Motivation Theories in Management | Explained

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Definition: Motivation is an inner psychological force which activates and compares the person to behave in a particular manner. There are many motivation theories under the concept of motivation.


Motivation Theories

Motivation theories are categories into two: content and process theories.

Content theory: focus on “what” motivates people.

Process theory: focus on “how” motivation occurs.


Content Motivation Theories

Content theories try to figure “what” motivates people. It is also known as needs theory. It is concerned with individual needs and goals.


Following are the motivation theories in content theory perspective.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology. Maslow’s classified the human need into five hierarchy category.

  • Physiological need: These are a basic need for human life related to survival and maintenance.
    Example: Food, cloth, shelter, air etc. Getting a job in organization context.

  • Safety need: Once physiological needs are met. One’s attention turn to safety and stability.
    Example: Economic security and safety from physical danger such as war, crime etc. job security in organization context.

  • Social need: Those needs which are related to interaction with other people and may include need for friends, need for belongingness and to give and receive love.
    Example: Having good work relationships in the context of an organisation.

  • Esteem needs: It includes prestige, recognition, acceptance, admiration and self-respect.
    Example: Appreciated for what an individual can do, in the context of an organisation.

Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Frederick Herzberg proposed a motivation-hygiene theory or Two factor theory. According to Herzberg, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are two separate dimensions.

  • Satisfaction is affected by motivators and dissatisfaction is affected by hygiene factor, which is the key idea for managers.

  • This theory suggests to improve hygiene factor (dissatisfiers) and to provide motivators (satisfiers) for the motivation of employees.

  • Motivation cannot take place only by improving the highest factor in the work environment.

  • So, the manager has to improve hygiene factor for removal of dissatisfaction from the minds of employees and to provide motivators to increase satisfaction among the employees.

Process Motivation Theories

Process theories try to figure “How” the motivation occurs. It is concerned with the “process” of motivation.


Following are the motivation theories in process theory perspective.

Read: What is Organizational Behavior? | Definition, Importance, Model


Common Question – Motivation Theories

What is the best motivation theory?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the earliest, best known and most influential motivation theories in workplace motivation.

How many motivation theories are there?

Majorly, there are 5 main motivation theories. Read Further


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