3 important theories under which motivations for employees are classified

Motivation theories can be found in the early history of civilization. When people started living in groups and in society, they searched for methods of helping and inspiring each other.

The group performed better. They cooperated with each other in joy and sorrow. Group behaviour was seen in a developed form at that time.

However, individualism started and the group form disintegrated. Individual behaviour was mobilized to achieve the group goals, for which several theories where developed in the early twentieth century.

Theory X, Taylor’s theory of scientific management, human relation movement, Theory Y and Maslow’s need hierarchy were developed in the early history of management.

Theory X:

Theory X is the oldest theory of motivation wherein people are considered to be unwilling to work.

Even today, less educated and traditionally labour dominated industrial houses have to depend upon Theory X for driving workers to work more.

Employees are unwilling to work because they are lazy and non-ambitious. They work only when they are forced to work.

This theory predicts that employees avoid work to the most possible extent. They do not like to share responsibilities and power.

These characteristics are observed in undeveloped societies. The theory suggests that work must be done through coerced, controlled and threatened methods.

McGregor suggested two distinct views of human beings, one negative known as the Theory X and second positive known as Theory Y.

The Theory X states, “Since employees dislike work, they are lazy, dislike responsibility and are less ambitious; they must be coerced, controlled, directed or threatened with punishment to get them to put forth adequate effort towards the achievement of organizational objectives’.”

In spite of development and education, many industrial houses function under traditional and negative attitudes as mentioned above.

They use Theory X to get work done Indian industries; particularly small scale industries apply Theory X to solve their problems.

Scientific management:

F. W. Taylor has postulated that coercions cannot work for long as the permanent solution for the problem. Industry can survive and grow if employees are satisfied.

He said that the basic factor of satisfaction was the monetary incentive, but the monetary award should be linked with productivity.

He propounded the differential piece rate for motivating employees. Different piece rates are suggested for different levels of work.

Taylor assumes that there are problems of insufficiency, workers devote less than their capacities, workers are afraid of retrenchment and workers are passive partners in industrial activities.

He emphasized that managers can solve all these problems. It is the manager’s responsibility to recruit a suitable person for a particular job.

Workers should be adequately trained to perform the job efficiently. Employees’ wages should be linked directly to their performances.

For the first time, Taylor assumed that employees can be motivated with positive actions. Employee efficiency would improve as a result of motivation, for which he has suggested the piece rate wage system.

Work design was also suggested to motivate employees. Money has been considered as an important instrument for motivating workers, as workers have several needs to satisfy.

If pay is linked to productivity, employees work hard for getting more money. Managers have to review their functions from time to time to find the most suitable job design and people thereon.

The experiment continues and improvement has become a way of life. Employees work in an environment which should be developed congenially and cordially with the help of managers.

Scientific management has placed more responsibilities on managers who are responsible for getting work done through monetary motivation, work design and worker environment.

Human relation movement:

Scientific Management has given birth to the human relation movement. While working with the employees at the workplace, the management has to develop human relations.

It was realized that human beings should be treated as human beings and should not be considered as machines. Money is not the only factor of motivation.

Human treatment of employees makes them more productive. Many employees do not require any supervisor to impose work.

Such types of employees should be identified and given proper treatment. These high performance individuals will be pace-setters to other lazy and dominant employees.

Employees should be given opportunities for recognition, achievement, comeradeship and job satisfaction.

The human relation theory believes that human beings are motivated by humanitarian and personal relations.

It suggests encouraging workers to participate efficiently in work functions and giving them opportunities of participation in managerial decisions.

Workers should be given greater chances of participation. Group behaviour, interaction, recognition, job satisfaction and other human relations are exercised for the development of an organization.

The flow of communication between the management and employees is improved for developing a better understanding between them.

Theory Y:

Theory Y is a developed form of human relations theory. Motivation theories develop constantly through important channels such as scientific management and human relations. It assumes that people are developed and educated.

They exercise tact in genius thinking and rationality. They use self-direction and self-control for the achievement of organizational goals.

They are committed to work performance and achievement. Since they prefer interaction and influence, they are responsibility-oriented.

People have high degrees of imagination, ingenuity and creativity, which are used to develop the organization.

Science and technology have a positive impact on people who prefer to work hard to get all the modem amenities and recognition of lively living.

Modern management theorists including McGregor have explored a very important theory of organization, i.e. Theory Y, which assumes the tenets of participation, morale building and self-development.

Management practices such as delegation of authority, enriching workers, increasing the variety of activities and responsibilities are exercised for the development of organizations. It is noted that like Theory X, Theory Y is not useful for all sort of industrial undertakings.

Theory X is effective for less developed and uneducated workers. Theory Y is feasible only for developed and educated workers.

Theory Y is applicable to those employees who are responsible and ambitious. Individuals with creative thinking and high ambitions are more successful under Theory Y.

Maslow’s theory of need hierarchy:

People are motivated when their needs are fulfilled. There are different needs for different persons, which thus require different types of motivations.

Abraham Maslow has synthesized these problems and postulated a need hierarchy, while suggesting that a need if fulfilled easily will not be motivation.

There are five levels of needs, wherein if the lower need is satisfied, the next higher need will be the motivating factor.

Abraham Maslow published his classic paper in 1943, suggesting the need hierarchy. Maslow’s need hierarchy is derived from a general understanding of people’s needs, which can be instrumental to motivate employee s at their workplaces.

He has deducted his hypotheses based on three fundamental assumptions. Firstly, people’s needs influence their behaviour. Unsatisfied needs act as motivators if fulfilled by management.

Satisfied needs or need satisfaction, if routine, would not motivate employees. In an organization, where employees get a bonus as a routine and regular feature, bonus does not become the point of motivation.

The second assumption is that individual needs are arranged in order of importance, i.e. in a hierarchy.

Thirdly, people advance to the next hierarchy of needs only when the lower needs are at least minimally satisfied.

A labourer likes to satisfy basic needs rather than satisfy his social needs. Similarly, a supervisor believes in safety rather than esteem needs.

Maslow has given five hierarchy levels of need, which are physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs and self actualization needs.

Physiological needs:

The basic needs of people are the physiological needs; People first try to fulfill their need for air, water, food, sleep, sex and other bodily needs.

These are used as motivators till they are fulfilled. Once they are fulfilled, they do not remain important factors of motivation. Everybody works for first satisfying physiological needs.

Managements use monetary motivation to actuate employees to fulfill these needs. However, once these needs are satisfied, or satisfaction of these needs becomes a regular feature, no one will remain motivated.

This is the reason that many supervisors and managers are net motivated by higher pay. If pay is linked with production, lower class employees or low paid employees are motivated.

Higher class employees are not motivated with higher pay and perks because they have developed enough resources for constantly fulfilling their basic needs.

People first like to fulfill their own physiological or basic needs. If a person’s own needs are fulfilled, he would like to fulfill the basic needs of his family.

Employees need salaries and wages, healthy working conditions, a canteen and other basic amenities at their workplace.

Safety needs:

The second level of need is safety, after fulfilling physiological needs. Maslow laid emphasis on emotional and physical safety after basic needs are satisfied. People require protection against danger, threat and accidents.

They require a good house to provide comfort to their families. Surroundings and atmosphere also pose problems of threat. People are becoming cautious about the increasing problems of pollution of air, water and the environment.

If employees are given fresh air, water and hygienic work and living conditions, they will be motivated to work hard.

Employees are also motivated if they are given permanent jobs. If not, they are unable to use their full capacities.

People prefer safety, security, competence and stability after satisfying their physiological needs.

Employees need safe working conditions, fringe benefits, regular increments in pay, job security and stability under safety needs, after getting their basic needs fulfilled.

Social needs:

Once physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, social needs arise. Social needs include the need for love, affection and affiliation.

Love is not related merely to sex; it is friendship which is mostly desired by people for internal satisfaction, without caring for bodily satisfaction.

The need for social recognition, sharing joy and sorrow, affiliation and interaction of people are included under social needs.

People who are developed upto a certain level, start feeling the need for affection, affiliation, acquaintances and friendship.

Employees therefore like comradeship interaction with colleagues, a friendly boss, a compatible work group, professional friendship and group enjoyment.

A developed organization has to provide all these requirements for motivating their employees, since they are not much influenced by a basic salary, fringe benefits and a safe working place, because they have already acquired them.

Esteem needs:

After satisfying social needs, people like to satisfy esteem needs, which include self respect, recognition, performance, satisfaction, prestige and self- confidence, Esteem needs include self-esteem as well as esteem from other employees like autonomy, achievement, status, recognition and leadership.

Generally, people are not unduly bothered about these factors because they have not reached this level of needs, because their lower needs are unfulfilled.

However, if the lower level of needs are satisfied, people prefer to go up in status, ego-recognition, appreciation, following, self-esteem, self respect and others contributions.

Developed employees work for more than the allotted period, because they need job satisfaction, work achievement and responsibility.

Money is not a motivating factor they need more appreciation and recognition by seers and peers. They want to develop self-confidence, prestige and performance achievement.


Self-actualization is the highest level of needs where people want self-satisfaction. Since they have achieved all the four lower needs of life, nothing accept self satisfaction is left to be achieved.

They need self-realization and self-recognition. The soul and universe become topics of realization for such people.

They want to be outstanding persons and example setters. People prefer growth, achievement and outstanding performance.

They like challenging jobs, creativity, advancement and achievement at their work places. Since employees have satisfied all their four needs, they search for new needs to be satisfied, which may be learning new things and to work differently in a better manner.

As they want to become innovative, creative and outstanding, they work harder and harder without caring for family and their own needs.

Such types of persons rise above the body and soul. They work for the organization and society. Such types of people are very rare in society.

Abraham Maslow has suggested that if employees are to be motivated, their hierarchy of needs should be known and efforts should be made to satisfy that particular level of need.

Maslow himself has separated these five needs into two divisions, lower order needs and higher order needs.

Physiological and safety needs are known as lower order needs, whereas the other three needs, viz. social needs, esteem needs and self-actualization, are included under higher order needs.

He has stated that lower order needs are satisfied externally, i.e. beyond his purview. Similarly, higher order needs are satisfied internally.

It should be noted that these distinctions are not always applicable everywhere. According to the situation, place and time, Maslow’s theory of motivation is adaptable.

The above five needs are again classified into primary needs and secondary needs. Primary needs are lower order needs which include physiological and safety needs.

These needs are the basic requirement of life, and are essential for survival of the human. They vary from person to person, age to age and sex to sex.

Secondary needs or higher order needs are related to the mind and spirit rather than the physical body. They are social and physiological needs.

Secondary needs are more impetuous and sensitive. Therefore, managements while motivating employees on the basis of secondary needs are very cautious.

Maslow’s need hierarchy is based on lower need satisfaction in ascending order, from basic to complex, for motivational purposes.

He has pointed out that needs if not satisfied will be an important point of motivation. Similarly, if unsatisfied needs which remain unsatisfied for a longer period will be factors of frustration conflict and stress.

Employee behaviour will be negatively enhanced and may go beyond repair. These needs, therefore, should be satisfied as soon as they are realized, without losing their significance to motivation.

Need realization should not take the shape of need deficiencies, as otherwise employees will develop defensive behaviour in the form of aggression, blaming others, movement and regression.

Aggression is physical or verbal behaviour directed towards an object, organization and person. Physical aggression takes the shape of sabotage and stealing.

Verbal aggression is an emotional outburst against the behaviour and presence of the boss. Blaming behaviour is also negative and dangerous for the organization, because employees blame others for their non-performances.

Unsatisfied employees leave the organization in search of better opportunities. Consequently, the organization suffers.

The movement will be most harmful if higher level employees are prone to move on for the want of satisfaction of need, regression is developed in case of non-fulfillment of need hierarchy, related to employees.

Employees become harsh, terse and antagonistic. It is, therefore, suggested that need relation be satisfied at the earliest possible time before being converted into need deficiencies.

Needs are continuous and regular. They should not be looked upon from a discrete and full angle. No need is fully satisfied.

Many offshoots of needs arise within the same level. This is the reason that all the five needs are always motivators.

No one crosses another as stipulated by Maslow. A top manager is continuously feeling physiological needs.

Therefore, esteem or other needs cannot take the place of physiological needs. Safety needs will be motivating to him depending upon the level of satisfaction, as needs are not fully satisfied. However, Maslow’s theory is useful to determine the main and prime mover of motivation.

2. Contemporary Theories:

Contemporary theories developed after early theories pave the way for motivation. Contemporary theories are of recent origin.

They explain the act of motivation. They consider real and practical factors of motivating people.

Some of the important contemporary theories are the Hygiene Theory, ERG Theory, Mcclelland Theory, Cognitive Theory, Attribution Theory, Goal Setting Theory, Vroom’s Expectancy Theory, Equity Theory and the Reinforcement Theory.

Hygiene theory:

The hygiene theory assumes healthy working conditions and congenial relationships. Hygiene factors help employees to maintain a level of working order.

They are not dissatisfied due to the presence of hygiene factors. They do not turn negative and look for high and favourable factors.

At this point, motivational factors are more effective. This theory explains that motivation is effective only when the unsatisfying factors are removed.

In other words, hygiene factors should precede motivation factors. This theory was propounded by a psychologist, Frederick Herzberg, who explored the attitudes of employees towards their jobs under exceptionally good or bad conditions, pointing them out as job satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

It is clear that the hygiene theory has two main considerations, i.e. hygiene factors and motivators.

It is noted here that no job dissatisfaction does not mean satisfaction. In other words, no dissatisfaction does not mean satisfaction.

There are three levels-satisfaction, neutral and dissatisfaction. Absence of motivators does not lead to dissatisfaction.

Employees are carefree and neutral. The presence of motivators has a motivating impact, leading to the employee’s satisfaction.

Similarly, the presence of hygiene factors does not lead to satisfaction or dissatisfaction. It creates a mental state where employees are assessed in their original forms to pave them for motivation.

Before providing motivation, employees should be brought to this level, as otherwise motivation will not be effective to achieve the goals.

The absence of hygiene factors creates job dissatisfaction wherein employees work against the interest of the organization.

Dissatisfied employees are liabilities to the organization. They feel distress, frustration, stress and disorders in the job.

On a scale of five, it may be put as -2 to demonstrate the dangerous feeling of employees. Thus, hygiene factors are set for making motivators effective to achieve the goals of the organization.

In the absence of hygiene factors, employees are dissatisfied. Management should know all those factors which create dissatisfaction, because these factors are avoided for keeping employees in good position and retaining peace and trust.

Hygiene factors avoid these dissatisfactions. This means that there will be hygienic conditions where the dissatisfactions are eliminated and prevented from recurring.

The hygiene factors, which should be present, are good working conditions, salary, interpersonal relations and policies for safeguarding the interests of the employees.

If these factors are present adequate, employees will be neither dissatisfied nor satisfied. They will achieve a neutral state of peace and favourable thinking which is essential for motivating employees.

Comparative analysis of Herzberg theory and Maslow’s theory:

The analogies of both the theories have revealed that Maslow’s lower order needs are very much related to dissatisfaction whereas higher order needs are equal to motivators.

Herzberg’s hygiene factor and motivators are co-existing factors for motivation. It is known as the two factor theory of motivation.

Hygiene factors are essential for motivation, as the lower order needs of Maslow are required to maintain employees’ capacity, although Maslow has explained the systematic ascending order of motivation.

Researches revealed that higher order needs cannot exist unless lower order needs are satisfied, just like motivators cannot be effective unless hygiene factors are present.

Hygiene factors prevent dissatisfaction and do not lead to satisfaction, but they are essential for bringing the employees to the state of peace and trust.

They are takeoff runways for raising the motivation at higher levels. Motivators are essential for
motivating people to perform better, as Maslow has given higher order needs for motivation when the lower needs are satisfied.

Lower needs alone do not motivate, as higher pay, more fringe benefits and sound working conditions do not inspire people to do work hard.

Herzberg himself pointed out that hygiene factors are absolutely essential for maintaining human resources. They are prime requirements for motivation, as are the lower needs of Maslow.


The Herzberg theory like Maslow’s theory has been criticized on empirical non-feasibility. Research has not approved their theories. One may be feeling dissatisfied at the factor, while others are not bothered about the dissatisfiers.

Satisfaction or dissatisfaction is based on the nature, age and the size of a organization. In a newly established organization complex work is a matter of satisfaction; in an old organization, complexities are dissatisfiers.

Individual employees perceive the organization differently according to their capacities and experiences. The method used to reveal employees’ attitudes is found to be incompetent.

Herzberg’s assumption of satisfaction as a motivator is not correct in organizational behaviour, as motivation is a goal-directed behaviour and satisfaction is the result of goal-directed behaviour.

Employee’s satisfaction and organizational performance are two distinct processes although both of them are to be achieved by motivation.

Maslow’s theory has given the bases of Herzberg’s criticism. For example, fulfilling basic needs is motivation for many less developed employees.

They are not motivated by social factors because they realise the needs of physiology as being the most appealing need. Job content is not a motivating factor.

Job context is equally recognised as a motivator in real life. Both the factors-hygiene and motivators-are essential for motivating people to achieve better performances.

Intrinsic and extrinsic factors are equally important motivating factors. Herzberg’s theory is the study of satisfaction and not motivation in any real sense.

Motivation leads to satisfaction and better performance rather than the fact that satisfied employees always achieve better performances.

A person may be dissatisfied with his job, but may be willing to accept the job due to some other factors such as family and social pressure.

It ignores the situation, time and place which are more important for motivation. However, Herzberg has been the pioneer in introducing job content, context, enrichment and enlargement for motivation.

ERG theory:

Maslow theory, though criticized, has been used by many authors to sponsor the motivation theory.

One of them was Prof. Clayton Alderfer of Yale University, who did some empirical research and converted Maslow’s theory into the ERG theory which indicates Existence, Relatedness and Growth (ERG).

Existence needs are essential for survival which is possible by satisfying physiological needs. Relatedness needs stress the needs of social and interpersonal relationships. Growth is related to the development needs of people,


People need to exist, which is possible by providing basic materials. It includes the needs of air, water, food, shelter, sex, security and safety.

At the work place, employees need good salaries, healthy working conditions and a congenial atmosphere, Existence is easily compared with the physiological and safety needs of Maslow’s theory and with the hygiene theory of Herzberg.

Existence requirements are unlearned and natural, which should be fulfilled for motivation of employees.


People feel some needs because others have to fulfill those needs. It involves interpersonal relationships with others at the workplace.

It requires the sharing with others the sorrows and joys. Relatedness includes social and status desire and interaction with others.

It is compared with some of the safety, social and external esteem needs of Maslow and with the motivators of Herzberg,


Growth needs are intrinsic desires for personal development, People need creative work and personal growth for self-satisfaction.

It is an analogue to self- actualization and intrinsic esteem of Maslow’s theory and the internal motivation of Herzberg; People like to make full use of their capacities.

They aspire to create new dimensions of their knowledge. High motivations are people’s own spirits and souls. If they are properly understood, people can grow faster.

Alderfer’s ERG theory is not totally comparable with those of Maslow and Herzberg. Alderfer demonstrates that more than one need may be operative at the same time. If higher needs are satisfied, lower needs are extended.

For example, if people find that relatedness is satisfied, desiring more pay, comfort and carefulness expands their need for existence.

The Maslow need theory is a rigid step like progression, wherein he believes that higher needs arise when lower needs are fulfilled.

However, the ERG theory states that higher needs, i.e. needs for growth may arise, even though the needs of relatedness and existence are unfulfilled. All the three needs may be operative at the same time.

Alderfer has revealed that if an individual feels frustrated because of non-fulfillment of higher needs, he may come down to lower needs for getting satisfaction.

Frustration of progressive needs leads to regression to lower level needs. Herzberg has also assumed that hygiene and motivation are working together.

The ERG theory is more practical than those of Maslow and Herzberg, because people differ in education, family backgrounds, cultural environments and age.

National characters have greater impact on the ERG theory, as Indians prefer growth to relatedness. The Spanish and Japanese are social need oriented.

The ERG theory has assumed the existence of the need satisfaction, desire, strength, need frustration and challenging tasks for implementation.

Alderfer has also assumed that the less a lower need is satisfied, the more the need is desired. The more the lower level needs are satisfied, the greater is the desire for higher level needs.

Similarly, the less the higher level needs are satisfied, the more are the lower level needs. Individuals are of a challenging nature.

When their needs are not satisfied, they accept the challenge to acquire such desires and needs.

The major difference between Maslow and Alderfer is that the former is based upon the satisfaction – progression approach and the latter incorporates satisfaction – progression approach, as well as frustration-regression components.

The ERG theory is more commonly observed amongst educated people like students, teachers, doctors and social sector employees.

Some authors have pointed out that this theory is not applicable to some organizations. For example, agriculture, mining and quarrying are not fit for applying this theory of motivation.

Alderfer’s ERG theory is more practical, because it has involved both the views of Maslow (need hierarchy) and Herzberg (satisfier and dissatisfiers) plus the additional consideration of desires.

People require need, desire and satisfying factors which are incorporated in the theory of Alderfer.

Need satisfaction is a pre-requisite of motivation. Satisfaction of existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs is required in sequence, as was assumed by Maslow.

The regression of frustration as revealed by the hygiene theory of Herzberg is accepted by Alderfer.

Frustration of growth needs leads to realization of relatedness needs. Similarly, frustration at relatedness causes realization of existence needs.

The desire for existence, relatedness and growth has been given due importance for motivation. The futuristic approach and expectancy theory was born on the desire approach of Alderfer.

Mttellpnd’s theory of needs:

David C. McClelland investigated the achievement theory in 1947. He revealed that need for achievement (N Ach), need for power (N Pow) and need for affiliation (N Aff) are important points of motivation.

Needs for Achievement (NAch) Need for achievement has requirement and motives of achievement.

It discusses the present requirement and future motives simultaneously. A motive of achievement is a desire to perform in terms of a standard of excellence. Many people have a thrust or compelling drive to succeed.

Individuals strive for personal achievement and want to do something better to distinguish themselves from lower performers.

Individuals desire to be high performers. The following are some of the characteristics of high performers.

Personal responsibility:

High performers seek personal responsibility for solving problems. They desire to establish outstanding goals.

Gambling or windfall gain is not the motive of high performer, because they prefer hard work and challenging job and enjoy performance without caring much about the result derived thereon.

They feel personally responsible for their success or failure. Chance, luck or favourable conditions have no place in their minds as they believe in work.

The result is the automatic outcome of the work. If there is a shortfall in the result, they assign the reason to their inefficiencies and incapability’s.

Satisfaction with performance:

High achievers believe in work and performances. They are not dissatisfied with the low result, but are dissatisfied if they are unable to perform the job.

They do not leave a job unfinished. Satisfaction is derived with the completed task. They feel satisfied when they put in maximum efforts. They are very realistic about their abilities.

Need for feedback. Money is not a motivator for high achievers, but they use money as feedback or measurement of their performance.

They prefer accomplishment to monetary rewards. High performers are self-reformers and require immediate feedback. They prefer jobs where performance is frequently evaluated.

Moderate risk:

High performers dislike gambling or windfall benefits, because they do not get achievement.

When a high probability of success is attached to a job high performers do not get satisfaction. They take moderate risks.

They like to establish realistic goals which can be achieved with the given strength and opportunities. Effort is satisfaction. Result is merely a feedback to performance, leading to satisfaction.

Job autonomy:

High achievers like personal freedom to complete the job. A lonely job has a definite responsibility which is a motivating factor to high performers.

They have the drive to excel, which is possible when they are given job autonomy. They wish to set standards to be followed by others.

The McClelland theory of need for achievement has been analysed and explained by different authors in a specific manner.

Need for power (N Pow):

McClelland has given the second need for power, which is a desire for power to influence and control others. Individuals like power, as they enjoy being in charge.

They prefer to be placed in competitive and status-oriented situations. They enjoy prestige and gaining influence over others. They do not believe in performance.

Power is enjoyable and effective for influencing others. Individuals strive for superiority by gaining power rightly or wrongly.

They need conquest and drive for upward movement. Politicians are the best examples of gaining power in organizations, unions, educational institutions and military organizations. Here, leadership drive is the motivating factor to assign power to employees.

Need for affiliation (N Aff):

People being social beings, desire friendship and association. They prefer co-operation rather than competitive situations.

Individuals desire relationships involving a high degree of mutual understanding and cohesiveness.

It is the unlearned behaviour, as has been observed in animals who move about in groups. They prefer group behaviour to individual isolation.

People working in groups get more energy to perform the job. Synergy developed through group behaviour is always an effective motivator. Employees, particularly rank and file employees, have an intense need to belong to a group.

High achievers are motivated by entrepreneurial activities, self-contained units and personal responsibility.

High need people are generally not good managers. The need for power makes leaders. Similarly, the need for affiliation is an essential quality of managers.

Employees should be motivated based on N Ach, N Pow and N Aff as per their characteristics and individual differences and personalities.

Cognitive theory:

Employees are given pay, perks, and positions in the organization. The extrinsic rewards has been recognized as an effective factor of motivation.

It has been revealed that later on extrinsic reward is no longer a motivator, because it has lost its intrinsic cognition. Individuals continue to be motivated as long as the motivators influence their internal instinct.

They enjoy the pleasure of getting something worthwhile, which becomes a driving force for better performance.

The cognitive theory believes that motivations, in order to be effective, must be accepted by employees.

For example, if additional pay is recognized as giving additional pleasure to individuals, it would motivate them.

On the other hand, when additional pay is considered routine and authorized, it does not motivate individuals, because they do not get any additional pleasure. E.L. Deci, D.J. Campbell and others have concluded that extrinsic reward would not motivate employees unless it creates intrinsic interest.

Motivation is not related to the materials given to the employees, but the method by which materials are given to employees, motivates them.

The perception of individuals towards motivation is the basic point in motivation. The right perception of pleasure, interest and enjoyment motivates employees whether it is monetary or non-monetary motivation.

External force or compulsion does not motivate employees. It is the intrinsic interest which motivates individuals. Any extrinsic reward should be made contingent on employees’ performance for their motivation.

The cognitive theory has assumed that there is a reverse relationship between extrinsic awards and intrinsic interest.

If extrinsic award increases, intrinsic interest diminishes. In real life, such assumptions are not found to be correct.

Many managers are intrinsically motivated, although they are also influenced with extrinsic awards. The cognitive theory is based mainly on perception and learning theories.

Attribution theory:

The attribution theory believes in perceptual process. People’s perceptions about motivational factors influence their behaviour.

Attribution is the process by which people interpret and assign causes for their own behaviour and the behaviour of others.

It is based on the relationship between personal perception and interpersonal behaviour. It is a cognitive process by which people interpret behaviour as caused or attributed to certain factors.

This theory tries to reply “why”, to explain a particular type of behaviour. Since people have different perceptions, they assign or attribute different causes of “why”.

The motivation process cannot work effectively unless their perceptions or cognitive processes are brought to a common level.

It assumes that people are rational and are motivated to understand the environment and accept appealing factors for development.

The attribution theory was initiated by Fritz Heider who contributed the theory based on internal forces and external forces for behaviour determination.

He pointed out that perception is the main contributor to behaviour. People behave differently, as they perceive internal attributes differently.

External attributes are realised differently by people. The locus of control may be external or internal. Internal control behaviour is related to people’s own feelings.

They attribute the cause of success or failure to their own ability, skills and effort. People believing in external forces attribute the outcomes to factors beyond their control.

Internal forces attribute the locus of control within the purview of abilities and willingness of employees. External forces attribute outcomes to factors beyond the control of employees.

Locus of control:

The attribution theory emphasises on the locus of control as discussed above. Motivation is more effective when the locus of control is an internal force. The attribution theory and locus of control are highly correlated.

Research has revealed that internally controlled employees are more satisfied with their jobs. Employees and management are satisfied, as they are internally controlling the activities.

Internal locus of control believes in participatory management, as the managers are considerate towards their subordinates.

The employees and management relationship is strengthened because they attribute success to their able performances, for which they strive within the purview of the organization. People believing in external forces are not effective managers.

Employees are suspicious about the management and vice versa, as they do not attribute the outcomes to their own ability, but attribute them to other factors and people.

The attribution theory has relevance in explaining goal setting behaviour, leadership style and poor employee performance.

It helps in the development of a congenial relationship between employees “and management. Motivation and incentives are considered more influential factors for performance improvement.

The locus of control as explained earlier has revealed the relationship between performance, outcome and satisfaction.

Types of attributions:

The attribution theory has wide recognition with some modifications. Therefore, attributions are looked upon differently, in order to understand types of attributions and their impact on behaviour and performance.

They are classified based on stability, consensus, consistency, distinctiveness, personal and situational factors.

The stability factors, i.e. fixed or variable dimensions of external and internal processes are recognized for the effective application of the attribution theory.

Experienced employees have a fixed internal force, as they believe in internal attribution firmly. Some employees have temporary internal attribution which is known as variable internal force.

Employees feel stable external attribution about the environment and working conditions. Unstable external attribution is luck.

Internal attribution is functional and external attribution is dysfunctional. These attributions are helpful to predict employee’s behaviour and improvement in their performances.

Conscious attribution predicts a particular behaviour in a given situation. The degree of subordinate behaviour is predicted on consensus behaviour.

The consistency attribution predicts the behaviour of employees and how they would behave in a particular fashion in the given situation.

The tendency of behaviour is known on the basis of consistency attribution. Distinctive attribution specifically reveals the causes of the behaviour, which are used for modifying the employees’ performances as it is assumed that there is close relationship between performance and behaviour.

A high consensus reveals that others are also performing, while a poor consistency suggests that poor performers are always poor performers.

High distinctiveness points out that the subordinates have done better at some other place. Conversely, low consensus reflects that others are performing well and low distinctiveness reveals that the subordinates do poorly.

The combinations of these three attributions disclose several levels of perception and behaviour.

Ability, effort and motivational factors are personal attributions. The task situation, luck and external forces are situational attributions.

Bias The attribution theory is not free from bias. The person perceiving the motivation is influenced by a certain bias.

There may be self-serving bias and fundamental attribution bias. Here, self-serving bias is related to the fact that some people claim undue credit for success, while minimizing their own attributes to failure.

People prefer power and minimum accountability. They overestimate internal factors and underestimate external forces.

Success is accredited to internal forces and failure is attributed to external forces. Such people cannot be placed under the attribution theory effectively and correctly.

Similarly, fundamental attribution bias is related to others when the success of others is related to mere chance or luck, whereas their failures are assigned to their inabilities and less efforts.

Conflicts arise between managers and employees when the performance and attribution are looked upon with self-serving bias and fundamental attribution bias.

The motivation theory suggests avoidance of these biases and development of receptive perception for effective use of the attribution theory.

Goal setting theory:

Goal setting has been considered as motivational because it attracts employees’ attention, encourages them better, defines their activities and creates certainty in their minds.

If employees are specifically told what to do, they try to achieve them within the specified period. A goal is defined as what the individual has to do.

Employees plan the allocation of resources, time, energy and money to achieve the goal. It prepares employees for specific behaviour and helps performance evaluation, to pay them additional money for higher performances. Recognition of merit is possible with goal setting and its comparison with performance.

Goal setting is a motivational process, as it influences employees’ work behaviour. Specific goals result in higher levels of performance.

Individual motivation and performance are improved if the goal is clearly known to the employee.

It motivates employees to take up challenging tasks. It is motivational because it creates a discrepancy between the current and expected performance.

Goal setting creates tension in the mind. As tension leads to action, employees perform better for the satisfaction of goals.

Employees develop drives, thrust and a sense of belonging as a result of goal-setting. Achievement of goals provide satisfaction, develops self-esteem and ambition.

It creates self-efficacy, which is a sort of internal satisfaction achieved through related capabilities and competencies.

Employees with high efficacy prefer outstanding performances of higher goals. Achievement of the initial goal leads to a feeling of self- efficacy, which is strengthened by the achievement of the next higher goal. Self-efficacy is self-motivation.

A successful goal setting helps to build and reinforce self-efficacy. Goal setting serves as the foundation of reinforcement.

It presupposes that employees are committed to achieve goals and they get satisfaction by the attainment of goals. This is possible when employees participate in the goal setting process and have an internal locus of control.

Goal setting is a successful motivator of employees. They are educated, goal conscious and have realized their self-efficacy and esteem.

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief that he is capable of performing a task. Higher efficiency has higher self-confidence in the capability of performing a task.

Higher self-efficacy leads people to perform even difficult tasks under unfavourable situations. It leads to acceptance of challenges.

Low efficiency discourages people who may leave the task incomplete. Goal setting is focused with motivational purposes, which is possible after an analysis of the employees’ learning, experiences, environments, incentives, participative activities, goal setting attributes and other relevant factors.

Goal setting process:

Existing and experienced organizations have an effective goal setting process which involves the analysis of employees’ capacities, goal setting intentions, goal setting attributes, participative processes, performances and feedback.

Analysis of employee’s capacities:

Goal setting is a successful motivation in the case of responsible, sensible and educated employees.

It becomes a matter of frustration for illiterate, lazy and inactive labour. A congenial atmosphere of employee’s development, rewards, promotions, recognition and minimum distance with management are created and developed for making goals become successful tools of motivation.

Goal Setting Intention:

The purpose of goal setting should be motivation. Employees should accept a goal as a motivational factor.

It should be considered as the value of reward and degree of need satisfaction, associated with goal attainment. Merely flaming a goal will not motivate employees unless the motivational purpose is explained to them.

An effective method is to make employees realize the motivational aspects of the goal. Public declaration of goals, the significance of the employees’ commitment to achieve the goals and participative attributes of employees should be recognized by the management while framing goals for motivational purposes. Any goal framed may be motivational, provided it has the intention and attributes of motivation.

Goal setting attributes:

The goal setting process assumes goal setting attributes, viz. specificity, clarity, competition and challenges.

It should be specific, clear, measurable and distinctive. If employees are clear about the goals to be achieved and the manner in which they can achieve the goals, they would attempt to improve their performances.

Many employees perform hard and specific tasks in a better way, whereas some employees prefer simple and ambiguous jobs so that others may shoulder the responsibilities of more complicated tasks.

The progress of performance is measurable in case of specific goals. Some employees work harder for achieving challenging goals in order to demonstrate their outstanding merit.

Participative process:

If employees are consulted while setting goals, they will participate willingly. If goals are imposed upon them, they dislike goals, and consequently performance will suffer.

Initiated goals are most welcomed by employees. Participative goal setting achieves superior results in implementation than the assigned goals.


The performance based on goals provides a sense of achievement to the organization and satisfaction to its employees.

The evaluation of performance is feasible and the value of award and the degree of need satisfaction are associative in the goal setting system.

Cost control and scope improvement are feasible in this motivation process. Bonus and reward can be correctly measured under goal performance measurement technique.


Goal setting must be followed for better achievement. Performance monitoring is possible by getting a feedback from employees about the goals and the performance.

The employees’ consideration towards the goals and the performance provides them with satisfaction.

Employees should also get a feedback from the management as to how far they are effective in the organization.

Without feedback, employees would be working in the dark and the very purpose of goal setting would be defeated.

Every sensible employee wants to see how much he has achieved and how much his work is appreciated by the management. They are motivated by positive appreciation of the performances.

Vroom’s expectancy theory:

The Expectancy theory was propounded by Victor Vroom in 1964. Content theories, viz. need hierarchy, ERG and hygiene theories, and did not adequately explain the process of motivation.

The expectancy theory amongst the other process theories, viz., attribution theory, cognitive theory and equity, has been considered a more effective and useful theory of motivation.

The expectancy theory is based on the expectation of salary increases, promotions, rewards, and bonus in the future.

Individuals work hard because they anticipate more rewards in the future. The strength of an expectation is a powerful factor of motivation.

Individuals are motivated by the attractiveness of the outcome. An employee is motivated to exert a high level of effort when he believes that the effort will lead to good performance and reward.

An individual effort will lead to high performance which will help in the development of the organization and employees’ satisfaction in the form of higher pay, perks, bonus, recognition and personal satisfaction.

The expectancy theory assumes that there is a direct relation between effort and performance, performance, and reward and reward and personal satisfaction through the achievement of personal goals.

A given amount of effort will lead to performance, and a higher performance will enhance reward which will satisfy the organization and the employees.

Favourable expectation leads to positive performance and poor expectation causes a negative or lower performance.

The employees are taken into confidence and trust so that they may develop favourable expectation.

If employees believe that their boss is reluctant to recognize performance, they would not perform better in the hope of getting rewards in future. Employees’ disbelief has an unfavourable impact on performance.

Lack of loyalty, initiative and spirit does not motivate a higher performance. Some employees believe that their efforts will not lead to higher performances and that good performances will not give more rewards.

Many employees find rewards non-satisfactory because the rewards are not consonant with their needs.

Many employees find that some employees are rewarded without merit and experience. Undue favour is given to some employees because the boss is pleased with flattery, palm greasing and other non-performance functions.

Employees will not be motivated if they get anything other than what they expect. If employees have the hope of getting promotion by higher performances but get a higher pay instead, they are not motivated. Rewards for motivational purposes must be need oriented.

Otherwise, they would be retrogative. The same reward is not motivational to all the employees.

Different rewards must be offered to different employees’ according to their respective needs. If employees work hard, they expect more rewards and appreciation.

Employees performing simple jobs should be rewarded differently from employees performing challenging jobs. The differential reward system is consistent with the expectancy theory.

It necessitates the understanding of an individual’s goals and the linkage between effort and performance, between performance and rewards and finally between rewards and individual goals. Linkage of bonus with productivity increases performance.

Components of the expectancy:

Theory Porter and Lawler have defined the expectancy theory by providing the following formula:

Valence x Expectancy x Instrumentality = Motivation

Motivation on expectancy is based on valence and instrumentality. The three factors, viz. valence, expectancy and instrumentality, are discussed in detail to demonstrate the motivational aspects of the theory.


Valence is the strength of an employee’s preference for a particular outcome. The strength of one’s preference toward the reward is valence.

How much an employee prefers a reward to influence him is his valence for the reward. It is one’s strong desire for achieving a goal.

For example, if an employee prefers promotion to higher pay, promotion is his valence. It is unique to each employee and is conditioned by experience.

Valence improves with time from lower needs to higher achievement and recognition, as the employee’s condition improves with experience.

The difference between Maslow’s needs hierarchy and valence improvement is that the former specifically requires the present set of needs to be satisfied, while the latter indicates the future preferences of the employees. Valence is used to motivate employees to achieve their expected preferences.

People have positive or negative expectancy theory preferences. Valence therefore, may be positive and negative.

When an employee prefers not to attain an outcome, valence is negative. If an employee has a strong preference for a reward, it is positive valence.

Similarly, when the employees have indifferent attitudes, it is zero valence. Some employees are task oriented. They do not prefer rewards.

They get satisfaction while working in the organization. They have strong work ethics or competence motivation.

They get satisfaction through a sense of completion. Completion satisfaction too is known as positive valence.


Expectancy is the perceived belief that a particular effort will most probably lead to a particular outcome and performance. It is the strength of belief of performance as the valence is the strength of preference.

The degree of belief may vary from 0 to 1; when there is no certainty of performance at all, it is zero expectancy, and when performance is assured, the certainty or expectancy is one.

Expectancies are always evaluated in probabilities, i.e. the chance of getting performance by making a particular effort.

The expectancies are considered only with relation to effort and performance in the real and narrow sense. In the broader sense, it is decided in terms of effort- performance relationship, performance-reward relationship and reward-personal goals relationship.

The expectancy is based on employees’ self-efficacy, i.e. the confidence that one has about the necessary capabilities to perform a task.

Employees with a high level of self-efficacy are more likely to believe that exerting effort will result in satisfactory performance.

A high level of self-efficacy has high expectancy, while a low level of self-efficacy has low expectancy.

Persons suffering from low levels of self-efficacy are under ‘imposter phenomenon’ which means that individuals are not really as capable as they appear to be.

They are afraid of their inferiority which may be revealed in public if they exert high effort. Imposters have low expectancy as they believe that they lack the necessary competence.


Instrumentality refers to an employee’s belief that a reward will be received if the task is completed. Employees have the firm belief that the organization values their performances, and awards will be given contingent upon their performances.

They believe that high performance will lead to high rewards and low performance leads to low reward. Instrumentality is the probability between the performance- reward relationship, as expectancy is the probability between effort-performance relationship, and valence is the strength of preference for a goal.

Theoretically, the instrumentality may vary from -1 to 0 and + 1. When there is a negative relationship between performance and reward, it is negative instrumentality, although it is a hypothetical case.

Here, a performance may lead to no reward, but it will not punish employees. Therefore instrumentality varies from zero probability to probability one.

Employees are highly motivated in the case of high expectancy, high instrumentality and high valence.

Similarly, employees avoid making an effort in the case of low expectancy, low instrumentality and low valence.

A combination of high and low values of these three factors influences the degree of motivation.

If desire for reward is high and instrumentality and expectancy are low, the motivation will be moderate.

Valence, instrumentality and expectancy are multiplicative in nature. They are not additive. If any one of them is negative or zero, their product will be respectively negative or zero motivation.

If any one of them is low, the product will be of low motivation. The multiplicative principle is applicable to motivation under the expectancy theory.


Motivation = Valence x Instrumentality x Expectancy or Motivation = f (V x I x E)

Giving values to the probabilities of their happening,

Motivation = 0.5 x 0.8 x 0.3 = 0.120.

If any of the probabilities is low, the motivation will be low. Therefore, high probabilities are needed for high motivation.

For example,

Motivation = 0.8 x 0.8 x 0.8 = 0.512

Low instrumentality always has low motivation. The ability to perform and the desire to perform better influence the motivation.

Impact of uncertainty:

The expectancy model is based on probability which is calculated pertaining to extrinsic outcomes, intrinsic outcomes, the perceived relationship between effort and performance and instrumentality relating to performance and rewards.

Performance is also known as the first order outcome as some employees are satisfied with the performance itself.

The second order level is concerned with the reward, i.e. almost all the employees are satisfied only with the rewards.

Therefore, expectancies are specifically measured for effort to performance and performance to reward.

Simply put, the expectancy theory is based on the employee’s perception of a relationship between effort, performance and reward.

The linkage of these three factors is not easily forecasted. There are multiple causes which influence this motivation process.

The expectancy process including valence, instrumentality and expectancy influences the motivation, which leads to action and satisfaction through primary and secondary outcomes.

Extrinsic and intrinsic valences influence the individual effort, performance and reward. Extrinsic valence is related to outcomes related to others, while intrinsic valence is concerned with the job itself. Outcomes may be extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic is concerned with the external factors such as pay, promotion, perks, etc. Intrinsic outcome is related to recognition and the first order outcome is the result of direct action.

Status recognition and responsibility are outcomes of primary outcome namely promotion, training, etc.

Many employees feel satisfied with the performance, which becomes a secondary outcome for them, with effort being the first outcome.

Providing an opportunity of demonstrating effort is the primary outcome of expectancy which employees expect from the organization.

The environment, whether internal or external, has a significant impact on expectancy motivation.

Personality, self-efficacy, experience, learning and perception have a direct influence on motivation through expectancy.

Past trends and conditions pave the way for expectancy. The performance evaluation techniques, satisfaction levels, rewards, systems and motivational models have been influencing the expectation of employees.

Not only individual characteristics but also external factors like government regulations,
socio-economic conditions and other factors are responsible for influencing the expectancy.

The expectancy theory is complex and critical. It is not applicable in its original form of valence, instrumentality and expectancy.

It does not provide specific motivation, but has combinations of many factors. Employees are unable to find out and distinguish between first level outcomes and second level outcomes.

The expectancy theory has opened a new chapter in the areas of motivation. Managements are cautious about expectancy and performance.

Equity theory:

Many employees are concerned not only with satisfying their own needs but also compare what others receive.

They feel satisfied or dissatisfied with comparative observations of their friends, neighbours and colleagues.

The equity theory was developed on this hypothesis. Employees feel they are lacking with the comparison of others possessions.

This lacking tension motives people to work hard to reach the levels of others. J.Stacy Adams has propounded that this negative tension provides motivation to employees to exert themselves.

People are motivated by the inequity they note with others. The equity theory tries to reduce an inequity sense of achievement. J. Stacy Adams has defined two specific words, viz. person and other.

Person is any individual for whom equity or inequity exists. Similarly, other is defined as any individual with whom a person is in a relevant exchange relationship, or with whom a person compares himself.

If a person is getting lesser than another, inequity exists because of being under rewarded. He tries to improve himself so that he can reach the level of others.

A person perceives job situations and outcomes in relation to what he has put into them, i.e. input with those of outcome and inputs of others.

In case both the ratios are equal, equity exists, and the person is at a constant level. He is not motivated on this ground.

On the other hand, if a person’s outcome as compared to his input is more than others in terms of his inputs, the person is over rewarded and tries hard to remain higher than those of others.

The equity theory is a cognitive based motivation theory. Perception plays a great role in motivating a person.

If a person is undeterred by inequity, he is not motivated. In the normal way, persons are envious of others and are motivated accordingly.

However, if persons do not bother about other’s achievements, they are not motivated by other’s outcomes.

The equity theory is backed by the cognitive dissonance theory, which is based upon the person’s perceptions, age, education, sex, qualifications and other factors.

The ratio of outcome to input is perceptual. This cognitive theory is motivation. The strength of motivation is the direct outcome of the perceived inequity.

The person may change cognitively distort the inputs or outcomes, leave the field, act on other or change other to restore equity.

Over reward is not desirable, as persons do not get the incentive of getting more. The input and outcome analysis has incorporated their real world meanings.

Input means education, seniority, work experience, capacity to contribute, commitment, effort and job performance.

Outcomes refer to direct pay, bonuses, awards, rewards, fringe benefits, recognition and socio-psychological satisfaction.

Perceptual framework:

The equity theory is based on a perceptual framework. A person compares self-inside, self-outside, other-inside and other-outside.

Self-inside refers to his different positions inside the organization, and other inside indicates the other employee’s positions in the organization; outside refers to outside behaviour and outcomes.

People compare themselves with friends, colleagues and other related persons outside the organization.

It is observed that employees prefer same sex comparisons. Women employees tolerate lower salaries than those given to males because other women employees to get the same payment.

Managers make outside comparisons because they have information pertaining to other organizations.

This theory assumes that when employees perceive others better than their input outcome relations, they change their inputs and outcomes.

They distort perceptions of self and others. They choose a different reference or leave their jobs.

An employee is satisfied not only with his absolute amount of rewards, but gets comparative satisfaction with what others receive. People exert themselves to get more pay and comfort compared to others.

The equity theory focuses on distributive justice and the perceived fairness of the amount and allocation of rewards.

Process-motivation is also observed under the equity theory, as it considers procedural justice, i.e. perceived fairness of the process used for distribution or rewards.

Distribution justice has a greater impact on the employees’ motivation than procedural justice. In spite of certain empirical criticisms, the equity theory has been found useful for managing and motivating people through equitable rewards.

The compassion of employees within and outside an organization is done to motivate employees.

Inequity of under payment is used for motivating less efficient employees. Overpayment is solved by distorted figures.

The expectancy theory is path-goal theory, i.e. effort-performance-reward, which has become more useful for motivational purposes.

Reinforcement theory:

The reinforcement theory has a behavioural approach. Persons tend to repeat behaviour that is accompanied by favourable outcomes s and tend not to repeat behaviour that is accompanied by unfavourable outcomes.

It is the opposite of the goal-setting theory which is a cognitive approach proposing an effort for attaining purpose, while reinforcement theory believes in behaviour.

The reinforcement theory does not stress on perception or inner state of mind; it is directly related to what happens to a person who carries out certain actions.

However, it is not concerned with what initiates behaviour, but is concerned with behaviour motivating the employees.

One’s behaviour is improved through conditioning, which is a theory of learning. The reinforcement theory ignores the attitude, feeling, expectations and other cognitive variables that influence behaviour.

It is concerned with direction, arousal, maintainence and alteration of behaviour. Repeated action is reinforcement, which helps to acquire a desired type of behaviour.

Similarly, repeated prevention of unfavourable behaviour will lead to reduction of unfavourable behaviour. Favourable behaviour is repeatedly reinforced to develop a good habit.

Methods of reinforcement:

The reinforcement theory is based on the learning process, particularly operant conditioning. It tries to develop the behaviour of employees because favourable behaviour automatically motivates people to exert themselves.

Reinforcement assigns greater responsibility of employee’s development and control. The behaviour is measurable in terms of achievement of objectives, e.g. number of units produced, time and budget economy, quality control and other achievements.

Reinforcement is contingent upon stimuli, attention, recognition and translation. Classical, operant and social learning are used for reinforcement.

Reinforcement shapes the behaviour. Stimulus-response and response-stimulus relationships, as discussed in the chapter of learning, are helpful for building and developing of behaviour.

Many times, response or consequence is used to reinforce a particular behaviour, but stimuli are significant factors for motivating employees to attain a particular type of behaviour.

It has been concluded that motivation is learned behaviour. Motivated behaviour helps achieve objectives.

Motivated behaviour is built, developed and maintained through learning, which becomes effective when perception is rightly developed by the organization.

The reinforcement period should be shortened as much as possible for getting effective behaviour.

The period of reinforcement starts with the performance and ends with the reward achievement.

The stimuli and response should be as narrow as possible. The response and consequences are required to be narrower to motivate employees.

Simply put, the achievement or consequences should be appreciated by the manager at the earliest possible time.

The manager who is reinforcing, i.e. the reinforcer, should be prompt in action and observation of the stimuli response relationship.

He should be a person of integrity and faith. The competence and credibility of the reinforcer has an impact of reinforcement on employee behaviour.

Types of reinforcement:

Reinforcement has been differently used for motivating employees as per circumstances and situations. There are four types of reinforcement, viz. positive, negative, punishment and extinction.

Positive reinforcement:

This increases the favourable behaviour of employees. It provides favourable consequences that reinforce the behaviour.

A new computer is given (stimulus) to a clerk who uses it for getting the work done at the earliest in an efficient manner (response).

It creates favourable behaviour, and the employees like to repeat the work with enjoyment. Behaviour is reinforced and the employee wants to do high quality work again and again.

Reinforcement is contingent upon the employee’s favourable behaviour. Positive reinforcement is possible by the positive attitude of the supervisor who provides performance feedback, recognition and rewards to the employees.

Regular feedback and recognition gives the employees positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement gradually shapes behaviour.

Training is considered as an effective method of shaping behaviour. Improved behaviour is reinforcement through recognition and appreciation.

Negative reinforcement:

This is the removal of an unfavourable consequence. Unfavourable behaviour is repeatedly removed till it is avoided.

A mechanic working on machines listens for abnormal sounds and tries to stop the machine to prevent unpredictable danger.

An unfavourable consequence or response is avoided by non­performance. It is like putting two negatives together to make positive reinforcement. It is used to strengthen the desired behaviour.

By negative reinforcement, a mechanic becomes accustomed to the type of noise to prevent a breakdown of the machine.

Thus, negative reinforcement is avoidance learning. It avoids undesired consequences by strengthening the behaviour, unlike positive reinforcement, which stimulates better performance.

Avoidance of risk or unfavourable consequence is as essential as better performance. Negative reinforcement is the avoidance of unfavourable situations. It is not punishment, which discourages any type of behaviour.


This is reprimand to prevent unfavourable consequences. It is used to influence employees not to resort to any undesirable behaviour.

It is used to decrease undesirable behaviour. Positive reinforcement strengthens favourable behaviour.

Punishment retrogrades undesirable behaviour through reprimand which leads to unfavourable consequences.

The response is the unfavourable behaviour and the reprimand is punishment expected to improve the unfavourable behaviour of employees.

Repeated reinforcement of reprimand may discourage employees’ favourable behaviour. It is disciplinary action resorted to by the supervisor to prevent the undesirable behaviour of employees.

Punishment may discourage undesirable behaviour if it is not grave and retaliatory. It does not encourage favourable behaviour.

Moreover, persons punished are unclear about the desired behaviour. Small doses of punishment may prevent unfavourable behaviour and undesired consequences, but continuous and heavy doses of punishment create unhealthy conditions and frustration in the organization.


Extinction is similar to punishment and is the reinforcement to reduce or dominate undesirable behaviour.

Extinction is the withholding of positive reinforcement. It is the absence of reinforcement. With continuous non-reinforcement, undesirable behaviour may disappear or may be totally eliminated.

Extinction does not give any increased results, but avoids unfavourable behaviour. Punishment is an unfavourable consequence or reprimand, and is not avoidance of positive reinforcement.

The basic purpose of any type of reinforcement is to motivate different types of employees under different circumstances.

The reinforcement theory either increases the strength of desired behaviour or decreases the strength of undesired behaviour.

For example, a supervisor gains the benefits of extinction by simply ignoring undesirable behaviour.

The management can achieve the goal of the organization by manipulating favourable or unfavourable consequences.

Schedule of reinforcement:

The manner in which consequences or rewards are given contingent upon employee’s behaviour is known as schedules of reinforcement.

It is the frequency with which the chosen consequence accompanies the desired behaviour. The schedule of reinforcement may be continuous or intermittent.

Continuous reinforcement:

This involves a situation in which behaviour is reinforced each time it occurs. Reinforcement accompanies each correct behaviour by an employee. Such scheduling is desirable to encourage quick learning.

Every time the employee exhibit corrects behaviour, he is rewarded, but it is not feasible to award employee every time he performs correct behaviour.

Therefore, reinforcement is not continuously administered. An example of continuous reinforcement is the piece rate system of wage payment.

Intermittent reinforcement:

This occurs when behaviour is not awarded every time, but is awarded after a time interval or with a ratio.

This reinforcement is considered more effective and useful. It may be an interval schedule or a ratio schedule.

(i) Interval schedule:

This is exercised when reinforcement is used after a passage of time. It may be fixed time or variable time.

A fixed interval schedule involves a constant or fixed amount of time between two reinforcements.

For example, the monthly payment of salary will be variable when reinforcement time is not fixed. It changes from person to person and place to place.

(ii) Ratio schedule:

Ratio schedule is observed when reinforcement occurs after a number of occurrences of desired behaviour.

It may be a fixed rather than variable ratio. When reinforcement is administered after occurrence of a fixed number of desired behaviour, it is a fixed schedule.

Variable ratio has to definite number of occurrences. It may occur at any time, depending on the needs of employees and the organization’s policy.

3. Integrating motivation theories:

We have analyzed several theories for motivation. There is need for integrating these theories to understand their interrelationships.

All the theories have been considered which are influenced by several factors. The administration of reinforcement or reward increases the likelihood of behaviour of motivation. Positive reinforcement is more effective than any other reinforcement or reward.


Effort is the first outcome of motivation. Any motivation should lead to higher effort. The amount of energy a person exerts while performing a job is termed as effort.

A motivated employee exerts more energy for performance within his capacity, ability, experience and willingness.

The organizational environment also shapes the amount of effort. The search and choice of a particular behaviour is also an influencing factor.

Need deficiencies become a drive to exert effort. The expectancy theory expects the employee to make an effort.


Performance is the outcome of effort. It is influenced by the individual ability of the employees and reward expectations.

Performance is governed by search and choice decisions. The equity theory is an influencing point of performance. Reinforcement, learning and experience play a great role in shaping the performance.


Reward depends on performance and organizational policies.


The goal of motivation is to provide satisfaction to employees and achieve organizational objectives.

Feedback helps to understand the reward and goal achievement. Equity and ERG are used to provide feedback to employees to exert more or less effort.

The expectancy theory is applicable to shape the effort-performance-reward-goal relationship. Employees make efforts if they perceive and anticipate a strong relationship between effort and performance, performance and rewards, rewards and satisfaction of personal and organization goals.

The employees must have the requisite ability to perform as desired by them. The performance appraisal system should be fair and correct.

The performance reward relationship is better if the reward is purely based on performance and not other factors such as experience or personal bias.

The cognitive evaluation theory is valid if performance is rewarding. The reward goal relationship should be strengthened for effective motivation.

Existence, relatedness and growth (ERG) theory are applicable for motivating employees. If reward is adequate and growth oriented, employees would exert themselves more and perform better for achieving existence and growth through the relatedness consideration.

The reward received should be consonant with the needs of employees. The equity theory is applicable to influence the performance.

An achiever believes in performance for getting satisfaction. Needs for Achievement (N Ach), needs for Power (N Pow) and Needs for Affiliation (N Aff) influence the effort. Consequently, performance is improved to award the employees.

The role of the organization in integrating motivation theories has been very vital for incorporating different theories in motivation.

Assigning more autonomy and responsibility provides favourable conditions for motivational development.

An organizational climate makes motivational theories more effective. The manager’s role, attitude, size, shape and credibility of the organization influence the motivation process.

Integrating theories have become most effective motivation techniques, which are applied as per individual characteristics, organizational variables, search and choice behaviour and relevant theories of motivation.