Organizational Behavior

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Essential of Organizational Behavior: Motivation

 Discuss the three key elements of motivation.

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According to Virginia Commonwealth University, motivation relates to and measures intensity of effort, not success of outcome. Motivation can operate for more than one need at once: this makes motivation multifaceted. Motivation may be with or without Persistence, thus may or may not be ongoing. This is why motivation may need to be renewed. Motivation represents a Direction to be taken in addressing an issue, project or problem. This directional element of motivation, which selects between possible alternatives, answers the question of "How?": How will I do this? How will accomplish this goal? How can this be made effective? Direction and persistence are two parts of the four-part model of motivation.

Having said the above reflecting the four-part model of motivation, the three key elements of motivation in the three-part model are: Direction, Intensity, Persistence. This model differs from the four-part model in that the four-part model includes Stimulus to trigger the need for motivation and Feedback to adjust behavior. Stimulus poses the question "What?": what need to be done; what is motivation needed for? The three-part model also differs in that it includes the category "Intensity" while the other doesn't.

Three-Part Model / Three Key Elements:

  • Direction: the decision made and action chosen in the face of alternatives for action.
  • Intensity: the vigor and strength of the response to the chosen decision or action: the level of energy at which motivation is followed.
  • Persistence: the duration of effort sustained in the chosen direction, be it decision or action.
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Much of society's motivation is driven by the old 'carrot and the stick' approach, which of course, uses the example of how one might motivate a horse or donkey.  The carrot represents reward and can be used to encourage positive behavior; many times people are motivated by the potential of receiving something good for their efforts, like a paycheck at the end of the week or month.  On the other hand, the 'stick' can also be a powerful motivator to discourage unwanted behavior; for example, children in school act appropriately because they do not want to go to the principal's office or have to serve detention.  Both the carrot and the stick can be effective, but research suggests that most people are much more motivated by intrinsic factors, like pride in a job well done or the personal desire to create something meaningful.

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It would be helpful if you could be more specific as to the sort of discussion that you are interested in having here.  As it is, it is hard to know what aspects of the theory of motivation you would like us to discuss.  I will talk a little bit about which of the three I think is most important.

For a business, it could be that the persistence of the motivation is the most important element.  It is all well and good to get an employee pointed in the right direction and to get him or her to care intensely about doing the job right.  But if that level of motivation cannot be sustained, it will be very hard for the employee to continue to be valuable.  Therefore, persistence can be seen as the most important element for a business.

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Motivation could be broadly defined as "the forces acting on or within a person that cause the arousal, direction, and persistence of goal-directed, voluntary effort." If you accept this definition, then perhaps the elements to which you refer are arousal, direction, and persistence.

Arousal of motivation refers to the conditions that impel a person to do something - the reason for the action. When I am hungry enough, I become motivated to find myself something to eat; motivation often comes from a need to address a situation.

Direction of motivation would address the type of action taken in response to the motivation. I might respond to being hungry by going to the kitchen and cooking a meal. I could also respond by getting in the car and driving to a restaurant. I could call someplace and have food delivered to my home. I might go to the park and steal someone's picnic lunch. All these actions would serve to meet the basic need.

Persistence refers to how hard or how long I will keep working to meet the need. If I discover I have only a few groceries available in the kitchen, I might decide to skip that meal; I might figure out a meal with what I do have available; I might consult recipe sources for a new dish I could make with what I have on hand; I might go grocery shopping to obtain ingredients for a better meal - different levels of determination and effort devoted to addressing the situation.



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Motivation is a tricky thing.  There are two kinds of motivation: intrinsic, and extrinsic.  Intrinsic motivation comes from within.  It means that something within a person makes the person want to do something.  Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from an external force.  Something from outsider the person motivates the person to do something.

There are many elements of motivation, and you will need to be specific about the theory.  For example, Alderfer’s elements were existence, relatedness, and growth.  Physical needs are part of existence.  Relatedness refers to interpersonal relationships.  That leaves growth.

Growth needs are those related to the attainment of one's potential and are associated with Maslow's esteem and self-actualization needs. (enotes)

Therefore a person is motivated by a variety of factors, not all of which are easily identifiable.

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