Theories of Motivation


Maslow’s need hierarchy theory

Abraham Maslow defined need as a physiological or psychological deficiency that a person feels the compulsion to satisfy. This need can create tensions that can influence a person’s work attitudes and behaviors. Maslow formed a theory based on his definition of need that proposes that humans are motivated by multiple needs and that these needs exist in a hierarchical order. His premise is that only an unsatisfied need can influence behavior; a satisfied need is not a motivator.

Maslow’s theory is based on the following two principles:

  • Deficit principle: A satisfied need no longer motivates behavior because people act to satisfy deprived needs.
  • Progression principle: The five needs he identified exist in a hierarchy, which means that a need at any level only comes into play after a lower-level need has been satisfied.

In his theory, Maslow identified five levels of human needs. Table 1 illustrates these five levels and provides suggestions for satisfying each need.


TABLE 1  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs

Higher Level Needs

To Satisfy, Offer:

Self-actualization needs Creative and challenging work
Participation in decision making
Job flexibility and autonomy
Esteem needs Responsibility of an important job
Promotion to higher status job
Praise and recognition from boss
Lower Level Needs To Satisfy, Offer:
Social needs Friendly coworkers
Interaction with customers
Pleasant supervisor
Safety needs Safe working conditions
Job security
Base compensation and benefits
Physiological needs Rest and refreshment breaks
Physical comfort on the job
Reasonable work hours


Megregor’s  theory x and theory y

The nature of people has been expressed in two sets of assuption Theory X and theory Y are two sets of assumptions about nature of people

Theory X assumptions

  • Average human beings have an inherent dislike of work and will avoid if they can.
  • Due to this, most people must be controlled, Directed and threatened with punishment to get them to put forth adequate effort toward the achievement of organization goal
  • Average human beings prefer to be directed, wish to avoid responsibility, have relatively little ambition and want security above all.

Theory Y assumptions

  • The expenditure of physical effort and mental effort in work is natural
  • External control and the threat of punishment are not the only means for producing effort toward organizational objectives. People will exercise self direction and self control in the service of objectives to which they are committed.
  • The degree of commitment to objectives is in proportion to the size of rewards associated with their achievement
  • Average human beings learn under proper conditions not only to accept responsibility but also to seek it.


Theory X and Y


  • Theory X: Pessimistic, static and rigid- control must be imposed
  • Theory Y: Optimistic, Dynamic and flexible-Self direction


 Herzberg’s two- factor model.

Frederick Herzberg offers another framework for understanding the motivational implications of work environments.

In his two-factor theory, Herzberg identifies two sets of factors that impact motivation in the workplace:

  • Hygiene factors include salary, job security, working conditions, organizational policies, and technical quality of supervision. Although these factors do not motivate employees, they can cause dissatisfaction if they are missing. Something as simple as adding music to the office place or implementing a no-smoking policy can make people less dissatisfied with these aspects of their work. However, these improvements in hygiene factors do not necessarily increase satisfaction.
  • Satisfiers or motivators include such things as responsibility, achievement, growth opportunities, and feelings of recognition, and are the key to job satisfaction and motivation. For example, managers can find out what people really do in their jobs and make improvements, thus increasing job satisfaction and performance.





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