Contemporary Theories of Motivation

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Motivation is the willingness to exert high levels of effort to organizational goals, conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some individual need. This need is the internal state that makes certain outcomes appear attractive. Motivation is also the process that account for an individual’s intensity, direction, and persistence of effort toward attaining a goal. The concept of motivation refers to internal factors that impel action and to external factors that can act as inducements to action. Individuals differ in their basic motivational drive and the level of motivations varies both between individuals and within individuals at different times. Since individuals differ in their motivation drive, there is not right or wrong method that will enforce a productive workforce. Early theories of motivation included the following: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, McGregor’s theory X and theory Y, and Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory. However, there are new theories that are being adopted in today’s contemporary and modern workforce. Work motivation has been of interest for quit some time, and it was not until 1964 that Victor Vroom made the first attempt to formulate a theory called the Valance Expectancy Model. This widely accepted explanation of motivation is commonly known as expectancy theory. Expectancy theory states that an individual tends to act in a certain way on the basis of the expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual. The theory argues that the strength of a tendency to act in a specific way depends on the strength of an expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual to make this simple, expectancy theory says that an employee can be motivated to perform better when there is a belief that the better performance will lead to good performance appraisal and that this shall result into realization of personal goal in form of some reward. Therefore an employee is: Motivation = Valance x Expectancy. The theory focuses on three things: 1) Efforts and performance relationship, 2) Performance and reward relationship, 3) Rewards and personal goal relationship.

Valance x Expectancy




Satisfaction in form of Rewards

David McClelland’s three-need theory recognizes that the need for achievement, power, and affiliation are major motives at work. •Need for achievement (N-Ach): The drive to excel, to achieve in relation to a set of standards, and to strive to succeed. •Need for power (N-Pow): The need to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise. •Need for affiliation (N-Affil): The desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships. The importance of each of these needs will vary from one person to another. If you can determine the importance of each of these needs to an individual, it will help you decide how to influence that individual. McClelland asserted that a person’s needs are influenced by their cultural background and life experiences. He also asserted that the majority of these needs can be classified as the needs for affiliation, achievement or power. A person’s motivation and effectiveness can be increased through an environment, which provides them with their ideal mix of each of the three needs (N-Ach, N-Pow and/or N-Affil).

Another contemporary theory is JCM five core job dimensions. 1.Skill variety: the degree to which the job requires a variety of activities so the worker can use a number of different skills and talents. 2.Task identity: the degree to which the job requires completion of a whole and identifiable piece of work. 3.Task significance: the degree to which the job affects the lives or work of other people 4.Autonomy: the degree to which the job provides freedom, independence, and discretion to the...
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