Employee motive has been viewed by organisations as one of the most of import countries of focal point for a long clip, and this continues to be the instance. Consequently it is among the most often explored and discussed subjects in organisational surveies. All the attempts that have been made to analyzing employee motive have, over clip, resulted in legion theories of motive. These theories of motive are normally classified into two major classs – content theories of motive and procedure theories of motive.

This paper looks at two of the cardinal theories of employee motive that exist and their relevancy in modern organisations. It discusses each theory in brief and analyze how cognition of these theories can be a utile tool for directors to better employee satisfaction and productiveness in organisations. Additionally it looks at the deductions of a multicultural work force on bing motive theories.

Contented theories of motive are those that focus on calculating out the personal demands and ends that significantly influence single motive ( Armstrong, 2012 ) . The four most outstanding content or “ need-based ” theories are Maslow ‘s Hierarchy of Needs ( 1954 ) , Herzberg ‘s Motivation-Hygiene “ two-factor ” Theory ( 1959 ) , Alderfer ‘s Existence, Relatedness and Growth Theory ( 1972 ) and McClelland ‘s Acquired Needs Theory ( 1961 ) . Among these theories, the acquired demands theory has received the most significant research support and continues to lend to modern-day surveies of motive ( Miner, 2005 ) . We shall therefore analyze this content theory in more item in the undermentioned subdivision.

McClelland ‘s Acquired Needs Theory

Developed by psychologist David McClelland in the 1950s, this theory states that a individual ‘s demands are “ erudite ” or altered by societal conditions and life experiences. In peculiar McClelland identified three learned demands – Need for Achievement ( nAch ) , Need for Affiliation ( nAff ) and Need for Power ( nPow ) ( McClelland, 1961 ) .

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Peoples with high nAch strongly desire taking up personal duty for executing undertakings, tend to put hard ends, and have a strong desire for public presentation feedback ( Riipinen, 1994 ; Cherrington, 1991 ; McClelland, Atkinson, Clark & A ; Lowell, 1953 ) .

Persons with high nAff tend to hold small place power, have a strong demand to work through interpersonal relationships and seek to avoid struggle and confrontation ( Miner, 2005 ) .

Harmonizing to McClelland, demand for power is to do others act in a manner in which otherwise they would non hold been behaved. He besides distinguishes between two types of nPow – individualized power and socialised power. Peoples who derive power by sheer laterality over others and who gain satisfaction by suppressing others exhibit a demand for individualized power. Peoples who view power as a agency of assisting others and derive satisfaction by accomplishing group/team ends exhibit a demand for socialised power.

The acquired demands theory can be a really utile tool for directors in assorted organisational contexts. Peoples ( for illustration successful enterprisers ) who have high nAch are motivated more by the chance of achievement satisfaction, non money. In contrast, employees with a low nAch execute their work better when money is used as an inducement ( Shane, Locke & A ; Collins, 2003 ) . Hence direction can delegate undertakings and duties and design compensation construction consequently.

It can besides assist directors find the best ’employee-job ‘ tantrum. For illustration employees with high nAff can work every bit effectual struggle go-betweens and do good in client relationship direction. As argued by J.L.Thomas et Al. ( 2001 ) in their empirical survey of values foretelling leader public presentation, long-run leading success can be associated with persons who require a low nAff, instead than those necessitating a high nAff.

The construct of nPow can besides assist direction decision-making with regard to personnel publicities as argued by Wagner and Swanson ( 1979 ) who province that “ the constructs of power demands and power manners should be cardinal to personnel considerations in organisations every bit good as to persons who plan on prosecuting successful callings. ” ( p. 71 )

Process theories of motive

The content theories of motive effort to explicate behaviour entirely on the footing of desires and demands, an attack that has led to unfavorable judgment from some research workers. Besides, these theories have non received comprehensive intervention refering their possible pertinence in organisations ( Berl & A ; Williamson, 1987 ) .

Process theories of motive focal point on supplying an attack to explicate the mechanisms and ways through which person can try to actuate an person ( Langton, 2010 ) . The most popular procedure theories of motive are anticipation theory, goal-setting theory, equity theory and support theory. Although several people have contributed to the basic anticipation subject over the old ages, the seminal work around the application of this theory to work motive was done by Victor Vroom ( Miner, 2005 ; Behling & A ; Starke, 1973 ) . We take a closer expression at the anticipation theory in the undermentioned subdivision.

Expectancy theory of motive

Modern thought of work motive is dominated by the Expectancy Theory ( Behling & A ; Starke, 1973 ) . Harmonizing to McShane & A ; Von ( 2013 ) , employees are likely to see the undermentioned three factors while finding the extent of attempt they will set into a undertaking:

The E-P anticipation or the strong belief that the attempt being put in will ensue in a given degree of undertaking public presentation. This can run between 0 ( bespeaking that no sum of attempt will take to the accomplishment of coveted public presentation degree ) and 1 ( which indicates that there is complete belief that the undertaking can be performed )

The P-O anticipation or the grade of certainty a individual has that accomplishing the given degree of public presentation will take to certain results. The P-O anticipation normally falls someplace between 0 ( bespeaking that even a successful public presentation will non take to the desired results ) and 1 ( which means entire strong belief that undertaking achievement will take to want results )

Outcome valencies. Valence is the desirableness, or extent of sensed satisfaction or dissatisfaction, for the result. A positive valency of an result indicates that result is desired. If a negative valency exists, the result is unsought i.e. the individual wishes to avoid the result.

Since the relationship between these factors is multiplicative as shown in the expression below, no motive will be when any of the anticipations or valency is 0 ( Miner, 2005 ) .

Motivation = Effort-to-performance anticipation x the amount of all operating factors ( performance-to-outcome anticipations x their valencies ) .

One of the grounds why the anticipation theory has gained popularity is due to the lucidity of the guidelines it provides to leaders and directors for increasing employee motive through increasing the employee ‘s E-P anticipations, P-O anticipations and wages ( end product ) valencies ( Nadler & A ; Lawler, 1983 ) .

Some practical deductions of this theory in managerial decision-making are as follows ( Lunenburg, 2011 ; McShane & A ; Von, 2013 ; Nadler & A ; Lawler, 1983 ) :

Increasing the E-P anticipation:

Directors must try to guarantee employees that they possess the accomplishments and competences required to finish the occupation successfully. This can be done by executing better person-job matching, supplying sufficient resources and clip to finish the occupation, clear uping the demands for the function and supplying developing wherever required. In kernel, directors need to clearly put outlooks and do it possible for employees to achieve the coveted public presentation degree.

Increasing the P-O anticipation:

Directors must try to increase employee belief that higher degree of public presentation will ensue in valued wagess. This can be done by clearly specifying the nexus between wagess and achievement of needed public presentation degree or by discoursing illustrations of others who were rewarded for accomplishing a higher public presentation degree. Basically it is of import for directors to clearly associate the public presentation degree they desire from employees to the wagess that are desired by employees.

Increase output/reward valencies:

Directors must try to raise the expected value of wagess ensuing from desired employee public presentation. This can be done by happening out which wagess are seen as valuable by employees or by seeking to individualise wagess every bit much as possible i.e. holding non-standard wagess for employees. It is besides of import to cut down “ countervalent ” results that may negatively impact the value of wagess.

Cultural considerations in the theories of motive

Globalization has become a outstanding factor in organisational growing. Organizations are now actively take parting in other states and civilizations. It is therefore of import to look at how the bing theories of motive handle the increasing interaction between different civilizations in the workplace. Harmonizing to Mayes ( 1978 ) , there are adequate grounds to admonish against the indiscriminate usage of available motive theoretical accounts in all state of affairss. Lewis ( 2011 ) uses the illustration of differences in attitudes towards squads and teamwork between Western civilizations, that are more individualistic, and Eastern civilizations, that are more collectivized, to reason that “ civilization could be an of import determiner of how groups are motivated to work ” ( p. 972 ) . As organisations expand globally, employees could belong to any state and could populate in any state. The extra motivational challenge for directors and leaders is therefore to do employees place more strongly with the organisation than with their state ( Cullen & A ; Parboteeah, 2008 ) .


The assorted content and procedure theories of motive have been around for many old ages. Contented theories focus on “ what ” desires and demands affect employee motive, and can supply utile penetrations to directors sing employee behavior and occupation suitableness. A reappraisal of the literature suggests content theories have non received a important sum of empirical research in organisational scenes. Process theories provide a mechanism to prove “ how ” and “ why ” employees are motivated. They provide clear and utile guidelines for managerial decision-making. As a effect, procedure theories like the anticipation theory are on a regular basis studied by research workers and used by organisations to heighten employee motive. Finally, as globalisation continues to derive more prominence, it is besides of import to see cultural differences while utilizing the theories of motive. Carefully sing the economic, societal and physical conditions of a state can besides assist in taking the best-fit theory of motive to utilize in the context of that state.


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