Theories of Motivation

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One of the most widely mentioned theories of motivation is the Hierarchy of Needs Theory put forth by Abraham Maslow. Maslow saw human needs in a form of hierarchy, ascending from the lowest to the highest. Once one set of needs were satisfied, this kind of need ceases to be a motivator.

Maslow’s Theories of needs are:
Physiological needs:
These are important needs, for human life food, water, warmth, sleep, education. Without these needs satisfied to a degree, no other motivating factors can work.

The needs to be free from physical danger, and fear of losing a job, property. This also includes protection against emotional harm.

Social needs:
They need to be accepted by others. This would satisfy their need for affection, acceptance and friendship.

Esteem needs:
This need is to satisfy their need to belong this produces such satisfaction as, power, prestige status and self-confidence. It includes internal esteem factors like self-respect and achievements.

Need for self-actualisation:
Maslow regards this as the highest need in his hierarchy. It is the drive to become what one is capable of becoming. To maximise ones potential and to accomplish something.

h (n.d.). accessed 25th April 2010

Jeremy Bentham’s “The Carrot and the Stick Approach”:
Possibly the essence of the traditional view of people at work can be best appreciated by a brief look at the work of this English philosopher, whose ideas were also developed in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, around 1800. Bentham’s view was that all people are self-interested and are motivated by the desire to avoid pain and find pleasure. Any worker will work only if the reward is big enough, or the punishment sufficiently unpleasant. This view - the ‘carrot and stick’ approach - was built into the philosophies of the age and is still to be found, especially in the older, more traditional sectors of industry. The various leading theories of motivation and motivators seldom make reference to the carrot and the stick. This metaphor relates, of course, to the use of rewards and penalties in order to induce desired behaviour. It comes from the old story that to make a donkey move, one must put a carrot in front of him or dab him with a stick from behind. Despite all the research on the theories of motivation, reward and punishment are still considered strong motivators. For centuries, however, they were too often thought of as the only forces that could motivate people. At the same time, in all theories of motivation, the inducements of some kind of ‘carrot’ are recognized. Often this is money in the form of pay or bonuses. Even though money is not the only motivating force, it has been and will continue to be an important one. The trouble with the money ‘carrot’ approach is that too often everyone gets a carrot, regardless of performance through such practices as salary increase and promotion by seniority, automatic ‘merit’ increases, and executive bonuses not based on individual manager performance. It is as simple as this: If a person put a donkey in a pen full of carrots and then stood outside with a carrot, would the donkey be encouraged to come out of the pen? The ‘stick’, in the form of fear–fear of loss of job, loss of income, reduction of bonus, demotion, or some other penalty–has been and continues to be a strong motivator. Yet it is admittedly not the best kind. It often gives rise to defensive or retaliatory behavior, such as union organization, poor-quality work, and executive indifference, failure of a manager to take any risks in decision making or even dishonesty. But fear of penalty cannot be overlooked. Whether managers are first-level supervisors or chief executives, the power of their position to give or with hold rewards or impose penalties of various kinds gives them an ability to control, to a very great extent, the economic and social well-being of...
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