The Only Motivation Theory

published in: Leadership

19 Mar

Most motivation theories have a more general nature, because they explore the individuals as a complex human beings, and not as workforce.

John Galbraith (1908-2006)
is one of the few whose motivation theory focuses on corporate issues. In his book, The New Industrial State, he identifies the four levels of motivation as:

  • compulsion
  • pecuniary reward
  • identification
  • adaptation
It is worth to follow Galbraith's thinking on the historical origin and the present effects of these various forms of motivation.  Power, he explains, was once associated with land and compulsion was the instrument. When power passed to capital and the factory system, pecuniary motivation came to the fore. Lastly, "Identification and adaptation are associated with the technostructure." When the great land owners held serfs, they compelled their labor with physical violence.  But later, slaves worked poorly in factories; wages were more conducive to higher productivity.  Nowadays technicians hold power in corporations, neither compulsion nor salary are the prime motivators.  Identification of personal goals with the organizations goals and adaptation to the organization for the personal power it provides are the primary motivatiators.
Compulsion and pecuniary rewards are very clear: the slave worked to avoid the lash, the wage earner works for money.
Identification: "The individual, on becoming associated with the group, may conclude that its goals are superior to his own." To some extend, he voluntarily replaces his individual goals with company objectives.
Adaptation: the person goes along with a company mainly because he hopes to be able to get control and influence the direction of the effort according to his own plans. A politician, for example, works hard for the success of his party, not because he is always in 100% agreement, but because he thinks he can advance his own causes by being a good soldier and eventually rising to a position of command.

motivation theory, motivation
Motivations have different impact on different categories of individuals involved with the company. According to Galbraith’s model:

• ordinary shareholders
’ motivation are the dividends
• production workers –
percuniary reward (salary) and identification, depending on their role in the production process and their participation in the management of the company
• professionals (engineers, programmers,
team leaders), and
• management - the role of identification and adaptation of objectives increases with approaching to the center.

Identification and adaptation, Galbraith's terms for the higher forms of motivation, may also be called intrinsic enjoyment and the grasp for power.  Or they can be termed, espirit de corpse and command. Or perhaps the spirit of good workmanship and authority.  These cannot be bought with money although they are not incompatible with it.  But compulsion makes identification impossible. The broad rule holds, says Galbraith:  "What is compelled cannot be a matter of choice. Alienation, not identification, will be the normal result."  "The serf, slave or prison occupant takes the goals of the organization with which he is associated as given and, eccentric cases apart, is alienated from them all. He does only what avoids punishment."  As workmen's security has risen with the ability to find other jobs, with unemployment compensation and welfare, the element of compulsion has lessened. Slavery has disappeared.  With the drop in the amount of compulsion, the beginnings of identification can be combined with wage payments.  But so long as compulsion is prominent, the stage is set for disagreeable behavior by both the compelled and those who force them.
Beyond a certain point, money reward begins to lose its motivating power.  A highly paid corporation executive does not work harder if his salary is increased from say $25,000 a month to $30,000.  It is assumed that he was giving his best for the lower figure.  Indeed he would be insulted if anyone thought that the money was more important to him than the the company success.  Not only could he get a comparable return in another corporation quite easily, but his investments and savings could carry him for a long time should he prefer to look about or take an extended vacation.  He is motivated because he has identified his goals with those of the company and works because he enjoys having "his" company prosper.  He may also hope to become a vice-president someday and influence the company to diversify into a number of fields that he thinks are important for the company and that interest him personally.
And to make our life easier when building motivation system in our company we should take into consideration that the motivation is also influenced by culture, personal wealth of the individual, his education, qualification, company status, etc.

The key to building an effective working
motivation system lies in studying the interests and needs of the individuals under our direct subordination and tailor the incentives accordingly.

If you're still reading, you
have noticed that I have not answered yet the question, originating fromf the title -why "the only theory of motivation? I admit that the full text of the title should be "the only theory of motivation, which I will discuss till 2011". But I decided that the latter is not attractive enough  .

If you have interest in the various theories of motivation,
here is a list of links for you.
Academic theories about motivation:
  1. Acquired Needs Theory: we seek power, achievement or affiliation.
  2. Affect Perseverance: Preference persists after disconfirmation.
  3. Attitude-Behavior Consistency: factors that align attitude and behavior.
  4. Attribution Theory: we need to attribute cause, that supports our ego.
  5. Cognitive Dissonance: non-alignment is uncomfortable.
  6. Cognitive Evalution Theory: we select tasks based on how doable they are.
  7. Consistency Theory: we seek the comfort of internal alignment.
  8. Control Theory: we seek to control the world around us.
  9. Disconfirmation bias: Agreeing with what supports beliefs and vice versa.
  10. ERG Theory: We seek to fulfill needs of existence, relatedness and growth.
  11. Escape Theory: We seek to escape uncomfortable realities.
  12. Expectancy Theory: We are motivated by desirable things we expect we can achieve.
  13. Extrinsic Motivation: external: tangible rewards.
  14. Goal-Setting Theory: different types of goals motivate us differently.
  15. Intrinsic Motivation: internal: value-based rewards.
  16. Investment Model: our commitment depends on what we have invested.
  17. Opponent-Process Theory: opposite emotions interact.
  18. Positive psychology: What makes us happy.
  19. Reactance Theory: discomfort when freedom is threatened.
  20. Self-Determination Theory: External and internal motivation.
  21. Self-Discrepancy Theory: we need beliefs to be consistent.
  22. Side Bet Theory: aligned side-bets increase commitment to a main bet.
  23. The Transtheoretical Model of Change: Stages in changing oneself.




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