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Motivation Theory – More Than Maslow

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Motivation can be considered to comprise an individual’s effort and persistence and the direction of that effort – motivation is the will to perform. (Brooks, 2009) Most managers have to delegate because the job that they have is too big for one person to do. In having to work through other people it is necessary that managers understand what motivates an employee to act positively in the interests of the organization. (Buckley, 2009) Maslow’s theory of needs tends to be treated as classical within the field of organisational behaviour, being referred to as a ‘classic among classics’ (Matteson, Ivancevich, 1989; Wilson, 1999). However I aim to prove that motivation theory is a much broader topic than the principles of Maslow with the use of two content theories; ‘two-factor theory’ and ‘Theory X & Theory Y’, as well as process theories; Expectancy Theory and Equity Theory. To further prove my point I will use Marx’s theory and Taylor’s scientific approach.

Firstly some background – Maslow suggested individuals are motivated to satisfy a set of five needs which are hierarchically ranked according to their salience (Brooks, 2009). Physiological, safety and social needs (lower-order needs) are satisfied from the context within which the job is undertaken. Self-esteem and self-actualization (higher order needs) are met through the content of the job. Maslow further argued that at any one time one need is dominant and acts as a motivator. However once that need is satisfied it will no longer motivate, but be replaced by the next higher level need which remains to be satisfied. (Buckley, 2009) In order to be motivated, individuals need to be given the opportunity to satisfy the need at the next level in the hierarchy. (Brooks, 2009) Maslow recognised that this was not a fixed (yet quite rigid) hierarchy and that for some; motivators may be at different levels but little chance for deviation. Content theories deviate from the ‘classical’ Maslow approach to motivation, they attempt to identify and explain the factors which motivate people. (Brooks, 2009) Firstly Herzberg formed the ‘two factor theory’ – based on a study designed to test the concept that man has two sets of needs: his need as an animal to avoid pain and his need as a human to grow psychologically (Herzberg, 1959; Brooks, 2009).

He found factors that created job dissatisfaction (hygiene factors – pain avoidance) were related to the context of the job (extrinsic rewards) and factors that caused job satisfaction (motivators – psychological growth) were related to the content of the job (intrinsic rewards). (Sankar, 1994) One example of the successful use of motivators especially achievement & recognition is in ASDA, one of the first to admit it doesn’t pay its employees particularly well; instead it lavishes them with ‘bursting with pride’ and ‘thank you’ certificates (French, 2008). However the concept presents a problem with semantics, for we normally think of satisfaction and dissatisfaction as opposites (Clark; Chandler; Barry, 1994). However eliminating dissatisfaction does not produce satisfaction because they are determined by different factors, so the opposite of satisfaction is no satisfaction and the same is said for dissatisfaction (Sankar, 1994). Hygiene factors have to be met adequately to avoid dissatisfaction, but do not motivate employees and the presence of motivators creates positive job satisfaction.

This contradicts Maslow’s beliefs that certain needs have to be met before the individual can progress, as all these factors can be addressed at once. Herzberg believed one way management could create motivation is not through horizontal loading (increasing workload) but by vertically loading, giving people complete natural work units. (Herzberg, 1987) In short the evidence of Herzberg’s theory at work suggests motivation is not only the product of the hierarchy of needs being achieved. Secondly, the human behaviour at work: Theory X (the traditional view of direction and control) and Theory Y (the integration of individual and organisational goals) developed by McGregor. Theory X ‘mediocrity of the masses’ – is where workers are described as the average human – preferring to be directed, wishing to avoid responsibility, have relatively little ambition and want security above all. (McGregor, 1960; Pugh 1984). To insure productivity/motivation with Theory X worker you need the implication of coercive rewards, control and punishment. In contrast to Maslow, as this would stunt the fulfilments of his needs.

Whereas Theory Y workers are described as; considering effort at work as rest or play, work can be a source of satisfaction or punishment (depending on work conditions) and individuals who seek responsibility. Theory Y workers achieve objectives by creating a working environment where it is possible to show and develop their creativity. (tutor2u, 2009) However this theory can be seen as naïve, in thinking work is not a central life interest for all workers, as it is a necessity. This theory is based on the individual’s personality itself, contrary to Maslow’s idea that it is the content of the job, thus broadening the opinions on motivational theory. Process theories further prove motivational theory is ‘more than Maslow’; they focus on how a variety of personal factors interact and influence human behaviour. (Brooks, 2009) Firstly the Equity Theory created by Adams, gives us the insight into the relationship between rewards and the likely satisfaction individual’s gain from them (Brooks, 2009). It extends beyond individual self; it suggests that people are willing and capable to perceive fairness in their immediate environment.

Adam believes if an employee’s outputs received for a particular input are equal to, or exceeds, those received by colleagues; they see the situation as equitable, thus creating motivation/work harder. (businessballs, 2007). However if employees see themselves as under-rewarded compared to others, a sense of inequity is felt, and they then have to make a ‘cognitive adjustment’ in order to deal with this. They may decide to lower their inputs, their work contribution, or attempt to raise their outcomes like pay. (Wilson, 1999) This is supported by Lord and Hohenfeld (1979) and Prichard et al. (1972) – underpayment leads to lower job performance. (Wilson, 1999) One example of acting on raising outcome is Bridget Bodman who found out her male successor had a higher salary (£8000), and various additional benefits of which she did not receive, as a result she received £25000. (French, 2008) Of which I have also experienced during my job at Tesco, being paid the kiosk wage (lower) when working on front desk. This theory challenges Maslow as it bases the motivator as solely monetary gain, whereas Maslow identifies various motivators, suggesting motivational theory is more complex than just Maslow.

The second process theory is Vroom’s Expectancy theory, which focuses only on reward. Vroom acknowledges individuals may have different set goals, but postulates that the motivational force for an individual is a function of expectancy that certain outcomes will result from their behaviour and the valence or desirability of these outcomes. (Wilson, 1999) To achieve this management must identify valence – whether their employee’s emotional orientation leads them to value extrinsic or intrinsic rewards, expectancy – the perceived first-level outcome (performance) obtained from input – this performance is achieved with the use of training, so as the employees have a level of confidence in their own capability and instrumentality – ensuring employees believe employers that first-level outcomes (performance) lead to second-level outcomes/rewards. (Sankar, 1994) Vroom believes when these factors are achieved they interact psychosocially to create a motivational force such that the employee acts in a way that brings pleasure and avoids pain. (IFM, 2007)

This theory is complicated, the model assumes that people are rational and objective; not taking into account other emotive factors that could be affecting their decisions. (Brooks, 2009) One example of the Expectancy theory at work is evident in the RAC organisation that decided to reorganise due to a decline in market share. In the reorganisation they introduced rewards for performance and more adequate training and as a result found immediate improvements of 20% increase in productivity over the first, three – four months. (Hutchinson, 2000) This narrows the need to motivate the employee down to purely psychological, unlike the broader needs (physiological etc.) of Maslow, again proving motivation theory is not simply Maslow. To further support my argument that there is definitely more than one outlook on motivational theory, Marx & Taylor’s theories are briefly discussed. Marx has a theory that people are naturally motivated to work. We are social animals and have a natural desire to transform the world around us, we have inherent creativity and desire to work and we strive for knowledge and learning from our experiences. (Slides on motivation) This not only contrasts Maslow’s theory but most other theories of motivation, as it suggests motivation is innate and does not need to be created.

Laslty, the scientific approach of Taylor, believing managers need to motivate workers (as they are inherently lazy) to produce on a consistently high level, e.g. by using coercive measurements such as low basic wages and high incentive payments for exceeding targets. This can be seen in car production assembly lines of many motor manufacturers – where workers are set one specified task on the production line. The approach did improve productivity tremendously at factories where introduced, it also introduced major labour problems – fruitful grounds for trade unions seeking new members. (Buckley, 2009) This shows the theory whilst making progress in some areas of motivation, completely neglects other areas. Another flaw of this theory is ‘what can’t be measure isn’t worth doing’ thus again missing out other key motivators at work. (Donkin, 2001) This contradicts Maslow’s belief that motivation is achieved through the context and content of the job, as Taylor has shown monetary rewards are also a source of motivation.

In conclusion the extensive research above into content and process theories of Motivation and how they work in the real workplace, has definitely answered the question that motivation is ‘more than Maslow’. Especially by presenting the lack of empirical evidence presented with the hierarchy of needs, whilst other theories have a lot of supporting evidence. Overall, I have materialised a definitive supporting argument to my question and have found that most motivational theories interlink in one way or another but have additional variables to create motivation within the workplace, thus Maslow may be a ‘classic’ theory of motivation, but is by no means the only, as although it may interlink with other theories, they are entirely contrasting. Two sets of theories are compatible; in fact when combined they provide considerable insight to motivation in the workplace. (Brooks, 2009) The above has not only identified that motivation is not just Maslow, but motivation is not just one of any of the above theories – we are all unique, rich and complex – no any one theory can capture this – again reiterating the fact that motivation is ‘ more than Maslow’. Part B:

Junction Hotel went through a recent managerial restructure when Adam Chance decided he wanted to step back from day-to-day involvement. (Seminar 2, Booklet 2) three candidates emerged for his replacement, however when considering who to employ, the leadership qualities have to interlink with the current motivational theory in practice, so as not to further upset an already changing business and its employees. One candidate was Autocratic, so would best fit with a motivational approach that is somewhat scientific/Taylorism, as this requires rigid instructions from management and coercive measurements to meet targets, however in the long-run this may actually restrict the employees creativity/motivation. Another candidate was democratic, so would fit in with Maslow’s theory as it helps employees better themselves, listens to what they have to say etc. However with the use of this approach objectives may become unclear. This shows how in different aspects of business, motivational theory has to be carefully selected for the culture of the business to ensure fluidity and cohesion. Junction Hotel had staff complaints when their new uniforms had arrived, especially as the female staff felt that their uniform was ‘more revealing’ than those worn by men. (Seminar 5, Booklet 2) Here you can see the Equity theory in practice.

The male and female staff have the same input at work, however the female staff are being rewarded with new uniforms, that make them feel uncomfortable, creating a sense of unfairness. Therefore if the uniforms are kept, the women’s sense of uncomfort will negatively affect their motivation/performance. However the new manager is in conflict with what to do, does she change the uniform to ensure the comfort and motivation of her staff, or does she follow head offices orders that the new uniform reflects the company motto: ‘luxurious, courteous, dependable’? This is another example of how motivational theory cannot be only one concept, because they all challenge each other, just like real life events. Therefore it would seem more than one motivational theory needs to be applied when dealing with a situation threatening employee motivation. One last problem Junction Hotel faces in respect to motivation, is the restaurant is marketed as ‘Effingham’s’ so as to trade on the reputation of the chef (Seminar 5, Booklet 1).

However Effingham has been alleged to make staff cry and have blazing rows with them. Junction Hotel has the dilemma of addressing Effingham and maybe losing his business/valuable source of revenue but with potential results of improved communications, team-work, motivation of his subordinates and ultimately an even better food service to match the excellence of his food. This demonstrates the risks and sacrifices that may have to be made within business to achieve the motivation of its employees. It shows improving the motivation of employees may not always improve other aspects of business life but actually compromise them; again supporting the fact that motivational is complex and definitely ‘more than Maslow’.

Part C:
Brooks, I., 2009. Organisational Behaviour: Individuals, Groups and Organisation. 5th ed. Harlow: Pearson. Buckley, M., 2009. Business Studies.
3rd ed. Harlow: Pearson. Clark, H., Chandler, J., Barry, J., 1994. Organisation and identities: Text and readings in organisational behaviour. Oxford: Chapman & Hall. Donkin, R., 2001. Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Evolution of Work. London: Texere. French, R. et al., 2008. Organizational Behaviour. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Pugh, D., 1984. Organization Theory. 2nd ed. Middlesex: Penguin Group. Sankar, Y., 1994. Organizational Behaviour. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc. Wilson, F., 1999. Organizational Behaviour and Work: A critical Introduction. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Herzberg, F., 1987. HBR classic: one more time: how do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review, 65 (5) [16 April 2012] Hutchinson, J., 2000. Evolving high commitment management and the experience of the RAC call centre. HR Management Journal, 10 (1) [16 April 2012]

2009 [online] Available at: <http://tutor2u.net/business/people/motivation_theory_mcgregor.asp> [22 April 2012]. 2007 [online] Available at: <http://www.businessballs.com/adamsequitytheory.htmhttp://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/dstools/paradigm/vroom.html> [23 April 2012]. 2007 [online] Available at: <http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/dstools/paradigm/vroom.html> [23 April 2012]

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