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Motivation- Process and Theories

Motivation- Process and Theories

“We can take a horse to water but cannot make it to drink”, so goes a saying. A motive is the inner drive or desire that causes a person to act. What is the importance of motivation in management? Well, I will say motivation is “the thing” and understanding human motivation is crucial in managing people.


Some definitions on motivation:

1. This is a total system of study which analyses human needs, motives, drives which cause a person to act or behave in a particular manner he/she does.

2. It is the stimulation of any emotion or desire operating upon one’s will and prompting or driving it to action-Guillerman

3.”Motivation represents a satisfied need which creates a state of tension or dis-equilibrium causing the individual to move in a goal directed pattern towards restoring a state of equilibrium by satisfying the needs.”-Herzberg

It has been accepted by psychologists world over that all behavior is motivated and revolves around a desire for satisfying certain needs.

Motivation process: 



Theories of Motivation are classified into

· Content theories and

· Process Theories


A. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

B. Herzberg two factor theory

C. Theory ‘X’ and Theory ‘Y’

D. McClelland’s achievement motivation theory

E. Clayton Alderfer’s ERG theory


A. Vroom’s expectancy model

B. Porter-Lawler’s model

C. Adam’s equity theory

Content theories seek to determine what motivates people at work. Priorities are taken into consideration backed up by incentives or goals.

Maslow Need Hierarchy Theory (1943)

Abraham Maslow postulates that human needs can be organized into a hierarchy of prepotency with the physiological needs at the bottom and self-actualization at the top. He states that as each need gets satisfied the person gets motivated to reach the next higher level. As the person moves up the hierarchy, one finds that esteem needs and self-actualization are more of internal in nature and it solely depends on the individual’s drive.

  • Basic needs -85 %
  • Security or safety needs-70%
  • Social needs- 50%
  • Esteem needs-40%
  • Self-actualization-mere 10%

This is the statistics that represents the percentage ratio of satisfaction and once a need is satisfied it “CEASES TO BE A MOTIVATOR.”

· PHYSIOLOGICAL NEEDS-Basic needs for the maintenance of body processes such as hunger, thirst, sex and sleep. When these are satisfied, the higher order needs emerge, which dominate a person’s behavior.

· SAFETY NEEDS– Needs like freedom from physical harm, need for orderly life and economic security

· SOCIAL NEEDS– These emerge when the basic needs are satisfied and denote love, affection and belongingness.

· ESTEEM NEEDS– Needs referring to strength, achievement, adequacy and also needs which pertain to recognition, appreciation and achievement. Man values self esteem based on one’s own abilities on one hand, and recognition and reputation on the other.

· NEED FOR SELFACTUALISTION– When all the above mentioned needs are satisfied the need for self actualization arises. This need is described as the need to become everything that one is capable of becoming.


· There is little empirical evidence to support this theory though it is very popular.

· This theory talks only about the needs from an individual’s perspective and does not link it with organizational objectives.

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