Motivation

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Submission Date: 21.11.2011
Word count: 2,081.

The subjective nature of motivation makes arguing for a particular side difficult, especially since there has been such massive work done in the area and almost every researcher has some different theory or explanation for behavior. The essay will introduce the different schools of thought and how they affect perception, after which the origins of the financial reward system will be explored with regard to the work of FW. Taylor. Many are of the belief that human beings have much more complicated mental processes going on than the theory of “psychological hedonism” (Gadsdon, Harari, Legge, Sherry, 2004, p.26) suggests and so, the remaining essay will cover theories by Maslow, Herzberg, Kohn and various other studies conducted that advise a whole range of other motivators. The essay will also recognize the importance of situational, individual and other variables in the process of motivation. Eventually, the point to be made is that financial rewards are really not the best way to motivate an organization even as they can be effective in certain situations because man IS a much more complex being than a financial reward system gives him credit for! It is the behaviorist school of thought that believes that “behavior is a result of adaptation to the environment done through making associations”. (Gadsdon et al., 2004, p. 16) So, according to them, financial rewards would serve as the external stimulus that will condition employees to give an automatic response to any financial rewards offered, i.e. work harder every time they are rewarded. This school of thought argues that incentives reward effort and behaviors which the organization wishes to encourage. As a result, they not only are a fair basis for rewarding people but also enhance organizational effectiveness and productivity. Expectancy theory supports this (Torrington, Hall and Taylor, 2005, p.631). However, there are a number of criticisms of this school of thought mostly focused on how mechanistic and dehumanizing it is when it assumes that the only reason a person works is because they want some sort of extrinsic reward. The humanist and cognitive schools of thought work entirely in a different direction. Humanists strongly believe that a person is motivated more by intrinsic factors that have nothing to do with money – like a sense of achievement or satisfaction at a job well done- than they are by extrinsic factors – like money. In turn, cognitivists believe that “people make conscious decisions to behave in certain ways rather than simply responding to external reinforcement”. (Gadsdon et al., 2004, p.28) The school of thought one supports will directly influence the motivational strategy that one uses in an organization. It was the behaviorist F.W. Taylor, often called the father of scientific management, who first identified employees as rational and economic creatures who were characteristically lazy and best motivated by the financial rewards. In a way, he actually CREATED the financial reward system. Taylor’s theory of ‘The Economic Man’ believed that in order to motivate any employee all one had to do was raise their salary, or devise a financial reward system that worked exactly in accordance to task performance (‘the piece rate’ as it is called). Taylor’s work has been criticized for seeing human beings as machines and setting a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy which led to management training employees to behave exactly the way Taylor said they do. (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2008, p.455) Even so, at the time, his theory was greatly appreciated because it helped in reducing unit costs in the production process through increases in productivity and his ideas led to the start of mass production (Motivation Theory, n.d.). Abraham Maslow (1943, 1954, 1971) was a humanist who described an individual’s innate needs in a hierarchy that ranged from purely biological needs to ones involving complex desires like...
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