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Theoretical Framework for Hr Thesis

Definition of Motivation and Employee Motivation

Definition of Motivation

Many contemporary authors have also defined the concept of motivation. Motivation has been defined as: the psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction (Kreitner, 1995); a predisposition to behave in a purposive manner to achieve specific, unmet needs (Buford, Bedeian, & Lindner, 1995); an internal drive to satisfy an unsatisfied need (Higgins, 1994); and the will to achieve (Bedeian, 1993).

According to John R. Schermerhorn (2010), the term motivation is used in management theory to describe forces within the individual that account for the level, direction, and persistence of effort expended at work.

Motivation can be defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It involves the biological, emotional, social and cognitive forces that activate behaviors. In its simplest definition, the term motivation is frequently used to describe why a person does something. (Cherry, 2011). An individual’s motivation is influenced by biological, intellectual, social and emotional factors. As such, motivation is a complex, not easily defined, intrinsic driving force that can also be influenced by external factors.

Every employee has activities, events, people, and goals in his or her life that he or she finds motivating.

Generally speaking , for this thesis, motivation is operationally defined as the inner force that drives individuals to accomplish personal and organizational goals. Motivation is an employee’s intrinsic enthusiasm about and drive to accomplish activities related to work. Motivation is that internal drive that causes an individual to decide to take action. So, motivation about some aspect of life exists in each person’s consciousness and actions.

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Definition of Employee Motivation

The trick for employers is to figure out how to inspire employee motivation at work. To create a work environment in which an employee is motivated about work, involves both intrinsically satisfying and extrinsically encouraging factors. Employee motivation is the combination of fulfilling the employee’s needs and expectations from work and the workplace factors that enable employee motivation – or not. These variables make motivating employees challenging. Employers understand that they need to provide a work environment that creates motivation in people. But, many employers fail to understand the significance of motivation in accomplishing their mission and vision. Even when they understand the importance of motivation, they lack the skill and knowledge to provide a work environment that fosters employee motivation.

From Rick Pitino’s point of view, “The only way to get people to like working hard is to motivate them. Today, people must understand why they’re working hard. Every individual in an organization is motivated by something different.” Employee motivation can be approached in many ways with different definitions. With Twyla Dell, “The heart of motivation is to give people what they really want most from work. The more you are able to provide what they want, the more you should expect what you really want, namely: productivity, quality, and service.” (Dell, 1988).” G. Jones and J. George from the book “Contemporary Management”, defined motivation as “Psychological forces that determine the direction of a person’s behavior in an organization, a person’s level of effort and a person’s level of persistence.” And this approach is used as the employee motivation definition in the thesis

Motivation theories

There are many theories that refer to motivate people such as ERG theory by Clayton Alderfer, Acquired Needs theory by David McClelland, Expectancy theory by Victor Vroom, etc. In this thesis, the author applied Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Herzberg’s Two – Factors Theory as the theoretical framework for the thesis

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The theory of human needs developed by Abraham Maslow was introduced in this part as an important theoretical framework for the thesis.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and his subsequent book Motivation and Personality. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs.

This hierarchy is most often displayed as a pyramid. The lowest levels of the pyramid are made up of the most basic needs, while the more complex needs are located at the top of the pyramid. Needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic physical requirements including the need for food, water, sleep, and warmth. Once these lower-level needs have been met, people can move on to the next level of needs, which are for safety and security.

As people progress up the pyramid, needs become increasingly psychological and social. Soon, the need for love, friendship, and intimacy become important. Further up the pyramid, the need for personal esteem and feelings of accomplishment take priority. Maslow emphasized the importance of self-actualization, which is a process of growing and developing as a person in order to achieve individual potential

There are five different levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

  • Physiological needs: the most basic needs for human to survival, (such as air, water, food, sex, sleep, etc). In working environment, it can be rest and refreshment breaks, physical comfort on the job or reasonable work hours. According to Maslow, if these needs are not satisfied, the human body can not function properly, and will ultimately fail. Physiological needs are supposed to be the most important and should be met first.
  • Safety needs: After the physiological needs are satisfied, people’s attention turn to safety and security.
  • Social needs: the first level of higher level needs is social needs. Social needs are those related to interact with others which includes: friendship, belonging to a group, giving and receiving love
  • Esteem needs: Esteem needs can be categorized as external motivators such as recognition, attention, and social status. While internal motivators include accomplishment and self – respect.
  • Self actualisation needs:This is the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Self-actualizing people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others and interested fulfilling their potential. (Cherry, 2011)

The theory Herzberg’s Two – Factor

The Two – Factor theory by Herzberg is one of the most influential studies on motivation which describes needs in terms of satisfaction and disatisfaction.

Herzberg found that the factors causing job satisfaction were different from those causing job dissatisfaction. He developed the motivation – hygiene theory to explain these results. He called the satisfiers “motivators” and the dissatisfiers “hygiene factors”, using the term “hygiene” in the sense that they are considered maintenance factors that are necessary to avoid dissatisfaction but that by themselves do not provide satisfaction.

Motivation factors

Herzberg explains that motivation factors are related to “what people do” on the job or “job content” Motivation factors include such things as a sense of responsibility, feelings of recognition, a sense of achievement, feelings of personal growth, the opportunity for advancement and work itself. Presence of motivation factors influences job satisfaction levels


A duty or obligation to satisfactorily perform or complete a task (assigned by someone, or created by one’s own promise or circumstances) that one must fulfill, and which has a consequent penalty for failure.


Recognition is identifying something you learned previously and is therefore stored in some manner in memory. The employees should be praised and recognized for their accomplishments by the managers.


The definition of achievement also includes its opposite, the failure or the absence of achievement. Success put into this category consists of the followings: successful completion of a job, solutions to problems, vindication, and seeing the results of one’s work. (Herzberg, 2008, p.45 -143)

Personal growth:

There must be growth and advancement opportunities in an organization to motivate the employees to perform well.


Advancement is an actual change in the status or position of the person in the company. In situation in which an individual transfers from one part of the company to another without any change in status but increases opportunities for responsible work, the change is considered an increased responsibility, but not formally an advancement. (Herzberg, 2008, p.46)

Work itself ( Job – itself interesting and fulfilling work):

The work itself should be meaningful, interesting and challenging for the employee to perform and to get motivated.

Hygiene factors

According to Herzberg, hygiene factors influence directly on job dissatisfaction. The hygiene factors are found in the job context and include such things as working conditions, interpersonal relations, base wage or salary, and technical quality of supervision. By improving them, such as by implemetenting a no – smooking policy, can make people less dissatisfied at work. However, it will not increase job satisfaction.

Hygiene factors include:

  • Working condition: The working conditions should be safe, clean and hygienic. The work equipments should be updated and well-maintained.
  • Interpersonal relations: The relationship of the employees with his peers, superiors and subordinates should be appropriate and acceptable. There should be no conflict or humiliation element present.
  • Base wage and salary: The pay or salary structure should be appropriate and reasonable. It must be equal and competitive to those in the same industry in the same domain.
  • Supervision – technical : This category refers to the competence or incompetence; fairness or unfairness of the supervisor; supervisor’s willingness or unwillingness to delegate responsibility, to teach subordinates. (Herzberg, 2008, p.47)

The combination of Motivation factor and Hygiene factor

The combination of hygiene and motivation factors can result in 4 conditions:

  1. High Hygiene/High Motivation: The ideal situation where employees are highly motivated and have few problems.
  2. High Hygiene/Low Motivation: Employees have few problems but are not highly motivated.
  3. Low Hygiene/High Motivation: Employees are motivated but have a lot of problems.
  4. Low Hygiene/Low Motivation: The worst situation. Unmotivated employees with lots of problems. Herzberg’s theories can be summarized by his quote, “If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” The two factor theory is useful because job context and content are major issues in the business world today.

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Theoretical Framework for Hr Thesis. (2016, Sep 29). Retrieved from

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