Motivation Theories That Apply to the Nigerian Construction Industry

Topics: Motivation, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Construction Pages: 8 (2734 words) Published: July 25, 2013
A review of some motivation theories with respect to people working in the construction Industry in Nigeria.


April 2013

Introduction: Motivation is a cause for action. Workplace motivation is a desire to fulfill ones task diligently. Robins (in Ogunlana and Chang 1993) define motivation "as the willingness to exact high levels of efforttowards organizational goals, conditioned by the effort's ability to satisfy some individual need". There are biological, intellectual, social and emotional factors affecting motivation. These factors are called intrinsic however they can be driven by external factors (extrinsic). It can be argued that being at work itself is a show of motivation but employees are employed to work and not just to show up. Motivating is a challenging process as it combines fulfilling employee’s needs/expectations from work and the factors that enable employee motivation and demonization at work. With the various theories of motivation available, different organizations employ different motivational theories in order to keep their employees motivated. Researches on motivational theories which have been carried out are vague and limited to certain sectors/industries. More specific and reliable information can be derived directly from employees in each field of work. The role of managers in motivating employees should be continuous with respect to change in the environment and employee’s personal goals (Moilwa and Langford). Overview of Construction Industry in Nigeria: In my 20-months experience in my organization which operates in the construction industry in Nigeria, I have come to the realization that a lot of motivational theories cannot be depended upon to motivate workers. Nigeria being a developing country faces a lot of challenges; some of which are the sporadic population growth, unemployment and high rate of migration from rural to urban areas. A good percentage of the people live in poverty and are struggling to meet their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. A percentage also fall under the middle class category and their needs extend beyond basic needs. The average Nigerian can afford education, some up to master’s level. This class of people will eventually want to achieve higher level needs in life most of which is a sense of belonging and high esteem as they are associated with their various cultures. They will want to be able to make an impact in whatever profession they find themselves in. The construction industry in Nigeria is a mixture of both local and multinational companies. The locals own most of the small and medium scale construction companies while multinationals own the bigger ones (there are very few indigenous large scale construction companies). Local companies are limited to private clientele with small scale projects while multinationals handle most of the larger projects and are preferred by the government to handle public and infrastructure project. The smaller indigenous companies cannot compete with the multinational companies in scale of operation and size of project. Other factors could be that foreign companies have more experience and are technologically advanced however their cost is usually over board, running into millions of dollars most of which goes to operational cost (expat fees/foreign consultants). These companies benefit from the very cheap labor available as a result of poverty and unemployment. The professional middle class despite having acquired technical education in Nigeria and Abroad and can compete with anyone from their field are not given full responsibility when hired by multinational companies. These companies hire just about a few of the local professionals. Some of the reason why these companies prefer to hire their nationals to work with them is the culture influence. As Johnston and Carter, (1972) stated,

“Attitudes towards work and achievement vary significantly among cultures and appear to be based either on religious...
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