Critically Discuss the Evolution of Motivation Theory
Motivation can be defined as the processes that account for an individual’s intensity, direction, and persistence of effort towards attaining a goal. Intensity is concerned with how hard an individual tries though it should be channelled in the right direction to achieve a certain goal, while persistence is the measurement of how long the individual can maintain their efforts. Prior to the formulation of motivation theories in the 1950’s, the focus for many organisations was job design and in particular, at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a strong focus on job simplification (e.g. Taylor, 1911) to reduce cost, and to reduce time (e.g. Gilbreth, 1911) spent on the work. There was huge success for many industries (e.g. Ford, 1914), however later studies linked simplified forms of job design to mental ill-health (e.g. Fraser, 1947). In response, a series of theories were explored to in areas of job satisfaction and motivation. In consideration in ways in which motivation might make individuals more effective, both theory and empirical studies will be discussed. In the next section, first an account of traditional models will be presented and then following an account of contemporary models will be presented. Early theories of motivation started to be studied during the 1950’s and 60’s, and it was this period that saw four key theories formulate to provide explanations of motivation. These include the Hierarchy of Needs Theory (Maslow, 1954), Theory X and Theory Y (McGregor, 1960), the Two Factor Theory (Herzberg, 1966) and McClelland’s Theory of Needs (McClelland, 1961). To begin with, in 1954, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory hypothesised that within every human being, there exists a hierarchy of five needs. These include: Physiological (at the bottom), Safety, Social, Esteem and Self-actualisation (at the top). He believed that as each need becomes substantially satisfied, the next need above...
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