Culture as a Determinant of Motivation

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Why is the study of Different Theories of Motivation important to managers? The World has changed at a very fast pace and will continue to do so. The view point that many prominent researchers had on motivation has also evolved with changing times. There has been a phenomenal change in the way organizations and individuals function in the twenty first century if we made a comparison with how organizations functioned back in the day. There is a significantly greater focus today on employee satisfaction, work life balance, cross cultural values, virtual teams and formal performance management processes to name a few. Globalization is one the key factors which has brought a prominent change in many organizational practices in the twenty first century. Hershey and Blanchard (1977) mentioned that “motives can be defined as needs, wants, drives or impulses within the individual which are directed towards goals which may be conscious or sub conscious”. Motivation has been defined by Robbins, Decenzo and Coulter (2011) as “motivation is the process by which a person’s efforts are energized, directed, and sustained towards attaining a goal “ In this paper we will define motivation as the force which helps an individual focus on his immediate and long term goals and helps him run the extra mile. Also in this essay we will be focusing on the impact of culture on organizational behavior and the reasons why managers need to be aware of various motivational theories so that they are well equipped to handle this impact of culture change.

Motivation is a very important tool that is not effectively utilized by managers. Motivation if used effectively can significantly improve the performance of teams and employees. It was thought earlier that motivation could be directed only by external factors, but it is now understood that every employee has his own set of motivators which if addressed correctly can significantly improve a manager and his team’s performance. It is the manager’s responsibility to correctly identify these motivating factors and take all steps possible to address them. But this is easier said than done. As observed in today’s environment there are many issues which create a hindrance for managers to motivate their respective teams. In most organizations because of the growing impetus of globalization and the fact that individuals from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds come on the same platform and work together, it is becoming increasingly difficult for managers to be on top of these growing trends and continue to motivate their respective teams. It is very important for managers to understand how important the concept of culture plays in the way an employee thinks and behaves. Only when a manager is aware of the subtle changes in an individual’s behavior because of their cultural background, can he actually make a concentrated effort to analyze and evaluate methods to motivate that particular individual. Geert Hofstede’s (1980) theory of cultural dimensions describes how a particular society’s culture influences the behavior and values of individuals using a structure derived from factor analysis. This theory proposed four concepts on the basis of which cultural values could be evaluated; Individualism- collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, power distance and masculinity- feminity. As per Sledge, Miles and Coppage (2008) power distance is “the degree to which control and influence are distributed unequally in society”. In countries with high power distance it would not be recommended to give employees a lot of freedom with respect to their work. The employees would be more comfortable when they are abiding by a strict protocol and set guidelines and procedures whereas in countries with low power distance decentralization of power would be recommended where employees can be empowered and inspired to come up with creative ideas in their work. Countries like Venezuela and...
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