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Motivation Theory Literature Review

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 4505 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Motivation is naturally conceptualized either as an desire arising from within the human being or as an impulse arising from within the organism or as an attraction arising from an object external to the individual. According to Baron (1991) defines motivation as the internal processes that activate, guide, and maintain behaviour especially goal-directed behaviour. Also (Kanfer, 1998) defines as free will element of behaviour and the psychological mechanism governing the direction, intensity, and persistence of action not due solely to individual differences in ability or overwhelming environmental demands that force action. Motivation has been defined as essential to adaptive functioning and quality of life (Marin & Chakravorty, 2005), and as the content of the positive thinking one wishes to maintain towards the attainment of an objective (Schweingruber, 2006). According to (kanfer, 1990) states that challenges facing researchers into motivation is that it cannot be seen and most individual see is ‘a multidimensional stream of behaviour and the products of those behaviours’. Also states ‘motivational processes can be inferred only from analysis of this continuing stream of behaviour that is determined both by environment and heredity and is observed through their effects on personality, belief, knowledge, abilities and skills. Besides that,(Herzberg,1987)describes ‘movement’ as a function of fear of punishment or failure to get extrinsic rewards and motivation as a function of growth from getting intrinsic rewards out of interesting and challenging work. Motivation is to be intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is internal. Intrinsic motivation is obvious as the performance of an activity for its inborn satisfaction rather than for some detachable outcome. As soon as, intrinsically motivated, a person is stimulated to take action for the pleasurable or challenge entailed relatively than because of external products, pressures (Ryan et al 2000). It occurs when people are compelled to do something out of pleasure, importance, or desire. Extrinsic motivation occurs when external factors compel the person to do something. Extrinsic motivation is a pull together that pertains whenever an action is done in order to reach some detachable result. (Rayan et al. 2000).Motivation is the driving force within individuals that compels them physiologically and psychologically to pursue one or more goals to fulfil their needs or expectations. (Lam & Tang, 2003, p. 61)

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From my understanding whatever the behaviour, the drive pushing or polling person to act in particular way is motivation and most researchers believe motivation as the drive behind human behaviour. Furthermore, people cannot be motivated to do something if there is nothing in it for them. Obviously, reward may be the avoidance of a negative outcome as much as it may be the achievement of a positive outcome. Motivation theory has to do with “why do individual make the choices they make?” or what makes someone persist at one activity and yet quickly give up another. Motivation is to give reason, incentive, enthusiasm, or interest that causes a specific action or certain behaviour. Motivation is present in every life function. Simple acts such as eating are motivated by hunger. Education is motivated by desire for knowledge. Motivation is a vital quality that pervades all aspects of teaching and learning. Motivated students display interest in activities, motivated teachers feel that they can help students learn and motivated administrators make possible teaching and learning in their buildings. Self-motivation is what most people use to define motivation at its highest mountain of accomplishments. If you are able to motivate yourself and reach your goals, you would have conquered the ability to be disciplined and will accomplish anything you put your mind to. Motivation is very important to all decisions that you have to make. In the workplace, motivation is defined by the actions that employees take to improve the company goals as well as their aspirations for career advancement. The effective performance of employees is what makes or breaks a company. So to keep employees motivated, employers must invest in the overall morale by implementing workshops and seminars to help them. Managers are the key personnel in what makes an employee follow directions. Using rewards like promotions and incentives as well as compliments can greatly improve an employee’s view of the company and its managers. Employees like to be recognized for their efforts regardless of the salary bracket. Such recognition keeps them motivated in getting their job done. Recognition in this case is the motivation technique that managers can tap into and gain the structure over the workplace environment of how they want things done. What organisation and managers can do is provide the environment, support and resources that will influence and effect motivation. Nowadays, managers are trying to find useful motivation theories to motivate their employees. While there are a wide variety of motivation theories on human motivation discussed in this literature review, which means that managers can use any or all those motivation theories to motivate their employees. Managers can use these motivation theories in ways that complement each other.


This is all about the main researchers of motivation theories and to illustrate how these theories can be apply to practical situation. Also reviewed how the major concepts and contributions can apply in work related situations and applying them in groups, teams at organisational level and individual level. Motivation is a complex concept and there are many different theories which look at the subject from different perspectives. The different theories of motivation and criticisms of the theories have been discussed as follows:

1: Hierarchy of needs theory by Maslow A.H.

2: Hygiene theory by Herzberg F.

3: X and Y theory by McGregor D.M.

4: Existence- Relatedness-Growth theory by Alderfer C. P.

5: Expectancy theory by Vroom V.

6: Goal-Setting Theory by Locke E.A.

7: Internal and External control theory by Rotter J.B.

8: Achievement theory by McClelland and Atkinson J.W.

9: Job characteristics theory by Hackman J.R. and Oldham G.R.


According to Maslow (1954) projected that motivation is based on a number of human need. It has to do with the hierarchy that requires the lower more basic needs to be satisfied before the increasingly less basic ones above. Maslow believed that there are five basic needs of the theory. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is one of the most famous motivation theories, and it has been the centre of much interest by management researchers (Katz, 2004). This (Fig.1) is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in pyramid with physiological needs at the base, self-actualisation at the top.

5: Self- actualisation needs: Refer to personal growth and development.

4: Esteem or Ego needs: Refer to need for status and self respect.

3: Social needs: Refer to need to part of a social group and belongingness/love

2: Safety needs: Refer to security, need for shelter or physical danger.

1: Physiological needs: Refer to basic life needs, like food, drink, shelter, etc

THE SELF ACTUALISATION NEED: Maslow defined self-actualization as “the complete use and utilization of talents, capacities, potentialities. (Maslow,1954). Self-actualization is not a static state. It is an ongoing procedure in which one’s capacities are fully, imaginatively, and cheerfully utilized. Self-actualizing people perceive life without a doubt and they are less emotional and more objective.

ESTEEM OR EGO NEEDS: According to Maslow, esteem needs were made of two types of desire.

I: Desire for strength, adequacy achievement, competence and confidence in the face of organisation.

2: Desire for reputation, glory dominance, recognition, appreciation and dignity

Furthermore, people need to be respected, to have self-esteem, self- respect and respect. Self-Esteem expresses the normal human desire to be acknowledged and valued by others. This has to with one’s internal needs for self-respect, autonomy and external needs for status and recognition.

SOCIAL NEEDS: Are the third level of human needs from the (Fig 1) above. This has to do with one’s needs for affection and a sense of belonging and acceptance. Human being need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. They need to love and be loved. According to (Maslow, 1954) include the giving and receiving of affection.

SAFETY NEEDS: As soon as people’s physical needs have satisfied, they will chase higher level needs, such as safety needs. Safety needs are determined by the need for security and protection from physical and emotion harm. Safety needs include: personal security, financial security, health and well-being, and a safety net or insurance for accidents/illness and the adverse impacts.

PHYSIOLOGICAL NEEDS: Are the lowest level of needs, from the (Fig 1) above which are the most basic needs for people. Physiological needs are also measured the needs for human survival. If these needs are not met, people cannot continue to function. Physiological needs include: breathing, homeostasis, water, sleep, food, excretion, and sex.

According to (Sarah & Steve 2002, p175)the theory engrossed criticism regarding its principle that individuals work on satisfying needs at a higher level only once all lower- level needs have been met. Also major problem facing the theory is how to measure needs, both in terms of how powerfully they are felt and of how someone knows they have been met. Furthermore, the theory is not easy to apply directly to work because need are not met through one source.


According to (Herzberg et al 1959) proposed his Two-Factor Theory of Human Motivation, known as Motivation-Hygiene theory. Hygiene theory is based on the principle that things people come across satisfying in their jobs are not always the opposite of things they find dissatisfying. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory is based on the results of research into the factors in a workplace that lead to employee satisfaction. Herzberg made use of a survey, titled, “What do people want from their jobs?” to achieve insights into what workplace factors people perceived as satisfying and dissatisfying. He asked people to describe in detail which workplace factors led to satisfaction and which factors led to dissatisfaction, and then he separated the results and classified them.Fig.2and Fig.3 show the factors that led to extreme satisfaction and dissatisfaction, respectively.

Fig.2 Shows Factors that led to extreme satisfaction according to Herzberg

Fig.3 shows Factors that led to extreme dissatisfaction according to Herzberg

According to(Robins 2001) The criticisms facing the theory, is methodology used by Herzberg does not take into account that often, when things are going well, people take the credit themselves, and when things are not , they blame others and their situation. There is on job satisfaction against which the people could rate their job. Also situational factors were not identified. Despite the criticisms the theory is a vital theory of motivation and used by managers to consider hygiene factors with regards to motivation.


Based on( McGregor, 1960)reviewed that the relationship between managers and employee could be immensely improved if the assumptions that had develop about how people behaved at work were changed from Theory X view to a Theory Y view. Basically one is positive and the other is negative.

THEORY X: was based on scientific management school of thought and projected that enlarged productivity could result from breaking jobs down into small unit of work and giving workers a small range of obviously defined tasks to do. According to (Gray & Stark, 1984) Employees do not like to work and want to evade work as much as possible. Employees do not want to take responsibility for the work; managers should take some actions, like convincing and supervising strategies, to help them finishing their mission. Theory X assumed that human actions are dictated by low-level needs,

THEORY Y: Was based the predominant theory of management there could be no trust between management and employee. Also Small opportunity for relationship between management and employees in theory .According to (Gray & Stark, 1984) employees treat work as entertainment and rest, it is natural. Employees have the ability to make creative decisions, not just managers. Theory Y assumed that human actions are determined by high-level needs.

The theory X and Y can influence how motivating factors are regarded within an organisation. Theory X has to do with extrinsic rewards such as pay in order to motivate people to execute good in their job while theory Y has to do with working environment in which employees may discern intrinsic rewards in their job.


This has the similarities to Maslow’s needs hierarchy. Alderfer C.P. extended and simplified Maslow’s hierarchy into a shorter set of three needs: Existence, Relatedness and Growth (‘ERG’) Theory. (Alderfer, 1969)

EXISTENCE NEEDS: According to (Hollyforde & Whiddett 2002) Refers Existence needs as our concern with basic material subsistence motivators and size of how satisfied this need is therefore mostly stated in conditions of what one person has in relation to others. Existence needs, is based on various forms of material and physiological needs.

RELATEDNESS NEEDS: Refers to the motivation we have in support of maintaining interpersonal relationships

GROWTH NEEDS: Refers to an intrinsic desire for personal development. Relate to personal creativity and productivity.

According to (Sarah & Steve 2002), the theory does not suggests how a person may meet his or needs .So managers cannot presume that everyone’s relationship needs will be met in the same way. Also the theory ERG theory with its three broad categories is maybe easier to deal with than the five levels of need in hierarchy of needs theory.


Vroom suggests that this theory is Based on the principle that people expect particular actions to achieve a desired result and that the desired result is something worth striving for or avoiding. Vroom does not give attention to on needs, but rather focuses on outcomes. According to (Vroom, 1964) identifies two terms the theory.

1. Expectancy: means the stronger the assurance that an act will be followed by particular outcome, the stronger the expectancy is considered to be

2. Valence: Means affective orientations toward particular outcome either positive or negative.

Theory expectancy and valence of Vroom concentrated on extrinsic outcomes rather than intrinsic ones. Based on research expectancy and valence are not as distinct from each other as Vroom recommended .And one the key criticisms is that the theory was tested as if it was based on behavioural and attitudinal predictions across rather than within persons. Furthermore, expectancy theory accommodates multiple work outcomes in forecasting motivation and predicts motivation to work hard to earn the merit pay will be low if expectancy low (Schermerhorn J. et al 1997)


The theory is based on the principle that individuals are motivated to achieve the successful accomplishment of challenging goal. According to (Locke, 1968) based his result on three main conclusions.

1: The more hard goals result in higher level of performance than easy goal

2: The specific goals produce higher levels of performance than general goals.

3: The behavioural intentions influence the choices people make.

The Goal -Setting theory is helpful to many managers because much of people management is particularly about performance against goals. Theory has great relevance for managers. According to (Robins, 2001) Implies that Goal Setting theory is restricted to those cultures that match the ones in which the research was carried out.


The theory is based on locus of control. Locus of Control refers to an individual’s perception about the underlying main causes of events in his/her life. According to (Rotter, 1966) invented the internal -external dimension to determine locus of control. Based on the extent to which people feel they are in control of the situations that engulfed them and also the extent to which they are convinced of directing events

1. External control: when individual feels that result of his or her actions is as the result of chance, luck as under the powerful others.

2. Internal control: When individual perceives that the occurrence is contingent upon his own behaviour.

The Internal and External theory has been criticised for its centre of attention on the Internal-external dimension only as on personality variable .Besides that the theory is useful when considering motivation issues at individual level.


The theory is based the needs that can be classed as either Achievement(nAch), Affiliation(nAff) or Power(nPow) .Also theory is based on three factors research into behaviour in achievement-oriented activities.

1: when individual expects to receive unmistakable feedback on the marks of his or her action.

2: When individual feels liable for the outcome success or failure.

3: When individual feels a little level of uncertainty or risk in the activity

Achievement theory does not explore why some people enjoyment a challenge and others fear failure. Achievement theory was not specifically about work. The theory is useful when considering why individuals react different to achieving tough goals and why they react to failure in individual ways (Sarah & Steve 2002).McClelland recommends that top managers should have a high need for power coupled with a low need for affiliation. Sunil R. Cited (Kreitner & kinicki 1998)


This theory is based on how to design a job so that it is motivating to individual. Also the theory deals with how individual responds to complex and challenging tasks. According to (Hackman & Oldham 1976) job characteristics theory proposed that individual’s intrinsic motivation is affected by psychological states:

1: Experienced meaningfulness of the work: The extent individuals perceive the job as meaningful and valuable.

2: Experienced responsibility for the outcomes of the work:-the extent individual feels personally accountable and responsible for the outcome of work done.

3: Knowledge of the result of the activities:-the extent individual knows, and understands on continuous basis how successfully he or she is performing the work

Also theory has five job dimensions

1: Skill variety-this has to with number of type of skill and talents of individual.

2: Task identity-this has to with work at hand and job completion

3: task significance- this has to with job considerable impact on lives or work of other people.

4: Autonomy -All about individual in setting up the work and determining the procedures to be used in carrying it out. (Freedom and independence at work environment).

5: Feedback-All about individual getting direct and clear result about the effectiveness of his or her performance

The theory is one of the few motivation theories specific to an organisational environment and has plenty of practical application. Theory centre of attention is on facilitating0 high internal work motivation. Hackman and Oldman based their theory on motivating individual through job design.


According to (Whittington & Evans 2005) The Hierarchy of Needs theory proposed by Maslow has been identified as a major influencing factor in the growth of other motivation and management work, such as that of McGregor (Theory X and Theory Y) and Herzberg Motivation-Hygiene theory. It has been generally applied as a basis for much research into, among other things, workforce commitment, job satisfaction and management theory (Stum, 2001). Goal-Setting Theory by Locke has been acknowledged the best goals and dispute facing management environment and Achievement theory by McClelland has identified problems facing motive to achieve success in management work. (Sarah & Steve 2002).Expectancy theory has been used to identify job satisfaction, occupational choice, the likelihood of staying in a job, and the effort that one might expand at management work. Internal and External control theory by Rotter has enhanced the concept of persistence (locus of control) in management work. The job characteristics theory relies on worker’s insight of the job dimensions for the accomplishment of the psychological states that lead to increased motivation.

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Facilities management regularly deals with identifying relations that humans have with their environment. According to (Smith et al., 1997) the rates of pay had very little influence on participant’s job satisfaction and subsequent work motivation. Some affiliation can be made at this point to Maslow’s lowest levels of his hierarchy of needs – physiological and safety needs. Maslow argued that individuals can only move up the hierarchy of needs to the higher levels of belongingness/love, esteem and finally self-actualisation, once the lower levels had been achieved; however, the results demonstrated in this study suggest that ancillary staff can be motivated and achieve higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy without having their physiological and safety needs completely fulfilled. Individuals can only move up the hierarchy of needs to the higher levels of belongingness/love, esteem and finally self-actualisation, once the lower levels had been achieved; on the other hand, the results demonstrated in this study suggest that facilities managers can motivate their staff and achieve higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy without having their physiological and safety needs completely fulfilled. McGregor’s Theory X and y focused on management’s assumptions about employees. Theory X and Y describe the average worker from management perspective and suggest methods by which facilities manager can get the best out of worker. Herzberg studies concentrated on satisfaction at work. Herzberg came to a conclusion that certain factors tended to lead to job satisfaction.(motivators),while others led to frequently to dissatisfaction(Hygiene factors).these factor are related to job context they are concerned with job environment as an extrinsic to the job itself.

Shane, S., 2001. Technology opportunities and new firm creation. Management Science 47 9, pp. 1173-1181.


First of all, fields of management background study like leadership, decision making and organization plan persist to develop conceptually speculative developments focusing on work motivation have not held in reserve speed. These changes can have a philosophical manipulate on how companies challenge to attract, retain and motivate their employees in labour market.

JOB DESIGN: This is about changing the content or process of job to increase job satisfaction and performance. This is usually easier for new organisational or new business unit. Furthermore, most organisations find themselves designing as the result of organisational change and to motivate their Staff. Job design is relating to job characteristics theory, suggests job should be design in such a way as to maximise intrinsic motivation. (Sarah & Steve 2002)

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION: This gives managers strategies, to promotes positive improvement in organizations particularly motivation and performance improvement o f employees. For organization to improve well, messages should be designed in such a way as to maximise motivation. Effective communication strategies have strong effect to motivation of employees. (Sarah & Steve 2002)

OBJECTIVCE- SETTING: This is important to managers to focus individuals work efforts. It is important to commit employee with goals to motivate them. Most organisations applied Management by Objective (MBO) to motivate their employee. This is relating to Goal-setting, suggests individuals tend to produce higher levels of performance when they have specific goal. (Sarah &Steve 2002)

MANAGING VIRTUAL TEAMS: Is made of group people who regularly work mutually dependent for joint purpose across time, distance and organization. So motivating people to apply for jobs in virtual teams is one of the latest ideas.


Motivational techniques, therefore, are useful to teachers, leaders, parents, employers, and almost anyone. The key is in understanding that you are not motivating someone else. Instead, you are simply providing a circumstance that triggers that person to be motivated. However, The developments in motivation and management theory. (Whittington & Evans 2005) conclude that “the road to building high commitment organisations requires the solid foundation laid by Maslow, McGregor and Herzberg”. Motivation theories can therefore offer guidance to anyone interest in motivational issues. Motivation theories discussed above can help mangers consider how and why people are motivated. For example, Hierarchy of need theory may help manager figures out where someone is in term of the satisfaction his or her short and long term needs -which may in turn influence how they seek to create the situation that may be the most motivating. Motivation theories discussed were based on work related environments. However the can be applied to help individuals understand human behaviour at work.

This literature review also emphasized the important of motivation theories to facilities manager with regards to working environments. Also provide frameworks enable facilities manager to manage their working environment.

Finally, one of the challenge facing researchers into motivation, it cannot be seen.


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