Motivation Theories Essay Sample


Motivation is a multi-sided phenomenon used in various social sciences. An important role in the study of motivation belongs to world-renowned scientists. Their experience in the development of motivation covers its evolution from the category of impact per capita to the main function of management. The attention of the first researchers of motivation was focused mainly on the question of the impact on the worker for the purpose of performance improvement at work and ensuring the highest profitability (Yudhvir & Sunita 2012). Being the classical theory of motivation, Taylor’s Theory of Motivation and Vroom’s Expectancy Theory most helpfully explore the relationship between pay and motivation due to their focus on Taylor’s “economic individual” and Vroom’s “human behaviour” motivated by the desirable level of remuneration on the examples of modern enterprises.

A Short Overview of Motivation and Motivational Theories

The motivation of personnel is one of work performance improvement methods. The motivation of personnel is the key direction of the HR policy of any enterprise. According to Ganta (2014), the results of work of the employees are determined by the KPI (Key Performance Indicators). The KPI and motivation of personnel allow improving the efficiency and performance of a company significantly (Ganta 2014). Most of the theorists of motivational systems believe that only the motivation by pay is a perfect system as it proves the payments of remunerations to the business. Moreover, motivation gives a chance to receive and increase the income accurately dependant on made efforts (Dobre 2013). Thus, Ganta (2014) states that employers should get to know their employees and choose the best tactics of motivation:

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Employee motivation has always been a central problem for leaders and managers. Employees who feel motivated to work are likely to be persistent, creative and productive, turning out high quality work that they willingly undertake. Employers need to get to know their employees very well and use different tactics to motivate each of them based on their personal wants and needs (Ganta, 2014).

The motivation theories of Frederick Taylor and Viktor Vroom are among the main theories of personnel motivation and pay. Frederick Taylor is the author of the scientific management theory. It covers the motivational basics only from the point of view of economic rationality (Fadia 2009). Taylor considers that the motivational force to which workers react includes only the economic incentives. The lack of this concept includes the non-consideration of the other requirements and motives of workers and concentration only at work without the social aspects of the human behaviour (Yudhvir & Sunita 2012). The psychological concept is presented by the Vroom’s expectancy motivation theory, based on the principle that the active requirement is not the only necessary condition of the human motivation for the achievement of the particular purposes. The person should also hope that the chosen behaviour type will really lead to the satisfaction or achievement of the desirable result (Rynes, Gerhart & Minette 2004).

Taylor’s Theory of Motivation

Taylor’s Theory of Motivation helpfully explores the relationship between pay and motivation due to its focus on the “economic individual” motivated by the desirable level of remuneration. The Taylor’s theory of motivation is one of the earliest theories of motivation, developed in the first decade of the 20th century. It is also called “the theory of early scientific management” (Fadia 2009). Without being either a psychologist or sociologist, Taylor, relying on economic coercion, considered that the action of a human factor from the perspective of performance indicators increased. He applied only one incentive, never without speaking of the motivation of the employee’s behaviour, the payment, considering it to be the most natural motive in the world. The basic rule of his work is to address the individual worker. Being guided by the work of the political house-keepers of the 18th – 19th centuries, Taylor developed the concept subsequently called “the concept of the economic individual” (Yudhvir & Sunita 2012). The economist rejected all forms of collective stimulation. Taylor singled out at least three reasons of low labour performance. They include the class solidarity – the workers were sure that they reduce the number of workplaces reducing the payment rates for the workers; the natural tendency of a person to work slowly and the low level of professional training; a lack of exact instructions about the most effective methods of work.

According to Taylor, the major purpose of rational job management was the profit maximization of the employer in combination with the growth in the prosperity of workers. It was necessary to create such conditions under which the worker would be interested in quicker and more qualitative work. The studying and classification of all actions and transactions carried out by employees, the careful selection of workers and training by the best mentors, the financial incentive of the speed and accuracy of work, and the cooperation of workers and administration compose the basic principles of the scientific job management, as formulated by Taylor.

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Taylor introduced the concept “lesson” as the labour payment method, which should substitute the other payment methods (day, price-work, and bonus). The lesson represents a certain daily task and a performance standard. Taylor considered maximum performance to be the normal one. Those who did not cope with this “normal” performance were dismissed or sent to retrain (Yudhvir & Sunita 2012).

The scientist notes that it is necessary to implement the scientific principles of job management through forced methods as workers resist any change of the established order. An average worker should have the opportunity to immediately consider the results of the work and to know the size of the reward at the end of each working day. The aspiration to the personal benefit always was and will be a considerably stronger incentive in any work than the reasons of general welfare (Dobre 2013).

The motivational theory of Tailor is applied in the practice of world-renowned companies. The Walt Disney Company is one of them. The motivation of the personnel is the whole entrepreneurial philosophy, in which all four basic principles of the Taylor’s theory of motivation are applied (Dobre 2013). Therefore, there is the connecting link responsible for the creation of the internal motives to the labour activity as the managers of the company maintain the interest of workers in their tasks.

Tesco is another example of the successful application of Taylor’s motivational theory. There is a special “Tesco’s Employee Reward Program”, which implements all the characteristic features of Taylor’s theory (Tesco 2013). The financial support and a well-developed system of bonuses compose the first and the main compound of the company’s reward management. However, the company is also supported by non-financial means:

It supports the varied lifestyles of individual employees through relevant and targeted benefits. Many non-financial factors can and do motivate employees to improve their output. One such factor may be the desire to serve people; others may be to improve personal skills or achieve promotion (Tesco, 2013).

Thus, the theoretical analysis of Taylor’s motivational theory shows that it found a wide application in world HR management practices. The examples of the successful application of the theory point at the relevance of the theory in modern business practices.

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation

Being one of the basic theories in world economic management, Vroom’s Expectancy Theory explores the relationship between pay and motivation as it underlies the human behaviour motivated by the ratio of the spent efforts and the level of remuneration. It is actively used in practice for the explanation of human behaviour in organizations. Vroom’s research of motivation becomes necessary for studying such problems as the choice of the sphere of professional employment, labour mobility, satisfaction with work, ensuring high performance levels, etc. (De Simone 2015). The difference of the Vroom’s concept consists in the fact that the human behaviour is not determined by the tough scheme of the requirements existing in it. An individual can choose the strategy of behaviour from a set of alternative options. The motivated behaviour is rational as a person finds the best means for the implementation of own purposes. The majority of human actions represent consciously made choices.

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The essence of Vroom’s theory of motivation consists in the fact that the author of the theory showed not the machine or its structure but the process of putting this machine into operation, just as in a definite life situation people makes decisions, which influence their behaviour. The understanding of the purpose or a preferable result is not enough for explaining an action. In order to predict the behaviour of an individual, it is necessary to know not only their preferences or motives but also their beliefs concerning the best way of their achievement (Rynes, Gerhart & Minette 2004).

Analysing the motivation to work, the theory of motivation underlines the importance of three interrelations. The first concept – valency – is used for the description of similar preferences and their measurement. Valency means a value judgment but not objective criteria. The objectively attractive purposes, such as an increase in the financial level of living, can be insignificant for some workers who prefer smaller earnings and more interesting work. To have a big valency means to be subjectively more significant. In addition, the subjective nature of valency means that the value of the result is individual. For some people, it is important to realize their capabilities in work and earn much, while for others it is vital to build a career or bring improvements to society. Valency is not only a subjective but also a situational concept. Its value depends both on the external and internal factors. Producing a certain quantity of details per day the worker expects to receive money on which he can buy certain goods. The more money he receives, the more goods he can buy. Therefore, a high salary can have a positive valency for him.

The interrelation “labour expenditures – results” is an expected ratio between the spent efforts and the received results. For example, a direct-sales representative can expect that if they call 10 people a week additionally, the sales volume will increase by 15% (Jeston 2012). An accountant can expect that their work will be noticed if they spend additional efforts and write all references and reports required by the administration. If there is no direct link between the spent efforts and the achieved results, the motivation will weaken. It can be caused by a number of reasons, including wrong self-assessment, bad preparation, or wrong training. Sometimes, the worker just does not have enough rights for the accomplishment of the put objectives (William 2010).

The interrelation “results – remuneration” includes an expectations of a certain remuneration for the achieved level of results. Satisfaction with the remuneration is the expected degree of the relative satisfaction or dissatisfaction arising as a consequence of certain remuneration (Jeston 2012). Owning to the fact that different people have different requirements concerning remunerations, the specific remuneration offered for the achieved results cannot have any value for them (Rynes, Gerhart, & Minette 2004). For example, an accountant can get a rise to their salary for the efforts while they expect the position of the chief accountant. If the value of the earned reward is low, the motivation for the labour activity will weaken. Thus, the motivation formula of the theory of expectation is as follows: Motivation = Costs – Result x Result – Remuneration x Value of Remuneration (Jeston 2012).

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Vroom’s expectation theory represents various opportunities for the heads who aim to strengthen the motivation of labour power. Owning to the fact that different people have different requirements, they estimate specific remunerations differently. Therefore, the management of an organization should compare the offered remuneration with the needs of employees, bring them into accord, and give remuneration only for effective work (William 2010). The management of an organization should formulate a high but realistic level of the results expected from the subordinates and inspire them to achieve it if they make the required efforts. The way employees estimate their achievements in many respects depends on what the company’s management expects from them.

Another organizational example of the application of the Vroom’s theory of motivation represents the motivational system in one of American colleges. One of the middle-range tops responsible for the intake of students offered a new project of the pre-university preparation of the applicants, which would bring profit to the organization and all participants of the project as well as provide a chance of additional income (William 2010). The management of the educational institution expressed their consent for the project but set the condition that the project can be realized if this employee provides the indicators exceeding the ones of the previous year. Such opportunity motivated the manager to work effectively, so he made great personal efforts, worked on his days off, did not have vacations, and the indicators of the previous year were successfully exceeded. However, the management broke their promises and paid a rather small remuneration to the employee, followed by a two-month paid vacation. Moreover, they hired another person, who could not cope with the planned project. Certainly, the motivation of the employee sharply decreased (De Simone 2015). Thus, Vroom’s theory about the motivations of employees was proved. The top management of the educational establishment correctly motivated the employee at first, but later refused the promised remuneration, thus depriving the employee of the further interest in the effective work of the organization.


To conclude, the motivational aspects have an increasing value in modern management. The motivation of the personnel is a fixed asset of ensuring the optimum use of resources and the mobilization of the available personnel potential. The main objective of the process of motivation is receiving maximum return from the use of the available manpower that allows increasing the general effectiveness and profitability of an enterprise. The evolution of the application of various methods of motivation showed both positive and negative aspects of their application, and it is the natural process, as in the theory and management practice there is no ideal promotion model which would meet various requirements. The existing models of motivation vary by orientation and efficiency. The increasing role of the identity of a worker composes the characteristic features of HR management. In addition, the ratio of the incentives and requirements, on which the incentive system can rely, changes. Both financial and non-financial methods of remuneration are used for the motivation of staff.

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