This to achieve their goals. Another problem

This paper critically compares andexplores the strengths and weaknesses of content and process theories ofmotivation; drawing on examples from the service sector. ‘Motivation refers to the energy a person iswilling to devote to a task’ (Wagner and Hollenbeck, 2015).

‘It is ‘a cognitive decision-making processthrough which goal-directed behaviour is initiated, energised, directed, andmaintained’ (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2013). ‘Motivation may stem from processes takingplace within an individual (intrinsic motivation) orfrom the impact of factors acting on the individual from outside (extrinsicmotivation)’ (Oxford Reference, 2017). Content/need theories of motivation look atwhat motivates individual. The content approach centres on the notion thatindividuals are motivated by the desire to fulfil their inner needs.Process/cognitive theories of motivation look at how individuals are motivated.There is less emphasis on the specific factors that motivate them. Intrinsic motivation is when an individual does somethingbecause they enjoy doing it or think it is interesting. Extrinsic motivation is when an individual does something forexternal rewards or to avoid negative consequences.

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Service work rangesfrom the highly knowledge intensive (where there are many knowledge tasksinvolved, e.g. business services – lawyer) to low skilled work (where there arefew knowledge tasks involves, e.g.

cleaning).  Although there isn’t much evidence that supportsthem, the content and process theories discussed are applicable and importantin the real-world; managers can use these to motivate their employees in order toachieve their goals. Another problem is that the theories and research are veryold, so we’re not able to see whether they are as relevant because of changesin cultural and individual values over time. One of theories discussed isMaslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’. The research undertaken by Maslow (1943) is inadequateas it doesn’t take into account cultural or individual differences.

 Having stated and discussed the purpose ofthis writing, the background and importance of the topic and problems in thefield of study. This paper will compareand explore the strengths and weaknesses of content and process theories ofmotivation. The paper begins with a review of content/need theories; areview of the literature on Maslow’s theory by researchers such as Hofstede,Tay and Diener follows. It then looks at process theories and examples ofliterature which include examples from the service sector. The paper concludeswith a summary of the findings.  One content/need theory which looks at what motivatesindividuals is Maslow’s (1943) ‘hierarchy of needs’.

Maslow claims thatindividuals are motivated to realise certain needs and some needs takeprecedence over others. It has a strong significance in the real-world,especially in the services sector. Managers can profit from understanding theirworker’s basic human needs (such as friendship, job security, or acknowledgmentfor a job well done). Establishing a setting which meets these needs will leadto workers performing at their highest potential for the business. (Publishing,2017). The key strength of Maslow’s theory is the way in which ithelps to understand human behaviour and what motivates people. It seems logical that an individual whosephysiological needs are not met (for instance, someone doesn’t have anywhere tolive or anything to eat) is not likely to pursue higher needs. Although onemight momentarily pursue a higher need, the physiological need (for food andshelter) would surely become the key focus again.

A weakness of Maslow’s theory is that in creating his ‘hierarchy ofneeds’, he only studied a small section of the human population. The terms thatare used (such as, “self-esteem” and “security”) have variedmeanings in different cultures around the world. Therefore, it can be problematicto measure these needs or to generalise them for all service sector workers aroundthe world. (Publishing, 2017). Additionally, Maslow’s theory doesn’t explainbehaviour that is outside the norm of what is projected by the hierarchy forexample hunger strikes to achieve a higher-level need, the fact that somebodywould risk their own life to save another, in order to grow closer toself-actualization. (Redmond, 2017).

Besides cultural differences, Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needsalso doesn’t take into account individual differences. There is no evidencesignifying every human being experiences the needs in the order Maslowspecified. Moreover, there is not much empirical evidence that supports thetheory at all. (Publishing, 2017).

The theory assumes thateveryone experiences the needs in the same order, failing to spot cultural andindividual differences. In a collectivist society, for instance, social needsmay be considered more important than physiological needs. Maslow’s account of self-actualization and howself-actualized people felt and acted, was centred on writing and speaking to selectively chosen peoplerather than rigorous sampling. (ManagementStudyHQ, 2017)Hofstede (1984) criticised Maslow’s hierarchy for being ‘ethnocentric’. He believed that placingself-actualisation needs above social needs echoed a western, individualistic conceptthat may not apply to other cultures. Hofstede used Haire et al.’s (1966)14-country study to show the cultural limitations of Maslow’s ‘hierarchy ofneeds’ theory.

 In Haire et al.’s (1966) study managers ratedthe importance, their satisfaction and fulfilment of a number of needs. Theseneeds represented the five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy. Hofstede (1984) pointsout that although Haire et al.

(1996) didn’t draw the conclusion from theirdata, ‘the only nationality group that ordered their need importance almost.and their need satisfaction exactly, in the Maslow order was the US. managers.The other nationalities showed more or less deviant patterns.’ The needs and motivations of people in individualisticsocieties are likely to be more self-centred than those in collectivistsocieties. In collectivist societies, the needs of acceptance and community arelikely to outweigh the needs for freedom and individuality.

(Sarinc,2013).  Gambrel and Cianci (2003)examined Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ and ‘current related literature’ todetermine whether or not it applies in a collectivist culture. Findings of theliterature review suggested that ‘a hierarchy of needs based on a collectivistculture will differ from Maslow’s original model. In a collectivist culture,the basic need is belonging; self-esteem is eliminated, and self-actualizationis attained in terms of meeting societal development needs.

‘ (Gambrel andCianci, 2003).Tay and Diener’s (2011) research regarding Maslow’s theory ‘examined the association between thefulfilment of needs and subjective well-being (SWB)’ across a sample of 123countries and 60,865 participants. They learnt that each of the needs had anindependent effect on SWB.

This implied that the impact of self-esteem needswas not contingent on whether safety needs had been realised. This rathercontradicts one of the assumptions of Maslow’stheory, that basic needs must be realised before higher needs can be met. The study maintained the view that universalhuman needs seem to exist irrespective of cultural differences. ‘Theneeds emerged to some degree in an order that would be suggested by Maslow’sordering, especially for individuals who have lower total needs fulfilled’. Theresearch also found that ‘lower needs are fulfilled faster relative to higherneeds’ (Tay and Diener, 2011).  Their findings suggested that the deprivation and fulfilment of needs isclosely linked to low and high positive feelings, respectively.

Whereas a lackof needs may not produce high negative feelings, the fulfilment of needs canreduce negative feelings. The lack of needs leads to low life evaluations, butits fulfilment is not sufficient for high life evaluations. (2011).Hitka and Balážová(2015) comparedthe motivation level of service sector employees in two neighbouring countries(Slovakia and Austria).

They assumed that considering the differences in livingconditions in both countries, that there would be significant differences inthe motivation level of service sector employees. They drew conclusions thatdespite the territorial differences required condition of employee motivationin Slovakia and in Austria was almost the same. For an organisation, job satisfaction ofits employees means a work force that is motivated and driven to high qualityperformance. Dissatisfied employees, who are only motivated by fear of losingtheir job, will not give 100% of their effort for long. (Lawler, Atmiyanada. and Zaidi, 1992)Process/cognitive theories look at how individuals aremotivated.

Two of the main process theories, reinforcement and goal settingtheories have been supported by research studies and are seen as the mosthelpful in application. Expectancy and equity theories have not been studied asmeticulously as reinforcement and goal setting theories. (Stotz & Bolger,2017)Vroom’s (1964) expectancy theory assumes that ‘people’s behaviourresults from conscious choices among alternatives’ (Ramlall, 2004).

Expectancy Theory is centred on the viewthat individuals will work harder if the rewards are right, applying thistheory allows businesses to have some control over the level of performanceshown by its workers.  Managers who understand their workers’ needsand extrinsic motivating factors can effectively motivate workers toperform at a higher level. (Redmond, 2017). ‘Numerous studies have been done to testthe accuracy of Expectancy Theory in predicting employee behaviour and directtests have been generally supportive.’ (Parijat and Bagga, 2014).Aarabi, Subramaniam, and Akeel (2013)looked at the relationship between motivational factors and job performance ofemployees in the Malaysian service industry. The findings displayed that amongthe motivational factors, two variables were found to be significantforecasters of job performance.

‘Training contributed 40.4% to job performancewhile promotion contributed an additional 3%.’ (Aarabi, Subramaniam, and Akeel,2013). They also found that intrinsic factors were considered more importantthan extrinsic motivational factors such as payment, job security, and friendlyenvironment. Freedom an intrinsic variable though was not found to be meaningfullyrelated to job performance. Expectancy theory, characteristically,focuses solely on extrinsic factors of motivation. Many service sector workers aren’tmotivated just by extrinsic factors, such as a pay check.

This is shown by thefindings of the research from Aarabi, Subramaniam, and Akeel (2013). Theirresearch showed that an intrinsic factor (training) ‘contributed 40.4% to jobperformance’ and ‘intrinsic factors were considered more important thanextrinsic motivational factor’ overall.’Another weakness of the expectancy theoryis that it assumes all necessities are in place, which is not always the case. Employeesneed to have the ability, the resources and the opportunity to perform theirjob well.’ (Redmond, 2017). This paper has looked at the strengths andweaknesses of content and process theories of motivation.

As discussed earlier,some theories are very relevant to the real-world and having looked more deeplyinto content and process theories of motivation, I know the strengths and howvaluable certain theories are. However, I still feel that the evidencepresented is ….. As discussed earlier, some theories arevery relevant to the real-world however, a lot of the archaic theories, areshort-term studies (which do not necessarily show subtle changes over time) andonly use a small sample size for the research which couldn’t possibly fairlyrepresent the whole human population.

 Hofstede labelled the theory as’ethnocentric’ (1984), drawing on Haire et al.’s research which showed thatfrom 14 countries, managers from the U.S.

were the only ones that ordered theneeds in the same order as Maslow. Gambrel and Cianci’s (2003) research showedthat Maslow ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ theory was not applicable in all cultures. Incountries such as China, with a collectivist culture ‘the basic need isbelonging; self-esteem is eliminated, and self-actualization is attained interms of meeting societal development needs.

‘One of the key strengths of expectancy theory is that it isbased on common sense. ‘Many experts in the field of organizational behaviourhold the view that Expectancy theory is one of the most acceptable theories ofmotivation and there is substantial evidence to support the theory.’ (Parijatand Bagga, 2014).High knowledge intensive workers such as, lawyers are likelyto be motivated in differently to low skilled workers such as cleaners. Contenttheories have been helpful in discussing motivation, but not all have beenverified through research.

‘ (Stotz & Bolger, 2017). Reinforcement and goalsetting theories have been supported by research studies and are seen as themost helpful in application. Expectancy and equity theories have not beenstudied as meticulously as reinforcement and goal setting theories. (Stotz &Bolger, 2017).    WordCount: 2008                  Reference ListTay,L.

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