Theories of Motivation

Topics: Motivation, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Human behavior Pages: 8 (2210 words) Published: May 28, 2010
Theories of Motivation

Although the term _theory_ is used in motivation theory, no single recognized theory of motivation exists. Rather, _motivation_ is used as an umbrella term for a number of theories that describe factors, traits, or situations that result in people moving beyond awareness and attitudes into behaviors.

A number of workplace theories cite motivation as a key element in employee workplace behavior. Frederick Herzberg's 1959 _hygiene theory_ contends that the external job environment, consisting of hygiene factors such as company policies, supervisor behavior, and salary, must be satisfactory before individuals will be motivated to pursue higher-order, internal motivators such as achievement, recognition, and job advancement.

Another theory of motivation is the 'Hierarchy of Needs' by Abraham Maslow. According to Maslow, individuals have five levels of needs (Maslow 1943): physiological, safety, social, ego, and self- actualizing. Maslow argued that lower level needs had to be satisfied before the next higher level need would motivate individuals. Maslow's theory has greatly influenced many fields including education and is mainly due to the high level of practicality of the 'Hierarchy of Needs' theory.

In 1954, Maslow first published "Motivation and Personality," which introduced his theory about how people satisfy various personal needs in the context of their work. He postulated, based on his observations as a humanistic psychologist, that there is a general pattern of needs recognition and satisfaction that people follow in generally the same sequence. Maslow also theorized that a person could not recognize or pursue the next higher need in the hierarchy until her or his currently recognized need was substantially or completely satisfied, a concept called prepotency.

Another theory of motivation to be analyzed in this paper is Frederick Herzberg's Theory of Motivators and Hygiene. Herzberg's work categorized motivation into two factors: motivators and hygiene (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959). Motivator or intrinsic factors, such as achievement and recognition, produce job satisfaction. While, hygiene or extrinsic factors, such as pay and job security, produce job dissatisfaction.

Herzberg constructed a two-dimensional paradigm of factors affecting people's attitudes about work. He concluded that such factors as company policy, supervision, interpersonal relations, working conditions, and salary are hygiene factors rather than motivators. According to the theory, these factors do not lead to higher levels of motivation but without them there is dissatisfaction

In contrast, he determined from the data that the motivators were elements that enriched a person's job; he found five factors in particular that were strong determiners of job satisfaction: achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, and advancement. These motivators (satisfiers) were associated with long-term positive effects in job performance while the hygiene factors (dis-satisfiers) consistently produced only short-term changes in job attitudes and performance, which quickly fell back to its previous level.

The final theory of motivation to be examined is Burrhus Skinner's theory of motivation. His theory simply states those employees' behaviours that lead to positive outcomes will be repeated and behaviours that lead to negative outcomes will not be repeated (Skinner 1953). Managers should positively reinforce employee behaviours that lead to positive outcomes. Managers should negatively reinforce employee behaviour that leads to negative outcomes.

Two fundament concepts in motivation are intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic Motivation is defined by as the motivation or desire to do something based on the enjoyment of the behaviour itself rather than relying on or requiring external reinforcement. Whereas, extrinsic motivation is the desire or push to perform certain...
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