To develop an answer to the question, what best explains people's willingness to work hard? it is necessary to look at some of the most influential motivational theories. However, before this, it is vital to have a clear understanding of the development of thought that led the progression from the early theories, to the widely accepted theories that are still valid today.
Of course, this question has plagued managers for hundreds of years, far longer than it has been debated by organisational behaviour theorists.
Adam Smith, the hugely influential economist, is the starting point that will be taken.
Edgar F. Huse (1973) makes a link between the ideologies of Adam Smith and F. W. Taylor. He argued that Smith's model of the Economic Man, (1776), whose main motivation to work is money, but has indifference towards social aspects or feelings, has close similarities to Taylor's concept of the Rational-Economic Man, (1911), who is:
motivated primarily by money he is lazy, the manager needs to tightly supervise and control (his) activities (1973, p58)
Furthermore, Edgar H. Schein attempts to investigate the reasoning of the similarities of the ideologies of Smith and Taylor:
Early theories of employee motivation were almost completely dominated by the assumption that the only incentives available to managers are monetary ones because the only essential motivation of employees was assumed to be economic self-interest. (1992, p125)
[...] There are two process theories that shall be discussed, which should help to explain people's willingness to work hard. The first of these is Adams' ‘Equity Theory' (1965). This theory, developed by Adams and his associates, tries to find how people's level of motivation changes when they realise they are being treated unequally compared to others. When a person compares the treatment of another to their own, the person they compare with is known as the “social referent” It is presumed that when people notice that others are being treated better than them, (e.g. [...]
[...] Alderfer developed the ERG theory, (1972) which can be considered to be more of a refinement to Maslow's work than a completely original theory. Alderfer reduced the number of different levels of needs from 5 to 3. From taking into account Huse and Fincham & Rhodes, it is possible to roughly mark the similarities between Alderfer and Maslow's need categories: Alderfer's needs Maslow's needs Existence Physiological Security Relatedness Social Self-esteem Growth Self-actualisatio n These needs basically encompass the needs of Maslow, but are categorised differently. [...]
[...] and Rhodes, P. (2005) Principles of Organizational Behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gray, J. L. (1984) Organizational Behaviour: Concepts and Applications. London: Merrill. Holloway, W (1992) Work Psychology and Organizational Behaviour. London: Sage Publications. Huse, E. F. (1973) Behavior in [...]
[...] Thus, both content and process theories are vital in helping to explain why people work hard. As far as the content theories go, Fincham and Rhodes (2005, p193) regard Maslow's ‘hierarchy of needs' theory, (1954) as the most influential content theory. Maslow did not create his theory specifically to be related to job motivation: however, it is not difficult to see how it can be interpreted for use in a business environment: it can be used by managers to try and motivate employees: Fincham and Rhodes (p199) use the example of providing company sports or social facilities to satisfy the employees' social needs, or providing a greater challenge, or more autonomy to appeal to the workers' self-esteem needs. [...]
[...] This theory can enable the calculation of a motivation to increase effort, and thus work harder. The calculation of motivation is done using the following formula: Motivational Force = ( (valence instrumentality expectancy To give an example to this formula, if a worker believes that there is a 25% chance that increasing their effort will result in increased performance, the value for expectancy is as this is expressed in a decimal. In this example, there are two rewards: a pay bonus or an afternoon off work. [...]
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