There are four well-established models of motivation: the rational-economic, the social, the self-actualizing and the complex model. The first three of these can be regarded as content models of motivation. Content theories of motivation try to explain the factors within individuals that motivate them. The complex model introduces some aspects of the process theory of motivation. Each of these is described briefly as a basis for later discussion.


The rational-economic model

This model suggests that people are primarily motivated by economic self-interest, and will act to maximize their own financial and material rewards. People’s motivation can then largely be controlled by offering or withholding financial rewards. Underlying this model are the assumptions that people are passive, inclined to assert less rather than more effort, unwilling to take responsibility and interested in work for what they can get out of it financially.


The social model

This model can be summarized in the following terms:

  • People at work are motivated primarily by social needs, such as the need for friendship and acceptance, and their sense of identity is formed through relationships with other people.
  • As a result of increased mechanization and rationalization, work has lost some of its meaning, and people increasingly seek meaning in social relationships at work.
  • People are more responsive to the pressures of their peer groups at work than to management controls and incentives.
  • People respond when management meets their needs for belonging, acceptance and sense of identity.


The self-actualizing model

Maslow first developed the idea of self-actualization needs. According to Maslow, self-actualization is the need a person has to fulfil his or her capabilities and potential, that is, his or her desire for growth.

The model further indicates that the following motivate people:

(1) Human needs fall into a hierarchy from the most basic physiological needs to needs for self-actualization:

  • Self-actualization – self-development;
  • Ego/esteem – self-esteem, reputation, standing;
  • Social/affiliation – belonging, acceptance, friendship;
  • Safety – protection against danger, threat, deprivation;
  • Physiological – need for food, drink, shelter.

As the basic needs are met, energy is released for the satisfaction of higher needs. Everyone seeks a sense of meaning and accomplishment in their work.

(2) Individuals like to exercise autonomy and independence and develop skills.

(3) People are primarily self-motivated and self-controlled.

(4)There is no inherent conflict between self-actualization and more effective organizational performance. People are happy to integrate their goals with those of the organization. Hertzberg et al. conducted a study of accountants and engineers. They asked respondents what made them feel particularly good (satisfiers) and bad (dissatisfiers) about their jobs. Satisfiers, or motivators, were closely related to self-actualization needs. Motivators include the work itself, recognition, advancement and responsibility. Motivators are intrinsic factors directly related to the job and largely internal to the individual. Dissatisfiers or hygiene factors relate to Maslow’s lower-level needs. These include company policy and administration, superannuation, salary, working conditions and interpersonal relations. Hygienes are extrinsic factors, which the organization largely determines. Improvement in these dissatisfiers would remove dissatisfaction, but would not elicit positive motivation. Positive motivation would only come from accomplishing a meaningful and challenging task. Hertzberg et al.’s study is recognized to have some limitations. In particular, results for professional workers may not be applicable to all groups. In addition, he uses satisfaction and motivation as interchangeable, and there is an embedded assumption that increased satisfaction leads to increased motivation; this is not always the case. Nevertheless the distinction between satisfiers and dissatisfiers is useful, and the recognition that some factors contribute to positive motivation, while others can only minimize dissatisfaction, is important.


The complex model

Schein argues that the problem with each of the preceding models of human behaviour is their claim to universality and generality. Instead, Schein sees human nature as complex, with human needs and motivations varying according to the different circumstances people face, their life experience, expectations and age. People are motivated to work when they believe that they can get what they want from their jobs. This might include the satisfaction of safety needs, the excitement of doing challenging work or the ability to set and achieve goals. Schein emphasizes that those with responsibility for managing people need to be sensitive to people’s differing circumstances and different cultural backgrounds, and that strategies for motivating staff need to accommodate this diversity. Schein also introduces the concept of a psychological contract. This contract is essentially a set of expectations on both sides and a match is important if efforts to improve motivation are likely to be effective. This model suggests a process of enquiry and negotiation, where each side makes its expectations explicit, and some kind of workable agreement is reached. The manager also needs to recognize that people are not fully aware of their expectations or most find it difficult to express them, so the manager needs to be sensitive and open to signs.


…Further explanation refers to the source below…



Source: Motivation of staff in libraries by Jennifer Rowley from Emeraldinsight database