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The Application of Motivation Theory in Manufacturing Company

The Application of Motivation Theory in Manufacturing Company

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Published by: blurking2002 on Mar 25, 2010
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Developments In Business Simulation & Experiential Learning, Volume 24, 1997
Gregory H. Patton, University of Southern California
This experiential simulation allows businessstudents to engage in planning and manufacturingactivities while working under conditions calledforth by different motivational theories. Identicaltasks are used with variable work factors,expectancies, and rewards in order to highlightkey factors of basic motivational theory found inintroductory management texts. This paper discusses this motivation based experientialexercise, reviews motivational theories and howthey are operationalized within the activity, andthen provides an assessment of the exercise basedon student evaluations.
The motivation of employees is a challenge thatmanagers are continually confronted with in theworkplace. In today’s business environment“employee motivation is perhaps the ultimatemanagement challenge” (Arnold & Krapels, 1996. p.9). Within the business school, theunderstanding of motivation is seen as central tounderstanding and managing organizational behavior. (George & Jones, 1996). Businessstudents who have experienced the application of motivational theories will be better prepared tocomprehend the behavior of their organization, toconfront these workplace challenges, and to position their organizations for long term success.Currently a degree of disparity exists between thecontents of organizational behavior text books,and the motivation based experiential exercisesthat are available to faculty who use these texts inintroductory upper division management courses.The management texts are exposing students to awide range of motivational theories (see George &Jones, 1996, Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborn,1995). Yet activities in experiential OB texts have been more tightly focused (see KoIb, Osland &Rubin, 1995, Marcic, 1995). Activities like ringtoss that have been designed to accentuateMcClelland’s exploration of affiliation areeffective, but the focus remains on an individual’sconception of motivation. For a survey course inmanagement, it is unrealistic to assume thatclasses would be able to devote the time necessaryto individually focus on each theorist inmotivation research from an experientialstandpoint.A business simulation that allows participants toactively engage in planning and manufacturingactivities while working under conditions calledforth by different motivational theories wouldallow faculty in introductory management coursesto effectively expose their students to motivationalconcepts in an experiential activity. To addressthis need, Motus Manufacturing was created. Thisexperiential activity simulates four organizationsengaged in identical tasks with variable work factors, expectancies, and perceptions in order tohighlight key factors of different motivationaltheories. This paper will briefly review themotivational theories and how they areoperationalized, explain the facilitation of MotusManufacturing, and then discuss the results of conducting the exercise based on the student datathat has been collected.
Workplace motivation has been extensivelystudied, and there are a variety of theoriesintroduced in basic texts. The goal of thisexperiential activity is to expose participants to basic approaches that will create a coreunderstanding on which students can build. After discussion and trials, four approaches werechosen: Herzberg’s Dual-Factor 
Developments In Business Simulation & Experiential Learning, Volume 24, 1997
Theory, McGregor’s Theory X/Y, Expectancy.Theory, and Equity Theory. In choosing these particular approaches we found that we were ableto address many of the current issues inmanagement and that we were able to easilygeneralize the participant’s experiences during thedebrief Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory views anindividual’s relation and attitude to his or her work as a basic one that can determine the individual’ssuccess or failure. Key hygiene factors, thoseevents on the job that can led to extremedissatisfaction, include (1) company policy &administration, (2) supervision, and (3) work conditions. McGregor’s Theory X/Y is influenced by Maslow and posits two different sets of managerial assumptions about people. Theory X.the focus in this activity suggests that typicalemployees dislike work, and must be coerced,directed and closely supervised. Expectancytheory is tied to an individual’s expectation or  belief about how work would result in personally beneficial consequences. To what degree do you personally benefit when company commitmentsare met? Three variables exist in the relationship(1) Attractiveness, (2)Performance-reward linkage, (3) Effort- performance linkage. Equity theory involves theidea that motivation is based on the individual’s perceptions of fairness or discrepancies.Individuals compare their job inputs and outcomeswith those of others and then respond so as toeliminate inequities (Coffey, Cook. & Hunsaker,1994; Robbins, 1996; Schermerhorn, Hunt &Osborn, 1995)
We have created four separate workplace settingsin which participants are asked to engage in a production activity as a means of Operationalizingthe motivational theories. The four “companies”are labeled Hertztech (Herzberg’ s Dual-Factor Theory), X-tech (McGregor’s Theory X/Y),Expetech (Expectancy Theory), and Equitech(Equity Theory).Herzberg’s Dual-Factor Theory is represented bycreating a workplace condition that is high inhygiene factors and low in motivational factors.We offer poor instructions by offering incompleteinformation and production diagrams, poor administration and supervision by ignoring thegroup and failing to offer feedback, and poor work conditions by creating a poorly designed physicalsetup for production.McGregor’s Theory X/Y is represented by theapplication of theory X to the workplace. Thisapproach also serves to represent the managementliterature typified by Fayol’s concentration onauthority and command in his principles of management. In this group, the participants aretold that they must work hard, no breaks areallowed, they must maximize production, and thatthey will be continuously monitored with cameras,and micro phones.Expectancy theory is applied when one group isnotified of the existence of an all-time productionrecord (that is easily met) and encouraged to break the mark. Their background material indicates thatthey would receive a high level of recognition for a new record, including the inclusion of their names on the activity materials.Equity theory is operationalized in the final group by suggesting that inequities exist between themand the rest of the organization. Participants aretold that their group has a disproportionately smallsupport staff, a lower pay scale, a slow promotiontract, and the oldest office facilities in thecompany. In addition to the backgroundinformation, participants are told that their grouphas been assigned to produce two units instead of the one unit that they are led to believe has beenassigned to the other production units.
The basic task of each of the four groups is toassemble the same “component” constructed of lego
Developments In Business Simulation & Experiential Learning, Volume 24, 1997
 blocks of different colors, sizes and shapes basedon a pre-set diagram. Participants are randomlyassigned to one of the four groups, and the groupsare physically isolated from each other. Eachgroup is given background information that provides basic information on their company andspecific information about their division (seeAppendix II). Individual groups are also given atwo-sided diagram of the lego figures that they areto construct, and an envelope of lego parts thatallow for the production of up to five units.The simulation is divided into planning and production stages and there are three completecycles. The planning stages last five minutes and participants are allowed to examine the blocks,talk through the objectives, and are encouraged toset up a production strategy. The production periods last three minutes after which thefacilitator provides individual feedback to each of the groups. After the three cycles, all of the participants are brought together to debrief thesimulation. Participants are asked to describe their experiences within each group, they are debriefedon the conditions that were manipulated in each of the divisions, and the motivational components of the simulation are analyzed and discussed. TheMotus Manufacturing simulation was constructedto be run during a one hour and forty minute classsession.
The goals of this activity are: to aid the participants in the development of acomprehensive understanding of motivationaltheories, and to allow students to experienceworking conditions under different motivationaltechniques. Instructions to conduct MotusManufacturing are contained in an abbreviatedfacilitator's guide in Appendix I. The two keycomponents to the activity are the backgroundsheets distributed at the start of the activity(Appendix II), and the reinforcement of themotivational conditions that occurs as thefacilitator provides feedback while checking the productivity levels after each production cycle.The debrief utilizes the experiential learning cycleand begins by publishing the experiences of thefour individual groups. Participants from eachgroup are asked to explain the instructions theyreceived their work conditions, and how it felt to be employees. It is important to explain at the beginning of the debrief that each of the four groups were actually working independently andthat the purpose of the activity was to expose the participants to different motivational theories.While publishing the workplace conditions, themeans by which the different motivational theorieswere operationalized is discussed. The experiencesare generalized to address ways that organizationsmotivate employees, and what impact the use of different motivational techniques might have onan organization’s culture. Finally, the participantsare asked to apply their knowledge by explaininghow they would have approached trying tomotivate employees in the Motus Manufacturingsituation, and how the concepts of motivation can be used to address current issues within the business community.
Moms Manufacturing was developed over atwelve month period with multiple trial runs. After the activity was completed, it was conducted for introductory upper division management classesand analyzed with a standard scantron form usedfor general activity evaluations. The questionnaireconsists of nine questions, evaluated on a five- point scale, and a feedback section that offers anopen-ended opportunity for participants to makewritten comments. A total of 39 studentscompleted the activity survey. Of the ninequestions on the scantron, six are conceptual andthree are related to the specific instructions of theexercise.Initially, the scores for the six conceptualquestions were analyzed. These questions addressthe relation of the activity to the course, the degree

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