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Introduction to Organizational Behavior


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Chapter 8 : Motivation

Definitions of Motivation

Classification of Motives

Primary Motives
General Motives
Secondary Motives

The Content Theories of Work Motivation

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory of Motivation
Alderfer's ERG Theory

The Process Theories of Work Motivation

Vroom's Expectancy Theory of Motivation
The Porter-Lawler Model

The Contemporary Theories of Work Motivation

Equity Theory
Attribution Theory
Other Emerging Theories

Chapter Summary

Motivation can be defined as a process that is initiated by a physiological or psychological deficiency or need, which triggers a specific behavior or drive in order to achieve a goal or incentive. It consists of three interacting and interdependent elements - needs, drives and incentives.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Herzberg's two-factor theory and Alderfer's ERG theory are classified as content theories of work motivation. Maslow's needs hierarchy suggests that a person's motivational needs can be arranged in a hierarchical manner. Once a given level of need is satisfied, it no longer serves as a motivating factor. A higher level need or one at the next level is triggered and motivates the individual further.

Herzberg's two-factor theory identifies two aspects which are necessary for job satisfaction - hygiene factors and motivators. While the hygiene factors are responsible for preventing dissatisfaction, motivators are essential to keep the employees satisfied. Hygiene factors include factors like working conditions, pay, fringe benefits, etc. Motivators include factors like achievement, recognition, advancement and growth.

Alderfer in his ERG theory identified three basic groups of core needs: the existence needs, the relatedness needs, and the growth needs. The existence needs are associated with survival and physiological well-being. The relatedness needs stress social and interpersonal relationships. Growth needs are a person's desire for personal development.

Process theories provide a better theoretical explanation of work motivation than the content theories. Vroom's expectancy model and the extension and refinements made by Porter and Lawler in their theory, help explain cognitive variables and their relationship with each other in the complex process of work motivation. Porter and Lawler pointed out that efforts did not directly result in performance, and there was a complex relationship between motivation, satisfaction and performance. They believed that performance leads to satisfaction and that performance is dependent on the person's motivation levels, his abilities and skills and on role perceptions.

Of late, the equity theory and attribution theory have received much attention. The equity theory is based on perceived outcome-input ratios. The equity theory states that employees compare their outcome-input ratio with that of others. If they perceive the ratio of their outcomes and inputs to be equal to that of their peers and others, a state of equity exists. Otherwise, a state of equity tension or inequity is created. The attribution theory uses attributions made by people to explain work motivation. This theory tries to explain internal and external attributions made by people and contributes to an increased understanding of the complex cognitive process of work motivation.

Some emerging theories, namely control and agency theories, have been receiving attention in the recent years. One version of the control theory states that control is basically a cognitive phenomenon, and determines people's ability to control their lives or their jobs.

Another version of this theory focuses on the management function of control. It states that controlling both the inputs and outputs of the organization is important for effective management. The agency theory assumes that an agency relationship exists in most organizations. It gives a clear idea as to how the principal i.e., owners, board of directors, or top management can avoid their interests conflicting with those of the agents i.e., subordinates, middle management, or shop floor employees.

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