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There are many different theories which attempt
to explain human motivation in general, and
motivation at the workplace in particular.
ABR AHAM MASLOW
Maslow expresses human motivation as a
hierarchy of needs:
4 physiological needs: air, food and drink
the need to belong and for love and affection
esteem needs: self-respect and the good
opinion of others
5 self-actualization needs.
Only once lower-level needs are met, are we
concerned about higher-order needs.
See especially Maslow’s Motivation and Personality.
McGregor’s Theory X, Theory Y contrasts two
opposing views about why people work. Which
philosophy is followed will broadly determine an
organization’s management style.
Theory X suggests that people find work
unpleasant, have to be forced to work well, and
have to be told what to do. By contrast, a Theory
Y philosophy claims that work is as natural as
rest or play; that people find it personally
rewarding and fun, and that they will come up
with imaginative solutions to problems.
There are organizations which have become
famous for one approach or the other. The
Semco corporation of Brazil is an example of an
organization where formal management is kept
to a minimum and employees are able to make
most key decisions themselves. Internet start-ups
and high-tech businesses which employ well
qualified and motivated staff are famous for their
relative freedom and lack of hierarchy.
However, it is difficult to see how performing a
boring, repetitive task in unpleasant working
conditions could ever be turned into a Theory Y
activity. It is often only the threat of sanctions or
punishment that motivates people to work and
See the ProFile Student’s site: www.oup.com/elt/profile necessitates a management style which is
These theories appeared in McGregor’s The
Human Side of Enterprise.
Theory Z is a more recent addition by Ouchi
which integrates the Japanese attitude to work
which had evolved from the principles of
kaizen (William Ouchi, Theory Z).
HERZBERG HYGIENE FACTORS
Herzberg stressed the importance of satisfying
what he called the ‘hygiene factors’ of work.
This not only recognized the need to ensure a
safe working environment, but included the
recognition of the importance of fair wages and
supervision in how workers felt about their
employers. What is interesting about Hertzberg
is that he insists that man is more than simply
an economic animal. He emphasizes the
importance of job satisfaction, the sense of
personal development, and recognition as part
of the system of rewards as motivating factors.
This helps to explain why some people will
remain in poorly paid jobs because they derive
personal satisfaction and receive recognition. A
more prestigious-sounding job title can be
more of a motivator than a pay rise.
See especially Herzberg, Mausner, Snyderman,
The Motivation to Work.
We should remember that no single theory can
explain what motivates people at work. In
addition, for most of us, motivation is dynamic
not static. It changes according to our age and
the point we are at in our careers and what
material needs we need to satisfy through
working. More and more companies now allow
employees to choose from among a range of
additional benefits to fit their particular
circumstances. This could include bonuses,
cars, health insurance, childcare, concierge
services where the firm arranges for someone
to do the shopping and everyday chores for
employees. A blend of these different factors
will provide the right motivational mix for the
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- Spring '10
- Management Style, human motivation, Herzberg hygiene factors