The word motivation is coined from the Latin word “movere”, which means to move. Motivation is defined as an internal drive that activates behavior and gives it direction. The term motivation theory is concerned with the processes that describe why and how human behavior is activated and directed. It is regarded as one of the most important areas of study in the field of organizational behavior. There are two different categories of motivation theories such as content theories, and process theories. Even though there are different motivation theories, none of them are universally accepted.
Also known as need theory, the content theory of motivation mainly focuses on the internal factors that energize and direct human behavior. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Alderfer’s ERG theory, Herzeberg’s motivator-hygiene theory (Herzeberg’s dual factors theory), and McClelland’s learned needs or three-needs theory are some of the major content theories.
Of the different types of content theories, the most famous content theory is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Maslow introduced five levels of basic needs through his theory. Basic needs are categorized as physiological needs, safety and security needs, needs of love, needs for self esteem and needs for self-actualization.
Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, ERG theory explains existence, relatedness, and growth needs. Through dual factors theory, Herzeberg describes certain factors in the workplace which result in job satisfaction. McClelland’s learned needs or three-needs theory uses a projective technique called the Thematic Aptitude Test (TAT) so as to evaluate people based on three needs: power, achievement, and affiliation. People with high need of power take action in a way that influences the other’s behavior.
Another type of motivation theory is process theory. Process theories of motivation provide an opportunity to understand thought processes that influence behavior. The major process theories of motivation include Adams’ equity theory, Vroom’s expectancy theory, goal-setting theory, and reinforcement theory. Expectancy, instrumentality, and valence are the key concepts explained in the expectancy theory. Goal setting theory suggests that the individuals are motivated to reach set goals. It also requires that the set goals should be specific. Reinforcement theory is concerned with controlling behavior by manipulating its consequences.