Motivation Theory

25. June 2008 – 15:47

Motivation Theory

Herzberg: Motivation occurs when people do something because they want to do it.

Others: Motivation is a desire to receive a result

Taylor and scientific management (1856-1917)

Much business practice in America and Europe, Japan and the former communist countries is rooted in his writing and work.
Taylor’s approach to management: It is a management task to decide exactly how every task should be completed. Then to devise the tools needed to enable the worker to achieve the task as efficiently as possible.This method is evident today in every McDonald’s in the world.
Taylor believed that people work for only one reason: money.
Taylor was a trained engineer who acted as a very early management consultant.

His methods:

  • Observe workers at work, recording and timing what they do, when they do it and how long they take on it (=time and motion studies).
  • Identify the most efficient workers and see how they achieve great efficiency.
  • Break the task down into small component parts which can be done quickly and repeatedly.
  • Devise equipment specifically to speed up tasks
  • Seek out exactly how the work should be done in future.

Taylor wrote: “Each employee should receive every day clear-cut, definitive instructions as to what he is to do and how he is to do it and these instructions should be exactly carried out, whether they are right or wrong.”

  • Devise a pay scheme to reward those who complete on beat tough output targets – but penalise those who cannot or will not achieve the productivity
    Taylor believed was possible.

As an engineer Taylor was interested in practical outcome, not in psychology. The effect of his idea was profound.His managerial practises were careful measurement, monitory and control. To maximise the efforts put in by workers Taylor devised an incentive system known as differential piece-rate. Meagre payment per unit produced but generous payment beyond a threshold. Piece-rate lives on today. Henry Ford was influenced by Taylor. His Model T was the first mass produced motor car. 1911 the Ford factory in Detroit applied Taylor’s principles of high division of labour, purpose-built machinery and rigid managerial control. 1913: the conveyor belt was invented. Mussolini and Stalin were admirers of Ford. Communist factories in Eastern Europe, Russia and China imitated
Taylor’s methods. The result was a huge improvement in productivity for several years. Trade unions membership thrived in factories run on Taylorite lines as workers wanted to organise against the suffocating lives they were leading at work. Fortunately in many Western countries further developments in motivation theory pointed in to new more people-friendly approaches.

Elton Mayo and the human relations approach. (1880 -1949)

Mayo was an Australian who moved to America in 1923. His methods were heavily influenced by Taylor.
Hawthorne experiments: Relay assembly test. Six female assembly staff were separated from their workmates. A series of experiments were carried out. The results were recorded and discussed with the women. Every 12 weeks a new working method was tried. The alternatives included:

  • Different bonus methods (individual versus group)
  • Different rest periods
  • Different refreshments
  • Different work layout

Productivity increased with every change. At the end the group returned to their original method (48 hours, 6 days with no breaks) and output went up to the highest yet.

Mayo’s conclusions

  • The women gained satisfaction from their freedom and control over their working environment
  • Six individuals became a team gave itself wholeheartedly and spontaneously to cooperation in the experiment
  • Group norms are crucial and may be influenced more by informal than official group leaders.
  • Communication between workers and managers and workers and co-workers influences morale and output
  • Workers are affected by the degree of interest shown in them by their managers. The influence of this motivation is known as the Hawthorne effect.

The consequences of Mayo’s work were enormous. He opened up the field of industrial psychology and industrial sociology. Mayo’s approach became known as the human relations school of management. In Taylor’s era the key person was the engineer. The winners of Mayo’s work were personnel departments.

Maslow and the hierarchy of need (1908 – 1970)

Maslow�s level of human need Business implications
  • Physical needs, e.g. for food, shelter and warmth
  • Pay levels and working conditions
  • Safety needs, e.g. security, a safe structured environment, stability, freedom from anxiety
  • Job security, a clear job role/description, clear lines of accountability (only one boss)
  • Social needs, e.g. belonging, friendship, contact
  • Team working, communication, social facilities
  • Esteem needs, e.g. strength, self-respect, confidence, status and recognition
  • Status, recognition for achievement, power, trust
  • Self-actualisation, e.g. self-fulfilment, to become everything that one is capable of becoming
  • Scope to develop new skills and meet new challenges and to develop one’s full potential

Key issues raised by Maslow

  • Do all humans have the same set of needs?
    Ore are there some people who need no more from a job than money?
  • Do different people have different degrees of needs, for example are some highly motivated by the need for power, while others are satisfied by social factors? If so, the successful manager would be one who can understand and attempt to meet the differing needs of his or her staff.
  • Can anyone’s needs ever be said to be fully satisfied? Perhaps the hierarchy diagram should have an open top to suggest that the human desire for achievement is limitless.

Maslow’s work had a huge influence on McGregor and Herzberg.

Herzberg’s Two factor theory

Motivators (can create positive satisfaction) Hygiene factors (can create job dissatisfaction)
  • Achievement
  • Company policy and administration (the rules, paperwork and red tape)
  • Recognition for achievement
  • Supervision (especially being over-supervised)
  • Meaningful, interesting work
  • Pay
  • Responsibility
  • Interpersonal relations (with supervisors, peers or even customers)
  • Advancement (psychological, not just a promotion)
  • Working conditions

Motivators have the power to create positive job satisfaction, but little downward potential. Hygiene factors will cause job dissatisfaction, unless they are provided for, but do not motivate. So a feeling of being underpaid could lead to a grievance, high pay would soon be taken for granted. This motivator/hygiene factor theory is known as the two factor theory. Herzberg distinguished between movement and motivation. Movement occurs when somebody does something. Motivation is when they want to do something. Carrots would never stimulate people to give their best. People would do just enough to receive their bonus. Herzberg advised against payment methods such as piece-rate. They would achieve movement, but by reinforcing working behaviour, making them inflexible and resistant to change. The salaried, motivated employee would work hard, care about quality and think about improved working conditions. Job enrichment= giving people the opportunity to use their ability.An enriched job would have to contain:

  • A complete unit of work – not just a small repetitive fragment of a job but a full challenging task
  • Direct feedback, wherever possible, a man must always be held responsible for his own quality, worst of all is annual appraisal – feedback is too long delayed.
  • Direct communication – avoiding the delays of communicating via supervisor or contact person, communication and motivation are interrelated

Conclusion: unless the job itself was interesting, there was no way to make working life satisfying. This made

Volvo in Sweden and Toyota in Japan rethink their factory layouts. They provided more complete units of work and workers were grouped into teams, assembling and fitting the gearbox and checking the quality.

Case study context:

The starting point is to select the most appropriate theory to answer the questions. If a case study context suggested poor relations between management and workforce, Mayo would be very suitable. If motivation was weak, Herzberg’s theory provides a comprehensive analysis. When applying a theory, the analysis is strengthened by using a questioning approach. Herzberg’s theory is admirable but is not perfect. It provides insights but not necessarily answers. And certainly not blueprints. A job enrichment programme might be highly effective in one situation, but a disappointment in another. This leads to another key factor. The success of any new policies will depend hugely on the history of trust – or the lack of it – in the workplace. Successful change in the factors involved in motivation may be very difficult and slow to achieve. There are no magic solutions.

Accordingly, when a firm faces a crisis, changes in factors relating to motivation will rarely provide an answer. A crisis must be solved in the short term, but human motivation requires long term strategies.

Key terms

Division of labour – subdivision of a task into a number of activities, enabling workers to specialise and therefore become very efficient at completing a small repetitive task

Hygiene factors – everything that surrounds what you do in the job, such as pay, working conditions and social status. All potential causes of dissatisfaction, according to Herzberg.

Job satisfaction – the sense of well being and achievement gained from doing a satisfying job

Piece-rate – the rate of paying for piecework

Piecework – work that is paid per piece produced. Workers’ pay is therefore directly related to the amount they produce.

Trade union – an organisation that represents the interest of the workforce in a particular trade or profession

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