Motivation: Two Views of a

Although his theory is not necessarily incompatible with Maslow and Alderfers ideas, Herzberg places less emphasis on basic needs, and more upon using higher, internal needs to elicit optimal performance from the individual.

One common objection to theories of human motivation, of course, is that different types of people appear to be motivated by different things. For example, one teacher may choose his or her position because of job security, while another teacher may be more motivated by the idea of changing childrens lives. This means that different strategies must be deployed in motivating people within the same organization or within different professions: a salesperson may be motivated by different things than a professor. “According to David McClellands an individuals specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by ones life experiences. Most of these needs can be classed as either achievement, affiliation, or power” (McClellands theory of needs, 2010, Net MBA). McClelland, however, believed that such personality-based needs could be altered — an individualistic achievement-driven manager could be inspired to a more affiliation-driven style, for example, in the right organization. The reason for McClellands philosophical differences with Maslow and his cohorts, however, may be that he seems to assume the satisfaction of certain basic needs (like having a salary that pays the bills) and instead focuses on motivational nuances to bring the employee to an optimal level of performance.

Other theorists view the human psyche as even more malleable than McClelland: expectancy theory suggests that human beings fulfill expectations set for them, in the sense that they behave as well or as badly as managers anticipate.

An employee may be more rather than less likely to cheat a company if he or she is under constant surveillance, for example — although if pilferage is widely practiced, this may also encourage employees to steal. Setting a positive example and creating the expectation that the organization expects the employee to behave in an honorable manner is more influential, according to expectancy theory. Human beings are social animals shaped by their environments.

Equity theory also reflects perhaps the most malleable view of the human character. In this theory, employee expectations are shaped by what they see as fair in their environment. For example, an investment banker making a six-figure salary may regard his or her bonus as paltry, compared with his or her colleagues, and feel just as motivated to act out in negative ways as someone not having their basic needs met in another organization. Employee expectations and motivations are created by the workplace environment. Thus, according to equity theory, setting a general company policy, such as Googles lack of organizational hierarchy and generous free benefits for all employees regardless of rank, is a more profoundly motivational technique than giving some high-performing power-driven employees access to the executive bathroom (as reinforcement theory or McClellands theories might suggest), which could cause resentment amongst other employees.


Herzbergs Two-Factor theory. (2010). Net MBA. Retrieved February 23, 2010.

McClellands theory of needs. (2010). Net MBA. Retrieved February 23, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *