Topics: Motivation, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Motivational theories Pages: 58 (11500 words) Published: December 12, 2012

After studying this chapter, students should be able to:

1. Outline the motivation process.
2. Describe Maslow’s need hierarchy.
3. Contrast Theory X and Theory Y.
4. Differentiate motivators from hygiene factors.
5. List the characteristics that high achievers prefer in a job. 6. Summarize the types of goals that increase performance.
7. State the impact of under-rewarding employees.
8. Clarify the key relationships in expectancy theory.
9. Explain how the contemporary theories of motivation complement each other.


The theories we have discussed in this chapter address different outcome variables. Some, for instance, are directed at explaining turnover, while others emphasize productivity. The theories also differ in their predictive strength. In this section, we 1) review the key motivation theories to determine their relevance in explaining our dependent variables, and 2) assess the predictive power of each.

Need theories. We introduced four theories that focused on needs. These were Maslow’s hierarchy, two-factor, ERG, and McClelland’s needs theories. The strongest of these is probably the last, particularly regarding the relationship between achievement and productivity. If the other three have any value at all, that value relates to explaining and predicting job satisfaction.

Goal-setting theory. There is little dispute that clear and difficult goals lead to higher levels of employee productivity. This evidence leads us to conclude that goal-setting theory provides one of the more powerful explanations of this dependent variable. The theory, however, does not address absenteeism, turnover, or satisfaction.

Reinforcement theory. This theory has an impressive record for predicting factors like quality and quantity of work, persistence of effort, absenteeism, tardiness, and accident rates. It does not offer much insight into employee satisfaction or the decision to quit.

Equity theory. Equity theory deals with all four dependent variables. However, it is strongest when predicting absence and turnover behaviors and weakest when predicting differences in employee productivity.

Expectancy theory. Our final theory focused on performance variables. It has proved to offer a relatively powerful explanation of employee productivity, absenteeism, and turnover, but expectancy theory assumes that employees have few constraints on their decision discretion. It makes many of the same assumptions that the rational model makes about individual decision-making (see Chapter 5). This acts to restrict its applicability.

For major decisions, such as accepting or resigning from a job, expectancy theory works well because people do not rush into decisions of this nature. They are more prone to take the time to carefully consider the costs and benefits of all the alternatives. However, expectancy theory is not a very good explanation for more typical types of work behavior, especially for individuals in lower-level jobs, because such jobs come with considerable limitations imposed by work methods, supervisors, and company policies. We would conclude, therefore, that expectancy theory’s power in explaining employee productivity increases where the jobs being performed are more complex and higher in the organization (where discretion is greater).

A Guide through the Maze. Exhibit 6-10 summarizes what we know about the power of the more well known motivation theories to explain and predict our four dependent variables. While based on a wealth of research, it also includes some subjective judgments. However, it does provide a reasonable guide through the motivation theory maze.


At the end of each chapter of this instructor’s manual you will find suggested exercises and ideas for researching...
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