McClelland's Achievement Motivation Theory

The last component of content theories is the McClelland’s achievement motivation theory. This theory includes four parts: the Achievement Motive, the Power Motive, the Affiliate Motive, and the Avoidance Motive. The first three parts correspond, roughly, to Maslow’s self-actualisation, esteem, and love needs. If put this theory into the really work situation, the achievement motive is very important, in this theory’s view; for people with high achievement motivation, money is not an incentive but may serve as a means of giving feedback on performance; for those people with low achievement motivation, money may serve as a direct incentive for performance.

Compared with content theories, the process theories attempt to identify the relationships among dynamic variables, which make up motivation and the actions required to influence behaviour and actions.

They provide a further contribution to our understanding of complex nature of work motivation. Many of the process theories cannot be linked to a single writer, thus this theory can be divided to four parts, which are Expectancy -based model (by Vroom, Porter and Lawer) Equity theory (by Adams), Goal theory (by Locke) Attribution theory (by Heider, Kelley).

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In the expectancy theory, the principles are that people are influenced by the expected result of the actions. Moreover, the motivation is the function of the relationship between: effort expended and perceived level of performance, the expectation the rewards will be related to performance, and the expectation that rewards are available. Therefore the performance depends upon the perceived expectation regarding effort expended and achieving the desire outcome.

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Applied to the work situation, equity theory is usually associated with the work of Adams.

Basically, Equity theory focuses on people’s feeling of how the have been treated in comparison with the treatment received by others. It is based on exchange theory. People evaluate their social relationship in the same way as buying or selling as item. People expect certain outcome in exchange for certain contribution, or inputs. Social relationships involve as exchange process. For example, a person may expect promotion as an outcome of high level of contribution in helping to achieve an important organisational objective. People also compare their own position. Their feelings about the equity of the exchange are affected by the treatment they receive when compares with what happens to other people.

The last theory of process theories is the Goal theory, and the basic premise of goal theory is that people’s goal or intentions play an important part in determining behaviour. Locke accepts the importance of perceived value, as indicated in expectancy theories of motivation, and suggests that these values give rise to the experience of emotions and desires. People strive to achieve goals in order to satisfy their emotions and desires. Goals guide people’s responses and actions. Goal direct work behaviour and performance, and lead to certain consequences. Generally, above all are the details of both content theories and process theories of motivation. The critical difference between Content and Process theory are interpreted by these details. How to use these different theories to motivate different people in different circumstances is the most important thing to do after distinguishing the Content theory and Process theory.

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McClelland's Achievement Motivation Theory. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

McClelland's Achievement Motivation Theory

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