Motivation Theories

Motivation Theories is one’s direction to behavior, or what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior. A motive is what prompts the person to act in a certain way, or at least develop an inclination for specific behavior.

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory

Maslow has presented the hierarchy of needs in the following order.

motivation theories hierarchy

1. Basic/Physiological Needs: The needs that are taken as the starting point in motivation theory are the so-called physiological needs. These needs related to the survival and maintenance of human life. These needs includes such things as food, clothing, shelter, air, water and other necessaries of life.

2. Safety and security Needs: After satisfying the physiological needs, people want the assurance of maintaining given economic level. They want job security, security of source of income, provision for old age, insurance against risk etc.

3. Social Needs: Man is a social being. He is, therefore, interested in social interaction, companionship, belongingness, etc. It is this socialising and belongingness why individuals prefer to work in groups and especially older people go to work.

4. Esteem Needs or ego needs: These needs refer to self-esteem and self-respect. They include such needs which indicate self-confidence, achievement, competence, knowledge and independence. The fulfillment of esteem needs leads to self-confidence, strength and capability of being useful in the organisation. However, inability to fulfill these needs results in feeling like inferiority, weakness and helplessness.

5. Self-Actualization Needs: This level represents the culmination of all the lower, intermediate, and higher needs of human beings. In other words, the final step under the need hierarchy model is the need for self-actualization. This refers to fulfillment.

The term self-actualization was coined by Kurt Goldstein and means to become actualized in what one is potentially good at. In effect, self- actualization is the person’s motivation to transform perception of self into reality.

Herzberg’s Motivation Hygiene Theory

The psychologist Frederick Herzberg extended the work of Maslow and propsed a new motivation theory popularly known as Herzberg’s Motivation Hygiene Theory. Herzberg conducted a widely reported motivational study on 200 accountants and engineers employed by firms in and around Western Pennsylvania.

He asked these people to describe two important incidents at their jobs:

(1) When did you feel particularly good about your job, and

(2) When did you feel exceptionally bad about your job? He used the critical incident method of obtaining data.

The responses when analysed were found quite interesting and fairly consistent. The replies respondents gave when they felt good about their jobs were significantly different from the replies given when they felt bad. Reported good feelings were generally associated with job satisfaction, whereas bad feeling with job dissatisfaction. Herzberg labelled the job satisfiers motivators, and he called job dissatisfies hygiene or maintenance factors. Taken together, the motivators and hygiene factors have become known as Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation.

According to Herzberg, today’s motivators are tomorrow’s hygiene because the latter stop influencing the behaviour of persons when they get them. Accordingly, one’s hygiene may be the motivator of another.

McClelland’s Need Theory

Another well-known need-based theory of motivation, as opposed to hierarchy of needs of satisfaction-dissatisfaction, is the theory developed by McClelland and his associates’. McClelland developed his theory based on Henry Murray’s developed long list of motives and manifest needs used in his early studies of personality. McClelland’s need-theory is closely associated with learning theory, because he believed that needs are learned or acquired by the kinds of events people experienced in their environment and culture.

He found that people who acquire a particular need behave differently from those who do not have. His theory focuses on Murray’s three needs; achievement, power and affiliation.

In other words, need for achievement is a behaviour directed toward competition with a standard of excellence. McClelland found that people with a high need for achievement perform better than those with a moderate or low need for achievement, and noted regional / national differences in achievement motivation.

McGregor’s Participation Theory

Douglas McGregor formulated two distinct views of human being based on participation of workers. The first basically negative, labeled Theory X, and the other basically positive, labled Theory Y.

Theory X assumptions:

1. People are by nature indolent. That is, they like to work as little as possible.

2. People lack ambition, dislike responsibility, and prefer to be directed by others.

3. People are inherently self-centered and indifferent to organisational needs and goals.

4. People are generally gullible and not very sharp and bright.

Theory Y assumes:

1. People are not by nature passive or resistant to organisational goals.

2. They want to assume responsibility.

3. They want their organisation to succeed.

4. People are capable of directing their own behaviour.

5. They have need for achievement.

What McGregor tried to dramatise through his theory X and Y is to outline the extremes to draw the fencing within which the organisational man is usually seen to behave. The fact remains that no organisational man would actually belong either to theory X or theory Y. In reality, he/she shares the traits of both. What actually happens is that man swings from one set or properties to the other with changes in his mood and motives in changing environment.