Theory of Expectancy

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Module: Organisational Behaviour

Essay Title: Victor. H. Vroom’s Motivational Theory of Expectancy and its Application within an Organisation

Submission Date: 21st November 2011
Wordcount: 2,630

Introduction

This essay aims to explore Victor. H. Vroom’s ‘Theory of Expectancy’ on seeking motivation and its application within an organisation; Vroom’s Expectancy Theory has been widely researched and has substantial support in contrast to other popular motivational theories French et al (2011: 177). The essay is divided into four. I will identify the historic description of the theory; how it came to be, the important ideas that the concept embodies, and how the concept can be applied in the broader spectrum. A live case study looking at the use of the theory within my employer’s organisation Bank of Ireland, Group Customer Operations. In particular is the theory mirrored in reality and do the current motivational practices within the company have any similarities to Vroom’s model, is effective or ineffective? Thirdly I will examine if there are any discrepancies between theory and reality and do they match the outcome of the workplace? Are any elements of the concept ignored and if there are, are there any unexpected outcomes as a result. The findings will be analysed and areas of recommendation identified. I will outline the expected outcomes of adapting the theory in the workplace and address does this theory suit the Bank of Ireland’s mission and its employees before concluding.

Theoretical Background

French et al (2011: 158) describes motivation to work as the forces within an individual that account for the level, direction and persistence of effort expended at work. In 1959 Victor. H. Vroom was working on a chapter of Industrial Social Psychology for the Annual Review of Psychology and reached the conclusion that the study of motivation had not been adequately explored, which later led to him to publish the ‘Expectancy Theory’ (1964) (Vroom: 1964). His theory suggests that people consciously choose particular courses of action, based upon perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs, as a consequence of their desires to enhance pleasure and avoid pain (Vroom: 9). The theory can be broken down into three parts Expectancy, Instrumentality and Valence.

Expectancy refers to the probability that an individual assigns to work effort being followed by a given level of achieved task performance. Instrumentality refers to the probability that an individual will assign to a level of achieved task performance leading to various work outcomes. Valence represents the values that an individual will attach to various work outcomes French et al (2011: 175). Essentially if an individual believes that working hard will be rewarded they will continue to work hard so long as they believe they can do so. Hereby motivating the individual to work harder. From a management perspective jobs are graded from easy to difficult, where easy is generally lower paid, with difficult being higher paid or involving more responsibility. Pay increases with job responsibility and employee’s exert additional effort on an easy task to achieve task performance for an expected outcome resulting in access to a more difficult task (i.e. with better pay or more responsibility). In order for an employee to want to achieve something it is believed that it has to be expected from them. Once the employee is willing to perform then management should state possible rewards and outcomes that the employee can expect to receive through instrumentality. Once the task has been completed the needs of the employee must adhere to their original expectations, the manager therefore needs to determine the salience of each of the available rewards from the perspective of the follower. For outcomes to induce heightened motivational states individuals must feel valued.

The individual thought process as laid out by Vroom...
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