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Multiple theories of motivation in organisational behaviour

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 1659 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Firstly I believe that we need to understand what motivation is before we can understand why there are lots of motivational theories.

‘Motivation’ comes from the Latin word movere, meaning ‘to move’ (kreitner R., kinicki A., Buelens M., 2002, p: 176) which means as fact, need, emotion and organic state which encourages a person to take an action.

A person’s performance at work is affected by several individual factors (Personality, attitudes and beliefs, motivation, perception) but in particular, by Motivation. The dictionary defines motivation as “the reason why somebody does something or behaves in a particular way” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, 2000, p1128). Many theorists over the years starting from the industrial revolution have analysed what makes workers work harder. This essay will illustrate why there are multiple theories of motivation I will be looking at two theories Maslow’s hierarchy and Hertzberg’s two factor theories to try to determine why there is a need to have so many theories of motivation.

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Many organisations face difficulties when trying to motivate their staff. If the employees are motivated the company is likely to be more successful. To be able to understand motivation and the way it works, we have to understand human nature itself, managers also need to understand the work effort motivation cycle as to not loose there staff to more exciting rewarding and satisfying roles else were.( French, R., et al, 2008, Organizational Behaviour p157) There has to be effective management and leadership to motivate staff. Many companies believe that pay is the prime motivator; however people may want to exceed, receive acknowledgment for there efforts, they may want to feel a part of a group and also want to feel a heightened sense of worth at the workplace. This is where empowerment plays a very important part in a company’s progression. ( French, R., et al, 2008, Organizational Behaviour. p 156)

“Empowerment is the process by which managers delegate power to employees to motivate greater responsibility in balancing the achievement of both personal and organisational goals”.

(Ref.- Chapter 4: Motivation and Empowerment page 184French, R. ,et al, 2008, Organizational Behaviour. Chichester: Wiley)

By empowering employees this will make the staff more satisfied, productive and motivated throughout their working hours. Throughout the years many theorists have tried to explain what motivation is by designing theories describing how managers should stimulate their staff. (French, R. et al.,2008, Organizational Behaviour pp157-159)

There are two main types of motivation theories content and process theories, the content theories look at the needs that individuals have, it includes 4 component theories: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model, Alderfer’s modified need hierarchy model, McClelland’s achievement motivation theory and Herzberg’s two-factor theories. The Process Theories are a understanding of the thought process that influence behaviour. The major process theories of motivation include Vroom’s expectancy theory, goal-setting theory, and reinforcement theory and Adams’ equity theory. (French, R et al, 2008 Organizational Behaviour p160)

Abraham Maslow has a structure which he has called the hierarchy of needs. There are five basic needs, which people are supposed to uphold. These are physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization.  (French, R et al, 2008 Organizational Behaviour p161)

Physiological needs are food, drink, shelter and sex, Safety needs are the security and protection from physical and emotional harm. Social needs refer to a need for love. That means a person will strive for good relationships with people and a place within there group. .(Wilson, F M(2004) Organizational Behaviour and work)

The needs that Maslow has at the bottom of the pyramid are based on basic needs concerned with survival or lower order needs, and these must be satisfied before a person can go to the next level on the hierarchy of needs until self actualization which Maslow argued that although everybody is able to, not many reach this level. (Wilson, F M (2004) Organizational Behaviour and work)

While Maslow’s theory seems to make sense at first, there is little to show that a strict hierarchy works in every day working life. In fact research contradicts the order of needs because in some cultures they tend to put social needs before any other need. Maslow’s hierarchy also has trouble explaining cases such as the “starving artist” where a individual will neglect there physical needs to gain a spiritual need. Maslow also suggests that one need is satisfied at a time where there is no evidence this is true.

In all motivation theories there are always advantages and disadvantages, Maslow has been critical of his theory himself, in a statement he said: “My motivation theory was published 20 years ago and in all that time nobody repeated it, or tested, or really analyzed it or criticised it. They just used it, swallowed it whole with only the minor modification”

Ref- Wilson, F.M (2004). Organisational behaviour and work. Oxford University press, page146 (Lowry 1982:6

Clayton Alderfer proposed the ERG theory, which is very similar to Maslow’s theory, it also describes needs as a hierarchy. The letters ERG stand for three levels of needs: Existence, Relatedness, and Growth. This theory is based on the work of Maslow, so it has a lot which is similar with it but it also differs in some important aspects.

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He argues that Maslow’s theory is not flexible and as a result of this people may become frustrated as they are not able to move to the next stage. Alderfer has minimized Maslow’s 5 level theories into 3 levels; this theory is more flexible as people are able to go up and down the hierarchy if their needs keep changing.

(French, R et al, 2008 Organizational Behaviour p160)

Fredrick Herzberg’s hygiene-motivation theory, Frederick Hertzberg put forward the idea that certain factors in the workplace cause job satisfaction, while others lead to dissatisfaction, he proposed the ‘Two Factor theory’ of human motivation in the workplace, he believed that man has two sets of needs one as an animal to avoid pain and the second as a human being to grow psychologically. Hertzberg believes that the growth or the motivator factors such as achievement, the work its self, responsibility and advancement are the primary cause of job satisfaction.

Hygiene factors the dissatisfiers using the term “hygiene” are considered maintenance factors that are to avoid dissatisfaction but by themselves do not provide satisfaction company policy, administration, supervision interpersonal relationships, working conditions salary status and security.

Hertzberg used two open ended questions ‘tell me about a time when you felt exceptionally good about your job.’ and ‘tell me about a time when you felt exceptionally bad about your job’.Herzberg analysed a diverse range of employees twelve different investigations informed the theory.( Herzberg et al 1959,. Wilson, F M(2004) Organizational Behaviour and work)

There have been many criticisms of this theory one being some researchers have used other methods and have not been able to confirm the theory there for the theory is said to be method-bound as only Hertzberg’s original method is able to support the theory. Other critics found it to be too convenient that Hertzberg’s theory fits so neatly into two boxes, intrinsic contributing to job satisfaction and extrinsic to dissatisfaction. In the study by Ewan (1963) found that sometimes the hygiene factor, dissatisfies acted as satisfiers and satisfiers, motivators caused both satisfaction and dissatisfaction. (Wilson, F M(2004) Organizational Behaviour and work)

Looking briefly at the most well known motivational theories David McClelland Need for Achievement Theory proposed that an individual’s specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by a persons life experiences. Most of the needs can be classed as achievement, affiliation, or power. A person’s motivation in a certain job is influenced by these three needs. McCelland believed that having the right resources available such as raw materials, time, having the right skills to do the job and also having the necessary support to get the job done like supervisor support, or correct information on the job, McCelland believed that even if two of the three were met that there would still not be positive motivation and all three must be met to achieve positive motivation. (French, R et al, 2008 Organizational Behaviour pp163- 165)

The expectancy theory of motivation is by Victor Vroom. Victor Vroom is very different to Maslow and Hertzberg, Vroom focuses on outcomes not on needs. Expectancy is the belief that more effort will lead to better performance.

(French, R et al, 2008 Organizational Behaviour pp172- 174)

Looking closely at the theories of motivation I believe that there are multiple theories of motivation as there is neither a right or wrong theory all seem to out line the basics of motivation weather it is in a hierarchy or set in two boxes we all have a need for the basics in life plus achievement, recognition and we all would be happier and more motivated to work in better conditions, I believe that a person has each one of these needs at or maybe many at a time so there for many theories are essential to get a wider knowledge of motivation and how to motivate an individual at work.


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