Motivations are the forces within individuals that account for the direction, level, and persistence of a person’s efforts expended at work. The research of motivational theories is fascinating as it explores the cognitive processes that warp our minds to behave in ways conducive to our motivations. Our motivations affect our personal lives, our professional lives, and even our inner selves. This essay is going to explore motivational theories through a case analysis by investigating the various content and process theories that can explain attitudes, perceive current actions, and speculate on future ones.
Content theories focus on individual needs that we feel we need to reduce or eliminate. The Needs Theories of Motivation, a sector of content theories, suggest that motivations arise from our attempts to satisfy important needs. The Hierarchy of Needs Theory explains that people have a hierarchy of needs that we feel need to be satisfied. Some of these needs are more important than others, but the importance of these needs varies between individuals and the circumstances surrounding the individual. Through our case analysis, it is apparent that Mary puts an emphasis on her need for esteem and self-actualization. Mary worked overtime, spent three weeks in Costa Rica, and even more hours on the weekends trying her best to excel in her performance. She did this not for her social needs or physiological needs; she did this to acquire respect and recognition from her company and to fulfill herself through her career accomplishments. Once she realized Sue, a woman who appeared equal in credentials, was making almost 12% more than her from the start, she felt unfulfilled and no longer recognized for her skills. She felt accomplished before Sue but after she felt discouraged. According to this theory she may remain disgruntled for a while and her work performance may decline as long as her higher-order needs are not met.
Much like the Hierarchy of Needs Theory, the ERG theory is also based on needs in a similar structure. However, ERG’s categories of existence needs (physiological and material well-being), relatedness needs (satisfying interpersonal relationships), and growth needs (growth and development), are not as rigid as the hierarchy structure. According to ERG, when a particular category is not being satisfied, a person may regress to a lower level need and emphasize that category instead. Since Mary will feel discouraged in regards to her personal growth and development at Universal Products, she may regress to a lower category. For example, she may concentrate more on her home life and emphasize her relatedness needs or even leave for a different job for more job security and emphasize her existence needs.
Acquired Needs Theory, much like the prior two, illustrates needs as well. However, this theory maintains that it is a result of our life experiences that make us lean toward one category over another. The need for achievement is the desire to do something better, the need for affiliation is the need to establish beneficial relationships, and the need for power is the need to influence behaviors. Given Mary’s circumstances, she may feel inadequate in all these categories. Her need for achievement seemed fulfilled prior to speaking with Sue, her need for affiliation could falter from her feelings over being underappreciated, and her need for power would be diminished because she was unable to influence her company to start her off at a comparable salary to Sue’s. However, this theory is too vague to interpret future actions of Mary because it does not emphasize which category, if lacking in all three, would be one that is foremost within the list.
The last among the content theories is the Two-Factor Theory. This theory states that motivator factors are the source of job satisfaction and hygiene factors are the source of job dissatisfaction. When hygiene factors are minimal, such as the job...