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Literature Review

1.1 Overview of the theme

In this literature review, I am going to review motivation in organization

behavior. Motivation is one of the most important parts of organization
behavior when we do some research of human resource management.
Because motivation is the fuel that drives a person to fulfill their goals, wants,
and needs. The key to leadership success is motivating others to do their
best. Motivation plays a very important role in workplace for both manager
and employee to achieve their personal goal and company’s target.

1.2 Nature of Motivation

Motivation is the set of forces that cause people to behave in certain way.
From the manger’s viewpoint, the objective is to motivate people to behave
in ways that are in the organization’s best interest. (Moorhead & Griffin 1995,
p.78) From another way, motivation is the term used to describe those
processes, both instinctive and rational, by which people seek to satisfy the
basic drives, perceived needs and personal goals, which trigger human
behavior. (Cole 1995, p.119) And other writers defined the study of
motivation is concerned with why people behave in a certain way, and with
what determines the direction and persistence of their actions. Levels of work
performance are determined not only by the ability of staff but also by the
strength of their motivation. If staffs are to perform to the best of their
abilities, attention must also be given to the nature of work motivation and job
satisfaction. (Mullins 2001, p.223) Motivation represents the forces acting on
or within a person that cause the person to behave in a specific, goal-
directed manager. (Hellriegel & Slocum 1995, p.170)

1.3 Historical view of motivation

The earliest views on human motivation were dominated by the concept of
hedonism: the idea that people seek pleasure and comfort and try to avoid
pain and discomfort. William James argued that instinctive behavior and
unconscious motivation are also important in human behavior. Historical
views on motivation, even though not always accurate, are of interest for
several reasons. For one thing, they provide a foundation for contemporary
thinking about motivation. For another, because they generally were based on
common sense and intuition, an appreciation of their strength and
weaknesses can help managers gain useful insights into employee motivation
in the workplace. (Moorhead & Griffin 1995, p.80) Late in the 19th century
Frederick Taylor developed one of the earliest conceptions of management
and the management role which included a set of assumptions about
motivation. Taylor drew upon the wider authority and methodology of science
to offer a version of what the manager should do. The division of labor
between worker and manager was seen in terms of a separation of the
planning function from that of execution. It is attempt to relate reward to the
efficiency of effort and output that has led many to insist that Taylor placed a
primary motivational value upon money. (Knights & Willmott 2007, p.43)

1.4 Theories of Motivation

1.4.1 Content Theories of Motivation

Content theories of motivation try to explain the factors within a person that
energize, direct, and stop behavior, that is, the specific factors that motivate
people. For example, an attractive salary, good working conditions, and
friendly co-worker are important to most people. (Hellriegel & Slocum 1995,

The most well-known content theory of motivation is the hierarchy of human

needs developed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1940s.
He put forward that people‘s needs are arranged in an hierarchy in which
basic needs generally have to be satisfied before higher needs come into
play. The basic needs include physiological and safety needs, followed by
social and affiliation needs. The higher needs include esteem needs and
self–actualization to which were later added ' curiosity' and the need to
understand. (Cole 1995, p.125)

Another well-known content theory of motivation is Clay Alderfer’s ERG

theory of motivation, he provides a more flexible approach than Maslow’s.
Alderfer’s ERG theory holds that the individual has three sets of basic needs:
existence, relatedness, and growth. The two theories differ in their view of
how people may satisfy the different sets of needs. Maslow states that
unfilled needs are motivators and that the next higher level need is not
activated until the preceding lower level need is satisfied. In contrast, ERG
theory suggests that, in addition to this fulfillment-progression process, a
frustration-regression process is at work. That is, if a person is continually
frustrated in attempts to satisfy growth needs, relatedness needs will
reemerge as a significant motivating force. (Hellriegel & Slocum 1995, p.177)

In addition, McClelland has developed a content theory of motivation which is

rooted in culture. The need for achievement underlies the higher levels of
Maslow’s hierarchy. That is achievement theory of motivation which
emphasized on the importance of achievement. The work of McClelland is
based on the concept of four main sets of needs and socially developed
motives: the need for affiliation, achievement, power, avoidance. People
possess all four needs but the relative intensity of these motives varies
among individuals and different occupations. Although all four needs are
important, McClelland’s research had concentrated mainly on how managers
can develop the need for achievement in subordinate staff. The extent of
achievement motivation varies among individuals. It is dependent upon
cultural influences, occupational experiences and the type of organization in
which they work. (Mullins 2001, p.235)

McGregor posed the Theory X about content theory of motivation. Theory X

proposition are as follows (McGregor 1989, p.315):
1. Management is responsible for organizing the elements of productive
enterprise-money, materials, equipment, people - in the interest of
economic end.
2. With respect to people, this is a process of directing their efforts,
motivating them, controlling their actions, modifying their behavior to fit
the needs of the organization.
3. Without this active intervention by management, people would be
passive-even resistant- to organizational needs. They must therefore be
persuaded, rewarded, punished, controlled- their activities must be

Frederick Herzberg’s motivator – Hygiene Theory is one of the most

controversial theories of motivation. This theory includes two different sets of
factors. Motivator factors are intrinsic factors, which includes the work itself,
recognition, advancement, and responsibility. These factors are associated
with an individual’s positive feeling about the job and are related to the
content of the job itself. Hygiene factors are extrinsic factors, which includes
company policy and administration, technical supervision, salary, working
conditions, and interpersonal relations. These factors are associated with an
individual’s negative feeling about the job and are related to the context or
environment in which the job is performed. (Herzberg & Mausner 1959, p.

1.4.2 Process Theories of Motivation

Process theories try to describe and analyze how personal factors (internal
to the person) interact to produce certain kinds of behavior. (Hellriegel &
Slocum 1995, p.187) Process theories attempt to identify relationships
among the dynamic variables which make up motivation. They provide a
further contribution to our understanding of behavior and performance at
work, and the complex nature of motivation. Process theories are concerned
with how behavior is initiated, directed and sustained. (Mullins 2001, p.237)

The four best known process theories of motivation are expectancy, equity,
goal setting, participation and empowerment.

The basic expectancy theory model emerged from the work of Edward
Tolman and Kurt Lewin. Vitor Vroom, however, is generally credited with first

applying the theory to the motivation of individuals in the workplace. The
basic premise of expectancy theory is that motivation depends on how much
we want something and how likely we think we are to get it. (Moorhead &
Griffin 1995, p.108)

One of the variables identified in the Porter and Lawler expectancy model is
perceived equitable rewards. This leads to consideration of another process
theory of motivation – equity theory –which adds further to our understanding
of the behavior of people at work. Equity theory focuses on people’s feeling
of how fairly they have been treated in comparison with the treatment
received by others. Applied to the work situation, equity theory is usually
associated with the work of Adams. People expect certain outcomes in
exchange for certain contributions or inputs. Equity theory is based on this
concept of exchange theory. For example, a person may expect promotion
as an outcome (and in exchange for) a high level of contribution in helping to
achieve an important organizational objective (input). (Mullins 2001, p.242)

In addition, Locke proposed the idea of goal theory that working towards
goals was in itself a motivator. The thinking behind goal theory is that
motivation is driven primarily by the goals or objectives that individuals set for
themselves. Unlike in expectancy theory, where a satisfactory outcome is the
prime motivator, goal theory suggests that it is the goal itself that provides
the driving force. And Locke’s research indicated that performance improved
when individuals set specific rather than vague goals for themselves. When
these specific goals were demanding ones, performance was even better.
(Cole 1995, p.132)

Participative management and empowerment also represent important

process based perspectives on employee motivation. Participation is the
process of giving employees a voice in making decisions about their own
work. Empowerment is the processes of enabling workers to set their own
work goals, make decisions, and solve problems within their sphere of
responsibility and authority. Empowerment is a somewhat broader concept
that promotes participation in a wide variety of areas, including but not limited
to work itself, work context, and work environment. (Moorhead & Griffin 1995,

2. Conclusion

Through the reviewing about motivation of some literatures in organization

stream from above aspects, we can find most scholars’ research about
motivation emphasized on the content theories and process theories. By
researching these two theories, we can know what specific factors that
motivate employee are and how to motivate employee in organization

behavior. And we can apply these theories to the real workplace in the

3. Reference List

1. Moorhead, G. & Griffin, R.W. 1995, Organization Behavior: Managing

People and Organization, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

2. Cole, G.A. 1995, Organization Behavior, DP Publications Ltd, London.

3. Mullins, L.J. 2001, Hospitality Management and Organizational Behavior,

Pearson Education Limited, London.

4. Hellriegel, D. & Slocum, J.W. 1995, Organization Behavior, West

Publishing Company, New York.

5. Knights, D. & Willmott, H. 2007, Introducing Organizational Behavior

Management, Thomson Learning, London.

6. Herzberg, F. & Mausner, B. 1992, The Motivation to Work, Transaction

Publishers, New Brunswick.

7. Vroom, V.H. 1995, Work and Motivation, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San


8. McGregor, D. 1989, Reading in Managerial Psychology, McGraw-Hill,

New York.

9. Pinder, C. 1984, Work Motivation, Scott, Glenview.

10.Hilgard, E.R. 1967, Introduction to Psychology, Harcourt, New York.

11.Maslow, A.H. 1954, A Theory of Human Motivation, Harper&Row, New


12.McClelland, D.C. 1988, Human Motivation, Cambridge University Press,


13.Adams, J.S. 1979, Motivation and Work Behavior, McGraw-Hill, New