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Motivation in different cultures Essay

There has been general upsurge in cultures and managerial research in the last decade or so. Despite this fact, empirical studies on culture dimensions to management practices across cultures have been limited in numbers and scope. In few countries, very limited knowledge about its cultural values and the consequences it poses for motivation is known. A major question is whether the drawback of universal theories could explain for the disappointing economic development of various countries. A few reports suggest that there is difference in application of motivational theories in different parts of the world.

In view of these differences, untrimmed Western management models may not be very appropriate for adoption all over the world, in general without recourse to the prevailing local cultural values. The suggestion is made to look for appropriate and suitable management models for different cultures by studying the relatively more successful local companies and institutions. Key words: Motivation, Management, Cultures, Values INTRODUCTION: Motivation has kept people in crises going throughout centuries; it has been the cause of increased standards of living, success, fortune, and satisfaction.

Most leaders throughout history have used varying techniques of motivation and persuasion. The same is true for successful managers. According to many, the role of motivation in the work environment has great value. Many studies have evolved around various motivational techniques for directing employees towards desired goals. However, “the challenge to management is to recognize and understand the impact of various motivational systems on individual and group behavior within an organised work endeavor.

The success or failure of motivation rests not only on the technique but also on management’s ability to match the needs of people with appropriate rewards” –Todes, 1977. Motives are needs, which force people to move towards goals, or point they define. Studies of motivation have tried to respond to the ‘why’ of the human behavior, which is directed towards a goal and the need for that goal. Hersey and Blanchard (1977) noted that motives can be defined as needs, wants, drives, or impulses within the individual which are

directed towards goals which may be conscious or subconscious. Freud long ago discovered the importance of subconscious motivation; in order words, people are not always aware of everything they want (Hersey and Blanchard, 1977). Dickson (1973) stated that employees are not motivated solely by money but by other factors, which is linked to their behaviour and attitudes. Many theories of motivation have been developed with the understanding of how employees’ behaviours can be energized positively and how they can better be directed to achieve desired objectives.

The relevance of cultures to management with the sole purpose of contributing to a culturally feasible motivation theory building across cultures is to be known. Motivation practice in different societies requires identification of the ‘growth-positive’ and ‘growth-negative’ culture based-factors. Defining motivation: According to Stephen (2000), motivation is the willingness to exert a persistent and high level of effort towards organizational goals, conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some individual needs. Motivation theories are classified into two groups: ‘content theories’ and ‘process theories’.

Content theories explore what motivate people: that is, arouses and energize the behavior. The most famous content theories are Maslow’s need hierarchy, Herzberg’s two-factor theory, and McClelland’s three-factor theory. Process theories researched the specifics of the motivation process. Vroom’s expectancy theory and Adam’s equity theory are well known process theories. As the concept of motivation is reviewed, we should keep in mind that level of motivation varies both among individuals and within individuals at different levels.

Among motivation theories to be re-viewed are those of Maslow, Herzberg, Hofstede, and Vroom. Maslow’s theory of motivation: Maslow, a behavioral scientist, is one of the most prominent writers in the area of human motivation. He developed the “Hierarchy of needs theory”. Maslow (1970) stated there is a connection between behavior of individuals and their needs, and the strongest “felt needs” determine behaviors of individuals at given times. Maslow’s approach was based on the assumption that the individual is the basic unit in a social organization that is capable of “life affirming and self -fulfilling” behavior.

Maslow believed that work becomes a personal commitment and its accomplishment creates satisfaction and self- actualization and provides a way to achieve individual goals. Maslow categorized these “needs” into five levels; from the most primary needs of Physiological; Safety; Social at the base to the most secondary needs of Esteem and Self-actualization needs at the top. Basically, Maslow postulates that knowing the needs that employees are trying to satisfy, managers can help satisfy those needs so that employees can be satisfied and, then, motivated to work better.

He believes that the lower needs are satisfied before an individual attempt to satisfy a higher level need in the hierarchy. Maslow’s need theory has received wide recognition, particularly among practicing managers. Its popularity can be attributed to the theory’s intuitive logic and ease of understanding. Unfortunately, however, few researches do not generally validate the theory. Maslow provided no empirical substantiation for the theory, and several other studies, which includes the studies of Lawler III and Suttle (1972), and Hall and Nongaim (1968) that sought to validate it found no support. Herzberg’s two-factor theory:

Both Herzberg and Maslow agreed that if an organization met the safety and social “needs” of its employee group, the satisfaction and level of performance of the group would rise. Herzberg (1968) proposed the “Two-Factor” theory of motivation. He conducted research among 200 engineers and accountants regarding job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The subjects were asked to think of a time when they felt good or bad in their work environment. Herzberg, after analyzing the responses, concluded that there are two groups of factors, which cause satisfaction and dissatisfaction in an organizational setting and work environment.

Herzberg called the first group of factors “motivators” and the second group “hygiene”: The hygiene factors, also called maintenance factors, are of such a nature that their presence in the organization will not necessarily motivate an individual to work harder but the absence of which can create an unhealthy organizational environment. Hygiene factors, such as salary, company policy, supervision, job security, working conditions interpersonal relations, and status, are job context factors that help to maintain a healthy working environment.

They do not motivate workers when pre-sent but workers can become dissatisfied when these factors are absent. The second set of factors-the motivators- are related to the job content of workers. The presence of these factors can motivate workers to perform better and their absence can result in dissatisfaction. These factors include achievement, recognition, advancement, challenging work, opportunity for growth, and higher responsibility. Herzberg maintains that both factors are important to the smooth running of an organization.

The hygiene factor, even though they do not motivates, if absent creates a poor job attitude. However, an organization may have good working conditions, with adequate provision of hygiene factors, which are only job context, and workers may not be motivated. If adequate attention is paid to the motivators, which are job content related, workers may be motivated to work harder and produce more. Hofstede work-goals motivation theory: Hofstede (1980, 1990) postulated his motivation theory on 18 work-goals.

The work-goals were classified into five major groupings or super goals as relating to the needs or goals of individuals in motivation. The super goals are: do a good job, ambition, cooperation and individuality, family and comfort and security. The five super goals are made up of these component goals among others: 1. Do a good job (challenging work, achievement, skill utilization). 2. Ambition (advancement, recognition). 3. Cooperation (good working relationships with colleagues, with boss). 4. Family and comfort (time for personal/family life; desirable living area). 5.

Security (stable employment, welfare benefits) Vroom expectancy theory: Vroom approaches the issue of human motivation quite differently from the ways Maslow and Herzberg did. He holds that people will be motivated to pursue the achievement of a desired goal if: (1) they believe in the worth of the goal; and (2) they believe that their actions will en-sure the attainment of the goal. In a more detailed form, Vroom believe that a person’s motivation to perform will depend on the value the person places on the outcome of his efforts multiplied by his confidence that the efforts

will actually help to desired goal; that is F = V * E Vroom’s theory shows that individuals’ have goals and are motivated towards actions that will ensure the achievement of these goals. As such, managers should communicate how employees goals, such as promotion, more pay, recognition, and so on, can be earned in terms of what behavioral patterns are known to employees, such patterns should form the basis for administering rewards. Otherwise problems will occur in terms of workers’ lack of confidence in organizational policy, and the result may be detrimental to good working environment.

Culture and management discourse: The last decade has brought a renaissance of interest in cultural phenomena in societies and organizations. Re-searchers from a variety of disciplines have provided range of theoretical and analytical studies. Perhaps because of the different methodological and political orientations that distinguish these disciplines, the literature remains theoretically unintegrated – in a state of conceptual chaos. Before reviewing the relevant literatures about culture, and the impact of culture on motivation management, it is important to define culture.

Culture is a common word and like all common words it comes with much conceptual baggage, much of it vague, some of it contradictory. Contemporary concepts of culture: Some management researchers subscribed to the view that sees culture as- a shared homogenous way of being, evaluating and doing-, which are ideas, shared by members of a cultural group. Others see culture as heterogeneous combining differentiated and dynamic subcultures, still, others see culture from a multi- fragmented perspective that bring ambiguity into culture discourse – which are vital to motivation.

As numerous intercultural scholars have noted, each culture has its own unique “world-view” or means for making sense of the world (Zahama, 2000). Hofstede (2003) defines culture as the “software of the mind”, a collective phenomena, shared with the people who live in the same social environment. It is the collective programming of the mind, which distinguishes the members of one social group or category of people from another.

According to Deresky (2003), culture comprises the shared values, assumptions, understandings and goals that are learned from one generation, imposed by the current generation, and passed on to succeeding generations. Hawkins et al. (2006) propagates that the main operational regime of culture starts by earmarking stated boundaries for individual behavior and by guiding the functioning of such institutions as the family and mass media. In a societal setup these boundaries are termed as ‘norms’. Further, norms are derived from cultural values.

Given the commonalities among the various authors of culture quoted above, it is obvious that they concur that culture should be defined as that which is shared, harmonious, homogeneous, but the definitions disagree with what exactly is being shared or harmonious and homogeneous. Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditions (that is, historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values.

From a more dynamic perspective, culture is conceived as being made up of relations, rather than as stable suggests that every individual embody unique combination of personal, cultural and value systems. This implies that national cultures, corporate cultures or professional cultures, for example, are seen as symbolic practices that only come into existence in relation to, and in contrast with, other cultural communities. Levels of culture:

As almost everyone belong to a number of different groups and categories of people at the same time, people unavoidably carry several layers of values within themselves, corresponding to different levels of culture. For example: A national level according to ones’ country. A regional and/or ethnic and/or religious and/or linguistic affiliation level, as most nations are composed of culturally different regions or ethnic or religious or language groups. A gender level, according to whether a person was born as a girl or as a boy.

A social class level, associated with educational opportunities and with a person’s occupation or profession. A generation level, which separates grandparents from parents from children; for those who are employed, an organizational or corporate level according to the way employees have been socialized by their work organization In modern society, they are often partly conflicting: for example, religious values may conflict with generation values; gender values with organizational practices. Conflicting values within people make it difficult to anticipate their behavior in a new situation.

These socialization processes or levels of culture are more ways of doing things, or practices, as opposed to fundamental assumptions about how things are. In the center is a system of societal norms, consisting of the value systems shared by major groups of the population. Their origins are in a variety of ecological factors (in the sense of factors affecting the physical environment). The societal norms have led to the development and pattern maintenance of institutions in society with a particular structure and way of functioning.

These include the family, education systems, politics, and legislation. These institutions, once they have become facts, reinforce the societal norms and the ecological conditions that led to them. In a relatively closed society, such a system will hardly change at all. Institutions may change, but this does not necessarily affect the societal norms; and when these remain unchanged, the persistence influences of a majority value system patiently smooth the new institutions until their structure and functioning is again adapted to the societal norms.

Change comes mainly from the outside, through forces of nature (change of climate, silting up of harbors) or forces of man (trade, colonization, scientific discovery). The arrow of outside influences is deliberately directed at the origins, not at the societal norms themselves. It is believed that norms change rarely by direct adoption of outside values, but rather through a shift in ecological conditions: technological, economical, and hygienic. In general, the norm shift will be gradual unless the outside influences are particularly violent (Hofstede, 1980a).

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND: A survey study was carried out in five different European and African countries by a The Research and Development Unit of Euro-African Management Re-search Centre (E-AMARC – Maastricht-Paris-Brussels-Stirling) to know the impact of differences in cultures on motivational factors. The European countries were France, Italy, Nether-lands and Scotland, while the African country involved in the research was Nigeria. The questionnaire used as a base the ‘Value Survey Model’ developed by Hofstede The research aimed at

comparing motivation management values across five countries. For this purpose, written survey questionnaire was used. The questionnaire tried to obtain a fair representation of the opinions of two categories of respondents: Managers (everybody leading the work of others), non-managers (higher educated employees). The questionnaire contained items about the manager’s motivation-related values and perceptions. Only the questions found significantly relevant for the understanding of the effect of culture on management motivation practices were reported and examined in the study.

The research included,The survey questionnaire contained a number of questions aiming at understanding “what makes people thick”. Table 2 presents the data on Maslow, Herzsberg, Hofstde and Vroom motivation factors as they are perceived to influence motivation by the respondents. This research project describes the results of a survey study of five countries; France, Italy, Scotland, Netherlands and Nigeria. DISCUSSION: It has often been said and discussed that the motivational factors does not have the same prominence in different cultures.

In the survey, questionnaire contained a number of questions aiming at understanding “what makes people thick”. The table presents the data on Maslow, Herzsberg, Hofstde and Vroom motivation factors as they are perceived to influence motivation by the respondents. The research project describes the results of a survey study of five countries; France, Italy, Scotland, Netherlands and Nigeria. The results obtained from the research confirmed that the cultures of France, Italy, Scotland and Netherlands as measured by the motivation-related values and desires of the respondents were different.

Examination of responses on the motivation-value factors from the research reveals that the Italians ranked “have challenging tasks, have freedom to adopt their own approach to tasks, make contribution to the success of their organization, live in desirable area for self and family, and to have good working relationships with direct superior” as the five most important motivation-value factors. To “serve your country, have little tension and stress on the job, work in a well-defined job situation, have opportunity to help others and work in prestigious and successful organisation” as the five lest important motivation-value factors.

The French respondents ranked “have challenging task, live in desirable area, freedom of approach to tasks, cooperation with others, and good working relations with superior” as the five top motivation-value factors. They ranked “serve your country, have little tension and stress on the job, work in a prestigious and successful organisation, have security of employment and well-defined clear job situations” as the five lest motivation-value factors. The Scottish respondents ranked “cooperation with others, live in desirable area, challenging tasks, have good relationship with superior and to have freedom

of approach to tasks” as the five top motivation value factors. They ranked “serve your country, to have little tension and stress on the job, to have opportunity to helping others, to have well defined and clear job situations and work in prestigious and successful organisation” as the five lest motivation-value factors. The Dutch on their part ranked “live in desirable area, cooperation with others, have good physical working conditions, have good working relationships with direct superior and have opportunity for higher earnings” as the five top motivation-value factors.

They ranked “serve your country, have little tension and stress on the job, have opportunity to helping others, to be consulted by direct superior and to have variety and adventure on the job” as the five lest motivation-value factors. To the Nigerian respondents, they ranked “make contribution to the success of their organisation, to have challenging tasks, have security of employment, opportunity for higher level jobs and cooperation with others” as the five top motivation-value factors.

They ranked ”have little tension and stress on the job, have variety and adventure in the job, to be consulted by direct superior, work in prestigious and successful organisation and opportunity for helping others” as the five lest motivation-value factors. The difference in the ranked order of the work-goals among the four European country respondents is of little significance. Though there is not much difference among these countries, there are significant differences when compared with the African-Nigerian respondents.

In a collectivist society like Africa-Nigeria, goals like security of employment, contribution to the success of organisation, opportunity for advancement to higher level jobs and earnings have symbolic cultural and economic values that add to their rated importance. Some of the value clearly relate to ‘motivation factors’ and others relate clearly to ‘hygiene factors’ in Herzberg terms. For example, variety and adventure in the job, challenging job, freedom on the job, recognition and opportunities if they refer to advancement, not merely to earnings, higher salary, all clearly relate to ‘motivation factors’.

On the other hand, factors like opportunity for higher salary, good physical working conditions, security, and good relationship with superior are clearly hygiene factors. However, some factors like clear job description, cooperation and challenging tasks sit on the fence and may deflect one way or the other depending on the tasks and situations at hand. Comparing the five highest motivational factors to Herzberg’s two-factor theory, the European respondents ranked, challenging tasks, desirable living area, freedom of approach to job, working relation-ships with superior and cooperation with others, are motivator factors.

For the African Nigerian respondents, contribution to success of organisation, security of employment, advancement to higher level jobs and earnings are hygiene factors. Herzberg stated that to the degree that motivators are present in a job, motivation will occur. The absence of motivators does not lead to dissatisfaction. Further, he stated that to the degree that hygiene’s are absent from a job, dissatisfaction will occur. When present, hygiene’s prevent dissatisfaction, but do not lead to satisfaction.

In this study, the lack of challenging task for the respondents would not necessary lead to dissatisfaction. Higher earnings for the respondents than what they believe to be fair may lead to job dissatisfaction. Conversely, the respondents will be motivated when they are engaged in challenging tasks but will not necessarily be motivated by higher earnings. The result of this study supports the idea that what motivates employees differs from organisation to organisation and from country to country given the context in which the employee works.

What is clear, however, is the emphasis given to the ranked order of the most important motivation value factors across cultures. Implications for management and organization: One crucial question to be answered is what motivates employees to work effectively and productively? One of the answers can be, challenging jobs, which allows a feeling of achievement, responsibility, growth, advancement, enjoyment of work itself and earned recognition, have not appeared as very motivating factors as was the case with most studies of this nature conducted in the West.

This difference may be due to cultural influences. The West tends to be individualistic while Africa-Nigeria and most other African countries tend to emphasize the social aspects of a job situation. In Africa-Nigeria, clear job description, which ranked 8th position, is a very strong motivator and this seems to be consistent with traditional African value concern for paternalistic superior-subordinate relations. Similarly, contribution to the success of one’s organisation to the African-Nigerian respondents is more important than to be consulted by one’s boss in his decisions and freedom of approach to job.

To make a contribution to the growth of one’s organisation is rather a static affair ‘present’ orient-ted and suggests a group of well-motivated employees’ who would want to be consulted by their superiors and get involved with the effectiveness of the organisation and cordial human relationships The ranked order of the motivation value factors of the respondents provides very useful information for management and the employees. Knowing how to use information provided by the study results in motivating employees is a complex task. The strategy for motivating employees depends on which motivation theories are used as a reference point.

If Hertzberg’s theory is followed, management should begin by focusing on earnings and job security (hygiene factors) before focusing on interesting work and full appreciation of work done (motivator factors). If Vroom’s theory is applied, management should begin by focusing on challenging tasks and desirable living area for the employees in effort to achieving organizational goals and objectives. If Hofstede’s work-goal theory is applied, management must focus on advancement to higher level jobs, earnings, and security of employment in order to motivate the employees to effectively become satisfied and productive.

A comparison of the results provides some interesting in-sight into motivation values across cultures. Challenging tasks, which ranked as number one motivator for Italy and France, ranked number two for Nigeria and number three for Scotland, is a self-actualizing factor. The number one ranked motivator, contribution to success of organization, is a physiological factor. According to Maslow, if management wishes to address the most important motivational factor of employees, challenging tasks, physiological, safety, social, and esteem factors must first be satisfied.

If management wished to address the second most important motivational factor of employees, opportunity for higher earnings, increased salary would suffice. Contrary to what Maslow’s theory suggests, the ranges of motivation factors are mixed in this study. Maslow’s conclusions that lower level motivation factors must be met before ascending to the next level were not validated in this study. It is perhaps very interesting to note that the rank order of the factors by the African-Nigerian respondents seems to be gravitating towards ‘hygiene and maintenance factors’.

Of the seven factors most highly ranked, only ‘security and earnings’ are indisputably motivation factors in Herzberg terms. One of the points to observe from the table is the relative low position (10th and 17th) scored by “freedom on the job” and “to be consulted by direct superior” respectively for the African-Nigerian respondents. Variety and adventure on the job, which is associated to recognition, scored the 16th position. All these factors are motivation factors by Herzberg and host of other western theorists and should have scored much higher.

The fact that they did not suggests that the respondents have other priorities and we may have to look into culture and environment for further explanations. The results of this study indicate that job context is more important than job content. Organizational control or interpersonal factors (job-context factors such as co-operation, security, opportunity, contribution and earnings), for the most part, received high-ranking more than internally mediated factors (job-content factors such as success, consultation, freedom and the job itself).

The results suggest therefore that efforts to motivate the African- Nigerians should focus on job context rather than on job content. Changes in nature of organizational control factors or interpersonal factors are likely to be more valued than changes in the work itself. Work enrichment programs that help the respondents function as members of a group, and which emphasize formal rules and structures, are more likely to motivate them in an extrinsic oriented society of Nigeria, where satisfaction tends to be derived from contribution and security, than in Italy, France, Scotland and the Netherlands where the job itself is more valued.

The results suggest that the African-Nigerian respondents may be effectively motivated by the hygiene factors as long as these factors explicitly meet their personal and family needs. The results presented also suggests that the Italian, French, Scots and the Dutch’s respondents ranking of motivation-value factors, all corresponding to “higher” Maslow needs. On their part, the African-Nigerian correspondents’ ranking of the motivation-value factors corresponding to “low” Maslow needs. These findings illustrate that cultures and organizational work settings may have dramatic effect on motivation values across cultures.

The empirical evidences that result from this research have shown that the different management theories of motivation in the form they have been developed and applied in the West may not or partially fit culturally in Africa. The similarities and differences among the five country respondents suggest that it make sense to study and compare western motivation values and traditional cultural values, beliefs, perceptions and attitudes among countries, regions and sub-cultures within the same country.

This study calls for caution in importation and imposition of training and education practices that draw uncritically on Western motivation management theories and models without due sensitivity to the cultural differences and specificities of how motivation are conceived of and practiced in different cultures. It also calls for an indigenous approach that builds naturally on prevailing cultural norms and values, and for a closer examination and more detailed reporting and support for an appropriate, viable and feasible motivation management theory orthodoxy that is congruent with local environment.

Finally, it is argued, based on the empirical evidence of this research results, that the generally accepted Wes-tern (most especially US) motivation theories like Maslow, Herzberg and Vroom may not be very appropriate for motivating employees in Africa-Nigeria and for universal formulating and theorizing on motivation management. Conclusion: The motivational factors that exist in one culture or country may not be present in another. For example, the elements that motivate individuals in an individualistic society vary from those that would motivate individuals in a collectivistic society.

People in an individualistic culture tend to view themselves mainly in terms of their own self-interests, goals, and accomplishments and do not normally associate these factors with those of the group or organization with which they belong. The concept of self-actualization is far more prevalent in this type of culture. Conversely, people in a collectivistic culture generally do not partake in activities of a highly individual nature. They tend to align their personal goals and interests to those of the group or organization as a whole.

The United States and France are examples of individualistic cultures, whereas Japan is a predominantly collectivistic culture. As mentioned earlier, different types of cultures require different types of motivation. In the same sense, different physical and economic conditions within various countries can influence the actualization of lower-level needs, which may hinder the development of higher-order needs. For example, in countries that

are somewhat less developed the stress of everyday life and being able to provide the basic necessities becomes so overwhelming that individuals are unable to move beyond this stage and fulfill higher-order needs. In addition, countries such as Japan that experience high uncertainty avoidance seem to value the need for security more so than self-actualization needs in regards to enhancing work motivation. In contrast, countries such as the United States and France that are lower in uncertainty avoidance tend to pursue self-actualization needs due to the fact that their requirements for security are less complicated and met more easily.

When deciding which type of reward programs would be most beneficial to Global Industries, Inc. and its members, several theories of motivation will need to be examined and then applied with reference to the local culture. References: Organizational behaviour – Stephen Robbins Managing organizations – RK Sharma, Sahashi K Gupta Management of Organizational Behaviour- Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. www. academicjournals. org

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