Motivation deals with the understanding of what makes people work and the approaches to making people work (Donnelly, Gibson, & Ivancevich, 1992). The process of motivation can be described as a three-stage cycle. It starts with an unsatisfied need of an individual. Such an unsatisfied need would cause physical or psychological tension within the individual. In order to reduce the tension, the individual would engage in certain goal-directed behavior so as to satisfy the need. Once the goal is achieved and therefore the need is satisfied, the process of motivation is complete. However, a new (unsatisfied) need would usually arise. The process of motivation would then repeat. Certainly, there will be exceptions to the motivation process. For some employees, the unachieved goal and unsatisfied need would result in anxiety or stress, rather than motivation.
Since F. W. Taylor (1856-1915) launched the scientific management movement during late nineteenth century, there have been many schools of thought on how to motivate workers so as to improve productivity. Basically, there are two types of models for the traditional motivation theories: the content models and the process models. The content models include F. W. Taylor’s scientific management, Elton Mayo’s human relations theory, the path-goal frameworks such as A. H. Maslow’s (1954) theory of hierarchy of needs, and Frederick Herberg’s (1968) dual factor theory, and more recent Theory X, Theory Y, and Theory Z. The process models, on the other hand, include the expectancy concepts by Kurt Lewin and E. C. Tolman, B. F. Skinner’s reinforcement theory, Victor Vroom’s valence/expectancy model, and so forth. Although called the process models, these theories, in fact, advocate management by results. They believe that the motivation power comes from results.
Taylor’s Scientific Management
The goal concept is implicit in Taylor’s scientific management theory. In addition to the ideas such as time and motion study, work methods, incentive pay, and so forth, the concept of task assignment also serves as an important cornerstone of scientific management. The assignment of a specific amount of work to be accomplished by employees actually sets a goal or objective for the task. Such a goal concept indeed became the “motivation” for the later development of the management by objectives (MBO) concept. On the other hand, the path-goal framework argues that people will work for the attainment of a goal which they value and/or which they expect they can achieve. Two models of this framework were developed by A. M. Maslow and Frederick Herzberg, respectively.