Statt (2000) defines motivation as “a general term for any part of the hypothetical psychological process which involves the experiencing of needs and drives and the behaviour that leads to the goal which satisfies them.” In essence, the motivational theories provide explanations as to why people behave the way they do. This paper explores the importance of motivation as a management skill. In so doing, it delves on the major motivation theories and subsequently identifies which of those theories have been proven effective within the context of management. The structure of this paper is as follows: first, it identifies and explains the following motivation theories: need theories; expectancy theory; equity theory; and goal setting theory. The need theories include the following: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, Alderfer’s ERG Theory, Herzberg’s Dual Structure Theory and David McClelland’s Need Theory. Next, it evaluates the effectiveness of the abovementioned motivation theories in the development of management skills.
In 1953 Viteles insisted that in the absence of a good theoretical foundation, applied research follows a path of trial and error; and becomes misdirected and inefficient. Indeed, there has been a significant body of literature that delved on the theories of motivation. These diverse motivation theories helped identify and determine the myriad of factors that drive people to behave in particular ways. There are numerous motivation theories with more than one may of grouping or classifying them. However, the most common one is to classify them according to four general types, namely: need theory; expectancy theory; equity theory; and goal setting theory. These are considered as the formal motivation theories. Additionally, there are also some informal motivation theories that are classified under the following general classes: (1) Theory X; and (2) Theory Y. A. Need Theories Need theories buttress the assumption that people have “psychological needs arising out of, though going far beyond, basic biological drives like hunger, thirst, sex or the avoidance of pain” Motivation in this case, is referred to the content of satisfying such needs; and the need theories are referred to as the ‘content theories’. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, Alderfer’s ERG Theory, Herzberg’s Dual Structure Theory and David McClelland’s Need Theory all belong to this group of theories. 1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory – According to Maslow, there are five key categories of needs that are arranged in a hierarchy. Needs belonging to the lower levels must be satisfied first, “before the higher level needs become important.” Physiological needs (e.g. food, water, air) occupy the lowest level in the hierarchy. This is followed by the safety needs such as security, freedom from danger, good health, etc. Next, are the social needs which are exemplified by love, affection and group acceptance? Next are the esteem needs which are achieved through “recognition and respect from colleagues and by voiced approval from others.” At the topmost level are self-actualisation needs which are associated with skills and potentialities;
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