Motivation can be defined as
an inner desire to make an effort (Dowling and Sayles cited in Freedheim et al. 2003). It is also the capacity to generate behavior or performance (Freedheim et al. 2003). This psychological dynamic process is an outcome of the interaction between the individual and the context that surrounds him/ her and changes as his/her personal needs change (Latham and Pinder 2005; Freedheim et al. 2003).
Murphy and Alexander (2000) mention the proliferation of motivation studies, most of which have discussed the subtle differences and diverse tagging motivation terminology. This concept can be divided into three main components: arousal, which is the need or desire; direction, which provides the direction for the personal goal; and intensity, where certain needs are prioritized over others (Freedheim et al. 2003).
This domain was of interest to many disciplines, such as psychology, economics, education, social sciences and organization behavior/psychology. In motivating individuals at work, organizations have shown great deal of interest in matching the employees’ needs and the organization’s demands. Several theories have materialized focusing on job satisfaction, job performance and the role of reward (Locks and Latham 2004). This concept has been defined differently in organizational studies as Buchner (2007) stated that
“…a systemic application of a process aimed at optimizing human performance in the organization.”
Motivation is an issue of great concern to organizations/industrial psychologists. Organizations may spend huge budgets on programs aimed at their employees and managers. However, due to the dynamic nature of the economic conditions and social values, the organizational context and the employees’ needs have changed, which affects the organization’s performance and the productivity (Callahan et al. 1986:79; Buchanan and Huczynski 1991:67-68).
Motivation is connected to performance. Organizations think that if they can understand the constitution of these energetic forces, through recognizing the direction, intensity and the duration of these behaviors, then they will benefit from maximizing the performance of the workforce (Latham and Pinder 2005). In addition, they are aware that performance is considered the functional part of human abilities, and motivation helps to anchor people’s thinking to guide them to behave in the right direction (Vroom 1964 cited in Buchner 2007). So, exploiting these potentials through the use of motivational theories can enhance productivity and create a favorable work environment.
Culture can support motivation. Most work motivation is carried out in the organizational context. For instance, organizations can benefit from using a reward system to motivate individuals, taking into account their cultural system and the value of the rewards for the individuals in the organization. In a high context collective culture, for instance, that expects their norms to be respected; rewarding individual behavior is unlikely to have a positive effect (Francesco and Gold 1998).
Developing teams and groups in the organization is another way to motivate individuals. Greenberg and Baron, (1995) commented that
“…teams appear to be an effective way of eliminating layers of management, When people are highly committed toward achieving excellence, it is not surprising that their companies may enjoy the results.”
Numerous organizational behaviour studies have been conducted to understand methods for motivating people in order to capitalize on productivity. Motivation is a core concept, that helps to understand why people behave the way they do in an organization (Freedheim et al. 2003). It is difficult to define this subjective concept; however, many academics have defined it based on their personal view, field, traditions and cultures, as mentioned by Murphy and Alexander (2000).
• Buchanan, D. and Huczynski, A. (1991) Organizational Behavior: An introductory text, 3rd edn, Prentice-Hall, London.
• Buchner, T. (2007), “Performance Management theory: A look from the performance perspective with implications for HRD”, Human Resource Development International, vol.10, no. 1, pp. 59-73.
• Callahan, R., Fleenor, C. and knudson, H. (1986), Understanding Organizational Behavior: Management viewpoint, Bell and Howell, Ohio.
• Francesco, A-M. & Gold, B. (1998), International Organizational Behaviour: Text, Readings, Cases and Skills, Prentice Hall.London.
• Freedheim, D., Weiner, I., Vellcer, W., Schinka, J. and Lerner, R. (2003), Handbook of psychology, John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey.
• Greenberg, J. and Baron, R. (1995), Behavior in Organizations: understanding and managing human side of work, 5th edn, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.
• Latham, G. and Pinder, C. (2005), “Work Motivation Theory and Research at the dawn of the twenty-first century”, Annual Review of Psychology, vol.56, pp.485-516.
• Murphy, K. and Alexander, P. (2000) ‘A motivated Exploration of motivation terminology’, Journal of Contemporary Educational Psychology, vol.25, no.1, pp.3-53.