miércoles, 1 de septiembre de 2010


Summary of the text "Employees motivation theories developed at an international level"
Lefter Viorel, Manolescu Aurel, Marinas Cristian Virgil and Puia Ramona Stefania.

According to the authors, "motivation is one of the main factors that determine the work performance of employees", but we must differentiate this from stimulus,in the way that motivation can be for instance, the main reason for achieving something or to chose to act in a certain manner.

There are different theories exposed by different authors. We will explain each of them:

  • Maslow's Hierarchy of needs: Abraham Maslow, the american humanist psychologist published in 1954 a research paper in which he worked for 13 years. In this paper, he develops a "Theory of Motivation" in which he classifies people needs in 5 categories,and place them into a pyramid, these categories are in order from bottom to top: physiological needs, needs of security and safety, social needs, needs of self-esteem and the needs of self-actualization. He states that people tend to satifsty the needs place in the bottom first, and then the ones at the next level become dominant and in this way they move up from one need to another, but in some cases, the inferior rank still exists and they go back to previous statisfied needs.
    This theory has had a great influence over organizations but at the same time has been very criticized because people are different and have different priorities.
  • Two factors theory: Developed by Frederick Hezberg, this theory states that "motivation and increase of work performance can only be obtained through the action of the motivational factors, which directly reflect the content of the executed work by the employee on his possition." He reached this conclusion, by studying a group of engineers and accountants for a certain period of time, and interviewing them in a regular basis, he aimed to find out the causes for satisfaction or disatisfaction at work, at the end, he related satisfaction to positive periods of work including promotions, achivements, etc. On the other hand, disatisfactions were related to frustration that could have been caused by different factors of the organisation such as the company's policy, management, salary, etc.
  • Theory X and Theory Y: The author of this motivational theory is Mr. Douglas McGregor, in his work, he states that all the employees are separated in two different categories. The X category or theory, says that the X employee is the one that lacks of ambition, avoids work and commitment to the company as much as possible, resists to change. This type of employee must be threatened with punishements, controlled and penalized in order to comply with his objectives. The Y employee is the total opposite, is very commited to work, consider normal making intellectual and physical efforts at work and likes to get involved in different responsabilities by being motivated by the associated rewards. He doesn't have to be threatened or forced in order to comply with his objectives and goals in the company.
There are also other theories that are focused on the precesses and on the psychological forces that have an effect on motivation, these theories are called "Process theories". The main ones are:

  • The expectancy theory: Developed by Porter and Lawler, states that " there is a connection between the employee's motivation and the certitude of their expectancies". There is motivation when there is a relationship between the work performance and its results and at the same time when this results satisfy a need.
  • The goal setting theory: Developed by Lotham and Locke, states that the employee's motivation level is higher when the employee set goals and even if they are difficult they are accepted and performance feedback is provided.
  • The equity theory: States that people is more motivated when they are treated fairly and less motivated when there is no equity in the treat among the employees.
  • The theory of group personality and group needs: States that, the group resemble individuals in the way tha they develop a personality and share common needs. There are 3 areas of needs in the groups, 2 of them are properties of the group as a whole, which are: the need to accomplish the common task and the need be maintained as a cohesive social unity. The third are is the sum of the individual needs of the group members.

There is a new theory of motivation developed by Mr. Adair named the Fifty-fifty rule, in this theory, he states that "a substantial part of motivation lies within a person, while a substantial part lies outside and beyond its control". This theory takes into account the internal perspective of the employee and its motivational factors and the external perspective as well in which the environment affects somehow its motivation.

The European Employee Index:

Was developed in the northern European countries (Sweden, Denmark and Norway) in oreder to link the employee's satistactcion, sense of loyalty and motivation to another factors directly related to their perception of the job and the working environment. This factors were classified in 7 dimensions that managers can work on in order to improve motivation among its employees. The dimensions are:
  • Reputation: perception of the general knowledge of the organisation
  • Senior management: perception of general direction of the organisation
  • Immediate superior: quality of management offered by the immediate superiors
  • Cooperation: quality of interaction among people in the organisation
  • Daily work: perception of the specific content of their daily activities at the workplace
  • Total remuneration: perception of the elements involved in their compensation by doing their job.
  • Development: perception of the individual acquisition of competences
"No matter the country, the development of human resources adn the daily activity are very important factors for increasing employee's satisfaction."

The Hawthorne studies

These studies were carried out in the early XIX century by the Western Electric company at their Hawthorne's plant. There was a trend of doing this type of studies in American companies by Scientific Management, a school of thinking developed by Frederick Taylor. They aimed to analyze the best way that a worker could perform certain task. The studies consisted in breaking down tasks in smaller and simpler duties for employees, aiming to analyze the variables that could improve efficiency like for instance, the time they spent in each of them, how many breaks they have and how often, how much water to drink, etc.

The company also studied how the physical environment affected the employee's productivity, for instance, at first they focused on evaluating the changes in productivity according to changes in lighting, in order to find the optimum level of light that would lead to maximum productivity, but they also tried by modifying other variables such as music, working hours, temperature, compensation schemes, etc.

Other factors that showed success in increasing productivity was that the employees sometimes felt monitorized so they performed better and also they felt that they were treated in a special way from managers so that had a positive effect in their motivation. To have clean working stations and obstacle free seemed to worked quite good as well.

Personally, I find very important and interesting the studies conducted in this factory, in order to pay attention to small details in companies, that managers usually don't spent too much time on, and how can a small variation on these details cause a big difference in terms of productivity and motivation at the extent that perhaps it can become a competitive advantage for the company. In order to have a big impact in productivity or in some other key areas of a company, one doesn't need to make massive changes in the organizational structure or in other aspects that have already been created, that is why, one has to take into account the studies that have already been carried on and what were the outcomes, in order to know that maybe by making a little change in a very normal and basic aspect of a company one can obtain a big difference in productivity and performance converting it into a important competitive advantage.

These studies also could have been used by the authors of the different motivation theories regarding the external and the internal factors that affect motivation at work, in order to prove and argument their founded theories.

"Flight 001: Motivating employees": Which motivation theory do you think has the most relevance for understanding the behavior of Griffin and fostering her motivation at work?

There are many theories that could fit this case, regarding the motivation issue. But in my personal opinion, the one that fits better is the X and Y Theory, explained before in the blog and developed by Mr. Douglas McGregor, in this context, we can state that, at first, Griffin was located in the X theory, in which, she didn't feel motivated at all, she felt that she could have been replaced at any time, she wasn't very attached to the organisation and wasn't very commited with doing much effort. She felt like if they didn't care about her then why should her care?

When she was moved to the other area of the company, she felt pretty comfortable and that her role in the company was important indeed, that her ideas were taken into account, for that reason she felt much more motivated towards work. This can be explained under the Y theory, because she felt that she could put a lot of more effort at her job and she was very commited to it. We can see that it was a positive change for her, that resulted also in a positive change for the company regarding productivity and that didn't need a lot to do it, just to give attention to employee's behavior.

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