May 21, 2015

Motivational Needs and Processes - Review Notes

Motivation - Theory and Research Studies

Motivation - Definition

Motivation is a process that starts with a physiological or psychological deficiency or need that activates a behavior or drive that is aimed at a goal or incentive.

Thus, the process involves needs, which set drives in motion to accomplish a goal (anything that alleviates a need and reduces a drive).

To understand the process of motivation, one has to understand the meaning of need, drive, and goal and the relationships among them.

Needs, Drives and Goals (Incentives)
Needs: Needs are created or come into existence whenever there is a physiological or psychological imbalance. A need exists when cells in the body are experiencing a shortage of food or water.

Drives: A drive is a deficiency with a direction. Drives denote actions and intention to act by individuals and they are exhibited to alleviate needs. Drives and motives are terms used interchangeably. Drives provide an energizing thrust toward reaching an incentive or goal.

Incentives or goals: Anything that will alleviate a need is an incentive or goal in the motivation cycle. Attaining an incentive or goal will tend to restore physiological or psychological balance and will reduce the drive up to zero level.

The concept of needs was discussed further at this stage by Luthans. It will appear as Maslow's hierarchy of needs at a later stage in the discussion of motivation theories.


The drives, or motives, may be classified into primary (and general), and secondary categories.

The primary motives are unlearned and physiologically based. Common primary motives are hunger, thirst, sleep, avoidance of pain, sex, and maternal concern.

Luthans has written that a separate classification for general motives is not always given. But such a category is useful. The general (also termed stimulus) motives are also unlearned but are not physiologically based. Curiosity, manipulation, activity, and affection are examples of general motives.

Secondary motives are learned motives. They are more interesting in the study of organizational behavior. The needs for power, achievement, affiliation, security, and status are major motivating forces in the behavior of organizational participants.

Motivator can be a general term that can describe a need, a motive, incentive or a person.

Motivators can be extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivators are the visible consequences external to the individual (e.g., money), usually contingently administered by others, to motivate the individual. Intrinsic motivators are internal to the individual, and are self-induced to learn, achieve, or in some way better oneself.

Content Theories of Motivation

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs that set up drives. Physiological needs when present in a person take precedence and drives to satisfy the physiological needs dominate other drives. Then come safety needs. Next in the precedence are love needs. Esteem needs and self actualization needs set up drives subsequently. A philosopher once commented that hungry stomachs cannot listen to the necessity of thinking about the higher world.

Hierarchy of needs

Self actualization needs
Esteem needs
Love needs
Safety needs
Physiological needs

This theory made managements aware of diverse needs of people and also on the necessity of finding the dominant need of a person at a point in time.

Alderfer's model

Alderfer identified three groups of core needs.

The existence needs are concerned with survival (physiological well-being).
The relatedness needs stress the importance of interpersonal, social relationships.
The growth needs concerned with the individual's intrinsic desire for personal development.

Herzberg's two factor theory

Hygiene factors

Company policy and administration
Supervision, technical
Interpersonal relations, supervisor behavior
Working conditions


Work itself

Luthans has commented that although such a content approach has surface logic, is easy to understand and can be readily translated into practice, the research evidence points out some definite limitations. There is very little research support for these models' theoretical basis and predictability. The trade-off for simplicity sacrifices true understanding of the complexity of work motivation. On the positive side, however, the content models have given emphasis to important content factors. In addition, the Alderfer model allows more flexibility, and the Herzberg model is useful as an explanation for job satisfaction and as a point of departure for practical application to enrich jobs.

Process Theories

The process theories provide a much sounder theoretical explanation of work motivation. The expectancy model of Vroom and the extensions and refinements provided by Porter and Lawler help explain the important cognitive variables and how they relate to one another in the complex process of work motivation. The Porter-Lawler model also gives specific attention to the important relationship between performance and satisfaction. Porter and Lawler propose that performance leads to satisfaction, instead of the human relations assumption of the reverse. A growing research literature is somewhat supportive of these expectancy models, but conceptual and methodological problems remain. Unlike the content models, these expectancy models are relatively complex and difficult to translate into actual practice, and, consequently, they have made a contribution but are not the final answer for motivation in the field of organizational behavior and human resource performance.

More recently, in academic circles, equity theory has received increased attention. Equity theory, which is based on perceived input-outcome ratios of oneself compared to relevant other(s), can lead to increased understanding of the complex cognitive process of work motivation but has the same limitation as the expectancy models for prediction and control in the practice of human resource management. More recently, this equity theory has been applied to the analysis of organizational justice in the workplace.

Control and agency theories, coming from other disciplines, are representative of other approaches receiving recent research attention in organizational behavior.


Managers cannot use only one motivation theory. There is a need to combine motivation theories and use them simultaneously as well as appropriately. To elaborate the idea further Maslow's theory and Herzberg's theory are not opposing theories. Equity theory does not oppose other theories. It brings out the importance of equity in any organization. Even highly paid managers, will become depressed if they are treated unfairly at any stage in their career.

Cross-Cultural Studies

Cross-cultural studies of motivation are taking place in two areas. First, variances and similarities among motives and the relative importance of motives tend to indicate that there are routine differences in various cultures. Second, continuing research is oriented toward the understanding of which motivational theories are culture bound and which are more applicable to cultures other than the United States.

Motivation - How to Do in Practice

Has Luthans gave any ideas on how to motivate people in practice. I have to carefully look at this aspect once again. In management discipline we need to look at authors who have given practice perspective in an authoritative way. Then slowly researchers come and examine various issues and start giving their observations and interpretations. The results of the research studies modify the practice and we need fresh writing of books emphasizing the practice. Thus practice and theory complement each other providing more valid and effect practice instructions. My effort in the days to come is to present more and more focused practice instructions in every topic of management covered in standard text books.


Luthans, Fred, Organizational Behavior, 9th Edition, McGraw Hill, New York, 2002

July - Management Knowledge Revision

Updated  21 May 2015
Last update  4 Dec 2011 - First posted

May 19, 2015

Perception and Attribution - Review Notes

Perception is covered in a separate Note

Attribution refers to how people explain the cause of their behavior or others’ behavior. It is a cognitive process by which people draw conclusion about the factors that influence their behavior and others’ behavior.

Attribution Theories

There are two general types of attributions that people make: dispositional attributions and situational attributions. In dispositional attribution a person attributes his behavior to internal factors such ability and effort etc. In situational attributions, a person attributes his behavior to external factors such as quality of materials or machines used or social influence.

Attribution theory is concerned with the relationship between personal perception, social perception and interpersonal behavior. Attribution theories are many but they share the following assumptions.

1. People seek to make sense of the world.

2. People attribute actions to either internal (dispositional attributions) or external causes (situational attributions).
3. Attribution is done in fairly logical ways.

The credit for initiating the theory is given to Fritz Heider. Heider's conjecture is that both internal forces (personal attributes such as ability, effort, and fatigue) and external forces (environmental attributes like rules and atmospheric conditions) combine additively to determine behavior. Behavior differes from person to person based on his beliefs about the forces that dominate in a particular situation.

Locus of Control of a Person

Locus of control is a concept related to attribution.

Based on the series of attributions made by persons we can classify them as having internal locus of control or external locus of control. Internal locus of control persons will feel, for majority of the outcomes, their behavior, efforts, skills and ability are responsible. External locus of control persons will feel for majority of the outcomes, luck, task difficulty, behavior of other persons etc. are responsible.

There are some studies which found that internally controlled employees are generally more satisfied with their jobs, are more likely to be in managerial positions, and are more satisfied with a participatory management style. Some studies have found that internal locus managers are better performers.

Other Dimensions in Attribution Theory

Bernard Weiner suggested that a stability dimension is also there in attribution. The stability dimension has fixed and variable categories. Experienced employees have probably a stable internal attribution about their abilities. Ability is a stable variable. But effort is a variable internal factor. It varies from task to task

Kelley suggested that consensus is also an important dimension. Consensus is the perception about the question - do others act this way in this situation?

Some Finding and Conclusions from Attribution Studies

1. Bad luck attributions when made by the person himself or others take the sting out of a negative outcome.

2. Good luck attributions especially by others reduce the joy associated with success.

3. When individuals attribute their success to internal rather than external factors, they have higher expectations for future success, report a greater desire for achievement and set higher performance goals.

4. People tend to ignore powerful situational forces when explaining others’ behavior.

5. People attribute others’ behavior to personal factors such as intelligence, ability, attitude etc.

6. There is a self serving bias in attribution. People readily accept credit when told their success is due to their ability and effort. But will not accept if they were told that failure was due to their lack of effort.

7. Bosses blame the problems on the inability or poor attitude of the subordinates. But they blame the situation as far as they are concerned.

Attribution errors can be reduced by increasing interpersonal communication, workshops and team-building sessions.

Fred Luthans, Organization Behavior, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2002.

Role of Perception in Organizational Behavior

Self-awareness is important for leaders and managers. Self-awareness is linked to self-reflection; by reflecting through introspection,  leaders gain clarity and concordance with respect to their core values, identity, emotions, motives and goals. Gaining self-awareness means working to understand how one derives and makes meaning of the world around him based on introspective self-reflective, testing of one's own hypotheses and self-schema. It is how one knows about how he knows in terms of Kegan’s (1982) notion of perspective-taking capacity. As originally defined, self-awareness represents an attention state where the individual directs his or her conscious attention to some aspect of the self (Duval & Wicklund, 1972; Hannah, 2005). It does not indicate whether the individual is accurate or inaccurate in his or her self-perception. Yet, by learning who they are and what they value,  leaders build understanding and a sense of self that provides an anchor for their decisions and actions.

Perception is also an important concept to understand others. Leaders have to avoid biases in perceiving others.

Anthony Tjan is CEO, Managing Partner and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball, vice chairman of the advisory firm Parthenon, has written

there is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness.

become more self-aware. Here are three key ways to become more self-aware.

1. Test and know yourself better.

2. Watch Yourself and Learn.

3. Be aware of others, too. Self-awareness is crucial when building a team.

The trinity of self-awareness: know thyself, improve thyself, and complement thyself.

Updated   19 May 2015, 10 July 2014,
4 Dec 2011

July - Management Knowledge Revision

May 18, 2015

Globalization and Technology - Impact on Organizational Behavior - Review Notes

The impact of information technology on organizations is truly amazing and it is further going on without an end in sight.

The developments in information technology, intranet and internet allow organizations to go paperless in exchanging information with customers, suppliers and employees. The information systems and the communication systems also provide employees easy access to all the information and knowledge of the organization in order to make better decisions and improve customer service. The real implication of development of information technology for organizational behavior discipline is management of  the knowledge by the members of the organization.

The authors discussed the emerging field of knowledge management briefly in this context.


Globalization is also impacting the organizational behavior. Understanding behavior of formal organization members in a global organization needs more theory than what is developed so far in OB that has emphasis on one country business.

The top 100 global companies employ more than 6 million foreign nationals. Companies complain that they are short of people with global leadership capabilities.


Culture can be defined as the acquired knowledge that people use to interpret experience and generate social behavior.

Differences among cultures

How people see themselves

People's relation to their world

Individualism versus collectivism

The time dimension

Public versus private space

Hofstede's Framework of Culture Differences

Trompenaars's Framework of Culture Differences

Persons working in global companies have to be given more inputs in multi-cultural practices to quickly adjust to the culture in various countries they may visit in short periods of time in fulfilling the job responsibility and interacting with colleagues and partners of the organization in those countries.

A brief on recent research project on Global leader ship issues is available at

July - Management Knowledge Revision

Reference Text Book

Organizational Behavior, 9th Edition, Fred Luthans, McGraw Hill

Updated 18 May 2015
Earlier update  4 Dec 2011

May 14, 2015

Big Use of Big Data in Market Research

In Market Research or Marketing Research, the producers and marketers have to figure out what market wants currently and in future.  This requires data and interpretation of data. Interpretation is 60% and data collection is 40% of marketing research according to a marketing research expert.  The emergence of social media is making data available in real time about brands and their shortcoming. It also has desires of customers for future products. So emergence of Big Data that has the capability to analyze social media conversations and posts has made data available to data interpreters and thereby reduced the need for data collectors in marketing research activity.

Whereas earlier marketing research was based on small samples, Big Data based marketing research is able to take in millions of potential customers and buid insights on their conversations. The advantage is that marketing communications can be targeted to them and a better response rate can be achieved for products and services created according to their stated needs.

Big Data Use 2015

Analyzing customer behavior  65%
Bringing together different data sources  63%
Improving customer perception 59%
Enhancing responsiveness to market dynamics  51%
Generating reports faster  41%
Enhancing customer relationshipss  37%
Developing new products and services  33%
Identifying cost reduction opportunities  14%.

Article in Corporate Dossier on 15 May 2015
Interview with Richard Ingleton, CEO, TNS, Subsidiary of WPP Group and one of the largest market research firms in the world.

May 12, 2015

Theory O - Theory of Open Mind - Educator and Learner - Assumption and Attitudes

We come across different types and statements regarding learners by educators.

Theory O or Theory of Open Mind is a desirable and positive set of assumptions.

1. Learning is change in behavior.
2. Every learner joins a program and attends a course with a desire to change his behavior as directed by the educator.
3. Educators have to try and change the behavior in desirable direction indicated by the course content and course objectives.
4. Learning is change in behavior implies that a student is in the classroom willing to change his behavior. Change in behavior is brought about through a mechanism of change on knowledge, change in attitude towards the knowledge, and change in behavior.
5. When a learner tries to engage in new behavior or changed behavior for the first time, he will be happy normally to have the educator be present along with him. He expects guidance from the educator during the event and after the event. Even if he fails in the first attempt, the feedback from the educator helps him to repeat the new behavior. Training is a popular term for repeat performances of a new behavior.
6. Educator is responsible for making sure that the learner learns new behavior. The educator has to design his course so that change in knowledge takes, attitudes are ascertained and changed and provision is made for the display of new behavior.

First Published on 12 May 2015 by Dr. K.V.S.S. Narayana Rao,  Professor, National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), 

May 6, 2015

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2015 - Reflection Article

I participated in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. I completed all the posts with only one post having delay of one day.  I started with an index.  I also made some posts in the last week of March. But the time was not sufficient. Now I feel, I have to start posting for the challenge right from January. I should make two posts a week starting from first week of January and should use April Month for visiting others' posts and interacting with them. You cannot post and also visit others' blogs. This time I realize that the better practice would be to take care of posts before the start of April schedule them for posting in April and concentrate on interacting with other bloggers. I had minimum interaction this time, but it is quality interaction. Next year I shall implement my new plan.

My thanks to organizing team of A to Z challenge.   Alex J Cavanagh.