Motivation Theory in Business

"B-12, G-47, I-24, O-51, I-5, N-36………….’BINGO’!!!!!!"

A simple game of bingo, if analyzed closely, can be shown to be a tedious task consisting of a repetitive action that occurs after being prompted by a repetitive stimulus. The skill level needed to make that action is low, and the variability in the rules of the game rarely changes. This game is not unlike many of the jobs that can be classified as having low motivational potential scores (Hackman, et al). So why do people not only enjoy playing games like bingo, but actually pay money to have the pleasure? The answer directly points to the motivating factors of monetary rewards and recognition which are provided on a "variable-ratio" schedule. Motivation by reinforcement (Miller).
There are many theories regarding motivation with the most prevalent being the theories of Maslow and Herzberg. It is important to understand these theories and their implications to accurately comment on reinforcement theories of motivation. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are five classes: (1) physiological, (2) safety, (3) social, (4) esteem, and (5) self-actualization. Each lower level need must be satisfied before an individual experiences higher level needs. Also, Maslow hypothesized that as physiological, safety, social, and esteem needs were satisfied, they ceased to motivate, while the self-actualization needs actually motivate an individual more as they are satisfied (Schwab, 1978: 57). Herzberg used this theory as a base to build his motivation-hygiene theory which ties Maslow’s needs to on the job achievement. The hygiene elements relate to low needs (physiological, safety, and social). For an individual, hygiene conditions include company policy and administration, supervision, relationships with peers and supervisors, work conditions, salary, status, and security. These, according to Herzberg account for 69% of the factors which cause employee dissatisfaction or lack of motivation. The motivation conditions, which include achievement, the job itself, recognition, responsibilities, and personal growth, accounted for 81% of the factors which contributed to job satisfaction. The hygiene conditions are extrinsic factors while the motivation conditions are intrinsic factors, and the only way to sustain motivation toward organizational goals is through the achievement of intrinsic outcomes. Each of these theories have proven to contain ideas consistent with human nature, but each also has its limitations within organizational settings. Because lower order needs are generally satisfied in the workplace today, managers have to deal with how to provide esteem and self-actualization to their employees, and that can be a nebulous concept to a manager who demands results immediately. Also, studies demonstrate that different workers are motivated by different factors be them intrinsic or extrinsic. Centers and Bugental’s studies on "intrinsic and extrinsic job motivation among different segments of the working population," show that while skilled workers are motivated the intrinsic rewards of their employment, lesser skilled workers in jobs that are deemed routine were motivated by extrinsic factors such as incentives and bonuses. This fact can be reaffirmed by analyzing union contacts and job descriptions in an industry like the steel industry. Employees who have routine jobs or jobs that have little in the way of decision making are often provided high monetary incentives based on productivity and quality. These ideas do not discount the work of Herzberg and Maslow, but instead show that as needs progress up the hierarchy ladder, focus must be made on what a manager should do to provide their workers with what they lack, an increasingly difficult task that have influenced the motivational theories of job enrichment (Hackman, et al. 1975).
Job enrichment efforts have proven somewhat successful in improving performance and attitude amongst employees. Job enrichment theories are analogous to why people enjoy games so much. M. Scott Meyer wrote in his book, Every Employee a Manager, that the key to job enrichment can be related to why people enjoy bowling. His answer sums of the seven characteristics of bowling:
1. The bowler has a visible goal,
2. he has a challenging but attainable goal,
3. he is working according to his own personally accepted standards,
4. he receives immediate feedback,
5. he has an opportunity to satisfy social needs,
6. he is an accepted member of a group, and
7. he can earn recognition.

The one thing that job enrichment cannot do, however, is make the individual a better bowler. That is something that the player must