Major Motivational Theories

There are many motivational theories that explain the importance of employee rewards and recognition, and their benefits to modern organizations.  Moreover, some of the major ones are the Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and the equity theory (Spector, 2015).  This essay will evaluate the history of these theories, how they can be applied to modern organizations, and their weaknesses and strengths. Additionally, I will discuss the most effective theory that my manager should apply to our workplace. The knowledge will be beneficial to managers and employees alike, since it explains how contemporary companies can inspire and retain high employee motivation. 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Major Motivational Theories
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

Abraham Maslow developed this theory in 1943, and he based his analysis on observation of human behaviors and motivations. The theory creates a hierarchy of human needs that should be satisfied before the next-level needs are met. The lowest hierarchy is the physiological needs, which include food, water, shelter, and sleep (D’Souza & Gurin, 2016). The next level is the security and safety needs, which comprise emotional and financial security, as well as health and wellbeing. The third level is belonging and it entails social relationships such as intimacy, family, and friendships. The fourth-level needs are self-respect and self-esteem, while the final hierarchy is self-actualization, and is met when the other needs have been achieved.  

This theory can be applied by business organizations to satisfy employee needs according to their order of importance. For instance, businesses should ensure that workers can satisfy their basic needs such as shelter and clothing by adequately remunerating them. Organizations can also cater for employee needs of self-esteem by recognizing and rewarding their performance. 

The main strength of this theory is that it assigns an order of hierarchy for individual needs. Organizations can therefore prioritize the desires that are most valuable to employees (D’Souza & Gurin, 2016). The second strength is that the theory is easy to understand.  Its main weakness is that it generalizes human desires, which is not the case in the practical world. Different individuals are motivated by a variety of needs, and the hierarchy developed by Maslow does not apply to every person. 

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg developed the theory after interviewing 203 accountants and engineers in Pittsburgh (Schultz &Schultz, 2010). The theory states that certain factors in the workplace lead to job satisfaction, while another independent set of factors, if absent, would lead to job dissatisfaction. The first set of factors that create satisfaction for employees are known as the motivators, and they include work recognition, challenging work, participation in decision making, and others. The second set of factors which, if absent, would cause dissatisfaction are called the hygiene factors, and they include work conditions, salary, job security, paid vacations, and others (Schultz &Schultz, 2010). 

This theory may be applied by business managers in motivating employees and ensuring that they are satisfied with their job. Managers should ascertain that both hygiene and motivators are present within the work environment to optimize employee motivation levels. They should develop an organization culture that emphasizes recognition and participation in decision making activities, while rewarding workers with high salaries and benefits. 

The main strength of this theory is that it is driven by practical research on a real-life working environment. Herzberg developed the theory after interviewing workers, which makes his findings credible and relevant to the modern workplace (Spector, 2015). One of the weaknesses of the theory is its inability to adequately measure satisfaction levels. Workers may be satisfied with their work even though they dislike some aspects of their job. Additionally, the theory overlooks employee satisfaction in blue collar jobs since it is primarily based on findings from white collar workers. 

Equity Motivation Theory

John Adams developed this theory in 1963, and it states that employees are motivated if they perceive the outcomes they receive are commensurate to their input, across the organization (Guerrero et al., 2014). Inputs may include education, time, effort, commitment, and loyalty, while outcomes may be salary, benefits, job security, recognition, and others.  The theory perceives employees to be motivated by fairness in terms of the input and outcomes they receive within organizations. 

The theory is important to managers since it inspires them to promote fairness in the remuneration structure to ensure that employees are rewarded according to their input within the organization. This means that managers should hinge rewards based on employee input across the entire organization. They should also treat all workers equally and should not give preferential treatment in the course of the day to day tasks. 

The main strength of this theory is that it is easy to understand and apply within business organizations (Spector, 2015). Managers with effective reward systems that hinge rewards on employee input will likely benefit from high employee morale and motivation. A major weakness of the theory is that it was not tested on a real-life work environment, which makes its findings questionable. Another weakness is that there are other factors besides fairness, which affect worker motivation. 

Motivation Theory That Manager at My Current Workplace Should Apply

My manager should apply the equity motivation theory in our organization. This is because the theory will create multiple benefits for our company. In addition to motivating employees through creating a sense of fairness in the reward structure, the theory will also attract new and creative minds that will enable us attain our organizational goals (Spector, 2015). Most employees want a workplace where their input will be recognized and rewarded. Additionally, workers prefer an organization where everyone is treated equally, since this will ensure that people excel in their career solely based on their input. The equity motivation theory best serves the interests of the workers since it not only emphasizes the importance of recognition and reward, but it also perpetuates equity and fairness across the organization, thereby protecting employee interests. 


In summary, each of the three motivation theories plays a role in enhancing the morale of employees. They all have their unique weaknesses and strengths, based on their underlying assumptions and principles. Moreover, the equity motivation theory would work effectively at my workplace, and my manager should implement it to attract and retain highly skilled employees. 


D’Souza, J. & Gurin, M. (2016). “The universal significance of Maslow’s concept of self-

actualization”. The Humanistic Psychologist. 44 (2)

Guerrero, L. K., Peter, A. A. & Walid A. A. (2014). Close Encounters: Communication in 

Relationships, 4th Edition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

Schultz, D. P. & Schultz, S. E. (2010). Psychology and Work Today: An Introduction to 

Industrial and Organizational Psychology (10th ed.). New York City: Prentice Hall.Spector, P. E. (2015). Industrial and Organizational Behavior. Wiley: Hoboken, NJ.

Place your order
(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more
Live Chat+1(978) 822-0999EmailWhatsApp

Order your essay today and save 20% with the discount code LEMONADE