Theories of Motivation: Literature review

Theories of Motivation: Literature review
Theories of Motivation: Literature review

Theories of Motivation: Literature review

Literature Review


            This chapter shall present a review of the literature on the problems presented in this research. The theory builds a platform of understanding the implication of non-financial rewards within the framework of the total rewards structure. Specifically, the areas that shall be covered in this chapter are theories of motivation, financial rewards, non-financial rewards, and the work environment. This chapter shall begin with theoretical review followed by a conceptual framework, empirical review and research gap.

Theoretical Review

            Following Anfara & Mertz (2006), a theoretical framework determines the problem that should be investigated, what specific question should be asking, and data that should be collected to address all questions. Therefore, in this study, it is empirical to include theories Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, Maslow’s theory of needs, social exchange and expectancy theory.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

            Dr. Fredrick Herzberg, a psychologist, determined to understand the effects of attitude towards motivation, he had set a research by asking questions to selected people about their behavior towards their jobs. On the basis of research’s result, he had developed Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory, also known as Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory. This theory suggests that motivation is two-dimensional and each dimension has unique factors. Herzberg revealed that each factor is associated with job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction.

He suggested that when an intrinsic factor or motivator is present, it promotes motivation. In contrast, the latter, if none of the factors are present, hence, employees become frustrated, unsatisfied and reduces motivation, which he referred the act as hygiene. In the simpler note, motivators are identified as achievement, recognition, advancement, personal and professional growth.

Hygiene on the other hand, Herzberg classified the factors salary, benefits, interpersonal relationship with supervisors and colleagues, administrative policies and attitude, working conditions and environment, and security (IFPO, 2007; Stello, 2011; Thompson, 2013). In this research, it is conventional to use the theory as a basis for understanding the factors that considerably affects the employee’s behavior towards their tasks.

Incorporating Herzberg’s theory into this research, it suggests that intrinsic and extrinsic motivators can crucially influence the workforce. Moreover, Herzberg had pointed that the ability of the workforce to achieve the goals are mainly related to job satisfaction (Stello, 2011).

However, in the expansion of the theory, the initial hypothesis concludes that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction cannot be dependably measured in the same range. It profoundly explains in Herzberg’s main hypothesis, that factors that lead to positive attitude will differ to those factors that lead to negative attitudes. In the second hypothesis, it is mentioned that factors and effects will differ from long-range sequences of events to a short-range sequence (Stello, 2011; Thompson, 2013).

In this case, Herzberg found that a relatively high sequence from a small number of factors can promote positive behavior towards the job. Predominantly, most of the factors where intrinsic motivators and that it steamed longer than extrinsic. Extrinsic motivators showed low sequence events; it is rare when these factors are found in high-frequency events (Bassett‐Jones & Lloyd, 2005; Stello, 2011).

Satisfaction (positive)

            Consequently, the given figure shows that salary as a part of the extrinsic factor may show similar frequency in both low and high sequence events. However, salary may be viewed as satisfier if related to a job appreciation and not a factor itself. Therefore, when salary is addressed individually, the context can lead to dissatisfier factor (Bassett‐Jones & Lloyd, 2005; Stello, 2011).

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

            In-depth understanding what motivates people, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs will support the efficacy of human needs. In this theory, Maslow stated that to achieve certain needs; people are motivated. Thus, when a need is fulfilled, the person’s next step is to achieve another need and so on. It is why, self-actualization priced on the top of his theory (McLeod, 2007; Montana & Charnov, 2008).

The pyramid illustrates how Maslow ranked human needs. This suggests that Self-actualization is believed to impose the higher level of human need. Although Maslow does not intend to imply that human receives complete satisfaction, he believed that when an experiencing human achievement and personal growth, a new set of attitude will be designed to placate its new needs (Montana & Charnov, 2008).

If taking Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation into consideration, the theory somehow parallels to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Understanding the higher level of Maslow’s theory, Herzberg refers them as motivators. Maslow’s esteem and self-actualization needs also correspond to Herzberg’s motivators idea. Therefore, to meet a specific set of needs, both theories has a profound goal to propitiate human behavior and maintain it.          

Social Exchange Theory

            Social exchange theory explains a social change and a process of negotiation exchange between parties. George Simmel, a German sociologist, pointed that the significance of “reciprocity” in human being’s everyday life and how human interacts involving forms of exchange (Baker, 2001). In Cropanzano & Mitchell (2005) research, both mentioned that Social Exchange is considered as one of the most influential conceptual patterns in understanding the behavior of a specific workplace.

Thus, an exchange rule must be followed to build a constant relationship and exchanges. In a simpler thought, the assumption of the theory implies that when parties enter and maintain their relationship, a trace of tangible and intangible rewards can be expected (Chew & Gottschalk, 2009).

            If highlighted in a workplace environment, a recognition of employee from a positive contributing work attitude simplifies Simmel’s theory. It may include economic exchange relationship (Aryee, Budhwar, & Chen, 2002), wherein, an economic benefit shall be provided to the employee in exchange for his or her efforts towards achieving work-related goals. In response to the theory, research had been formed to validate its efficiency towards understanding human motivation towards work.

With the available literature resources, results show that a continuity of social exchange theory as a part of the work-based evidence, employ a positive employee commitment and involvement, empowerment and motivation (Aryee, Budhwar, & Chen, 2002; Gould-Williams & Davies, 2005).

            As highlighted in Haar’s (2006) research, the perception of advantageous rewards or exchange from the workforce results to an increased engagement towards its organization. On the other hand, if the organization failed to provide rewards to the employees, would likely result in a reduction of organizational engagement. In this case, when there are favorable stances within working environment both employees and organization will equally benefit.

However, keeping in mind that employees tend to react in a dissatisfying working condition by negating rightful working attitude such as, being late, absenteeism and planning to quit organization; an antecedent-consequence relationship as mentioned by Crede et al. (2007).

Expectancy Theory

            This theory recommends that every individual’s expectations be dependent on its motivation and the ability to perform the given task and receive the desired rewards (Daft, 2005). In simpler form, if a person understood the worth of a certain task, he or she will be motivated to reach the goal, given with skills and knowledge to achieve it (Koontz, O’Donnell, & Weihrich, 2008).

Victor H. Vroom, a psychologist, suggests that motivation is highly predisposed by a continuous interrelated sequence of people’s effort will lead to performance, performance to specific outcomes and these outcomes are to be valued by the individual (Wlodarczyk, 2011). Moreover, in Vroom’s definition of the theory (Mancheno-Smoak, 2008), he mentioned that motivation depends on three system; expectancy, instrumentality, and valence.

            E -P expectancy this explains when putting effort into a job may result in a high performance or may lead to the desired outcome (Daft, 2005). In this case, when a person works hard, a better result can be expected, and when a person is unresponsive to a particular job or task will lead to a valence of zero (Koontz, O’Donnell, & Weihrich, 2008). P -O expectancy explains if a successful performance can lead to the desired outcome. As an example, when a person is motivated to achieve a job-related award it is believed that the room of expectancy towards high performance can lead to award (Daft, 2005).

            On another context, when an individual places importance upon an expected outcome, based on needs, values and goals Vroom identified the strength as valence (Daft, 2005). In this case, if the availability of an outcome extracted from high efforts and good performance; however, are not valued by the employees, the result motivation will end up low. On the other hand, if employees will highly value the outcome, motivation will be higher.

            The implications are crucial when influencing employee’s motivation. According to Sims (2002), managers should understand the importance of the theory. It is recognized that expectancy theory, provides powerful explanation towards employee’s motivation. Another example as cited by Koontz, O’Donnell, & Weihrich (2008), when a person is motivated to accomplish some tasks, can be determined by person’s wish to accomplish the task.

Conceptual Framework

            This section attempts to determine the implication of non-financial rewards on driving organizational strategy at Communications Authority of Kenya. The non-financial rewards include motivation, financial rewards, non-financial rewards, and the work environment. This study shall determine the effects of the independent variable on the dependent variables.


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