or superiors), getting public fame and recognition. Maslow’s social needs and external component of esteem needs fall under this class of need.
  • Growth needs-These include need for self-development and personal growth and advancement. Maslow’s self-actualization needs and intrinsic component of esteem needs fall under this category of need.

Existence needs are the most concrete, and easiest to verify. Relatedness needs are less concrete than existence needs, which depend on a relationship between two or more people. Finally, growth needs are the least concrete in that their specific objectives depend on the uniqueness of each person.

Frustration-regression hypothesis- If a higher level need remains unfulfilled, a person may regress to lower level needs that appear easier to satisfy.
Frustration-regression suggests that an already satisfied need can become active when a higher need cannot be satisfied. Thus, if a person is continually frustrated in his/her attempts to satisfy growth, relatedness needs can resurface as key motivators.

3. Two factor theory

It is a theory that relates intrinsic factors to job satisfaction and associates extrinsic factors with dissatisfaction. It is also called motivation-hygiene theory.

What is intrinsic factor? Factors such as advancement, recognition, responsibility and achievement are referred to as intrinsic factors. If you look at them, they are all part of the job itself and not external to the job.

Extrinsic factors are the factors associated with supervision, pay, company policies, and work conditions. The factors which are not job related but externally associated to the job is extrinsic factors.

Intrinsic factors are also called as motivators and extrinsic factors are also called hygiene/maintenance factors.

The basic idea of two-factor theory is that, presence of motivator results in satisfaction/motivation and absence results in no satisfaction/motivation but it is not dissatisfaction.

However, presence of hygiene factors results in no dissatisfaction (it is not satisfaction) and absence creates in dissatisfaction.

Hence, satisfaction is not the opposite of dissatisfaction. Satisfaction is opposed to no satisfaction. Similarly, dissatisfaction is opposite of no dissatisfaction.

The factors that lead to job satisfaction are separate and distinct from those that lead to job dissatisfaction. Therefore, managers who seek to eliminate factors that can create job dissatisfaction may bring about peace but not necessarily motivation. If we need to motivate people, we need to provide an environment for intrinsic factors.

However, two-factor theory is not well supported with research. Because if someone finds both type of factors are equally important, this theory cannot be applied.

4. McClelland’s theory of needs (Early theories)

It is a theory that states achievement, power and affiliation are three important needs that help explain motivation. Basically, the theory helps us understand what dominates in motivating an individual.

Need for achievement (nAch): it is the drive to excel, to achieve in relationship to a set of standards

Need for power (nPow): It is the need to make others behave in a way they would not have otherwise.

Need for affiliation (nAff): it is the desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships

If you look at McClelland and subsequent researchers focused most of their attention on nAch. High achievers perform best when there is a 50-50 chance for succeeding. Based on prior nAchreseach, we can predict some relationships between nAch and job performance. They tend to exhibit positive moods and be more interested in the task at hand. Employees high on nAch tend to perform very well in high-stakes conditions on the job, like work walkthroughs or sales encounters. Like nAch, nPow and nAff also has sufficient research support to understand the behavior. In fact, there are evidences to show that the dominant need determines ones personality eventually. nAff results in more agreeableness and neuroticism.

5. McGregor’s theory X and theory Y

Douglas McGregor, through his well-known “Theory X and Theory Y,” drew a distinction between the assumptions about human motivation which underlie these two approaches, to this effect:

  1. Theory X assumes that people dislike work and must be coerced, controlled, and directed toward organizational goals. Furthermore, most people prefer to be treated this way, so they can avoid responsibility.
  • Theory Y—the integration of goals—emphasizes the average person’s intrinsic interest in his work, his desire to be self-directing and to seek responsibility, and his capacity to be creative in solving business problems.

It is McGregor’s conclusion, of course, that the latter approach to organization is the more desirable one for managers to follow.

   ii. Process theories of motivation

 1. Expectancy theory

Best accepted theory of motivation is Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory. This theory claims that the strength of our tendency to act a certain way depends on the strength of our expectation of a given outcome and its attractiveness.

In practical terms, employees will be motivated to exert a high level of effort when they believe that it will lead to a good performance appraisal, that a good appraisal will lead to organizational rewards such as salary increases and/or intrinsic rewards and that the rewards will satisfy their personal goals. The theory therefore focuses on three relationships:

a) Expectancy: the effort-performance relationship- the probability perceived by the individual that exerting a given amount of effort will lead to performance.

b) Instrumentality: the performance-reward relationship-the degree to which the individual believes performing at a particular level will lead to the attainment of a desired outcome.

c) Valence-the rewards-personal goals relationship-the degree to which organizational rewards satisfy an individual’s personal goals or needs and the attractiveness of those potential rewards for the individual.

Expectancy theories helps explain why a lot of workers aren’t motivated on their jobs and do only the minimum necessary to get by. Let us look at the example;

First, if I give maximum effort, will it be recognized in my performance appraisal? For many employees, the answer is no. why? Their skill level may be deficient which means no matter how had they try, they are not likely to be high performers. Or the organization’s performance appraisal system may be designed to assess nonperformance factors such as loyalty, initiative or courage which means more effort won’t necessarily result in a higher evaluation. Another possibility is that employees, rightly or wrongly, perceive the boss doesn’t like them. Thus, they expect a poor appraisal, regardless of effort. These examples suggest that people will be motivated only if they perceive a link between their effort and their performance.

Second, if I get good performance appraisal, will it lead to organizational rewards? Many organizations reward things besides performance. When pay is based on factors such as having seniority, being cooperative or “kissing up” to the boss, employees are likely to see the performance-reward relationship as weak and demotivating.

Finally, if I am rewarded, are the rewards attractive to me? The employee works hard in the hope of getting a promotion but gets pay raise instead. Or the employee wants a more interesting and challenging job but receives only a few words of praise. Unfortunately, many managers are limited in the rewards they can distribute, which make it difficult to tailor rewards to individual employee needs. Some managers incorrectly assume all employees want the same thing, thus overlooking the motivational effects of differentiating rewards. In these cases, employee motivation is not maximized.

2. Equity theory/Organizational Justice

It is a theory stating that individuals compare their job inputs and outcomes with those of others and then respond to eliminate any inequities. According to equity theory, employees compare what they get from their job (their outcomes such as pay, promotions, recognition or a bigger office) to what they put into it (their inputs such as effort, experience and education). They take the ratio of their outcomes to their inputs and compare it to the ratio of others, usually someone similar like a coworker or someone doing the same job. If we believe our ratio is equal to those with whom we compare ourselves, a state of equity exists and we perceive our situation as fair.

Ratio comparisons

Based on equity theory, employees who perceive inequity will make one of the six choices;

  1. Change inputs-exert less effort if underpaid or more if overpaid
  2. Change outcomes- individuals paid on a peace rate basis can increase their pay by producing higher quantity of units of lower quality.
  3. Distort perceptions of self- I used to think I worked at moderate pace, but now I realize I work a lot harder than everyone else.
  4. Distort perceptions of others- mike’s job isn’t as desirable as I thought.
  5. Choose a different referent- I may not make as much as my brother in law but I am doing a lot better than my dad did when he was my age.
  6. Leave the field-quitting the job.

Concerns about equity theory

It is not a well-supported approach due to certain concerns. First, inequities created by overpayment do not seem to significantly affect behavior in most work situations. Most cases, employees may rationalize by saying they work a lot harder.  Second, not everyone is equity sensitive. There are entitled (I deserve more as I am worth it) and benevolent (people who prefer lower outcome-input ratios than the referent comparisons).

Organizational justice

An overall perception of what is fair in the workplace, composed of distributive, procedural, informational and interpersonal justice is organizational justice. It is broadly about how employees feel authorizes and decision makers at work treat them. This concept of organizational justice has its roots from equity theory.

Distributive justice is the perceived fairness of the amount and allocation of rewards among individuals.

Procedural justice is the perceived fairness of the process used to determine the distribution of rewards.

Informational justice is the degree to which employees are provided truthful explanations for decisions.

Interpersonal justice is the degree to which employees are treated with dignity and respect.

3. Goal setting theory

It is a theory stating that specific and difficult goals with feedback lead to higher performance. The theory is put forward by Edwin Locke and comes up with impressive empirical support to his claims. There are three personal factors influence the goals-performance relationship; goal commitment, task characteristics and national culture.

Goal commitment-goal setting theory assumes an individual is committed to the goal and determined not to lower or abandon it. The individual a) believes he or she can achieve the goal b) wants to achieve it. Goal commitment is most likely to occur when employees expect that their efforts will pay off in goal attainment, when accomplishing the goal is attractive to them and when they actively participate in goal setting.

Task characteristics- Goals themselves seem to affect performance more strongly when tasks are simpler than complex, and when the tasks are independent rather than interdependent. For interdependent tasks, group goals are preferable.

National culture- setting specific, difficult, individual goals may have different effects in different cultures. In collectivistic and high power distance cultures, achievable moderate goals can be more motivating than difficult ones.

Application of goal setting theory

MBO (management by objectives) is a systematic way to utilize goal setting. It was an initiative more popular in 1970s but still used today. MBO emphasizes participatively set goals that are tangible, verifiable and measurable. Below figure to understand how MBO works on the concept of cascading objectives.

The organizations’ overall objectives are translated into specific cascading objectives for each level (divisional, departmental, and individual). But because lower unit managers jointly participate in setting their own goals, MBO works from the bottom up as well as from the top down. The result is a hierarchy that links objectives at one level to those at next. For the individual employee, MBO provides specific personal performance objectives.

Four common features of MBO

  1. Goal specificity
  2. Participative decision making
  3. A explicit time period
  4. Performance feedback

4. Reinforcement theory

Goal setting theory is a cognitive approach while reinforcement theory is a behaviorist approach where it says reinforcement conditions people behavior. Reinforcement theory sees behavior as environmentally caused. Reinforcement theory ignores the inner state of the individual and concentrates solely on what happens when she or he takes some action.

Operant conditioning and social learning theory holds true here. However, these theories are not strictly motivational theories as it doesn’t talk about what initiates behavior but it does talk about what controls behavior.

Media Attributions

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