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Motivation Theory Cheat Sheet by

A Brief Introduction to Motivation Theory

Content vs. Process

Maslow, Alderfer, Herzberg and McCelland studied motivation from a “content” perspe­ctive.
Content Theories deal with “what” motivates people and it is concerned with individual needs and goals.
Vroom, Porter & Lawler, Adams and Locke studied motivation from a “process” perspe­ctive.
Process Theories deal with the “process” of motivation and is concerned with “how” motivation occurs.

Content: Incentive Theory

Employee will increase effort to obtain a reward
Based on principle of reinfo­rcement
Outcome is usually money
Based on theory that man is rational, based on 'economic man'

Content: Herzbergs Two Factor Theory

Hygine Factors
create dissat­isf­action if indivi­duals perceive them as inadequate or inequi­table, yet indivi­duals will not be signif­icantly motivated if these factors are viewed as adequate or good. Salery, job security, working conditions
intrinsic factors such as sense of achiev­ement, recogn­ition, respon­sib­ility, and personal growth.
Hygiene factors determine dissat­isf­action
Motivators determine satisf­action

Two Factor Diagram


Content: Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

According to this theory, individual strives to seek a higher need when lower needs are fulfilled.
1st physio­logical needs
Basic survival needs, such as air, water and food.
2nd safety needs
personal security, health, well-being and safety
3rd belonging
Sense of belonging and accept­ance. Relati­ons­hips, families and friend­ship.
4th self-e­steem needs
Be respected / self respect
5th self-a­ctu­ali­zation needs

Heirarchy of needs diagram

Content: Alderfers ERG Theory

Physio­logical and Safety needs are merged in Existence Needs,
Belonging needs is named as Relate­dness Needs,
Self-e­steem and Self-a­ctu­ali­zation needs are merged in Growth Needs
Growth, Relate­dness, Existence

ERG diagram


Content: McClel­lands Achiev­ement Need Theory

Three basic needs that people develop and acquire from their life experi­ences .
Needs for achiev­ement
Seeks achiev­ement and tries to attain challe­nging goals. Strong need for feedback as to achiev­ement and progress, and a need for a sense of accomp­lis­hment
Needs for affili­ation
High need for affili­ation needs harmonious relati­onships
Needs for power:
Wants to direct and command other people
Although these categories of needs are not exlusive, generally indivi­duals develop a dominant bias or emphasis towards one of the three needs. Entrep­reneurs usually have high degree of achivement needs.

Process: Adams Equity Theory

If individual feels rewards are fair then they feel satisfied.
Adams says employees seek to maintain equity between the inputs that they bring to a job and the outcomes recieved.
Measure against the perceived inputs and outcomes of others.

Process: Expectancy Theory

Expect­ancy: E -> P
belief that effort (E) will result in attainment of desired perfor­mance (P) goals.
Instru­men­tality: P -> R
belief of reward (R) if perfor­mance (P) expect­ation is met
Value of the reward according to the person
Suggests human behaviour is directed by subjective probab­ility.

Process: Goal Theory

Proposes motivation and perfor­mance high if goals are challe­nging, but accepted, and feedback is given.
Two important findings:
Setting specific goals
= higher perfor­mance than general goals
The goals that are hard to achieve
are linearly and positively connected to perfor­mance. The harder the goal, the more a person will work to reach it.


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