Extended and updated version of the original article from 2000
This overview is compiled from Michael Armstrong’s book Armstrong's Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice. Additional information has been added. It intends to give a brief overview on the most important concepts and theories of motivation.
According to Arnold, there are 3 components of motivation:
Direction might point the way, but effort is what establishes momentum, and persistence determines how far the change is carried (in time as well as in magnitude of outcome). (from Client-centered Direction) Hence, Arnold’s 3 components are suitable to describe the level of motivation a person or a team shows. This concept does not give any reasons for motivation.
Furthermore, literature distinguishes 2 types of factors that influence motivation:
In other words: Intrinsic motivation comes from a person’s internal desire to do something. Reasons may be that a particular activity gives him or her pleasure, helps to develop a particular skill of seems to be the right thing to do in moral / ethical terms. Extrinsic motivation is generated by external factors that are less related to the particular task.
Maslows hierarchy of needs
The theory helps managers to identify which particular needs are relevant for employees and thus to determine appropriate motivators.
Alderfer’s ERG Theory
Is based on Maslows Hierchy of needs; recategorizes Maslows categories of needs into three simpler and broader groups:
On contrast to Maslow, here more than one level of needs can be relevant at the same time. There is no hierarchy; people may for instance work to fulfill their personal growth needs, whereas not al relatedness needs are fulfilled. (partly adapted from Management Study Guide)
There are 3 most important needs:
The hierarchy of these three groups of needs may differ from individual to individual. Hence, there are different motivators depending on a person’s high-priority needs.
There are some factors that result in satisfaction and some factors that just prevent dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg, the opposite of Satisfaction is No Satisfaction and the opposite of Dissatisfaction is No Dissatisfaction.
Value, instrumentality (belief that if we do one thing it will lead to another), expectancy (probability that action or effort will lead to an outcome)
Strength of expectations may be based on past experiences
Motivation is only likely when a clearly perceived relationship exists between performance and an outcome that is seen as a means of satisfying needs
Porter and Lawler developed this theory into a model suggesting that there are two factors determining the effort people put into their jobs:
Two additional variables:
By Latham and Locke
Motivation and performance are higher when
individuals are set specific goals
Feedback on performance allows the individual to track how well he or she is doing in relation to the goal
Participation in goal setting is important – goals need to be agreed
As long as they are accepted – demanding goals lead to better performance than easy goals
Individuals are not passive receivers but responders. They seek to reduce uncertainty by seeking control about factors influencing rewards
Management initiatives about motivation will only work if they make sense to the people in terms of their own values and orientation.
There are four important elements to reactance theory: perceived freedom, threat to freedom, reactance, and restoration of freedom. Freedom is not an abstract consideration, but rather a feeling associated with real behaviors, including actions, emotions, and attitudes. (from Wikipedia)
Behavioral theory (Skinner): behavior is learnt from experience, learning takes place mainly through reinforcement
Social learning theory (Bandura) significance of reinforcement as a determinant of future behavior, importance of internal psychological factors, esp. Expectancies
Attribution theory (Guest) explanation of performance after we have invested considerable effort and motivation in a task; 4 types of explanations: ability, effort, task difficulty, luck; motivation depends on the factor used to explain success or failure
Role Modeling: people can be motivated if they have the chance to model their own behavior on a ‘role model’, i.e. someone who’s working or leadership style serves as an inspiration and a positive example
More Information on Motivation
A list of links to external articles is available in our
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Status: 13. November 2013