Theories of Motivation

Topics: Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Motivation, Abraham Maslow Pages: 5 (1723 words) Published: April 30, 2011
In a constantly changing, interactive business environment, to retain a strong competitive position is essential to every company. Usually, this happens by the incorporation of every practical resource. Some organizations desperately seek doubtful partnerships or engage in insecure maneuvers in their struggle for dominance and profits. In fact, the most valuable resource that a company may utilize is its employees (Hristova 1996). Nevertheless, the human factor is probably the most unstable part of a business strategy. According to Fincham and Rhodes, in general, employees tend to be inconsistent in their working behavior. This is usually due to various individual reasons, such as personal problems, conflicts at the workplace, or lack of job satisfaction. To eliminate these issues and create the perfect working environment, managers often count on a range of motivation and human resource literature (Fincham & Rhodes 2005). According to Hristova, work motivation, in its essence, is by many considered to be the key to excellent work performance, efficiency, and productivity. Therefore, in the recent years the range of motivation and job satisfaction research has expanded to encompass various theories developed by Western scholars (Hristova 1996). As explained by Fincham and Rhodes, motivational theories can be divided into content and process. Content theories examine humans as a whole, ascribing them the same set of needs and thus a narrow set of characteristics at work. Process theories, on the other hand, concentrate on the cognitive processes which are considered the reason for the variation in human needs. Two of the most discussed and influential content theories are Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and Alderfer’s ERG Theory (Fincham & Rhodes 2005). As described in Understanding Organisational Behaviour, in his study of human personality, Maslow pays serious attention to motivation factors (Roberts & Corbett 2009). He believes that people are motivated to achieve their personal aims and this is what gives meaning to their existence (Maslow 1954). He states that the human is a desirous being which rarely reaches a state of satisfaction; if one need is satisfied, there is always another to take its place and engage one’s attention and striving (Maslow 1954). According to Maslow’s theory of motivation, human needs are organized in a hierarchical pyramidal model: in order for the upper needs to be consciously realized and start working as a motivational factor, the dominating ones, situated in the pyramid’s base, must be satisfied (Maslow 1954). If this is does not happen, Maslow explains, the reaching and fulfilling of the upper needs is impossible. He presumes that people originally strive to comply with their physical needs, such as thirst and hunger. Once they are no longer an issue, one would climb up the hierarchical model, moving to the need of security. In the working environment, this is the want for secure job and regularly paid, reasonable salary. Social needs – desire of spiritual relationships, love, and friendship – take up the third level of the pyramid. If one succeeds in satisfying them, he then faces the necessity of self-esteem, including the feeling of self-respect and recognition by others. Finally, at the top of the hierarchical model stands the need for self-actualization, concerning the development of one’s full potential. This accomplishment is more a matter of personal point of view, since individual differences cannot be completely ignored (Maslow 1954). The uttermost one reaches in this pyramidal model, the more virtues and mental health he demonstrates. Nonetheless, Maslow’s motivational model permits room for some exceptions (Fincham & Rhodes 2005). Maslow admits that extraordinarily creative people or people with extreme, individually formed system of values can pursue their goals without paying much attention to their social status or fundamental existence needs (Maslow 1954)....

Cited: Alderfer, C. (1972) Existence, relatedness, & growth. New York: Free Press.
Fincham, R., & Rhodes, P. (2005) Principles of Organizational Behaviour. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
Hristova, T. (1996) Management of Human Resources (in Bulgarian). Sofia:Princeps.
Maslow, A. (1954) Motivation and personality. New York: Harper.
Roberts, A. & Corbett, M. (2009) Understanding Organisational Behaviour, McGraw-Hill.
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