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Asesessing the two theories of motivation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 2292 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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“Motivation is the result of the interaction between an individual and a situation. Motivation can be defined as the process that for an individual’s intensity, direction and persistence of effort toward attaining a goal” (T. R. Mitchell 1997). Generally motivation is concerned with effort toward any goal in order to reflect our interest in work related behaviour (Organisational Behaviour by Robbins & Judge 2009).

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So basically Motivation is the extent to which an individual is engaged by the work role he or she occupies. Theories of motivation suggest that motivated behaviour occurs either because work fulfils psychological needs or because of more rational decision-making processes where there appears to be a clear connection between effort and performance and performance and value outcomes (Principles of Organisational Behaviour by R. Fincham & P. Rhodes 2009). Motivation is best explained in theories of prominent theorists like Maslow, Herzberg, McGregor, Adams, Vroom etc. There are two types of theories of Motivation, Content and Process theories.

Content theories are those theories that provide a link between individual needs and work rewards. Content theorists make a number of important assumptions about the relationship between an individual’s motivation and job satisfaction (Maslow, 1943 McClelland, 1961). Process theories attempt a more dynamic approach by striving to understand the thought processes of individuals which act to influence their behaviour. They are more linked to process of developing motives rather than to a static analysis of needs (Organisational Behaviour by Robbins & Judge). Two theories that I will compare and contrast, the Hierarchy of Needs theory of Abraham Maslow to that of Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory of Motivation. Both are content theories of motivation.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory assumes that man is basically a wanting animal seeking to satisfying needs both in social and working life. Man is motivated toward satisfying these needs and does so in a predisposal and logical order (Organisational Behaviour by Robbins & Judge). He hypothesized that within every human being there exists a hierarchy of five needs. These needs are Physiological, Safety, Social, Esteem and self actualisation. Physiological needs includes all physical needs of the human body required to live like food, water, shelter, clothing, sex etc. Need to be safe include security and protection from physical and emotional harm, a sense of security. Social needs include affection, belongingness, acceptance, and friendship. Esteem includes internal esteem factors such as self-respect, autonomy and achievement; and external esteem factors like status, recognition and attention. Self-actualisation is the drive to become what one is capable of becoming; includes growth, achieving one’s potential and self-fulfilment. Maslow separated the five needs into higher and lower orders. Physiological and need of safety were described as lower order and social, esteem and self-actualisation as higher order needs. This differentiation was made on the premise that higher order needs are satisfied internally whereas lower order needs are satisfied externally. Maslow’s need theory is very popular among practising managers because of its intuitive logic and ease of understanding (Organisational Behaviour by Stephen P. Robbins 2007).

Frederick Herzberg suggested the Two Factor Theory or Motivation-Hygiene Theory after examining the models and assumptions proposed by Abraham Maslow. He conducted a research study involving two hundred engineers and accountants. Subjects were asked to describe times when they felt satisfied or dissatisfied with their jobs. Careful Analysis of the incidents described yielded an intriguing pattern of findings. Incidents involving the work itself, achievement, promotion, recognition and responsibilities were mentioned as a source of satisfaction and incidents involving inter-personal relations, working conditions, supervisors, salary and company policies came out to be causes of job dissatisfaction (Organisation Theory by Derek S. Pugh 1997).Herzberg believed that an individual’s relation to work is basic and that one’s attitude toward work can very well determine success or failure. He investigated what people want from their jobs. He concluded that Intrinsic factors are related to job satisfaction while extrinsic factors are associated with dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg Managers who seek to eliminate factors that lead to job dissatisfaction may bring peace but not motivation. They will be placating their workforce rather than motivating them. As a result conditions surrounding job such as pay, company policy, quality of supervision, working conditions etc. were characterised by Herzberg as Hygiene factors, and motivating factors include achievement, responsibility, work itself, recognition and advancement (Managing Organisations by Robert H. Rosenfeld & David C. Wilson 1999).

In these theories both Maslow and Herzberg are showing that there is a link between individual needs and work rewards. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory (1954) was the basis upon which Herzberg conducted research and derived the Motivation-Hygiene theory or Two Factor theory (1959). Maslow’s view was that the five most important types of needs together formed a hierarchy where the lower order needs were at the bottom and higher order needs were at the top. He showed that as and when one of the man’s needs becomes substantially satisfied the next need becomes dominant. Thus as a man satisfies his Physiological needs his more important needs now become safety and when he feels safe and secured he moves into higher order needs of socialising. After he has made friends he now will want to have his reputation to spread among them and also beyond i.e. Esteem. After a man has satisfied all his physical, safety, social, esteem needs there comes in him a drive to find what he is capable of, self-actualisation. Maslow argued that most of the needs could never be fully satisfied but a person moves up in the hierarchy as and when a need is substantially satisfied. The need of self-actualisation could never be substantially satisfied because individuals would continue to be motivated by challenging jobs and creative job demands.

In contrast to Maslow’s view that individuals are born with a well-ordered hierarchy of needs which motivate people, Herzberg argued that an individual’s relation to work is basic and that one’s attitude can determine his success or failure. Maslow focused on the needs of man to be satisfied by their jobs, while Herzberg enquired to find what people want from their jobs. Herzberg found that it is not needs of individuals but his expectations from the job. He said that the opposite of ‘satisfaction’ is not ‘dissatisfaction’ but ‘no satisfaction’ and opposite of ‘dissatisfaction, is ‘no dissatisfaction’ completely against the traditional view. He believed factors that come under as motivators (achievement, responsibility) lead to satisfaction and that the hygiene factors (pay, company policy) decrease the amount of dissatisfaction (Managing Organisations by Robert H. Rosenfeld & David C. Wilson 1999 & Organisational Behaviour by Stephen P. Robbins). This means that good hygiene should be provided but this will yield benefits only up to a certain point, after which focus should be on motivating factors (Organisational Behaviour by John B. Miner). Herzberg then combined the hygiene and motivation factors results in four possible scenarios; high hygiene with high motivation which is the ideal situation where employees are highly motivated and have few complaints, high hygiene with low motivation is where employees have few complaints but they are not highly motivated, here the job is perceived as a paycheck, low hygiene with high motivation where employees are motivated but have a lot of complaints. A situation where the job is exciting and challenging but salary and work conditions are not up to par, low hygiene with low motivation which is the worst situation and the result is unmotivated employees with lots of complaints.

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By and large prior to Herzberg’s work, job satisfaction and performance were thought to result largely from extrinsic stimulants such as pay. He advocated that managers should attempt to enable employees to access intrinsic satisfiers while simultaneously avoiding the dissatisfaction resulting from the perceived inadequacy of extrinsic rewards (Organisational behaviour Individuals, Groups and Organisations by Ian Brooks 2006). Both Maslow and Herzberg believed that the primary function of any organisation weather religious, political or industrial should be to implement the needs for man to enjoy a meaningful existence (Work Motivation: history, theory, research and practise by Gary P. Latham 2007). But Maslow suggests that a favourable environment however does allow us to progress from behaviour activated from satisfying physiological needs to behaviour motivated by more psychological needs and finally to be motivated by higher order needs like giving and receiving affection, belonging and love, esteem, reputation, prestige and so on (Principles of Organisational Behaviour by R. Fincham & P. Rhodes 2009). Both these theories were very popular among managers because of their logic and ease of understanding and implementing but they were also heavily criticized on many grounds. Both Herzberg’s and Maslow’s findings were investigated in a large number of studies conducted by other academics. Unfortunately these replicative studies failed to offer strong support for these content theories. Some theories did find results similar to Herzberg but most showed sharply contrasting results (example Schneider and Locke, 1971)

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory is simple and logical but research done on it does not validate the theory. Hierarchy does not appear to operate in some instances. Maslow believed that his theory held for the general population and he acknowledged existence of some individual differences. For example, someone who is long term unemployed may eventually have his higher order need go forever. Meaning to say higher order needs cease to motivate and the person is content with government subsidy. It was also seen that some individuals seem to be capable of self-actualisation without having had their more basic physiological needs satisfied, example; hunger strikers who are political prisoners (Principles of Organisational Behaviour by R. Fincham & P. Rhodes 2009).Whereas Herzberg’s theory was based on facts that came out of real research in contrast to Maslow, but the procedure used by Herzberg is limited by its methodology. When things are going well, people tend to take credit themselves. Contrarily, they blame failure on the extrinsic environment. Here the reliability of Herzberg’s methodology is questioned. Raters have to make interpretations, so they may contaminate the findings by interpreting one response in one manner while treating a similar response in another manner. Herzberg assumed a relationship between satisfaction and productivity but he looked only on satisfaction and overlooked productivity (Organisational Behaviour by Stephen P. Robbins 2007).

In case of Herzberg’s findings his methods were questioned whereas it was found that it was difficult to operationalize Maslow’s constructs, particularly for self-actualisation. His fascination with this need made his descriptions of these needs more and more philosophical and less and less concise. He treated it as something inherently difficult to measure like a quasi-religious state. Another consequence of Maslow’s preoccupation with self-actualisation was that interesting parts of theory were underdeveloped (Principles of Organisational Behaviour by R. Fincham & P. Rhodes 2009). Herzberg’s theory is based upon Maslow’s theory but it is inconsistent with the research. While studies of Schneider and Locke, 1971 found out that in Two Factor Theory motivator factors and hygiene factors exerted powerful effects upon both satisfaction and dissatisfaction which is contrary to Herzberg’s basic assertion that these positive and negative reactions stem from different distinct clusters of variables (Managing Organisations by Robert H. Rosenfeld & David C. Wilson 1999). Maslow’s theory has been criticised as being static, descriptive and ideologically biased. Like Herzberg, it cannot predict behaviour through analysing needs. It can be argued that needs reflect a cosy set of middle-class values rather than a rigorous theory. Both these theories are full of methodological problems and they do not meet the criteria demanded by modern social science research (Managing Organisations by Robert H. Rosenfeld & David C. Wilson 1999).

Thus, to conclude I believe that managers can use both these theories of Hierarchy of needs and the Two Factor theory or Motivation and Hygiene theory to some extent. Maslow’s theory defines basic outline for what managers should do to motivate employees to perform better. They can use Herzberg’s theory to decrease dissatisfaction among employees by better hygiene and also increase satisfaction and by motivating them. But they have to be careful as these theories are not applicable in many cases.


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