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Motivation Theories: Top 4 Theories of Motivation in Management

Motivation Theories: Top 4 Theories of Motivation in Management
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Read this article to learn about the different theories of motivation in management or an organization like need or content theory, cognitive theory, reinforcement theory, and behavioral theory…

The motivational theories are very different from the perspective of human beings and their behaviors. Humans have different perceptions and needs about how they will satisfy those basic needs. All types of motivational theories focus on these relationships (individual needs and perceptions about how to satisfy them) but in another way.

Some of the important theories of motivation are as follows:-

1. Content or Need Theories-

  • Acquired-Needs theory- By David C. McClelland
  • ERG theory- By Clayton Alderfer
  • Two-factor theory- By Frederick Herzberg
  • Need hierarchy theory- By Maslow

2. Cognitive Theories- 

  • Expectancy theory- By Victor H. Vroom and Porter
  • Goal Setting theory- By Locke and Latham

3. Reinforcement Theory-

4. Behavioral Theories-

  • Theory X and Theory Y- By McGregor
  • Theory Z- Ouchi

 Theories of Motivation

The theories are:-

1. Content or Need Theories:

(i) Acquired – Needs Theory:

This theory was written by David C. McClelland declare that needs can be acquired through one’s life experiences. The author McClelland used a method called Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT) where he made individual write stories about certain unclear pictures.

He published these stories on the basis of humans perception and their three needs like:

Need for achievement: It is a type of desire to achieve a goal or task more effectively than in the previous past.

Need for power: The need for power is strongly focused on the desire of an individual to become a team leader. He wants to affect the behaviors of others. He aims to hold the top position in an organization. The power can be categorized into two facts like personal power and institutional power.

Need for affiliation: This need is similar to the social needs of the hierarchy theory. People with high needs for affiliation join business houses where they can form social groups, healthy environment, and also develop a friendly relationship with others.

(ii) ERG theory:

This theory develops as a supplement to Maslow’s theory. It acts like an alternative need theory called ERG theory which classifies needs as lower-order and higher-order. It is written by Clayton Alderfer. The base of this theory is the need hierarchy of Maslow.

There are five needs in Maslow’s theory and all five needs are converted into three needs which known as ERG theory. The three needs are as follows:-

Existence needs: This need is the combination of physiological and safety needs of the hierarchy theory. This is the basic need that peoples wish to satisfy. They produce a similar impact on the behavior of the individual as declared by Maslow.

Relatedness needs: These needs are similar to the social needs of an individual. They concern to desire to belong to a group to share our ethical, social and cultural values. They also cover the most important need called ego needs (acquired through a relationship with others).

Growth needs: The ego acquired through self-actualization and personal development needs are equated with the growth needs. The need for innovation, creativity, and desire to make things happen in our external and internal environment.

(iii) Two-factor theory:

Generally, Maslow’s theory is totally based on general observation of needs, the two-factor theory was written by Frederick Herzberg is based on actual research findings. Herzberg organizes interviews with 200 engineers and accountants of companies and asked them to explain the job experiences (whether it is good or bad). He asked two basic questions:-

Q1. What things make you feel satisfied with your work and inspire you to perform better?

Q2. What things make you feel bored or dissatisfied with your work and do not inspire you to perform better?

Herberg also classifies two sets of factors that provided satisfaction or dissatisfaction to workers…

                   Hygiene factors             Motivators
1.       They are known as maintenance factors.1.       They are known as motivational factors.


2.       Their active presence does not motivate the employees.2.       Their presence acts as satisfier.
3.       Their absence acts as dis-satisfiers.3.       Their absence does not motivate the workers.

Hygiene factors: These factors are retirement benefit plans, insurance policies, job security, relationship with superiors, salary structure, bonus, job security, peer group, and subordinates, working conditions, and supervision.

The hygiene factors appear as follows:

Hygiene factors includes working conditions, supervision, salary, security, etc.
Hygiene factors include working conditions, supervision, salary, security, etc.

Motivators: These factors are related to the challenges, opportunities, job content, achievement, recognition, innovative projects for personal growth and responsibility. Their absence gives no motivation but their presence gives a high degree of motivation and morale.

Motivation factors appear as follows:

Motivation factors include achievement, advancement, growth, recognition, etc.
Motivation factors include achievement, advancement, growth, recognition, etc.

(iv) Need Hierarchy Theory:

The need hierarchy theory was written by Abraham Maslow. He promotes a hierarchy of needs present in all peoples. It consists of five types of needs such as:-

This diagram shows the Maslow's Hierarchy theory of needs
This diagram shows the various kinds of Maslow’s Hierarchy theory of needs.

(a) Physiological needs:

These needs are very basic that people want to satisfy. They are the need for shelter, food, clothing, and other important necessities of life. One of the strongest motivator to satisfy all these needs is money and a healthy work environment.

(b) Safety needs:

The satisfaction of physiological needs helps to arouse safety needs in an individual. These are the needs which are free from all external uncertainties like dangers of war, accidents, destruction, etc. and internal problems like maintaining the standard of needs and losing the job.

In this need, the motivator provides health insurance, provident funds, life insurance things to our employees.

(c) Social needs:

Humans are a type of social animal. He cannot live alone. While working in the formal structure of authority-responsibility relationships, he develops respect, loyalty, and affection for his superiors. Motivators provide healthy relationships, healthy work environment to satisfy his social needs.

(d) Ego needs:

Ego needs help to explain the concept of self-respect, power, worth, prestige and arises after satisfaction of lower-order needs. These needs can be two types such as self-ego and public ego.

(e) Self-actualization needs:

These needs help to inspire an individual to develop to his maximum attention or power. They are placed at the top of the need hierarchy. These needs also help to achieve any goal. The motivators provide opportunities for future growth and innovation, participative decision making, opportunities, etc.

2. Cognitive Theories:

(i) Expectancy Theory:

This theory of motivation was written by Victor H. Vroom and later extended by Lyman Porter and Edward Lawler. Both theories are briefly discussed below:

(a) Vroom’s expectancy theory: 

According to this motivational theory, individual expect to achieve some goals out of their actions and also feel motivated to perform those tasks and actions.

Vroom’s theory explains that motivation is a product of expectancy and valence.

Motivation or Force= Expectancy x Valence.

Force indicates the term motivation that influences an individual to behave in a specific manner.

Valence indicates the strength of an opinion that an individual holds about the outcome of his action. It may be positive or negative depending on his preference for an outcome.

Expectancy is a type of belief that the action will lead to an outcome.

Theories of Motivation- Vroom's Expectancy Theory
Theories of Motivation- Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

(b) Porter-Lawler expectancy theory:

This theory believes that job satisfaction does not lead to good performance but job performance leads to job satisfaction (i.e, it helps to increase production or sales). The theory maintains that effort to perform a task is affected not only by the rewards or outcomes of performance but also the ability to perform that task and understanding of the job.

This theory-based on the following points like:

  • Satisfaction
  • Efforts
  • Performance
  • Rewards

(ii) Goal-Setting Theory:

Edwin A. Locke and Gary P.Lathman declare that the setting of goals can also be an inspirational or motivational factor affecting human behavior. If goals are measurable, attainable, and challenging, people will be motivated to work towards the achievement of goals.

When an individual feels committed to business goals, they are motivated to achieve those goals and also combine their hard work with best returns and rewards.

3. Reinforcement Theory:

This theory is written by the behavioral psychologist, B.F. Skinner. According to him, previous actions and their outcomes affect the present and future actions. Past behaviors associated with positive returns are repeated in future and behaviors associated with negative returns are not repeated.

Skinner's Reinforcement Theory
Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory

There are four types of reinforcement theory like:

(a) Positive reinforcement: If managers want to repeat the behaviors, they use positive reinforcers like praise and rewards. It is a method of strengthening behavior by offering rewards for better performance.

(b) Negative reinforcement: Managers reinforce a particular behavior by eliminating or avoiding the returns that employees feel are undesirable.

(c) Extinct behavior: If managers do not want to repeat the behavior, they will either condemn it or ignore it.

(d) Punishment: This also aims to weaken the power of behavior. If a worker takes up a fight with his co-employees or comes to the office late every day, he will be punished by his superiors.

4. Behavioral Theories:

(i) Theory X and Theory Y:

This theory is organized by Douglas McGregor. McGregor wrote the book whose name is ‘The Human Side of Enterprise‘. “The theoretical assumptions management holds about controlling its human resources determine the whole character of the business. They assume also the quality of its successive generations of management”. This theory is totally related to the behavior of the human side.

His theory has a set of two assumptions like Theory X is a one set of assumption and Theory Y is another set of assumptions.

Theory X:

Theory X explains that people by nature are lazy, do not want to assume responsibility, dislike work and other higher level of needs. They only help to want to fulfill their physiological or primary needs of food, shelter, and cloth.

Theory Y:

This theory of need helps to satisfy ego-satisfaction and self-actualization. They provide the facility of decisions making to our employees and innovate their job conditions. Their goal is to maximize the revenue (whether it is personal revenue and organizational revenue).

They also integrate individual goals with organizational goals.

                         Theory X                             Theory Y
1.       People dislike work and avoid responsibility. 1.   People like work and take, rather, safe, responsibility.
2.       They work to satisfy their lower-order needs. 2.  They work to satisfy their higher-order needs.
3.       People are not committed to organizational goals. 3.   They integrate personal goals with organizational goals.
4.       Leadership is autocratic in nature. 4.   It is democratic in nature.

(ii) Theory Z:

This theory is organized by William Ouchi. He studied Japanese management methods because of the rising growth of Japanese companies and Japanese working conditions that could be adopted by business houses in the United States. He organizes a comparative analysis of US and Japanese based companies and also integrates the Japanese style of management with an American style of management.

It includes various featured points which are related to the motivation in management:-

  • Control processes
  • Employment
  • Decision-making
  • Responsibility
  • Concern
  • Careers
  • Promotion

So, this is the full explanation on the topic of theories of motivation…

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