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Motivation Theory - Introduction

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012

Motivation in theory - What is motivation?

What is Motivation?

Buchanan defines motivation as follows:

"Motivation is a decision-making process, through which the individual chooses the desired outcomes and sets in motion the behaviour appropriate to them".

How does motivation differ from "motives"

Buchanan defines motives as:

"learned influences on human behaviour that lead us to pursue particular goals because they are valued".

Motivation can therefore be thought of as the degree to which an individual wants AND chooses to engage in certain behaviours.

For example: are you motivated to study? The answer lies in whether you

(1) Want to study - what are the reasons, if so?

(2) Choose to study? - Why are you reading these revision notes? What factors mean that you have taken the decision to study? How much effort do you put in?

Individual behaviour is at the heart of human motivation

Why is individual behaviour so important in trying to understand and then influence motivation?

- Every individual has a set of needs and a different set of goals

- Individuals behave in a way as to satisfy their needs and fulfil their goals

- Therefore, individuals behave differently!

- Businesses, as organisations, are in a position to offer some of the satisfactions that individuals seek:

E.g. - Relationships; sense of belonging; intellectual stimulation; mental & physical challenge; self-development

Why is motivation important for businesses?

It is often said that the best businesses have the best motivated workers. Why might this be important? Because well-motivated employees are usually characterised by:

- Higher productivity (i.e. they produce more for a given level of resources than poorly-motivated workers)

- Better quality work with less wastage

- A greater sense of urgency (things happen quicker - when they need to)

- More employee feedback and suggestions made for improvements (motivated workers take more "ownership" of their work")

- More feedback demanded from superiors and management

- Working at 80-95% of their ability

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