Online Management Assignment Help

Theories of Motivation


Workers should be persuaded, inspired and motivated for contributing their best efforts in achieving the objectives of the organization. To motivate people effectively, managers should prepare certain plans. There are various plans, strategies or theories of motivation. All of them are grouped under two categories: (a) Traditional theories of motivation, (b) Modern theories of motivation.

Traditional Theories

“Be strong” theory or “fear and punishment” theory: The Philosophy of might is right, characterized the thinking of aggressive and authoritarian managers. Managers developed a strategy of forcing people to work by threatening to punish or dismiss them or to cut their rewards if they did not work well. This theory is based on the military principle, “Neither make reply nor question why but do nor die”, and the assumption is that people would work efficiently and with interest if they were driven by fear and punishment. There was tight control and rigid supervision over workers. This strategy was successful in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. But in the present circumstances. this theory is not practicable. It is resisted and condemned by workers as it is authoritarian. 

Efforts and rewards theory: This strategy or approach tried to establish a direct relationship between efforts and rewards. F.W. Taylor conceived this idea in his piece rate system of wages. Management through that people could perform and contribute better to the extent they were rewarded. To practice this theory, managers should establish the standards or performance, monitor the behavior of employees and decide about the rewards and penalties based on the degree of performance.

Monastic theory: This is almost like the efforts and rewards theory. Here, the management assumes that people work for money only. This theory seeks a single cause of behavior. It assumes that all the activities of men are directed only towards earning money. More effective will provide more wages, which will further encourage the workers to more effort. This is also known as the “Effort – Reward – Effort Theory”. But this theory is criticized on the basis that rewards can serve as motivator’s up to a particular point only, and not beyond that. 

Carrot and stick theory: This theory suggests a judicious ·combination of both rewards and penalties for motivation. This theory is based on the strategy of putting a carrot in front of a donkey and hitting it with a sick from behind so that it has to run. The carrot refers to incentives like money and other inducements and the stick refers to penalties, fear of dismissal, demotion, etc. 

Be good or paternalistic theory: After experiencing the ‘Be strong’ theory and its limitations, some managers implemented a new strategy. They were kind, generous and had the interests of the employees at heart. They functioned much as parents towards their children. But they expected loyalty, demanded respect and provided their employees what they thought were good for them. They were fair but firm. Employees in many cases responded to this strategy favorably. As a result, the paternalistic theory was successful in its approach and effectively competed with the “Be strong” and “fear and punishment” theories. High wages, job security, good facilities for education, health, recreation and good work environments were provided to gain loyalty and increase efficiency and productivity. But this theory was disliked by some people on the ground that they had to depend on the employers for everything, as children on their parents. 

Modern Theories 

McGregor’s theory: Douglas Murray McGregor classified the basic assumptions on human behavior into two parts and called these sets of propositions Theory X and Theory Y.

McGregor’s theory X: This theory was indirectly conceived and applied by F.W. Taylor. But it was McGregor who stated Theory X in very clear terms. In his own words, Theory X states, that: Management is responsible for organizing the elements of productive enterprise money, materials, and equipment’s people in the interest of economic ends.

With respect of people, this is a process of directing their efforts, motivating them, controlling their action, modifying their behavior to fit the needs of the organization.

Without the active intervention by management, people would be passive even resistant – to organizational needs. They must therefore be persuaded, rewarded, punished, and controlled. Their activities must be directed. This is management’s task. We often sum it up by saying that management consists of getting things done through people.

The average man is by nature lazy and he works as little as possible.

He lacks ambition and dislikes responsibility

He is inherently self-centered, indifferent to organizational needs

He is by nature resistant to change and he is not very bright.

So this theory assumes that authority should be clear and flow directly front the superiors to subordinates without any reservation. It implies that management should be hard and strong. Close supervision and tight control over individual behavior has to be introduced as work by nature is distasteful and people will try to shirk work and responsibility. But if the management believes in this theory, it will result in a lot of problems. 

McGregor’s theory Y: In view of the above misleading assumptions and practical difficulties, McGregor declares, “We require a different theory of the task of managing people based on more adequate assumptions about human nature and human motivation. I am going to be so bold as to suggest the broad dimension of such a theory. Call it Theory Y if you will” ,. His observations or Theory Yare as follows:

  • Management is responsible for organizing the elements of productive enterprise – money, materials, equipment, and people – in the interest of economic ends.
  • People are not by nature passive or resistant to organizational needs. They have become so as a result of experience in organization.
  • Motivation, the potential for development, the capacity for assuming responsibility, the readiness to direct behaviour toward organizational goals, are all present in people. Management does not put them there. It is the responsibility of management to make it possible for people to recognize and de-velop these human ch::tractetistics for themselves.
  • The essential task of management is to arrange organizational conditions and methods of operation so that people can achieve their own goals best by directing their own efforts towards organizational objectives.

They Y is basically a process of creating opportunities, releasing potential, removing obstacles, encouraging growth and providing guidance. It also provides for two way communication, participate management, decentralization and delegation of authority, emphasis on self-control, self-responsibility and self-discipline, emphasis on satisfaction of higher – level needs and maximum scope for management development programmes. Theory Y also assumes that work is as natural as play, provided the conditions are favorable. 

Ouchi’s Theory Z: William Ouchi proposed Theory Z as an alternative theory of organizational behaviur. Theory Z organizational culture comprises three major characteristics (a) Trust, (b) Subtlety, and (c) Intimacy. Theory Z outlines a complete transformation of the motivational principles underlying high – performance organizations and implies a revolutionary change in management practices. The main characteristic features of the theory are as follows.

  • Long-term employment
  • Emphasis on training
  • Seniority – based rewards
  • The Ringi System of collective decision making
  • Emphasis on self-discipline
  • Holistic concern for employees and their families 

Maslow’s Theory

Human needs can be classified into: (a) basic physiological needs or primary needs and (b) social and psychological needs or secondary needs. Abraham Maslow states that individuals have these and they are motivated to satisfy these unsatisfied needs. If they are satisfied, they do not motivate individual behaviour. Needs are arranged according to a hierarchy of importance from the basic physiological to the complex self-actualization needs. The need at any level of the hierarchy will emerge only when the lower level needs is full satisfied.

Maslow states that individual needs arranged in a hierarchy from the lower – level physiological needs to the higher needs for self-actualization.

Basic physiological needs are the primary needs of an individual. The survival of an individual depends upon the satisfaction of these needs, namely, food clothing, shelter, sex, air, water and other necessaries of life. The organization helps an individual to satisfy their basic needs by providing reasonably good salaries, benefits and working conditions. Once these needs are satisfied, the individual will get an idea – about the higher level needs.

Safety and security needs are considered immediately after satisfying the psychological needs of individuals. These needs can be satisfied from job security, income, provision for old age, insurance, and safer working conditions.

Social needs are also called belonging needs. When basic needs and safety needs are satisfied, social needs become important. Social affiliation will make the job interesting. These needs are: love and affection, friendship, and so on.

Esteem needs or ego needs or status needs develop a concern for getting recognition, status, importance and respect from others. These needs are independence, achievements, competence, skills, knowledge, initiative and success. A very good organizational climate and more opportunity for development, responsibility, praise and promotion can play a vital role in satisfying esteem needs.

After the satisfaction of the esteem needs, the highest level of needs, self -actualization, will become an important needs. It involves realizing one’s potentialities, capabilities for continued self – development and self-fulfillment. It is a personal achievement. Such challenges and achievements provide more satisfaction to a person.

The above hierarchy of needs stated by Maslow proves the fact that the second and subsequent needs do not dominate until the first and the previous needs are reasonably satisfied. Wants are continuous in nature and there cannot be an end satisfaction. The specialty of Maslow’s theory is that the needs arise in a certain order of preference.

Even though Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs has become popular, it is still subjected to a lot of criticism. The experience in continental European countries and Japan has shown that this theory does not apply effectively to their executives. Most of the American workers do not very much bother about their esteem needs are better satisfied than their security and social needs. Money can be a good motivator only for  physiological and social needs, but not for satisfying higher- level needs. Some people may remain contented with the satisfaction of physiological needs only, without developing any further needs. 

Herzberg’s hygiene- motivation theory: Frederick Herzberg and his associates conducted research based on the interview of 200 engineers and accountants working in 11 different firms in the Pittsburg area. Herzberg developed a theory with two factors. They are hygiene factors and motivational factors. The dissatisfies are known as hygiene factors because they support the mental health of the workers. Another set of job conditions operates primarily to build strong motivation and high job satisfaction. They are called as motivational factors.

Hygiene factors as stated by Herzberg are related to the work environment and are external to the job. They include wages, fringe benefits, status, job security, working conditions, company policy, administration, and interpersonal relations. The presence of these factors at a satisfactory level prevents job dissatisfaction, but they do not provide motivation to the workers. Even though they are not motivators, they will prevent the individual from becoming dissatisfied. Motivational factors are the motivators which are essential to increase the productivity of the employees. They are also known as satisfiers and they are concerned with job itself rather than the environment. These factors are recognition feeling of achievement, responsibility, advancement, opportunity for growth, and so on.

Herzberg stated that it is also necessary to pay special attention to the motivational factors of satisfiers rather then concentrating on the traditional hygienic factors. 

McClelland’s three need theory: David C.McClelland developed further needs namely, the need for achievement, the need for power, and the need for affiliation. His observation is that businessman and particularly the entrepreneur managers, have more achievement motivation than other groups is society. Such people are goal – oriented, seek a challenge and desire perfect feedback in the performance. People with high affiliation needs value interpersonal relationships and are sensitive to other people’s feelings. They want to be liked by others. They seek company by joining clubs and associations. On the other hand, people with a strong power need seek to dominate, influence and control others. Such power may be positive or negative. McClelland concludes that the need for achievement is one of the key factors of economic growth. 

Vroom’s expectancy theory: Vroom, while attacking Herzberg’s two – factor theory, offered an expectancy approach to the understanding of motivation. His theory explains three concepts of valence, instrumentality, and expectancy. Valence represents the value or significance of an outcome for a person, e.g. increased salaries, promotion. Instrumentality refers to the person’s perception of the relationship between first-level outcomes. It is the extent to which a person will feel that performance is instrumental in getting him increased salaries or promotion. Expectancy refers to the extent to which such efforts will lead to the first- level outcome. Vroom’s theory explains how the goals of individuals influence their efforts and that the behavior individuals select depends upon their assessment of the probability that behavior will take with success towards the goal. To conclude, Vroom emphasized the significance of individual perceptions and assessments or organizational behavior.