Herzberg 2 Factor Theory

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Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

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Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Job Satisfaction: An Integrative Literature Review Christina M. Stello Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development College of Education and Human Development University of Minnesota

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory Abstract Herzberg published the two-factor theory of work motivation in 1959. The theory was highly controversial at the time it was published, claims to be the most replicated study in this area, and provided the foundation for numerous other theories and frameworks in human resource development (Herzberg, 1987). The theory states that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are affected by two different sets of factors. Therefore, satisfaction and dissatisfaction cannot be measured on the same continuum. This paper examines the historical context in which the theory was developed, the methodology used to develop the theory, the controversy and attempts to duplicate the study, and the theory’s current relevance to HRD.

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Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory Herzberg published the two-factor theory of work motivation in 1959. The theory was highly controversial at the time it was published, claims to be the most replicated study in this area, and provided the foundation for numerous other theories and frameworks in human resource development (Herzberg, 1987). The theory states that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are affected by two different sets of factors. Therefore, satisfaction and dissatisfaction cannot be measured on the same continuum. Herzberg’s research was conducted during the late 1950s within a thirty mile radius of Pittsburg, which was at the time a center for heavy industry. It was a time of full employment and nearly 100% utilization of plants and facilities. Although demographical information of the workers studied was not explicitly stated by the authors in the literature, it is implied that the majority of the workers studied were white males. It was also a period of heavy unionization. This is in stark contrast to the current work environment of customer-service oriented jobs, high unemployment rates, idle and closed plants, the diverse workforce, and the decline of unionization. This paper asks the following research question: is the two-factor theory still relevant

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considering the historical context in which the theory was developed, the methodology used, and the changed dynamics of the workforce? I attempt to answer this question by conducting an integrative literature review. I will first give an overview of the theory. I will then describe my research method and provide an overview of the literature reviewed. Next, I will discuss key findings. Finally, I will discuss the theoretical and practical implications of this paper. Overview of the Theory The two-factor theory of job satisfaction was the result of a five year research program on job attitudes initiated by a grant from The Buhl Foundation. There was an urgent need at the time

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory for more and better insight about the attitudes of people towards their jobs due to the prevalence of job dissatisfaction indicators such as strikes, slow downs, and filing of grievances (Herzberg, Mausner, Peterson, & Capwell, 1957). During the first stage of the program, Herzberg and his colleagues conducted a comprehensive literature review of over 2000 writings published between 1900 and 1955. The literature yielded contradictory results, and the research designs of the studies varied widely in quality and the methodologies used (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959). Based on their review of the literature, Herzberg et al. (1959) made core assumptions on which to base their hypothesis and research design. First, there was enough evidence to assume that there was some relationship between job attitudes and productivity. Second, the characteristics of dissatisfied workers had been well-defined in the existing literature. Third,...
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