Organizational Behavior and Motivation Psychological and Sociological Insights

When researchers set out to explain the many different aspects of Motivation from an Organizational Behavior perspective, many different key aspects, theories, and implementation methods are used to describe this very large, unique and broad topic. Motivation is essentially described by the textbook as “the extent to which persistent effort is directed towards a goal.” It is very important for modern managers to understand the different forms and characteristic values of different motivation theories, and how to properly implement them in their organization.
Some of the most famous theories of motivation stem from the “Needs Theories” which are motivation theories that specify the kinds of needs people have and the condition in which they would want to exemplify these needs. The first Need Theory involves Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory which uses five basic needs that are arranged in hierarchy beginning with basic needs and then moves further to more complicated and self-fulfilling needs. The needs include; Physiological needs: survival needs, Safety needs: security and stability, Belongingness needs: social interaction, Esteem Needs: competence/independence needs, Self-Actualization: aim to fulfill one’s true potential as a person. The beginning needs relate more to Basic needs, and as you move further along the line of needs towards Self-actualization needs, you get away from basic needs to Higher Order Needs. Maslow’s Theory basically concludes that the lowest-level need that is unsatisfied has the greatest motivating potential.
Alderfer’s ERG Theory is a very similar “Needs Theory” that doesn’t use five needs to explain satisfaction and motivation, but uses three that include, Existence needs: material or condition satisfying needs, Relatedness needs: satisfied through communication, Growth Needs: satisfied through involvement. As Maslow’s theory explains, the motivating factor of this theory will be the need that is least satisfied, and as you move along these needs you go from Intrinsic (inner) motivation to Extrinsic (outward) Motivation, and lower level needs are gratified, while higher level needs are desired.
McClelland’s Theory explains that needs reflect stable personality characteristics that are acquired through life exposes, expectancies, and experiences. This theory doesn’t aim to use hierarchical relationship among needs, but uses situations to explain when certain motivational factors will be exhibited. The theory uses three main highlights to explain this theory which include; situations in which personal responsibility can be taken for outcomes, tendency to set difficult goals, and the desire for performance feedback. Basically this theory explains that people with high n Ach (low need for affiliation) are motivated by trying to improve themselves, while those with high n Aff (high need for affiliation) are concerned with being affiliated with others, and are motivated by interaction and being able to fit in.
There are also some “minor” theories that are labeled Process Theories of Motivation that don’t concentrate on needs, but focuses on how motivation actually occurs. Among these different theories are the Expectancy Theory, Equity Theory, and the Goal setting theory. The expectancy theory is centered around the belief of outcomes that people expect as a result of their behavior. Vroom’s theory uses an expectancy theory to explain his beliefs which use the components of Outcomes: results, Instrumentality: one minor outcome will lead to greater results, Valence: the value of expected outcomes, Expectancy: uses probability to explain achievement, and Force: the ending result of all of the previous products. Many personal views centered around individual motivation will include characteristics related to this theory. For instance a person may say to themselves, “If I work hard now as a sales representative, I may be able to make assistant manager, then eventually move up to store manager, and in five years I will be able to make District manager.”
The Equity theory says that employees compare the inputs of their efforts to the outputs or results to another person or group of people. When applying this theory, if the employee feels that their comparison ratios are adequate or equal they will be motivated for continual effort and motivation, and vise versa if the ratios don’t equal. This theory is usually used and applied in an economical setting, and is often used to explain if employees feel that they are underpaid for their efforts and job duties. The final theory is centered around goal setting which is a motivational technique that uses specific, challenging, and acceptable goals while including feedback mechanisms to enhance understanding and performance. This theory is very common within American organizations and often it does work because it is easy to implement, and allows employees to establish guidelines while allowing the company to enforce and reward those actions. To help enhance goal setting theories, companies usually will use participation, many individuals will be more likely to want to participate in goal setting methods, because they are the ones who set the goals. Also there are special rewards and incentives, usually centered around monetary bonuses or the possibilities for promotion. Also besides participation and rewards there is the needed value of support that managers must implement to help their staff accomplishes their goals that have been set.
So many organizations have been offering goal setting motivational tactics for years, and many have experienced success with the process. These have been the easiest forms of implementation by organizations, and many have experienced success with the processes. Regardless of what theory and processes managers choose to use, it’s important to evaluate their staff properly before implementing the motivating factors, and also ensure that they offer proper rewards, encourage participation, offer support, and offer feedback to ensure that their employees do feel valued and motivated and are achieving to their full capabilities.