Compare and Contrast One Process Theory of Motivation with One Content Theory. Include in Your Answer a Brief Explanation Why One Is a Process and the Other Is a Content Theory.

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Compare and contrast one process theory of motivation with one content theory. Include in your answer a brief explanation why one is a process and the other is a content theory.

This essay will begin first of all by defining “Motivation” as a business concept and then go on to present one process and content theory each before finally comparing them both.

The term “Motivation” was originally from the Latin verb movere, which mean “to move” (Beck, 2004) however this is an inadequate definition here as it is too simplified and doesn’t cover the various processes associated with how human behaviour is activated. (Steers, R.M, Porter, L.W., & Bigley, G.A., 1996) but it lets us know that motivation is concerned with our movements or actions and what determines them.

Motivation is a broad theoretical concept that we often use to explain why people (or animals) engage in particular actions at particular times. And therefore can be applied to different fields for this essay we will focus on work motivation. A better definition of motivation is a ‘concept used to describe the factors within an individual which arouse, maintain and channel behaviour toward a goal.’ (Lisa Bolton, 2005)

Work motivation theories can be divided into two categories termed process and content. The process theory explained in this essay will be Adam’s Equity theory while the content theory will be Alderfer’s ERG theory.

The process theories of motivation attempt to describe how behaviour is energized, directed and sustained, they focus on external influences or behaviours that people choose to meet their needs, in particular they place heavy emphasis on describing the functioning of the individual’s decision system as it relates to behaviour. (Steers et al, 2004)

One major process theory is the Equity theory developed in the 1960s by J.S Adams, it focuses primarily on the relationship between inputs and outcomes and worker’s perceptions of the fairness of their work outcomes and inputs. Equity theory is based on the premise that a worker perceives the relationship between outcomes; what the worker gets from the job and organisation and inputs; what the worker contributes to a job and organisation. (Adams, 1963 cited in George, 2002) Outcomes include pay, fringe benefits, job satisfaction, status etc. inputs include special skills, training, education, work experience and anything else that workers perceive that they contribute to an organisation.

According to Equity theory, however, it is not the objective level of outcomes and inputs that is important in determining work motivation. What is important to motivation is the way a worker perceives his or her outcome/ratio compared to the outcome/input ratio of another person as known as a referent. A referent is another worker, group of workers perceived to be similar to oneself. The referent could also be oneself at a different place or time or one’s expectations. Regardless of the referent a worker chooses, it is the worker’s perceptions of the referent’s outcomes and inputs that are compared, not any objective measure of actual outcomes or inputs.

Equity is said to exist whenever an individual’s outcome / input ratio equals the outcome/ input ratio of the referent’s. Inequity exists when an outcome / input ratios are not proportionally equal. Inequity creates tension and unpleasant feelings inside a worker and a desire to restore equity by bringing the two ratios back into balance.

There are two basic types of inequity, overpayment equity; exists when an individual perceives that his or her outcome / input ratio is greater than that of a referent, and underpayment inequity; exist when a person perceives that his or her outcome/ input ratio is less than that of a referent. (George, 2002)

The methods through which individuals reduce inequity are referred to as methods of inequity resolution. Adams describes six alternative methods of restoring equity: (1) altering inputs (2)...
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