Prespectives on motivation: the thought and content process

Essay by bluefrogletUniversity, Bachelor'sB, March 2004

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"Compare and contrast (1) the content and (2) the thought process perspectives of motivation, using specific theories (other than Maslow's) to highlight the two perspectives.

Motivation can be defined as a psychological process that leads to choice of behaviour resulting in some level of job performance, depending on the intensity, desire, energy generated by the individual (Blair 2002). In the workplace, employees are expected to perform an expected output, what makes employees perform to reach this goal is a combination of factors, namely motivation. Motivation theories consist of a combination of needs, incentives, goals and reinforcers (Blair 2002). Due to the complexity of motivation, there are many perspectives on motivation. Perspectives can be defined as the many views, perceptions and attitudes that people may approach on a topic. There are differing perspectives on the subject of motivation, which has inevitably paved the way for many theories to be devised.

Motivation is an internal force that produces a person's performance depending on one's ability and working conditions.

The motivation process is comprised of two parts, the needs theory and process or cognitive theory. The need theories explain how we attempt to fulfill our desires (Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin, 2003, p. 368). This essay will be discussing the following need theories; Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, McClelland's Acquired-needs theory, and in particular Herzberg's; Two-factor theory, Alderfer's ERG theory. While the need theory argues that we behave as we do due to the internal needs, process theories attempt to isolate thinking patterns used in deciding whether or not to act in a certain way, it focuses on the thought processes of motivation (Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin, 2003, p. 374). Cognitive theories try to identify the desire directing behaviour. Theories that fall into this cognitive approach include, Vroom's Expectancy theory, Locke's Goal-setting theory, and Equity theory. Rather than conflicting with each other, these two theories present the many perspectives of motivation (Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin, 2003, pp.366-374). Furthermore this essay will also look at applications of these theories in the workplace situation.

Motivation need theories explains that our behaviour is affected by how we endeavor to satisfy our desires, Abraham Maslow devised the 'Hierarchy of needs,' which argues that one's needs form a five-level hierarchy (Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin, 2003, p.368). The bottom or first level of the hierarchy focuses on our physiological needs, meaning the simple necessities one needs in life such as pay, shelter, food and water. The next level takes into account one's needs to feel secure and safe thus, safety needs, which comprises of job security, safety regulations and insurance. Social needs is the next level up and explains that an individual needs to affiliate and be accepted by others, examples of social needs include, team projects, good co workers and supervisors. Esteem needs is the next level, which proposes that individuals needs include, recognition, promotion etc. According to Maslow lower levels of the hierarchy, need to be fulfilled before the individual can move on to the next level, the highest level of the hierarchy is self actualisation needs, where once an individual has accomplished all the lower levels, they may extend themselves to extra training, or take on a challenging project. Maslow hierarchy is one of the pioneering theories on motivation.

According to Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin (2003, p.369) Maslow's Hierarchy flows on to the next theory. Frederick Herzberg's devised the two-factor theory, which states that motivation consists of two factors:

Hygiene factors; i.e. company policies, working conditions, interpersonal relations, salary, status and security, these factors do not lead to motivations, but without them there is dissatisfaction, thus motivator factors; i.e. achievement, recognition, responsibility, and growth and advancement, the second part of the motivation theory involves what people actually do on the job. In this theory Herzberg separates motivators from hygiene factors, as he perceived hygiene factors as potential sources of dissatisfaction, but not of positive motivation, whereas motivator factors help to raise the individuals contentment with their work. Both these approaches (hygiene and motivation) must be done simultaneously. Managers and supervisors should treat employees well to ensure minimum of dissatisfaction. Managers should assist employees attain achievement, recognition for achievement, interest, and responsibility. The outcome of helping the individual achieve all the above will lead to growth and advancement in their work.

Clayton Alderfer (1972) was next to devise the ERG theory; it was created as an alternative model of Maslow's Hierarchy. Like Maslow's theory it also hierarchical; where there are three levels, Existence; physiological and safety needs, Relatedness; social and esteem needs, and Growth; self-actualisation and internal esteem needs. The ERG theory reduces the levels of Maslow's Theory thus flattening the structure. Braden (2000) suggests that existence has priority over relatedness, which has priority over growth.

J Existence needs are those things that are necessary for survival.

J Relatedness needs include social, affiliation, and competition

J Growth needs is the need to be competent to achieve, to be independent and to self-actualise.

Although it has similar stages to Maslow's hierarchy, the ERG theory allows for different levels of needs to be pursued simultaneously, while allowing the needs to be different for different people. It acknowledges that if a higher level need remain unfulfilled, the person may regress to lower level needs that appears easier to satisfy (Braden 2000).

McClelland devised the acquired-needs theory that proposes that individual's specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one's experiences (Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin 2003, p.371). These needs are classed as achievement, affiliation, and power. McClelland's theory states that a person's motivation and effectiveness in certain job functions are influenced by these three needs. The first need was for achievement, where an individual will seek to accomplish challenging tasks and achieve in one's own work. The second need is for affiliation, where one desires to maintain a good rapport with their co-workers. The third need was for power, meaning that one desires to influence others and run one's surroundings. The acquired-needs theory looks at the relationship of various needs to managerial effectiveness (Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin 2003, p.372).

McClelland theory suggests that individuals with high institutional power need, make better managers, this can be questioned, as one may want to be manager but does not fit this profile, however McClelland states that one can develop the need internally and influence it externally. Furthermore, the need for achievement stage, can be increased through training. Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin (2003, p.372) suggests that the more training and the more challenge the faster they were promoted and made more money.

As discussed earlier in the essay, motivation is a psychological process that leads to choice of behaviour resulting in some level of job performance. In an attempt to isolate the cognitive side of motivation there was the development of process theories. Process theories looks at thinking patterns associated in decision of one's behaviour, it focuses on the thought processes of motivation.

In 1964, Victor Vroom devised the expectancy theory; its main argument is that if the individual is motivated, and believes that there is a positive correlation between effort and performance; the individual will;

Produce a excellent work in order to attain a desired reward; the reward will satisfy an important need the desire to satisfy the need is strong enough to make the effort worthwhile.

Vroom's theory argues that individuals take into thought three significant issues before expending the effort needed to perform at a given level (Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin 2003, p.375), it also assumes that behaviour results from conscious choices among alternatives whose purpose is to maximise pleasure and minimise pain (Blair 2002). The key elements to this theory are E (effort) to P (performance) expectancy, P (performance) to O (outcome) expectancy and Valence. Vroom's theory suggests that the individual will consider the outcomes associated with carious levels of performance and choose the level that offers the greatest reward for the individual. E to P expectancy refers to the person's belief about whether or not a particular job performance attainable. P to O expectancy is the probability of the whether individual's performance will lead to a good outcome. The final level is the valence, which is the individual's assessment of anticipated value of various outcomes.

The expectancy theory has a formula, which is used to determine motivation;

(E p expectancy) * (P o expectancy) * Valence = Motivation

Implications can arise for managers when applying the expectancy theory;

J Managers must always push for high P o expectancy structure by fusing rewards warily to high performance (Kaufman in Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin 2003, p376).

J Managers must encourage high subordinate E p expectancy , as high expectancy contributes to high motivation to succeed, this can be done by clearly stating to subordinates what is to be expected of them, setting challenges, and provide good training to employees (Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin 2003, p376).

Goal setting is extrememly important in most organization, it gives the organisation a sense of direction and as the name suggests, it directs an organisation towards its goal. According to Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin (2003, p.378), Goal setting though at first was only seen as a technique, it has developed into a motivational theory, arguing that it applies by focusing attention and action, mobilising effort, increasing persistence and encouraging the development of strategy to achieve goals. To have successful goal setting, one must be able to set the goals with the right aspects. As indicated by Bartol, Tein, Matthews & Martin (2003, p.378), a good goal setting should encompass the following traits, it must be;

J specific and measureable

J challenging

J attainable

J relevent to the project or work

J time efficient

Further more, a commitment to attaining the goal, is significant to the goal setting process.

As demonstrated in this essay, the complexity of motivation has lead to the many perspectives, thus making way for the many motivation theories. Motivation is so broad and involved that two approaches were developed; the needs and the process in order to really have a clear look at motivation and its implications on an individual and their workplace. Although motivation is a key element in performance it still needs to be connected with ability and working conditions must be taken into consideration to produce the desired performance. The extensive research that has been conducted on motivation has been extremely important to managers of organisations, as it helps managers and their subordinates to be motivated and perform to achieve its goal.