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An Overview of Motivation Theo

An Overview of Motivation Theories: The Impact
of Employee Motivation on Achieving Organizational Goals
Professor Assistant Dr., Faculty of Tourism and Environment, Department of Tourism and Hotel Management,
University of Applied Sciences in Ferizaj, Kosovo
E-mail: fari.bushi@ushaf.net
The aim of this paper is to provide a clear summary of motivational theories. It is known that in order to start and finish
a certain job, there must firstly be a motive that pushes the person to do something. This motive may be related to
the satisfaction that person has while performing the job, to his/her desire to act, or to his/her expectations of the
outcome. All of these are related to the motivation that a person has to perform in one way or another. The higher the
motivation, the better the result of a job done. In this way, motivation theories present explanations, each in its own
form, of how individuals should be motivated for better performance, respectively how employees in the organization
should be motivated so that their work results in achievement of organizational goals.
Keywords: motivation; motivation theories; employees; task performance; organizational goals..
1. Introduction
Employee Motivation is a widely practiced exercise today
across all corporate sectors regardless of their size of being
either big or small. The concept of motivation is derived from a
Latin word “movere” which means “to move”. Motivation is what
moves the employees from dullness to interest (Mohsan, et al.,
2004). Managers, in order to avoid and solve potential
challenges and problems, should use their knowledge, skills,
attitudes and experiences in formulating effective development
strategies that will enable the achievement of goals (Tahiri &
Kovaçi, 2017). When it comes to motivation, managers take
various actions and invest significant amounts of time, energy
and money in improving the employees’ labour performance. We
believe, however, that some practitioners focus on identifying
and satisfying the employees’ needs alone (of physiological,
material, social, professional, moral, spiritual, cognitive nature,
etc.), ignoring the fact the efficiency and effectiveness of a
motivational process are influenced by other constituents of the
motivational system, also. Motivation is considered to be the
process through which an employee is able to gain superior
work performance as a consequence of going through the
following phases: motivation, satisfaction, self motivation, work
involvement. The motivational system is an ensemble of very
diverse components that include a multitude of interconnected
physical, mental and moral (spiritual) variables, which influence
the process of motivation (Popa & Salanţă, 2012).
Motivation refers to the process by which a person’s efforts
are energized, directed, and sustained toward attaining a goal.
This definition has three key elements: energy, direction, and
persistence. The energy element is a measure of intensity, drive,
and vigor. A motivated person puts forth effort and works hard.
However, the quality of the effort must be considered as well as
its intensity. High levels of effort don’t necessarily lead to
favourable job performance unless the effort is channeled in a
direction that benefits the organization. Effort directed toward
and consistent with organizational goals is the kind of effort we
want from employees. Finally, motivation includes a persistence
dimension. We want employees to persist in putting forth e ort to
achieve those goals (Robbins & Coulter, 2018). It is crucial to
admit that business organizations need proper motivation inputs
as a source of energy to produce outputs. Organizations are
systems created by people, who being motivated and in cooperation with each other achieve the set of objectives. The more
motivation an organization transmits to an employee, the more
rewards the employee will provide, being more effectively
involved in an organization (Lee & Bruvold, 2003) and at higher
output levels (Gardner, Van Dyne, & Pierce, 2004).
Considering the fact that human resources or organization
officials are an added value and the main and most valuable
source of the organization, it requires professionals and
motivated persons (Shoraj & Llaci, 2015). The real assets of the
organizations are employees (Mohsan, et al., 2004) and it’s
considered as the engine of any company. There is a growing
need to have staff doing their jobs properly and the organization
gets the required output from employees. To achieve those
objectives, we need employee who has a real desire to perform
their duties as well as has stimulus and incentive to attain the
required goal (Al-Madi, et al., 2017).
2. Literature review
2.1. Motivation Theories
There are a number of motivation theories which, in the
main, are complementary to one another (Armstrong, 2009).
Traditional motivation theories focus on specific elements that
motivate employees in pursuit of organizational performance.
However, current research on employee motivation is more
cross disciplinary and includes fields such as neuroscience,
biology and psychology. It seems that current research is aiming
to bring together and revolutionize traditional motivation theories
into a more comprehensive theory that encompasses the
traditional perspectives of management, human resources,
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organization behavior with new perspectives in neuroscience,
biology and psychology (Lee & Raschke, 2016). In the early
20th century, motivational theories were the major organizing
forces within both experimental and applied psychologies
(Ryan, 2012).
2.1.1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory
The best-known theory of motivation is probably Abraham
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. Maslow was a psychologist
who proposed that within every person is a hierarchy of five
needs (Figure 1) (Robbins & Coulter, 2018):
1. Physiological needs: A person’s needs for food, drink,
shelter, and other physical requirements;
2. Safety needs: A person’s needs for security and protection from physical and emotional harm as well as
assurance that physical needs will continue to be met;
3. Social needs: A person’s needs for affection, belongingness, acceptance, and friendship;
4. Esteem needs: A person’s needs for internal esteem
factors such as selfrespect, autonomy, and achievement
and external esteem factors such as status, recognition,
and attention;
5. Self-actualization needs: A person’s needs for growth,
achieving one’s potential, and self-fulfillment; the drive to
become what one is capable of becoming.
Figure 1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Source: Robbins, S. P. & Coulter, M., Management,
Fourteenth Edition, Pearson, New York, 2018.
2.1.2. Alderfer’s ERG Theory
Clayton Alderfer devised a theory of human needs that postulated three primary categories (Armstrong, 2009):
1. Existence needs such as hunger and thirst – pay, fringe
benefits and working conditions are other types of
existence needs;
2. Relatedness needs, which acknowledge that people are
not self-contained units but must engage in transactions
with their human environment – acceptance, understanding, confirmation and influence are elements of the
relatedness process;
3. Growth needs, which involve people in finding the
opportunities “to be what they are most fully and to
become what they can”.
2.1.3. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y
Douglas McGregor is best known for proposing two
assumptions about human nature: Theory X and Theory Y. Very
simply, Theory X is a negative view of people (Robbins &
Coulter, 2018) and summarizes these assumptions (Kasimati &
Manxhari, 2002):
Employees do not like the job and whenever they can
they avoid it;
Since employees do not like the job, they need to be
forced, controlled, threatened with punishment in order to
achieve the desired goals;
Employees prefer the formal direction;
Most employees place security above all other work
factors and they are not ambitious.
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Vol. 22, No. 183/ August 2021
Theory Y is a positive view (Robbins & Coulter, 2018) which
assumes that (Llaci, 2010):
Spending physical or mental energy at work is as natural
as playing or resting;
External control and threat of punishment are not the
only ways to make people work to achieve their goals.
People will exercise self-direction and self-control for
goals for which they are committed;
Their commitment to achieve goals depends on the rewards that will be used;
Under appropriate conditions, people will not only accept
responsibility, but will also demand it themselves;
The imagination and creativity for solving organizational
problems is spread across a set of employees of the
In the conditions of modern industry, the intellectual
potential of people has only been partially exploited.
2.1.4. Ouchi’s Theory Z
Theory Z represents management theory implemented in
Japanese management in the 1980s. This theory has been
formulated as genuine theory by William Ouchi (Ramosaj,
2013). McGregor’s concern with management styles is reflected
in later studies, including Ouchi’s notion of “Theory Z”. According
to Ouchi one of the key factors in the success of Japanese
manufacturing industries was their approach to the management of people (Worthington & Britton, 2006).
The essence of Theory Z lies in two basic conditions
(Ramosaj, 2013):
a) Complex knowledge of work and
b) High decentralization of responsibility and the right to
make decisions.
The characteristics of Theory Z are (Ramosaj, 2013):
Long-term employment;
Collective decision-making;
Individual responsibility;
Gradual employee progress system;
Specialized professional career;
Mechanism of indirect control;
Care for all employees in the company taking into
account their families.
For Ouchi, the key to organisational effectiveness lay in the
development of a Japanese-style Theory Z environment,
adapted to western requirements (Worthington & Britton, 2006).
2.1.5. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory
Psychologist and management consultant Frederick Herzberg
developed the two-factor content theory of motivation. The two
factors are the dissatisfiers-satisfiers, the hygiene-motivators, or
the extrinsic-intrinsic factors, depending on who’s discussing the
theory. The original research testing this theory included a group
of 200 accountants and engineers. Herzberg used interview
responses to questions such as, “Can you describe, in detail,
when you felt exceptionally good about your job?” and “Can you
describe, in detail, when you felt exceptionally bad about your
job?” Rarely were the same kinds of experiences categorized as
both good and bad. This systematic procedure resulted in the
development of two distinct kinds of experiences: satisfiers and
dissatisfiers (Figure 2) (Gibson, et al., 2012).
Referring to Figure 2, several important managerial implications of Herzberg’s two-factor theory are apparent (Gibson,
et al., 2012):
1. Low job dissatisfaction, high job satisfaction: An employee
who is paid well, has job security, has good relationships with
co-workers and the supervisor (hygiene factors are present –
low job dissatisfaction), and is given challenging duties for which
he or she is accountable will be motivated. Managers should
continue to assign challenging tasks and transfer accountability
to high performing subordinates. Pay raises, job security, and
good supervision need to be continued.
Figure 2. Traditional and Herzberg Views
of Satisfaction-Dissatisfaction
Source: Gibson, J. L., Ivancevich, J. M., Jr. Donnelly, J .M. &
Konopaske, R, Organizations: Behavior, Structure, Processes,
Fourteenth Edition, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2012.
2. Low job dissatisfaction, low job satisfaction: An employee
who is paid well, has job security, has good relationships with
co-workers and the supervisor (hygiene factors are present –
low job dissatisfaction) but is not given any challenging assignments and is very bored with his or her job (motivators are
absent – no job satisfaction) will not be motivated.
Managers should reevaluate subordinate’s job description
and enlarge it by providing more challenging and interesting
assignments. Pay raises, job security, and good supervision
need to be continued.
3. High job dissatisfaction, low job satisfaction: An employee
who is not paid well, has little job security, has poor relationships
with co-workers and the supervisor (hygiene factors are not
present – high job dissatisfaction) and is not given any challenging assignments and is very bored with his/her job (motivators
are absent – low job satisfaction) will not be motivated.
To prevent low performance, absenteeism, and turnover,
managers should make drastic changes by adding hygiene
factors and motivators.
2.1.6. McClelland’s Three-Needs Theory
David McClelland and his associates proposed the threeneeds theory, which says three acquired (not innate) needs are
major motives in work (Robbins & Coulter, 2018). McClelland
based it mainly on studies of managers. He identified three
needs as being most important (Armstrong, 2009):
1. The need for achievement, defined as the need for
competitive success measured against a personal
standard of excellence.
2. The need for affiliation, defined as the need for warm,
friendly, compassionate relationships with others.
3. The need for power, defined as the need to control or
influence others.
2.1.7. Locke’s Goal-Setting Theory
The term goal has long been used in scientific accounts of
motivation. The theoretical and empirical utility of goals has
been richly documented over the years, and it is difficult to
predict a complete account of motivation that does not take into
account, implicitly or explicitly, the goal driven by the nature of
the behavior. In fact, many theorists incorporate the inclusion of
purpose precisely in their definition of motivation (Shah &
Gardner, 2008).
According to Edwin Locke, the goal “is what an individual
strives to achieve; it is the object or purpose of an action”.
Research shows that goals can be an important source of motivation (Kasimati & Manxhari, 2002).
Goal-setting theory says that specific goals increase performance and that difficult goals, when accepted, result in higher
performance than do easy goals (Robbins & Coulter, 2018).
Goal theory is in line with the 1960s concept of management by
objectives (a process of managing, motivating and appraising
people by setting objectives or goals and measuring performance against those objectives) (Armstrong, 2009).
To successfully apply this theory, managers must consider a
few key points (Kutllovci, 2004):
Firstly, it is better to set goals in close collaboration between manager and subordinates;
Secondly, the goals must be specified;
Thirdly, goals must not only be specified, but must also
be achievable;
Fourthly, managers need to provide continuous information to their subordinates.
2.1.8. Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory
Skinner proposed reinforcement theory which presupposes
that people behave in a certain way, which is conditioned by the
reinforcers or stimulus they have received for such behaviour in
the past. According to this theory, there are four types of
reinforcers that managers can use to influence people's behavior: positive reinforcers (salaries, bonuses, praise, awarding
a prize, etc.), negative reinforcers (reprimand), extinction
(disappearance) and punishment (Kutllovci, 2004).
Reinforcement theory ignores factors such as goals,
expectations, and needs. Instead, it focuses solely on what
happens to a person when he or she does something (Robbins
& Coulter, 2018).
2.1.9. Adams’ Equity Theory
According to the equity theory, the founder of which is
Stackey Adams, individuals are satisfied only in cases where
their inputs and outputs are equal. According to this theory,
employees compare their inputs and outputs with the inputs and
outputs of other members of the organization. In fact employees
start with an idea of what inputs and rewards has another
employee and then compare them to themselves. If the other
employee with the same effort in the workplace has the same
reward, then the employee comes to the conclusion that he is
treated fairly and equally with other employees of the
organization, while otherwise he will consider that injustice is
being done to him in the organization. It should be noted here
that in reality there may be equality between employees, but it
should not be understood as such by the respective employee.
Figure 3. Equity Theory Relationships
Source: Robbins S., DeCenzo D. & Coulter M., Fundamentals
of Management, Essential Concepts and Applications,
Eighth Edition, Pearson Education Inc., USA, 2013.
2.1.10. Vroom’s Expectancy Theory
The most comprehensive explanation of how employees are
motivated is Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory. Although the
theory has its critics, most research evidence supports it.
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Expectancy theory states that an individual tends to act in a
certain way based on the expectation that the act will be
followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that
outcome to the individual (Robbins, DeCenzo & Coulter, 2013).
Expectancy theory describes the cognitive process that employees go through to make choices among different voluntary
responses. The theory suggests that our choices depend on
three specific beliefs that are based in our past learning and
experience: expectancy, instrumentality, and valence (Colquitt,
LePine & Wesson, 2015).
Expectancy is the probability perceived by the individual that
exerting a given amount of effort will lead to a certain level of
performance (Robbins & Coulter, 2018).
Instrumentality is the degree to which the individual believes
that performing at a particular level is instrumental in attaining
the desired outcome (Robbins & Coulter, 2018).
Valence represents the attractive (seductive) power, i.e. the
affective orientation of the individual according to a certain goal-
result. Valence or the value of goals can change: positively
(when the individual achieves a certain goal), has zero value
(when the individual is indifferent to the goal), and negatively
(when the individual wants to escape the achievement of the
goal) (Ramosaj, 2013).
2.1.11. Porter-Lawler Expectancy Theory
Expanding the concepts of expectancy theory offered by
Vroom, Lyman Porter and Edward Lawler III, proposed their
expectancy theory, which essentially appears to identify the
source of valences and expectations for different individuals, as
well as the link between effort, task performing and job
satisfaction (Kasimati & Manxhari, 2002). Porter and Lawler
start with the premise that motivation (effort or force) does not
equal satisfaction or performance. Motivation, satisfaction, and
performance are all separate variables and relate in ways
different from what was traditionally assumed (Luthans, 2011).
Figure 4.
The Porter-Lawler Motivation Model
Luthans, F. (2011).
Organizational Behavior,
An Evidence-Based Approach,
Twelfth Edition, McGraw-Hill, New York.
Figure 4 depicts the multivariable model used to explain the
complex relationships that exist among motivation, performance,
and satisfaction. It is important to note, however, that Porter and
Lawler point out that effort (force or motivation) does not lead
directly to performance. It is moderated by abilities and traits
and by role perceptions. More important in the Porter-Lawler
model is what happens after the performance. The rewards that
follow and how these are perceived will determine satisfaction.
In other words, the Porter-Lawler model suggests – and this is a
significant turn of events from conventional wisdom-that
performance leads to satisfaction (Luthans, 2011).
3. Methodology
The methodology of this paper also relies on direct market
research in addition to the theoretical approach based on the
study of literature, scientific papers and other relevant sources.
For the purpose of this paper, a research has been undertaken
in 50 enterprises of the Republic of Kosovo, be they production,
service or trade enterprises. We surveyed owners, managers
and employees. We have personally met with the managers of
these 50 companies in which case they have answered the
questions of the structured questionnaire and also given us
additional explanations by orienting us in the environments of
their businesses so that we could see more closely the work the
employees do. Meeting with employees gave us the opportunity
to conduct real-time interviews about their motivation in work.
This has helped us to assess how motivated they are in their
work and how their level of motivation affects the achievement
of organizational goals.
4. Results
Organizations, regardless of industry and size, strive to create a strong and positive relationship with their employees.
However, employees have various competing needs that are
driven by different motivators. For example, some employees
are motivated by rewards while others focus on achievement or
security. Therefore, it is essential for an organization and its
managers to understand what really motivates its employees if
they intend to maximize organizational performance (Lee &
Raschke, 2016).
Achieving organizational goals is an essential element of the
existence of organizations and to achieve this point employee
motivation must be at a high level. Employee motivation in
enterprises in Kosovo has proven to be in several ways. In table
and in figure below we present the factors that influence the
increase of employee motivation at work in the enterprises taken
as the sample of the research.
Figure 5 clearly shows the percentage of influence of factors
Table 1. Factors that motivate employees for better performance
Compiled by the authors
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Vol. 22, No. 183/ August 2021
Figure 5. Factors that motivate employees
for better performance
Compiled by the authors based on Table 1
that increase employee motivation for better performance. Thus,
the biggest impact on increasing employee motivation are monetary benefits and opportunities for promotion. Workers would
be motivated by obtaining the highest possible wages through
working in the most efficient and productive way (Mullins, 2010).
Another influential factor in the level of employee motivation is
the positive evaluation of work by managers, i.e. performing
tasks efficiently and effectively by employees and achieving
certain results made managers give positive evaluations to
them. In the 4% that refers to the “other” option, we received
additional explanations, respectively we asked what else motivates the employees besides the mentioned factors. And it turns
out that employee motivation increases when they are rewarded
with a day off (as a result of the good work they have done),
when they are given a gratitude for a certain project which has
been successfully completed, when highest scale collaboration is allowed between employees (for reasons of better
performance), when they are rewarded with any small gift that
symbolizes high positive performance and achievement of
organizational objectives and goals.
5. Conclusions
Motivation may be defined as a planned managerial process, which stimulates people to work to the best of their
capabilities, by providing them with motives, which are based on
their unfulfilled needs. Motives are forces which induce people
to act in a way, so as to ensure the fulfillment of a particular
human need at a time. Behind every human action there is a
motive. Therefore, management must provide motives to people
to make them work for the organization.
The purpose of motivation theories is to find out what drives
individuals to work towards achieving a goal or outcome. Thus,
organizations are interested in understanding which motivation
theory to follow in order for employees to be more motivated and
productive, leading to more economical use of resources.
Depending on the work being done, the motivating factors
may be different. We noticed that in the surveyed enterprises,
the employees were mainly motivated by the monetary benefits,
the opportunities for promotion and the positive evaluations they
receive after fulfilling their duties. What is worth noting is that
motivation is the key element that influences employees to show
their skills and work toward achieving organizational goals.
Motivation is one of the forces that lead to performance.
Finally, we say that employee efforts increase and their
performance improves when they are motivated to work. This
obviously leads to achieving organizational goals.
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