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Theories of Motivation Comparison and Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 2807 words Published: 6th Dec 2017

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Most contemporary theories recognize that motivation begins with individual needs. Needs are deficiencies that energize or trigger behaviors to satisfy those needs. At some point in your life, you might have a strong need for food and shelter. At other tomes, your social needs may be unfulfilled. Unfulfilled needs create a

tension that makes you want to find ways to reduce or satisfy those needs. The stronger your needs, the more motivated you are to satisfy them. Conversely, a satisfied need does not motivate. In this section, we will look at the four content theories of motivation that dominate organizational thinking today

Maslows theory: According to Maslow, human needs from hierarchy, starting at the bottom with the physiological needs and reaching to the highest needs of self actualization.

He says when one set of needs are satisfied, then they try to full fill the next need from hierarchy.

physiological needs: these are the basic necessities of human life like food, clothing, shelter etc.He says until these needs are satisfied to the required level , man does not aim for the satisfaction of next higher level needs.

As for a organization is concerned these needs include basic needs like pay, allowance, incentives and benefits

security safety needs: these refer to the needs to be free of physical danger or the feeling of loss of food , job or shelter these needs as far as organization is concerned include conformity, security plans, membership in union, severance pay etc.

Social needs: physiological and security needs are satisfied these social needs begin occupying the mind of man. This is exactly why he looks for the association of other human beings and strives hard to be accepted b its group; social needs at work place include human relations, formal and informal work group.

Esteem needs: these needs are power, prestige, status and self confidence. Every man has a feeling of importance and he wants others to regard him highly. These needs make people aim high and make them achieve something great. These needs for employees include staus symbol, awards, promotions, titles etc.

Self actualization: this is the highest need in hierarchy. This refers to the desire to become what one is capable of becoming. Man tries to maximize his potential and accomplish something, when these needs are activated in him.

As said earlier the individuals processed from physiological needs to safety needs and so on and so forth only when each need is satisfied. If any need is not satisfied, the individual sticks to that need and strives to fulfill that need.


Herzberg theory(1959)

Maslows theory has been modified by herzberg and he called it two factor theory of motivation. According to him the first groups of needs are things such as company policy and administration, supervision, working conditions, interpersonal relations, salary, status, job security and personal life. Herzberg called this factor as dissatisfiers and not motivators. These are also refered to as hygiene factors.

Maintenance factors or dissatisfiers motivation factors or satisfiers

  • Job context – job content
  • Extrinsic factor – intrinsic factor
  • Company policy and administration – achievement
  • Quality of supervision – recognition
  • Relations with supervisors – work itself
  • Work conditions – responsibility
  • Pay – advancement
  • Peer relations – possibility of growth
  • Personal life
  • Relations with subordinates
  • Status
  • Job security

Second group are satisfiers, in the sense that they are motivators. These factors are related to job content. He included the factors like achievement, recognition, challenging work, advancement and growth in this category. Presence of these factors will yield feelings of satisfaction.

Herzberg theory is also called as motivation hygiene theory. Herzberg conducted a study by asking questions. What do the people want for a job? He asked the respondents to describe situations are events when they feel exceptionally good and bad about their job.

Herzberg did not the cover the relationship between job satisfaction and productivity, though he assumed that there is a relationship between these two factors.

Alders ERG theory(1972)

Alder also feels that needs should be categorized and that there is a basic distinction between lower order needs and higher order needs . alder identified three groups of needs Existence, Relatedness and Growth and that is why his theory is called ERG theory.the existence needs are based with survival, or physiological well being.the relatedness talk about the importance of interpersonal and social relationship. The growth needs are concerned with the individuals intrinsic desire for personal development.

This theory is some what similar to maslows and herzberg theory . but unlike maslows and herzberg he does not assert that lower needs has to be satisfied before higher level needs . so a persons background and culture environment may make him think of relatedness needs or growth needs though his existency needs are unfulfilled.

Alders simplification of maslows need hierarchy:

  • Needs are arranged in order of importance
  • Unsatisfied needs motivate individuals

Alders theory suggests that individual needs can be divided into three groups

  1. existence (physiological and safety)
  2. relatedness (social)
  3. growth (esteem and self actualization)

alders theory differs from maslows theory in a number of important respects.

Alderfer argued that it was better to think in terms of continuum rather than a hierarchy. From concrete exixtence needs to least concrete growth needs and argued that you can move along this in either direction.

Maslow argued that when satisfied a need becomes less important to an individual, but alderfers argues that relatedness or growth needs become more important when satisfied . this means that team working arrangements can continue to motivate employees and are not necessarily superseded by growth needs.

Mc Clellands theory:

this theor was developed by David McClelland a Harvard physiologist and his associates.the theory focuses on three needs

In his acquired-needs theory, David McClelland proposed that an individual’s specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one’s life experiences. Most of these needs can be classed as either achievement, affiliation, or power. A person’s motivation and effectiveness in certain job functions are influenced by these three needs. McClelland’s theory sometimes is referred to as the three need theory or as the learned needs theory.

1. Need for achievement: (n Ach) need for achievement refers to the drive to excel, to achieve in relation to set standards and and to strive to succeed

McClelland from his research that high achievers differentiate themselves from others by doing the same work in different ways . they perform best when they perceive their probability of success as being 0.5. they seek quick feed back on their performance in

Order to improve or correct the action before it goes wrong. They accept personal responsibility for success or failure.

  • Want to take personal responsibility for solving problem
  • Goal oriented set moderate, realistic, attainable goal
  • Seek challenge, excellence and individuality
  • Take calculated, moderate risk
  • Willing to work hard and desire concrete feedback on their performance

Need for power (n pow) need for power refers to the desire to make others behave in a way that they would not otherwise have behaved in. In other words need for power is the desire o have impact, to be influential and control others.

  • Want to control the situation and want control over others
  • Enjoy competition and winning, do not like to lose
  • willing to confront others

Need for affiliation: (n Aff)

  • seek close relationship with others and to be liked by others
  • enjoy lots of social activities
  • seek to belong, join groups and organization


Process theories are concerned with the thought processes that influence behaviour. Two such theories are Expectancy theory and Equity theory

A) Vrooms expectancy theory: Vrooms formula: motivation=expectancy X value

According to this theory motivation of any individual depends on the desired goal and strength of his expectation of achieving goals. A vrooms model is built mainly on three concepts valency, instrumentality and expectancy.


“The value a person places on the outcome or reward “

vroom says that valency is the strength of individual’s preference for a particular outcome. it can be taken as an equivalent of value, incentive, attitude and expected utility . for the value to be positive the person must prefer attaining the out come to not to attain the outcome. A valency of zero occurs , when the individual is indifferent towards the outcome. the valency is negative when the individual prefers not attaining outcome to attaining it .

Expectancy: “A person perception of the probability of accomplishing an objective”

the third major variable in vrooms theory is expectancy. though expectancy and instrumentality appear to be the same at the first glance they are quite different .

Expectancy is a probability (ranging from 0 to 1) or strength of a belief that a particular action or effort will leave to a particular first level outcome. Instrumentality

refers to the degree to which a first level outcome will lead to the second level outcome. vroom says the sum of these variables is motivation.

Expectancy theory works best with employees who have n internal locus of control.

To motivate using the expectancy theory:

  • clearly define objectives
  • clearly define necessary performance needed to achieve them
  • tie performance to rewards
  • be sure rewards are of value to the employees
  • Make sure your employees believe you will do as you promise.

Vrooms theory also suggests:

  1. Both internal (needs) and external (environment) factors affect behaviour
  2. Behaviour is the individual’s decision
  3. People have different needs, desires and goals
  4. People make behaviour decisions based on their perception of the outcome.

Adam’s Equity Theory: based on the comparison of perceived inputs to outputs. People perceive themselves in one of three positions

Both the inputs and outputs of person and others or based upon the persons perceptions. Age, sex, education economic and social status , skill, experience, training, effort, education, past performance, present performance ,level of difficulty , position in the organization etc, are examples of perceived input variables .

Outcomes consist of rewards like pay status promotion and intrinsic interest in the job.

Equitably rewarded:( they are satisfied that there inputs and outputs are equal)

Inputs and outputs are perceived as being equal.

Under rewarded: (they perceive there inputs exceed their output)

  • Efforts to reduce inequity by trying to increase outputs
  • Reducing inputs(working less, absenteeism)
  • Rationalizing(creating an explanation for the inequity)
  • Changing others inputs or outputs
  • Leaving
  • Changing the objective of comparision

Over rewarded: people don’t usually get upset when they are over rewarded , but they may increase inputs or reduce outputs to maintain equity)

  • Increasing inputs (working more, longer hours, etc)
  • Reducing output(taking a pay cut)
  • Rationalizing (I’m worth it)
  • Increasing other outputs

Inequity occurs when :

Person’s outcomes other’s outcomes

——————— ——————–

Person’s inputs other’s inputs

Person’s outcomes other’s outcomes

——————— ——————–

person’s inputs other’s inputs

Equity occurs when:

Person’s outcomes other’s outcomes

———————- = ——————–

Person’s inputs other’s inputs


  • Time
  • Effort
  • Loyalty
  • Hard Work
  • Commitment
  • Ability
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Tolerance
  • Determination
  • Enthusiasm
  • Personal sacrifice
  • Trust in superiors
  • Support from co-workers and colleagues


Outputs are defined as the positive and negative consequences that an individual perceives a participant has incurred as a consequence of his/her relationship with another. When the ratio of inputs to outcomes is close, than the employee should have much satisfaction with their job. Outputs can be both tangible and intangible (Walster, Traupmann & Walster, 1978). Typical outcomes include any of the following:

  • Job security
  • Esteem
  • Salary
  • Employee benefit
  • Expenses
  • Recognition
  • Reputation
  • Responsibility
  • Sense of achievement
  • Praise

Forming equity perceptions:

Step 1: a person evaluates how he or she is being treated by the firm.

Step 2: the person forms a perception of how a “comparision other” is being treated

Step 3: the person compares his or her own circumstances with those of the comparision other

Step 4: on the strength of this feeling , the person may choose to pursue one or more alternatives.

It is important to also consider the Adams’ Equity Theory factors when striving to improve an employee’s job satisfaction, motivation level, etc., and what can be done to promote higher levels of each.


Job satisfaction, a worker’s sense of achievement and success, is generally perceived to be directly linked to productivity as well as to personal wellbeing. Job satisfaction implies doing a job one enjoys, doing it well, and being suitably rewarded for one’s efforts. Job satisfaction further implies enthusiasm and happiness with one’s work.

For the organization, job satisfaction of its workers means a work force that is motivated and committed to high quality performance. Increased productivity-the quantity and quality of output per hour worked-seems to be a byproduct of improved quality of working life. It is important to note that the literature on the relationship between job satisfaction and productivity is neither conclusive nor consistent. However, studies dating back to Herzberg’s (1957) have shown at least low correlation between high morale and

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high productivity, and it does seem logical that more satisfied workers will tend to add more value to an organization. Unhappy employees, who are motivated by fear of job loss, will not give 100 percent of their effort for very long. Though fear is a powerful motivator, it is also a temporary one, and as soon as the threat is lifted performance will decline.

Creating job satisfaction:

  • Flexible work arrangements, possibly including telecommuting
  • Training and other professional growth opportunities
  • Interesting work that offers variety and challenge and allows the worker opportunities to “put his or her signature” on the finished product
  • Opportunities to use one’s talents and to be creative
  • Opportunities to take responsibility and direct one’s own work
  • A stable, secure work environment that includes job security/continuity
  • An environment in which workers are supported by an accessible supervisor who provides timely feedback as well as congenial team members
  • Flexible benefits, such as child-care and exercise facilities
  • Up-to-date technology
  • Competitive salary and opportunities for promotion


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