Flow of Presentation
• Concept of Motivation
• Theories of Motivation
McClelland’s Achievement Motivation theory
Equity Theory of Motivation
Terence Mitchell defines motivation as
‘the degree to which an individual
wants and chooses to engage in
certain specified behaviours’.
A fuller definition from the Chartered
Management Institute is:
Motivation is the creation of incentives
and working environments that enable
people to perform to the best of their
ability. The aim of motivation is to
engage people with the work they are
doing in order to achieve the best
possible outcomes for individuals and
the organization as a whole.
Theories of motivation attempt to
explain the behaviour of people at
work, but the complexity of motivation
and the lack of a single answer make
them important to the manager. The
usual approach to the study of
motivation is through an
understanding of internal cognitive
processes, which should help the
manager predict likely behaviour of
staff in given situations. These theories
are divided into two contrasting
approaches: content theories and
process theories. After that followed by
some contemporary theories.
DOUGLAS MCGREGOR DAVID MCCLELLAND VICTOR VROOM
THE MEN BEHIND THE THEORIES:
(MIT SLOAN SCHOOL OF
(HARVARD UNIVERSITY) (YALE SCHOOL OF
Content theories of motivation attempt to explain
those specific things that actually motivate the
individual at work. These theories are concerned with
identifying people’s needs and their relative strengths,
and the goals they pursue in order to satisfy these
needs. Content theories place emphasis on the nature
of needs and what motivates. Major content theories
of motivation include:
● Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory;
● Herzberg’s two-factor theory;
● McClelland’s achievement motivation theory.
McClelland’s theory of needs was developed by
David McClelland and his associates.
It looks at three needs:
■ Need for achievement (nAch) is the drive to
excel, to achieve in relationship to a set
■ Need for power (nPow) is the need to make
others behave in a way they would not
■ Need for affiliation (nAff) is the desire for
friendly and close interpersonal relationships
Douglas McGregor, through his well-known
“Theory X and Theory Y,” drew a distinction
between the assumptions about human
motivation which underlie these two approaches,
to this effect:
Theory X assumes that people dislike work and
must be coerced, controlled, and directed toward
organizational goals. Furthermore, most people
prefer to be treated this way, so they can avoid
Theory Y—the integration of goals—emphasizes
the average person’s intrinsic interest in his
work, his desire to be self-directing and to seek
responsibility, and his capacity to be creative in
solving business problems.
THEORY X AND THEORY Y
Process theories of motivation, or extrinsic theories,
attempt to identify the relationships among the dynamic
variables that make up motivation and the actions
required to influence behaviour and actions.
These theories are concerned more with the actual
process of motivation and how behaviour is initiated,
directed and sustained. Many of the theories cannot be
linked to a single writer, but major approaches and leading
writers under this heading include:
● expectancy-based models – Vroom, and Porter and
● equity theory – Adams;
● goal theory – Locke;
● attribution theory – Heider and Kelley
The underlying basis of expectancy
theory is that people are influenced by
the expected results of their actions.
Motivation is a function of the
1. effort expended and perceived level
of performance; and
2. the expectation that rewards
(desired outcomes) will be related to
There must also be:
3. the expectation that rewards
(desired outcomes) are available.
Vroom was the first person to propose an expectancy theory aimed specifically at work motivation. His
model is based on three key variables: valence, instrumentality and expectancy (VIE theory or
● Valence – the term used for the feeling about specific outcomes. This is the attractiveness of, or
preference for, a particular outcome to the individual.
● Instrumentality – from which the valences of outcomes are derived. This leads to a distinction
between first-level outcomes and second-level outcomes.
The first-level outcomes are performance related. Some people may seek to perform well as
part of their work ethic and without thinking about the expected consequences of their actions.
The second-level outcomes are need related. Many need-related outcomes are dependent upon
actual performance rather than effort expended.
● Expectancy – when a person chooses between alternative behaviours that have uncertain
outcomes, the choice is affected not only by the preference for a particular outcome but also by the
probability that the outcome will be achieved.
Equity theory focuses on people’s feelings of how
fairly they have been treated in comparison with
the treatment received by others. For example, a
person may expect promotion as an outcome of
a high level of contribution (input) in helping to
achieve an important organisational objective.
People also compare their own position with that
of others. They determine the perceived equity
of their own position. Most exchanges involve a
number of inputs and outcomes.
According to equity theory of Adams, people
place a weighting on these various inputs and
outcomes according to how they perceive their
importance. When there is an unequal
comparison of ratios the person experiences a
sense of inequity.
The combination of valence and expectancy determines the person’s motivation for a
given form of behaviour. This is the motivational force.
Expressed as an equation, motivation (M) is the sum of the products of the valences
of all outcomes (V) times the strength of expectancies that action will result in
achieving these outcomes (E). Therefore, if either, or both, valence or expectancy is
zero, then motivation is zero. The choice between alternative behaviours is indicated
by the highest attractiveness score.
There are likely to be a number of outcomes expected for a given action. Therefore,
the measure of E•V is summed across the total number of possible outcomes to arrive
at a single figure indicating the attractiveness for the contemplated choice of
A feeling of inequity causes tension, which is an unpleasant experience. The presence of inequity therefore motivates
the person to remove or to reduce the level of tension and the perceived inequity. The magnitude of perceived inequity
determines the level of tension and strength of motivation. Adams identifies six broad types of possible behaviour as
consequences of inequity:
● Changes to inputs – Increasing or decreasing level of inputs, for example through the amount or quality of work,
absenteeism, or working additional hours without pay.
● Changes to outcomes – Attempting to change outcomes such as pay, working conditions, status and recognition,
without changes to inputs.
● Cognitive distortion – Distorting, cognitively, inputs or outcomes to achieve the same results. Attempting to distort
the utility of facts, for example the belief about how hard they are really working.
● Leaving the field – Trying to find a new situation with a more favorable balance, for example by absenteeism,
request for a transfer, resigning from a job or from the organization altogether.
● Acting on others – Attempting to bring about changes in others, for example to lower their inputs or accept greater
● Changing the object of comparison – Changing the reference group with whom comparison is made. For
example, where another person with a previously similar ratio of outcomes– inputs receives greater outcomes without
any apparent increase in contribution, that other person may be perceived as now belonging to a different level in the
BEHAVIOUR AS A CONSEQUENCE OF
Goal theory is based mainly on the work of Locke. The basic premise is that people’s goals or
intentions play an important part in determining behaviour. Locke accepts the importance of
perceived value, as indicated in expectancy theories of motivation, and suggests that these values
give rise to the experience of emotions and desires.
Goals direct work behaviour and performance and lead to certain consequences or feedback.
People strive to achieve goals in order to satisfy their emotions and desires.
Locke subsequently pointed out that ‘goal-setting is more appropriately viewed as a motivational
technique rather than as a formal theory of motivation’
Part of the process of perceiving other people is to attribute characteristics to them. We judge
their behaviour and intentions on past knowledge and in comparison with other people we
know. It is our way of making sense of their behaviour. This is known as attribution theory.
Attribution is the process by which people interpret the perceived causes of behaviour. The
initiator of attribution theory is generally recognised as Heider, who suggests that behaviour is
determined by a combination of perceived internal forces and external forces.
In making attributions and determining whether an internal or external attribution is
chosen, Kelley suggests three basic criteria: distinctiveness, consensus and consistency.
● Distinctiveness – How distinctive or different was the behaviour or action in this
particular task or situation compared with behaviour or action in other tasks or situations?
● Consensus – Is the behaviour or action different from, or in keeping with, that
displayed by most other people in the same situation?
● Consistency – Is the behaviour or action associated with an enduring personality or
motivational characteristic over time, or an unusual one-off situation caused by external
Kelley hypothesized that people attribute behaviour to internal forces or personal
factors when they perceive low distinctiveness, low consensus and high consistency.
Behaviour is attributed to external forces or environmental factors when people perceive
high distinctiveness, high consensus and low consistency.
BASIC CRITERIA IN MAKING ATTRIBUTIONS
MEN BEHIND THE THEORIES:
John Stacy Adams
Organisational behaviour modification.
Another possible approach to
motivation is that of organisational
behaviour modification (OBMod). This
is the application of learning principles
to influence organisational behaviour.
Luthans and Kreitner suggest that
OBMod ‘represents a merging of
behavioral learning theory on the one
hand and organizational behavior
theory on the other’.
The concept of OBMod leads us to
the next chapter, Creativity.