Human Resources Management
A Brief Review of Motivational Theories

Motivation is a widely studies subject in management and organizational behaviors as it is the source of passion, inspiration and drive for a person to work and excel. It will affect someone’s direction, intensity, and persistence in the workplace. It is not hard to understand that motivated workforce can implement any plans and strategies better for a firm, and such a situation and requirement is the foundation of a successful and high performing organization in the competitive business environment today. In the section below, a few theories concerning the subject of motivation will be presented.

Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy Theory. According to the Maslow’s theory, human needs can be categorized into a hierarchy of five levels and states that as the lowest needs are being satisfied, the higher level needs become increasingly important and people will be motivated to satisfy these upper level needs when the lower level needs are being satisfied. The five levels are physiological, safety, belongingness or love, esteem, and self-actualization.

ERG Theory. ERG theory is similar to Maslow’s needs theory, where it assumes that there are three groups of needs, namely, existence, relatedness and growth. However, the issue with such a needs hierarchy is that the models assume everyone has the same hierarchy, but there are empirical evidences suggesting that the needs hierarchy often varies from one person to the others.

McClelland’s Three Needs Theory. McClelland argued that the needs can be intensified by the learning process. Three needs are being postulated, namely, the need for achievement, the need for power and the need for affiliation.

Four-Drive Theory. Under the four drive theory, it is asserted that everyone has four innate drives, namely, the drives to acquire, to bond, to learn and to defend. In this theory, these drives will invoke emotions. The emotions however, will be regulated by someone’s social norms, past experience, and personal values. According to this theory, it is very important that the managers should ensure that the design of individual jobs and workplace able to deliver a balanced methods in fulfillment of the four needs.

Expectancy Theory. This theory assert that work effort is influenced by the perception that a particular effort will result in a particular level of performance (E-to-P expectancy), the perception that a specific behavior or performance level will lead to specific outcomes (P-to-O expectancy), and the valances that the person feels for those outcomes. The implications from this theory is this: the E-to-P expectancy increase by improving the employee’s ability and confidence to perform the job, while the P-O expectancy increases by accurate performance measurement, and a fair performance-based reward system.

Goal Setting as Motivational Process. While goal setting is not a theory in nature, it is a process that can motivate employees and clarify the employees’ job scope and roles through the establishment of performance objectives. In the goal setting process, an effective goal must be specific, relevant, challenging, have employee commitment, and is accompanied with meaningful feedback. Apart from that, participative goal setting is also important to motivate workforce, where the employees are asked to participate and involve in the goal setting process.

Equity Theory. The concept of equity theory is deal the subject of fairness and justice. Equity theory has four elements, namely: outcome to input ratio, comparison other, equity evaluation, and consequences of inequity. The implications from this theory are that company must take into account the subject of equity of the distribution of resources and the fairness in the process of allocating resources.

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