May 192015

Contemporary Theories of Motivation

Early motivation theories were based on the assumptions and sometime these theories were not supported by strong evidence. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a good example of this approach. Therefore, alternative theories of motivation have been put forward over time.

 Self-determination theory

Self-determination theory of motivation and argues that people often seek control of their actions.

 Goal setting theory

Goal setting theory is based on the view that challenging objectives should aid and improve workplace performance. In this theory, it is assumed that an employee is committed to the firm’s goals and desires to make a positive contribution. It is important that the set goals are also perceived as achievable.

Self-efficacy theory

Self-efficacy theory is based upon an employee’s view about their ability to perform the tasks of their job role. This theory is also known as social learning theory or social cognitive theory.

If an employee has a high self-efficacy, then they will be more confident and have a greater chance of success. In more challenging situations, employees with a low self-efficacy will often have a reduction in their job performance levels.

According to the Albert Bandura, self-efficacy can be increased by four ways such as:

  1.  Vicarious modeling
  2. Enactive mastery
  3. Arousal
  4. Verbal persuasion

 Reinforcement theory

Reinforcement theory refers that to behavior or an attitude is a function of its outcomes or consequences. That is, the theory suggests that the outcomes of behaviour (positive or negative) will either reinforce (or modify if a negative outcome) ongoing behavior.

Equity theory

Equity theory is where employees compare their job inputs and outputs with others in the organisation – primarily in an attempt to reduce the perceived inequities.

If the employees find inequities they seek resolve them by:

  • Changing the inputs
  • Changing the outcomes
  • Distorting perceptions of themselves
  • Distorting perceptions of others
  • Quitting their job

Expectancy theory

Expectancy theory is the tendency to act in a particular way based upon a preconceived expectation of the likely outcome.

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