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Analyse et comparaison de deux théories De Motivation: De "contenue" et De "procédé" (document en anglais)

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Nowadays, employee motivation is seen as something essential for the management of a company. Indeed, people spend most of their time in their workplace therefore, it is very important and even crucial that management staff find the best way to motivate their workforce in order to have an effective organization. Defining motivation at work is relatively complex because there exists many different approaches to this concept. Nevertheless, it is possible to define motivation as a force that enables individuals to achieve what they want to undertake. Research on motivation started in the early twentieth century and from its psychologists has released two great types of theories, which are Content and Process theories of motivation. Content theories, are theories based on drive and needs. It means that the human being is motivated because they have some innate biological needs which determine is behavior in their everyday life. Process theories speak about the process of motivation, it means how motivation occurs. These theories assume that individuals have got a decision-making role, and that they are aware of it. These theories deal with how human beings can make chosen. In order to explain differences between these theories, it could be interesting to choose one theory of each, describe them, compare them and contrast them, and analyze their appropriateness in the current business environment. With this intention the two chooses theories are going to be: Herzberg’s two-factor theory and Adams’s equity theory.

Content theories are based on needs and drives, precisely, they focus on factors that lead to motivation for individuals. In these theories, people have needs that they want to satisfy and they behave in ways that will satisfy those needs.

Frederick Herzberg and his colleagues developed one of these theories in 1959, after having carried out a survey on 203 accountant and engineers. The researchers asked them to think of something that made them feel “good” and something that made them feel “bad” about their job (Murrel, 1976). While analyzing the answers, Herzberg et al, observed that factors which involved job satisfaction were different from factors which involved job dissatisfaction. The researchers concluded that two types of factors existed. First, motivator factors, which involved job satisfaction and are considered as intrinsic. It includes achievement, growth, responsibility or advancement. Hygiene factors, which are considered as extrinsic, cause job dissatisfaction when they are not present. They include: pay, company policy and security. Due to these two factors, the theory has become known as the “two-factor theory” or “M-H theory”. According to his theory managers have to improve motivators and thereby fulfill the job enrichments’ concept (Thomson, 2002), that is to say give attention to the work itself in order to produce job satisfaction in a long-term period. Indeed, focusing on hygiene factors will not have effect on individuals’ motivation. Frederick Herzberg believes that “True motivation comes from achievement, personal development, job satisfaction, and recognition. GaryP.Latham,2007)”.

However, after having being presented in 1959, the M-H theory has been criticized by several psychologists.

Herzberg theory has been criticized because according to the other psychologist, the theory did not take into account things individuals might do, such as the fact that the survey carried-out was not wide enough, or that Herzberg only interviewed accountant and engineers which means people from the same social background. Richard Hackman and Gregory Oldhams criticized Herzberg theory because according to them, his version of job enrichment does not take into account employees’ differences when can involve different implication in the work. In order to criticize Herzberg theory, they also carried-out a survey to assess the employee’s growth needs for personal accomplishment. The conclusion was that when employees are placed in an enriched job, they perform differently according to their growth needs. It means that if an employee has got high growth needs, they will be more motivated and will perform better than the employee who has got lower growth needs. Herzberg theory has also been criticized because of the survey he carried out. On the first hand he carried out a survey on only 203 people, which is very few. On the other hand he has been especially criticized because the interviewees were from the same social background. That is why in 1966 Centers and Bugental carried out another survey in a sample of the entire working population. As expected, results were different. They observed that the factor that kept employees in their jobs differed from which social background they came from. For example “white-collar” groups paid more attention to intrinsic rewards whereas it was the opposite for the “blue-collar” groups.

The second type of theory of motivation is called Process theories. These theories are different from the first type because they are not based on needs. On the contrary, they deal with how individuals make their choices and how they apply them. Most of these theories are cognitive ones. It means that human beings are totally aware of their choices. Stacy Adams developed one of these theories the Equity Theory. This theory is based on how human being feels inequity. What is important to understand is that this theory deals primarily with money. According to Adams, in order to evaluate inequity, individuals have to calculate a ratio. They have to compare their inputs and their outputs with those of others. Inputs are also known as rewards, they include all the things that result from the work itself such as experience and skills. Outputs are contributions of employees into the company, they include, time, effort and idea. Equity theory states that unequal ratios lead to tension between individuals, and this tension motivates them to resolve inequity. The stronger the inequity, the higher the tension, and the more motivated individuals will be. Once individuals realize the unfairness, they can react in different ways. For example, they can demand a raise from their manager if they feel poorly treated compared to their coworker. Or they can change some factors of the denominator such as their implication in the company. In summary, according to Carrel & Dittrich (1978) equity theory is based on three assumptions. People develop beliefs about what constitutes a fair and equitable return for their contributions to their jobs. Then, they tend to compare their situation with others employees. Finally, when individuals perceive that their treatments are not fair, they are going to be motivated.

The Equity theory has been also criticized by others psychologist for various elements. The first criticism,


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