As companies and corporations become larger and more complex, so do the responsibilities of management and the call for structured strategies. In our world of exploding technological changes, the burden of change upon individuals becomes greater and there is also the continual threat of downsizing or being replaced by automation.
There are innumerable theories regarding human motivation and especially over the past twenty-five years, these theories have provided a maze through which management has walked, trying this and that; some theories worked, others did not. Let us examine just a few theories that have withstood the test of time and are the core of the newer theories.
We shall begin with the advent of Maslow's theory of hierarchy of needs, since it was Maslow who countered Sigmund Freud's statements of declaring people as inherently lazy creatures who are motivated at work only through reward, coercion, intimidation and punishment (accel Team, 2005).
A. H. Maslow brought management and workers out of the dark ages and delivered them into a refreshing affirmation of themselves as human beings rather than animals. According to Mazlow, the highest needs of a human are self-esteem and self-actualisation (Maslow, 1943, pp 381 - 383).
In the workplace (according to Maslow), the ability to exercise c...
In the workplace (according to Maslow), the ability to exercise creativity and decision-making whilst practicing new skills is central to the self-esteem of the worker. In terms of management, the harbingers of change began to emerge as the workplace became less oppressive and more balanced between doing and learning. Still, there was work to be done in terms of addressing psychological needs of workers in terms of balancing rewards for incentives and motivational learning within organisations.
Whilst an individual is hired on the basis of knowledge and skill for the task at hand, once in the work place, the individual needs the opportunity to climb higher, do better, if they so choose. This is where the balance of power can get sticky, for those in management also need to engage in learning and adapting to changing trends. If those on the higher end of the work spectrum fail to adapt and learn, those from below have the opportunity to move up and replace them; here is where fear becomes the motivating force, and its presence is counterproductive for all concerned.
The most famous motivation theories, upon which nearly all current theories are based, originate from four theorists: Sigmund Freud (Theory X), A. H. Maslow Theory Y), Douglas McGregor (Theory XY) and William Ouichi (Theory Z). It must be noted that there are arguments regarding the authorship of Theories Y and Z; we are referencing them here with the corresponding theorists for the sake of cenvenience.
In a nutshell, we shall install the core statements of each theory for purposes of clarity:
Theory X: Work is inherently distasteful; most people are not ambitious, motivation is only at