Motivation in Organizations

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Concepts of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

According to Ryan and Deci (2000), intrinsic motivation refers to the process where a person’s motivational stimulus is derived from personal involvement. The individual develops a desire to perform a task because it enables fulfillment of specific goals and outcomes that fulfills desires (Hutchinson 2013). An example of intrinsic motivation is the willingness of an employee to complete a task before its deadline.  Extrinsic motivation occurs when a person performs a task in order to avoid punishment or negative implication of not engaging in an activity. An example of extrinsic motivation at work place can be completing a task to avoid suspension from work by the supervisor. 

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Content Theories of Motivation

Content theories of motivation are those that focus on factors within a person that act as motivation and direction to perform a task. An example of content theory of motivation is Abraham Maslow’s’ Hierarchy of Needs theory which states that people are motivated to achieve the most basic needs first and if they believe that these needs cannot be achieved, they may not be motivated to perform a task (Kaur 2013).  This is illustrated by the hierarchy of needs starting with the physiological needs, as the most motivating followed by other needs such as safety, love and belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Another example of content theory of motivation is Alderfer’s ERG theory of motivation which states that employees are motivated by their ability to meet their needs that can be categorized into; existence needs, relatedness needs, and growth needs (Caulton 2012). Existence needs are those that enable them meet their physiological needs such as food, water, clothing, and safety. Relatedness needs are those that promote social needs of employees such as family, friends, colleagues at work place and employers. Growth needs are those that promote internal self-esteem and promote the practice of creativity and productivity towards a person’s ideal position such as the provision of freedom of decisions and actions in an organization. 

Process Theories of Motivation

Process theories of motivation explain how a behavior is energized and how a process sustains itself in terms of continuation and modification of an effort. An example of a process theory of motivation is Equity Theory which states that an employee will be motivated to perform a task by assessing his level of effort against another employee and the reward for the effort (Al-Zawahreh and Al-Madi 2012). If there is a perception of a significant difference in effort and reward compared with another employee, the employee may not apply more effort in performing a task. Another process theory of motivation is Expectancy Theory which states that employees usually evaluate their efforts in terms of the outcomes (De Simone 2015). If they expect greater outcomes for their efforts, they will be motivated to perform better and the opposite is experienced if they do not expect better rewards.

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How Managers Play a Critical Role in influencing Perceptions and Attitudes of Employees

Managers contribute towards creation of positive perceptions and attitudes of employees by motivating them to perform tasks that they think they are unable to perform or those that they think will not bring an impact to the performance of an organization (Reinholdt 2006). Managers lead by example by creating a culture of self-confidence and the belief that employees have the abilities and skills to perform the tasks to which they are assigned through increased communication, getting feedback and directing them whenever they are unable to continue performing a task. Managers can influence employees’ perceptions and attitudes that have an impact on their job performance by providing them with directions on how tasks need to be performed until the desired outcome is achieved. They can also provide them with continuous training and guidance until they acquire enough skills of performing their jobs. (Hutchinson 2013). In order for managers to create a positive attitude among employees, they can apply the motivation theory of Transformational Leadership. This is a leadership type that promotes continuous improvement of an employee by providing an example on how a task needs to be performed and also providing coaching and motivation to the employee by the manager in order to develop a positive attitude towards a task being performed. 

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  1. Al-Zawahreh, A. and Al-Madi, F., 2012. The utility of equity theory in enhancing organizational effectiveness. European journal of economics, finance and administrative sciences, 46, pp.158-170.
  2. Caulton, J.R., 2012. The development and use of the theory of erg: A literature review. Emerging Leadership Journeys, 5(1), pp.2-8. 
  3. De Simone, S., 2015. Expectancy Value Theory: Motivating Health Care Workers. American International Journal of Contemporary Research, 5(2), pp.19-23.
  4. Hutchinson, S., 2013. Performance management: theory and practice. Kogan Page Publishers.
  5. Kaur, A., 2013. Maslow’s need hierarchy theory: Applications and criticisms. Global Journal of Management and Business Studies, 3(10), pp.1061-1064.
  6. Reinholdt, M., 2006. No more polarization, please! Towards a more nuanced perspective on motivation in organizations. Towards a More Nuanced Perspective on Motivation in Organizations. 
  7. Ryan, R.M. and Deci, E.L., 2000. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), pp.54-67.
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