Stress and Motivation

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This paper discusses the relationship between stress and motivation, and agrees that they are in fact two sides of the same coin. In doing so, the components of motivation are defined and reviewed using a number of classical motivational theories. This leads to a discussion on the definition and triggers of stress, how stress can be moderated and the outcomes of stress.

The link between stress and motivation will then be presented to conclude that not all stress is bad stress. Moreover, if the effects of stress are known prior and the levels are controlled to an optimum, is possible to produce high levels of motivation. Thus proving that stress and motivation are closely linked and in fact two sides of the same coin.


Motivation (willingness to perform) is one of the three key determinants of performance as described by Ivancevich, Konopaske and Matteson (2005), with the other two determinants being capacity to perform and opportunity to perform. Ivancevich, Konopaske and Matteson (2005), determine that motivation is made up of three distinct components which are direction, intensity and persistence. They describe direction as relating to what an individual chooses to do when presented with a number of alternatives, intensity as the strength of the response once the choice is made and persistence as to how long the response is maintained.

Motivation theories are classified as either content or process theories by Ivancevich, Konopaske and Matteson (2005). They suggest that these theories are pitted against one another in the literature which is unfortunate since they all can help managers better understand work place motivation.

Content theories include those put forward by Maslow, Alderfer, Herberg and McClelland and focus on the factors within people that motivate them i.e. the needs people may have. These needs may be categorised as physiological, psychological or sociological. The content theorists attempt to provide us with an...
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