Chapter 6: Basic Motivation Concepts

What is Motivation?

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

    Intensity = how hard an employee tries

    Direction = should benefit the organization (i.e. quality of effort counts!)

    Persistence = how long can an employee maintain his/her effort?


  Note: the goal is an “organizational” goal

Some Key Points: Motivation is not directly observable (it is internal to each employee), it is personal (what is arousing differs and how behavior is directed is often different), however the process is common and it is goal directed.

Early Theories of Motivation

Hierarchy of Needs (a.k.a. Maslow's Pyramid)

  • Physiological
  • includes hunger, thirst, shelter, sex and other bodily needs
  • Safety
  • includes security and protection from physical and emotional harm
  • Social
  • includes affection, belongingness acceptance, and friendship
  • Esteem
  • includes internal esteem factors such as self-respect, autonomy, and achievement; and external esteem factors such as status, recognition, and attention
  • Self-actualization
  • the drive to become what one is capable of becoming; includes growth, achieving one’s potential, and self-fulfillment

Note:  An individual moves “up the steps” of the hierarchy.  “Lower order” needs are satisfied externally (i.e. physiological and safety) while “higher order” needs are satisfied internally (i.e. social, esteem, and self-actualization).

Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGregor proposed two distinct views of human beings: one basically

negative, labeled Theory X, and the other basically positive, labeled Theory Y.

Theory X

  • The assumption that employees dislike work, are lazy, dislike responsibility, and must be coerced to perform. (Lower order needs dominate)

Theory Y

  • The assumption that employees like work, are creative, seek responsibility, and can exercise self-direction. (Higher order needs dominate)

McGregor believed Theory Y assumptions were more valid than Theory X and proposed such ideas as participative decision making, responsible and challenging jobs, and good group relations as approaches that would maximize an employee's motivation.

**Question = what type of manager will you be (or are you)? One who believes in Theory X or Theory Y? Be honest! Do you think this is important? Why? Why not?

Two-Factor Theory

Intrinsic factors are related to job satisfaction, while extrinsic factors are related to job dissatisfaction.

Hygiene factors = when these are adequate, workers “feel OK” (i.e. they are NOT dissatisfied).  Examples include quality of supervision, company policies and administration.

Motivators = examines factors contributing to job satisfaction.  Thus there are factors which lead to job satisfaction and things that don’t (i.e. notice there is a difference between “non-satisfying” and “dissatisfying factors”)

Contemporary Theories


McClelland's Theory of Needs

  • The Need for Achievement: the drive to excel, achieve in relation to a set of standards, strive to succeed.
  • The Need for Power: The need to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise.
  • The Need for Affiliation: The desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships.

Question: What can we do with this information? Answer: Match people to jobs!

Those high on "achievement" tend to prefer jobs with personal responsibility, feedback and moderate risks. They DO NOT always care about motivating others!

In general, individuals high on the need for "Power" and low on the need for "Affiliation" tend to perform better in managerial roles.

Cognitive Evaluation Theory

Allocating extrinsic rewards for behavior that had been previously intrinsically rewarding tends to decrease the overall level of motivation.

Goal -Setting Theory

  • The theory that specific and difficult goals lead to higher performance.
  • Goals tell an employee what needs to be done and how much effort will need to be expended.
  • Specific goals increase performance; that difficult goals, when accepted, result in higher performance than do easy goals; and that feedback leads to higher performance than does non-feedback.
  • Specific hard goals produce a higher level of output than does the generalized goal of "do your best."
    • The specificity of the goal itself acts as an internal stimulus.

          Be sure to note the importance of goal commitment, self-efficacy, task characteristics, and national culture on goal-setting theory.

Management by Objectives ("MBO")

This approach puts goal setting to work.

It is a program that encompasses:

MBO operationalizes the concept of objectives by devising a process by which objectives cascade down through the organization.

The result is a hierarchy of objectives that links objectives at one level to those at the next level.

For the individual employee, MBO provides specific personal performance objectives.


Self-Efficacy Theory

Self-efficacy refers to an individual's belief that he or she is capable of performing a task.  The higher your self-efficacy, the more confidence you have in your ability to succeed in a task.

Reinforcement Theory

  • A counterpoint to the goal-setting theory.
  • In reinforcement theory, a behavioristic approach, which argues that reinforcement conditions behavior.
  • Reinforcement theorists see behavior as being behaviorally caused.
  • Reinforcement theory ignores the inner state of the individual and concentrates solely on what happens to a person when he or she takes some action.
  • Because it does not concern itself with what initiates behavior, it is not, strictly speaking, a theory of motivation.
    • It does however provide a powerful means of analysis of what controls behavior.


Equity Theory

  • Individuals compare their job inputs and outcomes with those of others and then respond so as to eliminate any inequities.
  • Equity theory recognizes that individuals are concerned not only with the absolute amount of rewards for their efforts, but also with the relationship of this amount to what others receive.
  • Historically, equity theory focused on:

distributive justice or the perceived fairness of the amount and allocation of rewards among individuals. However, equity should also consider procedural justice or the perceived fairness of the process used to determine the distribution of rewards. Interactional justice is also important.

*Question: So, what happens when your pay is “inequitable”?

Expectancy Theory

  • The strength of a tendency to act in a certain way depends on the strength of an expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual. The theory focuses on three relationships:
  • Effort-performance relationship or the probability perceived by the individual that exerting a given amount of effort will lead to performance.
  • Performance-reward relationship or the degree to which the individual believes that performing at a particular level will lead to the attainment of a desired outcome.
  • Rewards-personal goals relationship or the degree to which organizational rewards satisfy an individual’s personal goals or needs and the attractiveness of those potential rewards for the individual.

Don’t Forget Ability and Opportunity


Performance = f (Ability X Motivation X Opportunity)

            Question: Think about how the fundamental attribution error can lead you astray in terms of “understanding” others’ behavior in the workplace.  How do ability, motivation, and opportunity influence YOUR perceptions of workplace behavior?)

Integrating Contemporary Theories of Motivation


First, consider employees’ opportunity, ability and the “purpose” or objectives of the current performance evaluation system in which they work.  Then, consider the link between individual effort – individual performance – organizational rewards and personal goals.  Each link can be influenced by a variety of factors (i.e. needs, reinforcement, equity)


Motivation Theories are Culture Bound


Note that most theories were developed in the US.  Many theories do not always work around the world (e.g., equity theory).  However, many do (e.g., having interesting work).


Summary and Implications for Managers


Need Theories

     Maslow’s hierarchy, Two factor, ERG, & McClelland’s

Goal Setting Theory

     Clear and difficult goals often lead to higher levels of employee productivity.

Reinforcement Theory

     Good predictor of quality and quantity of work, persistence of effort, absenteeism, tardiness, and accident rates.

Equity Theory

     Strongest when predicting absence and turnover behaviors.

     Weakest when predicting differences in employee productivity.

Expectancy Theory

- Focus on performance variables

- It is a “rational” model so be careful when using it

- This theory may be better applied to employees with greater discretion in their jobs (i.e., as opposed to semi-skilled positions)