Expectancy theory-vroom

Understanding Organisation

Seminar 3: Motivating Employees

The content theories of motivation focus on the goals to which we aspire. For Abraham Maslow (1970), our needs are organized hierarchically with lower -order biological and safety needs at the bottom and higher self actualization and transcendence needs at the top. Concerning the case, employees are not motivated only by "money, by conditions or by benefits". They are looking for others elements to motivate them. Regarding to the content theory of Taylorism and Fordism, they assume that money is the only motivation. But in this case, we see that employees are "very discouraged" even if they work harder, they did not get more wages and did not have "opportunities for advancement". Maslow (1970, p245)) and Herzberg (1959, p260) worked on the contents of the motivation based on classification of needs for Maslow or factors for Herzberg. They have highlighted a dynamic individual to build with each employee. Maslow placed great emphasis on individual development (the call to achieve). His theory is based on a hierarchy of needs (physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization). For him in this case, the satisfaction of needs start once satisfied the basic psychological needs (physical comfort, pay, working conditions..). After this step, employees are looking for the need to evolve in a safe and structured environment (providing shelter, protection, stability). When these needs are guaranteed, employees would be seeking to higher needs of esteem (recognition, responsibility and importance, prestige, responsibility). Self-actualization is the fact that man must be sincere with his own nature. But to get there, there are prerequisites freedom of expression and justice. For Maslow the response to a need lead to emerge others needs located at higher levels. According to Maslow employees are looking for the "physiological needs", such as pay, working conditions, benefits for there satisfaction but also they are looking for satisfaction of there needs in higher level like recognition, responsibility or more the "self-actualization". Maslow's hierarchy was criticized; a result in a certain level does not delete the corresponding need. A need may change shape or change when requirements have been met. This theory has been criticised by several empirical studies, due to the rigidity of the hierarchy. Indeed, we can make some critics against Maslow hierarchy of need because people could seek to satisfy many needs in one time, or would satisfy higher need before satisfying the first needs as defined by Maslow.

Herzberg developed the concept of job enrichment and discovered that there are "two factor theory of motivation" with the hygiene factors and motivator factors. The Hygiene factor (extrinsic) concerning the quality of the environment (pay, company policy, status, security, working conditions.), "which remove dissatisfaction but do not contribute to motivation and performance". The "motivator factors" are intrinsic (self-motivation), Herzberg advocates to develop by enriching the work including achievement, recognition, responsibility, achievement, advancement. According to him, Mike Stanhope in order to increase or improve "the performance" of his employees, he should give them opportunities for recognition and achievement through the work itself. In his theory, Herzberg show that Hygiene factors calm the frustration of employees and the other motivator factors, more dynamic stimulate at work to create. Herzberg thinks in his way the hierarchy of needs (lowest needs are related to environmental "comfort" or security, the higher needs has a role of activation the personal growth or development). Thus, to improve motivation, Herzberg recommends for this case that Mike should enrich the work for his employees that will raise the motivator factors. The job enrichment, according to Herzberg, should not be confused with job enlargement, which represents more tasks in the same level which not related to motivator factors. Mike Stanhope should enrich work by giving them more responsibility and autonomy, to assign more complex tasks, to enable everyone to build expertise.

The process theories or models could be defined as an approach of cognitive processes that are at the heart of the motivation. "This means they focus on the decision making process". Theses theories try to understand how individual is motivated. According to Adams (1963, p251), the "equity theory" argues that "perception of unfairness leads to tension, which then motivates the individual to resolve that unfairness". The employee is motivated when he considered that the "outcomes" (what he received) are "fair" comparing to his "inputs" (what he brings to the company), it means that he is seeking to a equitable return for their efforts. In this case, we see that for the employee the unfairness exists because they feel that the ratio is unbalanced compared to others. Adams sought to clarify under what conditions the relationship between what we do as work and that work brings you is deemed fair or not. It suggests that the sense of fairness is the result of a process of exchange between the organization and its members. In this company, employees felt misunderstood, they compared themselves to others "colleagues" that create segregation at work. There is a double comparison, first, individual comparison between rewards (pay, recognition) and Contributions (time, effort, idea) and the second one social comparison between perceptions of employees with others. Employees in this pharmaceutical firm perceived themselves unequal from the others "colleagues". In addition, employees bring to the company their workforce, their energy, their time and what they receive from the company is imbalance and "unfair" according to their expectancies. (Expectancy theory- Vroom p254) Their expectancies could be in a monetary way, the feeling that they are underpaid, in comparison to the hardest of their work, or more deeply the will of having more recognition in their work, to get more reward and appreciation from the manager, or even to have clear objectives. Locke (1968, p257) "Goal setting theory", "argues that individual is motivated at work by goals difficulties and specificities and by knowledge of results". Also, motivation is higher when we give him feedback or "Knowledge of results" for ability to achieve them. "Challenging goals" lead to higher levels of performance. Mike should determine challenging goals in order to motivate and to stimulate his employees to work harder for achieving the goal. The Goal should be SMART:"specific", "measurable", "attainable", "realistic" and "time-related". The challenge for Mike as a manager is to determine the appropriate level of complexity of goals, the right balance which will enable his employees to improve their performance and not discourage them. The "participation" of employees in goal-setting can improve performance by increasing commitment. Mike as a manager, sets goals must involve his employees in decision taking, and must make sure that goals are accepted and understand by them.

A constant feedback is essential for employees to provide them results and to maintain the motivation for improving future performance.

According to what we perceived in this case, Mike is externally controlled because the results of the survey show that the company "paid near the top in this region, conditions are goods and our fringe benefits are more than generous". He controlled externally, more globally the company, he neglected the "human side", he neglected the concerns, expectancies, the motivation of his employees. He thought that the money and the working conditions are the only factors "leitmotiv" to improve motivation and to increase performance. But as a manager, he must care about the heart of his employees, the motivation, so he must have an internal vision of management.


  • Abraham H Maslow, 1970, Motivation and personality, New York; London: Harper & Row
  • Huczynski, A. and Buchanan, D. (2004, 5th edition) Organizational Behaviour: an introductory text. Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall. Chp8 p 241-278
  • Herzberg, Frederick. Mausner, Bernard. Snyderman, Barbara Bloch. The motivation to work. New York : John Wiley & Sons, 1959

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