The research problem I intend to address in my thesis is, ‘What motivates employees to achieve better performance at work?’ The question of motivation has long been a central concern in organizational psychology, while performance itself remains elusive to measure and improve. As the world enters the second year of the most challenging recession since 1929, the time is ideal to consider ways in which productivity can be ramped up as a way of expanding GDP. Frederick Herzberg’s Two Factor theory has been particularly influential in its claim that job satisfaction is directly related to a class of motivators that includes recognition, advancement, and growth. Herzberg’s theory, read in conjunction with Maslow’s notion of a hierarchy of needs, represented a fundamental shift in motivation theory, which had previously posited that factors such as salary and working conditions were more important determinants of job satisfaction and, thereby, improved performance. In the wake of Herzberg, some HR managers and managers consider their job done if they have added a few motivational factors into a job enrichment plan. However, I plan to test for a different hypothesis: that there is a difference between a partial job enrichment plan and a conventional one. I hypothesize that a comprehensive job enrichment approach will result in better motivation, and therefore better performances, than a partial approach. The problem is suitable for research on a doctoral level because it will contribute nuance to the current academic understanding of both motivation and performance theory, and it will benefit business managers by proving that job enrichment delivers maximum ROI only if it is approached comprehensively. The research’s distinctive and original contribution will consist not only of proof of the greater efficacy of comprehensive job enrichment but also in providing a formal model of job enrichment for use by other researchers and also by HR departments. The practical upshot of these contributions will be an empirically-tested framework to improve worker performance. Timetable:
June 2009: Literature Review
December 2009: Methodology I: concept
June 2010: Methodology II: Data gathering
December 2010: Data analysis
June 2011: Discussion
December 2011: Introduction, Conclusion, Bibliography
June 2012: Final draft for review
The most challenging stage, and the one in which I will need to most sharpen my skills, is the Methodology I stage. There are two specific challenges: the first is to determine what exactly constitutes comprehensive job enrichment, and the second is to operationalize this model. If the model is so comprehensive as not to exist in the real world, there will be little point in distributing the survey. On the other hand, if the model is compromised, there will be a false distinction between the two models of job enrichment I propose to examine. To some extent, I believe that these challenges can be solved in the literature review stage, e.g. by discovering whether there are existing models of comprehensive job enrichment that I can import into my own research. An alternative to this approach might be to solicit input from workers themselves on what they consider job enrichment factors. I am currently undecided on which approach is methodologically sounder, but I expect the literature review to guide me.
Portfolio Exercise 2
Here are five articles I consider particularly relevant to my research, along with notes on how they might inform my research. These materials were easily obtained from the library and from online sources. “One more time: how do you motivate employees?” This article, by Frederick Herzberg, introduces the Two Factor theory and as such is a part of the conceptual foundation of the paper. Herzberg’s distinction between hygiene and motivational factors will be described and defended, for only motivational factors will be recognized as...
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