Discuss How a) Expectancy Theory and B) Equity Theory Can Explain Motivation at Work.

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Discuss how a) expectancy theory and b) equity theory can explain motivation at work.

Motivation is the cognitive decision-making process through which goal-directed behavior is initiated, energized, directed, and maintained (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010, p. 267) There are two types of theories that attempt to explain motivation at work – process theories and content theories. Content theories of motivation focus on goals that motivate employees while process theories focus on how employees make choices with respect to their goals (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010). This essay will outline how two process theories, Equity theory and Expectancy theory, explain motivation at work.

Equity theory explains motivation as a drive towards reducing perceived inequity. We make judgments on the level of inequity by comparing our rewards and contributions with the outputs and inputs of others (1963,1965, Adams, cited in Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010, p. 272). Inequity happens when employees get either more or less then they think they deserve (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010, p. 271). Sweeney (1990, citied in Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010,p. 273) argued that perceived equity leads to greater job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

In contrast, perception of unfairness leads to tension, which motivates the individual to resolve it (Buchanan Huczynski, 2010,p. 271). Adams (1963,1965, cited in Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010, p. 271) supposed that employees respond differently to «over reward» and «under reward». This is best illustrated through an example. Lets imagine Bill and Mary who work in the same firm and have identical positions. Bill earns £100 per 8 hours working day. Mary works the same number of hours but receives £80. Bill feels guilty since he gains more rewards for the same work. Bill is motivated to compensate this by altering his inputs e.g. staying extra hour or completing extra duties. Evidence from laboratory research confirms that people...
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