Victor Vroom’s (1964) expectancy theory is also commonly known as the Expectancy Theory. This theory’s main emphasis is on the process and content of motivators, and also integrates this with needs, equity, and reinforcement theories.
This human motivation theory tries to explain how persons choose from available actions. Vroom defines motivation as a process that controls or governs our choices among alternative types of voluntary behavior. The main rationale of this theory is that motivational drive originates from the belief that a decision will have its desired outcome.
The motivational drive to engage in any activity is determined by appraising three main factors i.e. Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valence.
The expectancy factor is defined as a person’s belief that more effort will result in success. In other words, if a person works harder the results will be better performance.
In this case, the question is: ‘Am I capable of earning more sales commissions if I learn to sell better?’ Appraisal of this motivational factor is premised on the effort to learn sales techniques, knowledge of selling, previous experience of sales results, self-efficiency, and other self-rated abilities.
An individual worker will therefore use this expectancy factor as a key motivator for better performance and for success, which in turn will create success from the business organization.
This refers to the individual’s belief that there is a link between activity and goal. If you perform well, you will get the reward.
In this case, the question is: ‘Will I get the promised reward (sales commissions) for performing well in sales?’ Appraisal of this factor is based on the accuracy and consistency of sales reporting.
If one day I achieve good sales results and another day I achieve poor sales results for the same performance, then the motivation will decrease.
Instrumentality will therefore motivate an individual to put in effort in an activity to achieve a desired goal or reward. This can therefore lead to success for both individual and the business organization.
This is the degree to which a person values the reward or the results of success.
In this case, the question is: ‘ Do I value the reward that I get?’ Appraisal of this factor is based on the importance of its subject (selling), making good sales, and the good sales performance in general.
According to Vroom expectancy, instrumentality and valence are multiplied together to determine motivation. This means that if the value of any of these factors is zero, then the motivation to do something will be zero as well.
For example, an employee who doesn’t see the connection between effort and performance will have zero expectancies. An employee who can’t perceive the link between performance and reward will have zero instrumentality. And an individual who doesn’t value the anticipated outcome or reward will have zero valences.
Vroom’s expectancy theory, therefore, highlights individual differences in motivation and contains three useful factors for understanding and increasing motivation. This theory implies equity and the importance of consistent rewards as well (Konig & Steel 2006).
An individual will therefore be motivated to achieve success if the three factors of Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valence have values and based on these he or she can progress and also bring success to the business organization.