What is motivation? What are its characteristics? What are its types?


Motivation is inducement for better performance toward goal achievement. It is the act of stimulating or energizing employees for higher performance. It is willingness to exert high level of effort to satisfy individual needs. It is an inner state that energizes, directs and sustains behavior toward goal achievement.
Motivation can be extrinsic which is externally induced. It can be intrinsic which is self-generated. Financial incentive for a job well done is extrinsic. Sense of satisfaction for a job well done is intrinsic.
According to Ricky Griffin,” Motivation is the set of forces that cause people to behave in certain ways”.


1.       Psychological process:

 Motivation is concerned with individual needs, motives and drives. It is a psychological process. It is an internal state that guides behavior.
2.       Complex and unpredictable: Motivation is complex. It is difficult to predict due to individual differences.
3.       Concerned with whole individual: 
Motivation is concerned with individual. The total individual is motivated, not the parts of individual.
4.       Continuous process: Motivation is a continuous process. Individuals have many needs. When one need is satisfied, another emerges.
5.       Situational: Motivation is situational. It differs from person to person and time to time. It can be expressed differently.
6.       Pervasive: Motivation is the task of all levels of managers. All managers need to motivate subordinates for higher productivity.
7.       Goal oriented: Motivation leads to action. It involves efforts to achieve goals.
8.       Positive or Negative: Motivation can be positive or negative. Positive motivation is based on incentives and reward for better performance. Negative motivation is based on punishment for poor performance.
9.       Intrinsic or Extrinsic: Motivation is intrinsic if self-generated. It is extrinsic if generated by external incentives such as money.


There are two important theories of motivation and they are:
1.       Hierarchy of Needs theory
2.       Motivation-Hygiene theory

1.       Theory of Hierarchy of Needs (Abraham Maslow)

Maslow advocated hierarchy of needs theory. It states that needs motivate individuals. Human needs are arranged in a hierarchy. A person progresses step-by-step up the need hierarchy. Most pressing needs are satisfied first.

The basic premises of Maslow’s theory are:
a)      Man is a wanting being: Man continuously wants more and more. No need is ever fully satisfied. When one need is satisfied, another emerges. Needs activate individuals to work. They influence behavior. They motivate for greater efforts.
b)      Satisfied needs do not motivate: This is the deficit principle of motivation. A satisfied need does not motivate.
c)       Needs have a hierarchy: Human needs are arranged in a hierarchy. Needs are satisfied in an order.
This is the progressive principle of motivation. People have a set of five needs. They are:
·         Physiological needs
·         Safety needs
·         Social needs
·         Esteem needs
·         Self-actualization needs.
Physiological and safety needs are lower order needs. They are most pressing. Social, esteem and self-actualization needs are higher order needs. They are least pressing.


a)      Motivation is need-based. Satisfaction of needs motivates people. All employees have needs.
b)      Satisfied needs do not motivate. Only unsatisfied needs make people willing to work. The degree of need satisfaction is not rigid. It varies from person to person.
c)       Managers should endeavour to satisfy the unsatisfied needs of employees for motivation purposes.
d)      Higher order needs provide higher motivation.


a)      Research has failed to verify the hierarchical arrangement of needs.
b)      People are motivated not only by needs but also by perception, expectation and experience.
c)       Multiplicity of needs rather than a single need may motivate people.
d)      Situational factors have been neglected. This theory does not provide a complete basis for dealing with motivation.

2.       Motivation-Hygiene theory (Frederick Herzberg)

Herzberg advocated Motivation-Hygiene theory of motivation. It states that not all job factors motivate employees. As individual’s attitude toward job determines satisfaction. Job satisfaction has two different dimensions. They are:
a)      Hygiene factors: They are extrinsic factors. They are related to job context. The absence of these factors maintains job satisfaction. These factors do not motivate. The factors are:
i)                    Company policy and administration
ii)                   Technical supervision
iii)                 Interpersonal relations
iv)                 Salary
v)                  Job security
vi)                 Personal life
vii)               Work conditions
viii)              Status

b)      Motivating factors: They are intrinsic factors. They are related to job content. The presence of these factors cause job satisfaction. But the absence of these factors does not lead to job dissatisfaction. These factors motivate. The factors are:
i)                    Achievement
ii)                   Recognition
iii)                 Work itself
iv)                 Responsibility
v)                  Advancement
vi)                 Growth


a)      The traditional view regarded that the opposite of satisfaction was dissatisfaction. Herzberg concluded that this view was incomplete.
The motivation-hygiene theory introduced the concept of two continuums. Motivating factors had a continuum ranging from satisfaction to no satisfaction. Hygiene factors had continuum ranging from dissatisfaction to no dissatisfaction.
b)      Job content is important for motivation. Job enrichment should be used for motivation. Jobs should be made interesting and challenging.
c)       Managers should have a two-step approach to motivation:
i)                    Ensure that hygiene factors that cause dissatisfaction are eliminated. Pay and security must be appropriate. Working conditions must be safe.
ii)                   Give employee opportunities to experience motivating factors, such as achievement and recognition. Job enrichment technique should be used for motivation.


Strengths (pros):
a)      This theory is popular and well known.
b)      It increased awareness about importance of motivation in the work place.
c)       It increased enthusiasm for job enrichment as a technique for motivation.

a)      The research methodology of the theory has been subject of criticism. Subsequent research has not validated the theory.
b)      Herzberg’s findings are subject to different explanations.
c)       Hygiene and motivating factors are not wholly unidirectional.
d)      Situational factors are ignored by this theory.
e)      The theory provides explanations only about job satisfaction.


Both theories are based on needs. Maslow describes needs. Herzberg describes factors that make a person satisfied or dissatisfied with his job. Herzberg’s factors fit with Maslow’s needs.
a)      Maslow has need hierarchy. Higher order needs become operational after the satisfaction of lower order needs. Herzberg thinks all needs are operational at all times. There is no hierarchy of needs.
b)      Maslow thinks unsatisfied needs motivate. Herzberg thinks that only the higher order needs (esteem, self-actualization) motivate.
c)       Maslow’s theory is descriptive. Herzberg’s theory is prescriptive.
d)      Maslow’s theory is a macro view of relevant to all workers. Herzberg’s theory is a micro view relevant to work related motivation of professional workers.


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