I. The Concept of Motivation
1. What Motivates People ?
2. The Motivational Process in Organizations
II. The Expectancy Theory of Motivation
1. Valence of Rewards
2. Performance-Reward Instrumentality
3. Effort-Performance Expectancy
III. Developing Motivational Principles
1. Matching Rewards to Employee Needs
2. Matching Rewards to Performance
3. Matching Jobs to Employees
People join and work in organizations to satisfy their needs. They are
attracted to organizations that have the means of satisfying their needs. These
means are called incentives of rewards; organizations use them to induce people
to contribute their efforts toward achieving organizational goals. The continued
existence of an organisation depends on its ability to attract and motivate
people to achieve these personal and organizational goals.
I. THE CONCEPT OF MOTIVATION
Motivation is defined as goal-directed behavior. It concerns the level of
effort one exerts in pursuing a goal. Managers are concerned with this concept
because it is closely related to employee satisfaction and job performance.
If managers are asked to list the problems they face, the problem of
motivating employees is likely to be near the top. Employee motivation is a
major concern of managers as well as scholars because motivation is closely
related to the success of an individual, an organisation, and society. Through
motivational efforts, people achieve their personal, or organizational, and
societal goals. In an age of high labour costs and limited natural resources,
the effective utilization of human resources is a key to solving many
organizational and economic problems.
Yet motivating employees is becoming increasingly complex and difficult. As
people become better educated and economically more independent, the traditional
means of motivation ю formal authority and financial incentives become less
effective. In addition, the ever increasing contraints placed on organizations
further erode the power of manager to motivate employees. Within these
contraints, however, managers still have the responsibility of motivating their
employees toward the attaintment of organizational goals. To meet this
responsibility, they should understand how and why people are motivated to work
in organizations and be equipped with a set of principles that can be applied to
What Motivates People?
Why are some amployees better motiveted than others? Employee motivation is
difficult to understand because it involves a variety of individual and
organizational factors. The individual factors include needs, goals, attitudes,
and abilities; the organizational factors include pay, job security, co-workers,
supervision, praise and the job itself.
A number of theories have been developped to explain employee motivation in
organizations. These theories can be divided into two main categories: (1)
content and (2) process. Content theories include the needs theory and the
reinfircement theory. The needs theory indicates that human behavior is
energised by internal stimuli ю needs; the reinforcement theory explains how
behavior can be controlled by its consequences ю reward and punishment.
While content theories are primarily concerned with the internal and external
causes of behavior (needs and incentives), process theories attempt to explain
the process by which people make motivational choices. The process theories are
the perceptual theory, the expectancy theory, the equidity theory and the
The Motivational Process in Organizations
The motivational process in organizations can be described by a model that is
composed of three parts: motivational inputs, motivational decisions and
The first part of the model identifies a set of motivational determinants. These
key variables can be described as:
1. Employee needs. People have a set of needs they want to satisfy: (a)
existence (biological and safety), (b) relatedness (affection, companionship,
and influence), and (c ) growth (achievement and self-actualization). These
internal stimuli energize behavior.
2. Organizational incentives. Organizations have a set of rewards that can
satisfy employee needs. These include: (a) subatantive rewards (pay, job
security, and physical working conditions), (b) interactive rewards (co-workers,
supervision, praises and recognition), and (c ) intrinsic rewards (accomplishment,
challenge, and responsibility). These organizational factors influence the
direction of behavior.
3. Percaptual outcomes. People develop a set of perceptions regardng: (a) the
value of organizational rewards, (b) the relationship between performance and
rewards, and (c ) the likehood that their efforts may result in task performance.
The second part of the model explains the process by which people make
motivational choices and decisions. This process describes the motivational
efforts involved in deciding to perform effectively. The specific element
4. Motivational efforts. If they have the ability and authority, people make
motivational decisions based on how they perceive the value of rewards, the
instrumental relayionship between performance and rewards, and the likehood of
task accomplishment. Generally, positive perceptions lead to high motivation.
The last part of the model explains the outcomes of employee motivation. It
shows the relationships among motivation, performance, rewards, employee
satisfaction and organizational productivity. These key variables can be
5. Performance levels. Performance is a function of ability and motivation.
Ability determines what a person can do, while motivation determines what a
person will do. Employee job performance influences organizational productivity,
which in turn affects the levels of organizational rewards.
6. Rewards. Performance may be either rewarded or not rewarded. Equitable
rewards lead to employee satisfaction; inequitable rewards or no rewards lead to
7. Satisfaction. The ammount of satisfaction modifies the type and intensity of
employee needs. This modified need structure influences the individual's future
This conceptual model identifies a number of factors influencing employee
motivation, satisfaction, and performance.
II. THE EXPECTANCY THEORY OF MOTIVATION
Expectancy theory explains the process by which people make motivational
choices. According to this theory, people make motivational choices based on how
they perceive (1) the value of rewards, (2) the instrumental relationship
between performance and rewards, and (3) the chance of getting the job done.
The expectancy theory starts with the assumption that people are rational
beings who want to maximize their gains in their goal-directed endeavors.
Therefore, when they are faced with a number of behavioral options leading to
need satisfaction, they will evaluate the potential outcomes of these options
and select one that promises an optimal result. In evaluating these behavioral
options, a rational person will analyze (1) the value of the rewards that the
organization offers (valence), (2) the relationship between performance and
rewards (instrumentality), and (3) the perceived chance of accomplishing the
required task (expectancy). The tendency to act (motivation) is said to be a
function of the valence (V), the instrumentality (I) and the expectancy (E).
Using the initials of these three variables, expectancy theory is often called
the VIE theory. Now let's discuss each of these key elements.
Valence of Rewards
Valence is a subjective value attached to an incentive of reward. People attach
a valence to an incentive because they believe it satisfies some of their needs.
Since it is subjective, people differ in the value they attach to a given
incentive. For example, one person may attach a high value to a promotion, while
another person can avoid it. The former may like it because it brings money and
power, while the latter dislikes it because it means more responsibility or the
headaches of dealing with other people's problems.
Also since it is subjective, managers have little control over the valences
their employees attach to organizational incentives. However, managers can
influence the valence if incentives by matching rewards to employee needs.
Valence usually increases when (1) an employee has strong needs, (2) the
incentive matches one or more needs, and (3) the size of the incentive is large
enough to satisfy the aroused needs. For example, an employee will probably
attach a high valence to money if (1) he or she has a strong economic need, (2)
money used as an incentive, and (3) the size of the monetary incentive is
Instrumentality refers to the ralationship between performance and raward.
People ask, "Will I be rewarded if I perform the job well?" If the answer is
affirmative, they will be motivated to exert an effort and increase the level of
task performance. If the answer is negative, their motivational efforts will be
reduced. As with valence, the measures of instrumentality can be positive or
negative. If people perceive that their performance is generally rewarded, the
perceived instrumentality will be positive. If they perceive that performance
does not make any difference to their rewards, or if poor performers are
rewarded as much as or more than high performers, the instrumentality will be
Since perceived instrumentality is a subjective judgment, managers do not
have direct control over it. But they can positively influence their
subordinates' perception of the instrumental relationship by matching rewards to
rerformance and by communicating this fact effectively to the subordinates. For
example, managers can improve instrumentality by using performance-contingent
pay systems such as piece rates, merit rates, or performance bonuses, and by
managing such systems fairly.
Expectancy is the belief that effort leads to performance. It is a subjective
feeling that people attach to the likehood of accomplishing a task. They may
ask, "Can I perform and accomplish the task goal?" "How much effort would the
task reqiure?" If they feel there is a close relationship between their effort
and task accomplishment, expectancy will be favorable. However, if the task is
too simple or too complex relative to their ability, then they may feel that
their effort is not related to task performance.
Like other motivational concepts, expectancy is subjective; people attach
varying expectancies to an outcome. A task may seem simple to some but not to
others. A person's ability and personality influence his or her
effort-performance expectancy. Competent and secure individuals tend to perceive
expectancy more positively than incompetent and pessimistic individuals.
Managers have no direct control over how their employees perceive the chance of
achieving an outcome or task, but they can influence the employee's expectancies
positively by matching people to jobs. When people are matched with jobs,
employees can utilize their job skills and energies effectively. Consequently,
effort-performance expectancy will be increased.
III. DEVELOPING MOTIVATIONAL PRINCIPLES
Managers can improve the valence, instrumentality, and expectancy employees
place in their job situations by (1) matching rewards to needs, (2) natching
rewards to performance, and (3) matching job to employees.
The strength of expectancy theory lies in the fact that it accomodates three
theories of individual behavior (needs, reinforcement, and perception) and that
it can be operationalized. We have seen a set of motivational principles from
expectancy theory and now I'll try to explain how these principles can be
applied in organizational settings.
Matching Rewards to Employee Needs
By matching rewards to needs, management can increase not only the valence of
rewards but also the level of employee satisfaction. How can management match
rewards to needs? There are a few things that managers can do:
1. Figure out what employees want. Managers can ask their employees what
kinds of rewards they prefer. This information can be used to select appropriate
rewards. People want different things from their jobs, and matching rewards to
these needs increases the valence of the rewards.
2. Find people who value rewards. The match between rewards and needs can be
achieved by finding people who may value what the organisation may offer. Some
organizations are limited in their ability to offer a variety rewards. In this
case the organization needs to attact people who can be motivated by what it can
offer. For example, if the only things a company can offer is money, it should
hire people who are striving for economic need saticfaction.
Matching Rewards to Performance
By relating organizational rewards to job performance, management can increase
the chances of attaining both individual and organizational goals. This strategy
favorably affects the performance-reward instrumentality. There are several
things that managers can do in this effort.
1. Use performance-contingent reward systems. Some reward systems lack
motivational value because they are not tied to performance. Annual bonuses and
fringe benefits are often not tied to performance; they are usually given to
employees instead for maintaining organizational membership. Incentive pay and
merit systems are examples of relating rewards to performance.
2. Maintain equity in reward systems. Matching rewards to performance also means
that the amount of reward should be commensurate with task complexity, labour
availability, prewailing wage level, and amount of responsibility. When there
are no objective performance criteria, managers need to be cautious in
evaluating the performance of their employees.
3. Communicate performance-reward contingencies. It does not matter whether or
not rewards are actually tied to performance. Unless the performance-reward
contingencies are clearly communicated to employees and perceived by employees
as such, the reward systems cannot have a strong impact on employee motivation.
Performance feedback, followed by reinforcement, is essential in maintaining a
high level of performance.
Matching Jobs to Employees
Mathing the technical, physical, and psychological requirements of the job to
the employee's qualifications enchances the effort-performance expectancy. If
the job is either too simple or too complex, the employee may not feel that his
or her effort has been effectively utilized in the task performance. The
matching process involves the following actions.
1. Design the job to suit employee needs. People want different levels of job
challenge. Some employees may prefer complex and challenging jobs; other may
prefer simple tasks. Task complexity needs to be differentiated to reflect the
technical and psychological qualifications of employees.
2. Match employees to jobs. The match between jobs and people can also be
achieved by hiring people who will fit the jobs. When it is economically and
technically impractical to redesighn jobs, it makes more sence to fit employees
to jobs than the other way around.
3. Improve employee job skills. Another way of fitting people to jobs is by
training. When employees are underqualificated to perform their jobs, training
can help them find a better fit. Training also enchances effort-performance
4. Set challenging but attainable goals. Set performance goals that are
challenging but attainable. If the task goals are ether too high or too low,
employees are not likely to feel that their efforts are related to task
performance. When the task goals are challenging but attainable, they are more
likely to perceive the relationship between effort and task accomplishment.
This diccussion demonstrates how motivational principles can be applied in
managing organozational reward and work systems.
My work presents a model of motivation, describes a set of motivational
principles. Here also shown in short the expectancy theory, which explains how
motivational decisions are made.
People make motivational decisions based on how they perceive the
relationship between their needs and organizational rewards (valence), their
performance and rewards (instrymentality), and their efforts and task
performance (expectancy). Generally, work motivation increases when they
perceive these relationships favorably.
A set of motivational principles can be derived from the expectancy theory. The
valence, instrumentality, and expectancy of performing a task can be improved by
adopting the following three principles:
1. Match rewards to employee needs (valence).
2. Match rewards to performance (instrumentality).
3. Match jobs to employees (expectancy).
1. Lawler, Motivation in Work Organizations.
2. Vroom, Vork and Motivation.
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