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I. Why Study Motivation?
Motivation is one of the most traditional topics in organizational behaviour and it has become more
important in contemporary organizations as a result of the need for increased productivity to be globally
competitive and the rapid changes that organizations are undergoing.
II. What is Motivation?
When we speak about motivation we usually mean that a person "works hard," "keeps at" his or her work,
and directs his or her behaviour toward appropriate outcomes.
A. Basic Characteristics of Motivation
Motivation is the extent to which persistent effort is directed toward a goal.
The four basic characteristics of motivation are effort, persistence, direction, and goals.
Effort. This refers to the strength of a person's work-related behaviour.
Persistence. This refers to the persistence that individuals exhibit in applying effort to their work tasks.
Direction. This refers to the quality of a person's work related behaviour.
Goals. This refers to the ends towards which employees direct their effort.
B. Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation
Experts in organizational behaviour distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic
motivation stems from the direct relationship between the worker and the task and it is usually self-
applied. Extrinsic motivation stems from the work environment external to the task and it is usually
applied by someone other than the person being motivated. The extrinsic/intrinsic motivation relationship
suggests that if intrinsic outcomes and extrinsic outcomes are both highly attractive, they should
contribute to motivation in an additive fashion. In general, research has shown that both extrinsic and
intrinsic rewards are necessary to enhance motivation in actual work settings.
C. Motivation and Performance
Performance can be defined as the extent to which an organizational member contributes to achieving
the objectives of the organization. Although there is a positive relationship between motivation and
performance, the relationship is not one-to-one because other factors such as personality, general
cognitive ability, emotional intelligence, task understanding, and chance can intervene.
General Cognitive Ability. General cognitive ability refers to a person’s basic information processing
capacities and cognitive resources. General cognitive ability predicts learning and training success as well
as job performance in all kinds of jobs and occupations. It is an even better predictor of performance for
more complex and higher-level jobs that require the use of more cognitive skills.
Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence (EI) has to do with an individual’s ability to understand
and manage his or her own and others’ feelings and emotions. Peter Salovey and John Mayer have
developed an EI model that consists of four interrelated sets of skills or branches. The four skills
represent sequential steps that form a hierarchy. Beginning from the first and most basic level, the four
branches are: Perception of emotions, integration and assimilation of emotions, knowledge and
understanding of emotions, and management of emotions. EI has been found to predict performance in a
number of areas including work performance and academic performance. It is most likely to predict
performance in jobs that involve a lot of social interaction and require high levels of emotional
III. What is Employee Engagement?
Engagement involves the extent to which an individual immerses his or her true self into his or her work
roles. When people are engaged, they employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and
emotionally during role performances. When a person is disengaged, they withdraw and defend
themselves physically, cognitively, or emotionally during role performances. Two important components
of employee engagement are attention and absorption. Three psychological conditions that contribute to
engagement are psychological meaningfulness, safety, and availability.
IV. Need Theories of Work Motivation
Need theories of motivation attempt to specify the kinds of needs people have and the conditions under
which they will be motivated to satisfy these needs in a way that contributes to performance. Needs are
physiological and psychological wants or desires that individuals can satisfy by acquiring certain
incentives or achieving particular goals. It is the behaviour stimulated by this acquisition process that
reveals the motivational character of needs:
NEEDS --> BEHAVIOUR --> INCENTIVES AND GOALS
Need theories are concerned with “what” motivates workers (needs and their associated incentives or
goals). They can be contrasted with process theories, which are concerned with exactly “how” various
factors motivate people. Need theories and process theories are complementary rather than contradictory.
A. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a theory based on satisfying certain needs. Maslow’s
hierarchy of needs is a five-level hierarchical need theory of motivation that specifies that the lowest-
level unsatisfied need has the greatest motivating potential. These needs include physiological needs,
safety needs, belongingness needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. According to Maslow's
hierarchy of needs, motivation depends on the person’s position in the need hierarchy. Individuals are
motivated to satisfy their physiological needs before they show interest in their self-esteem or safety
needs. When needs at a particular level of the hierarchy are satisfied, the individual turns his or her
attention to the next higher level. Maslow's hierarchy also implies that a satisfied need is no longer an
B. Alderfer's ERG Theory
Another need-based theory called ERG theory was developed by Clayton Alderfer. ERG theory is a
three level hierarchical need theory of motivation that allows for movement up and down the hierarchy.
The name ERG stems from the compression of Maslow’s five-category need system into three categories
of needs: existence, relatedness, and growth needs.
Alderfer's theory differs from Maslow's theory in that there is not a rigid hierarchy of needs and that if
higher-level needs are ungratified, individuals will increase their desire for the gratification of lower-level
C. McClelland's Theory of Needs
Psychologist David McClelland has developed a need theory based on the specific behavioural
consequences of needs rather than a hierarchy of needs. McClelland’s theory of needs is a
nonhierarchical need theory of motivation that outlines the conditions under which certain needs result in
particular patterns of motivation. Individuals have needs for achievement, affiliation, and power. The
theory outlines the conditions under which these needs result in particular patterns of motivation.