Understanding Motivation: the use of Theories. Motivational Theories Groups of Theories

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Think ahead

•    Answer the following question, then, in group of two or three, compare your

answers: What sort of things motivate people to do their job well?

•    List all the things you can think of.

Key concepts and terms

1) reward         

a) factors primarily in the work environment that may cause dissatisfaction if absent, but do not actively motivate

2) motivators     

b) rewards given by the organization, such as pay, promotion, praise, tenure and status symbols

3) fringe benefits   

c) rewards that must originate and be felt within the person and include feelings of accomplishment, achievement and self-esteem

4) hygiene factors 

d) anything the individual perceives as valuable

5) extrinsic rewards

e) an obligation to perform tasks and account for their satisfactory completion

6) responsibility 

f) factors related primarily to the nature of work itself, in contrast to hygiene factors

7) intrinsic rewards

g) financial returns that employees receive primarily as a result of being employed by an organization

Text 3.2 What rewards are of great value personally for you? Share your opinion with the group before reading the text.

Rewards and Motivation

The types of rewards that an organization offers its employees play a crucial role in determining the level of motivation. In addition, rewards have an impact on the quality and quantity of personnel that the organization is able to recruit, hire, and retain. Organizational rewards include both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that are received as a result of employment by the organization.

Intrinsic rewards are internal to an individual and normally derived from involvement with the job, from the process of performing a particular function. Job satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment are examples. Accomplishing a complex task, overcoming a serious problem or resolving a difficulty bring feelings of satisfaction. Intrinsic rewards arise from pleasing oneself.

Extrinsic rewards are provided by someone else. Most extrinsic rewards are directly controlled and distributed by the organization and are more tangible than intrinsic rewards. They include increases in pay, benefits and responsibility. They stem, therefore, from pleasing someone else. Although extrinsic rewards are frequently provided by a manager, colleagues can also offer them through their appreciation.

Extrinsic versus intrinsic rewards

Extrinsic rewards

Intrinsic rewards

Fringe benefits


Incentive payments

Feeling of accomplishment


Informal recognition


Job satisfaction

Social relations

Personal growth




Although intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are different, they are also closely related. An extrinsic reward can result in intrinsic rewards. For example, if an employee receives a raise, the individual can also experience feelings of accomplishment (intrinsic rewards) by interpreting the pay raise as a sign of a job well done. It should also be realized that many formal rewards are unrelated to what the employee produces. Rewards in this category are called benefits and include paid vacations, insurance plans, and paid holidays. Almost all theories of motivation are concerned with rewards offered by the organization. Some theories focus on intrinsic rewards while others focus on extrinsic rewards.

Text 3.3. Read the text and give reasons for existing three classes of motivation theory.

Motivational Theories Groups of Theories

Many theories of motivation exist that managers can use to improve the understanding of why people behave as they do. None provides a full, universally accepted explanation of human behavior.  People are too complex so the manager does best by understanding the nature of each and judging its applicability accordingly. The purpose in presenting the most popular theories is not to identify the one approach. Rather, it is to introduce ideas that managers can use to develop their own motivational approaches. The figure 2 below provides an outline model of motivation. People have basic needs or expectations which, when unsatisfied, stimulate behavior directed towards their satisfaction. Reward is the satisfaction of the needs or expectations. The model also allows for feedback, that is the person learns about success and can follow the behavior again. The model helps us picture three groups of theories about motivation. First, content theories are concerned with identifying what it is within an individual or the work environment that energizes and sustains behavior, that is what specific things motivate people? Content theories consider how far employment satisfies people's innate needs. Second, process theories try to explain and describe the process of how behavior is energized,   directed,   sustained and   finally stopped.   Process theories   see employees as conscious individuals gauging how to maximize benefits through
their jobs. This is the rational world of homo economicus - economic man. Third,
reinforcement theories link desired behavior to rewards, which encourage
employees to continue acting to the benefit of the organization.           

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