The very meaning of the word motivation means “to move”. Defined as the internal factor that induces behavior and gives a new direction, motivation is integral to everyone’s life. Motivation theory described the various processes that talk about the reasons (why, how, what etc) that affect an induce behavior patterns in all of us to feel motivated to do something.
Considered as one of the most important areas of study in the organizational behavior field, motivation theory has two distinct categories – content theories and process theories. Despite the fact that there are several motivation theories espoused by many psychologists, not one of them is accepted universally.
Some of the pioneers in content theory of motivation, which focuses on the internal factors that channelize human behavior, include Abraham Maslow, Alderfer, Herzeberg, and McClelland. Motivation theory such as the very famous Hierarchy of Needs by Maslow, the ERG theory by Alderfer, motivator-hygiene theory by Herzeberg also known as the dual factors theory by Herzeberg, and learned needs or three-needs theory by McClelland are some of the major content theories.
Of the above mentioned motivation theories, the content theory by Maslow on the hierarchy of human needs is perhaps the most known and popular. It talks about five levels of basic needs, which are categorized as physiological needs, safety and security needs, self esteem needs, love needs, and needs for self actualization.
Similar to the hierarchy of needs by Maslow, is the ERG theory that explains the existence, relatedness and growth needs in human beings. While the dual factors theory of Herzeberg talks about specific factors at the workplace that can help in job satisfaction. On the other hand, the Thematic Aptitude Test (TAT), a projective technique as part of the learned needs motivation theory by McClelland, tries to evaluate people and their aptitude based on the three main needs that are: power, affiliation, and achievement. It would be safe to conclude that McClelland’s motivation theory results indicate that people who have a higher need of power take action in ways that tend to influence the behavior of other people and those around them.
A motivation theory attempts to decode the reasons that motivate people to do different tasks and become successful in them. While different people have different thinking behaviors, the immediate environment, the background of the person and other factors are the key reasons. Perhaps that’s why Maslow’s motivation theory states that a man’s behavior is controlled and affected by the internal as well as the external factors. This also means that man has the significant ability to make choices in his life and exercise his free-will.
Theories such as Adam’s equity theory, Vroom’s expectancy theory, goal-setting motivation theory, and reinforcement motivation theory etc suggest that when people need something or desire something, they are motivated to achieve it. If you want something really bad, your desire and your need should be motivation enough for you to achieve it!
Any motivation theory can be applied to a cross-section of people and businesses. The underlying principle of every theory is that human beings require their needs to be met. When these needs are met, a certain balance is achieved and the person starts to respond favorably to his immediate environment and the results are more than satisfactory.