Portfolio assignment 1: Motivation theories
There are many theories about motivation from different aspects that study some phenomenon in working circumstances such as the arousal or energizing of the organism and the direction of behavior. (Vroom, 1984, p.8) Just like many important concepts in psychology, there is no single universally accepted definition of motivation. Arnold (2005, P.309) considered that “Motivation concerns what drives a person’s choice of what to do, and how long they keep trying. It is NOT the only factor that influences work performance”. And Mullins (2013, p.245) indicated that motivation can be described as the direction and persistence of action. However, no matter how different they are, three components are common: the direction (what a person is trying to do), the effort (how hard a person is trying) and the persistence (how long a person continues trying). All the theories can be categorised in two different types: the process theories which focus on the process of behaviour, and the content theories which lay stress on the factors that motivate people. In this essay, Vroom’s Expectancy Theory and Herzberg’s two-factor theory are reviewed separately.
Vroom’s Expectancy Theory
Expectancy theory is one of the process theories originally proposed by Vroom. This theory brings out a framework for learning about how people make choices according to their expectations. In this theory, there are three concepts, or factors, to be taken into consideration. The first one is Valence, which refers to affective orientation toward particular outcomes, for example, the question ‘how much do I value those outcomes’; (Vroom, 1984, p.15) the second factor is Expectancy, which is defined as a momentary belief concerning the likelihood that a particular act will be followed by a particular outcome, for example, the question ‘would I be able to perform the action I am considering if I tried’; (Vroom, 1984, p.17) the third one is Instrumentality, from which the valence of outcomes are derived, for example, the question ‘would performing the action lead to identifiable outcomes’. (Mullins, 2013, p.261) And then, Valence, Instrumentality and Expectancy are multiplied together to express motivation. The formula is as following: Motivation Force (MF) = ∑ V * I * E
Strengths of VIE theory:
Firstly, it is a quantitative theory in this area. It gives a formula, so it is able to measure the extent of motivation using figures and clearly indicates the attitudinal factors. (Igalens and Roussel, 1999, p.1006) For example, valence can be calculated as +1 for a factor if an outcome is high performance, or calculated as -1 if low performance, and then all the separate valences for each factor added up could reflect the general valence. This gives clear results when comparing different outcomes for the same person, and the behavior is predicted by adding each components of V, I, and E. (Arnold, 2005, p. 321) Secondly, the formula also meets basic intuition regarding motivation. If any of the three values is zero, MF also equals zero. It means that if someone believes his effort will have no chance of resulting in a certain acceptable reward, that a certain performance level will not lead to a reward or that a reward will have no value, he will have no motivation to work toward the reward.
Limits of VIE theory:
One of the drawbacks is that self-report measures of V, I and E have often been poorly constructed. (Arnold, 2005, p. 321) Perceptions about effort, performance and the value of rewards are difficult to quantify so comparisons between different choices or people using the expectancy theory framework may not be accurate. Another problem is that if Valence is negative, the theory will not work anymore. (Arnold, 2005, p. 321)
Herzberg’s two-factor theory
There is another famous content theory proposed by Herzberg. As he said in the video (gec118, 2007), employee satisfaction was based on two sets of...
References: 1. Arnold, J. and Randall, R. (2005) Work psychology: understanding human behaviour in the workplace. 4th ed., Harlow: FT Prentice Hall.
2. Gec118 (2007) Jumping for the Jelly Beans [online]. [Accessed 7 January 2015]. Available at:
3. Hamel, G. Strengths and Weaknesses of Expectancy theory [online]. [Accessed 7 January 2015]. Available at:
4. Igalens, J. & Roussel (1999) A Study of the Relationship between Compensation Package, Work Motivation and Job Satisfaction, Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 20, no. 7, pp. 1003-1025.
5. Mullins, L. (2013) Management and organisational behaviour. 10th ed., Harlow: FT Prentice Hall.
6. Vroom, V. H. (1984) Work and Motivation. Florida: Robert E.Krieger Publishing Company, INC.
7. Yew, T. L., and Manap, A. M. (2012) A critical assessment of Herzberg’s theory of motivation [online]. [Accessed 7 January 2015]. Available at:
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