Chapter one introduction 1 Background to the Study

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2.2.2 Theories of Motivation

The study of motivation is based on different theories. These theories form the bases for theoretical framework for the study of motivation. This section deals with the ideas of several early contributors to motivation theory, notable among them are; Maslow (1948); McGregor (1960); Herzberg, (1960); McClelland, (1961); Vroom (1964); Skinner (1974); Alderfer (1972) and Stacey (1963).

(a) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

This theory is based on two assumptions; first that different needs are active at different times and only needs not yet satisfied can influence behaviour. In his theory, Maslow (1948) identified six different types of needs that can motivate people at every point in time. These according to Maslow (1971) and Huitt (2001) include;

  1. Physiological needs (Food, Water etc)

  2. Safety needs (freedom from fear or harm)

  3. Social Needs (Friendship, teamwork)

  4. Self-esteem needs (Acceptance of self as having value, to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition )

  5. Self-actualization needs (The fulfillment of potential and personal growth)

  6. Self-transcendence to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential

The above needs can be represented in a diagram as below;

Figure 7: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Adapted from Huitt (2001)

According to Maslow, an individual is ready to act upon the growth needs if and only if the deficiency needs are met. Maslow's initial conceptualization included only one growth need-self-actualization. Self-actualized people are characterized by: i) being problem-focused; ii) incorporating an ongoing freshness of appreciation of life; iii) a concern about personal growth; and iv) the ability to have peak experiences (Maslow and Lowery, 1998).

Maslow's basic position is that as one becomes more self-actualized and self-transcendent, he or she becomes wiser (develops wisdom) and automatically knows what to do in a wide variety of situations. Daniels (2001) suggested that Maslow's ultimate conclusion that the highest levels of self-actualization are transcendent in their nature may be one of his most important contributions to the study of human behaviour and motivation. Each of these needs can motivate women into entrepreneurship. The stronger the urge to meet these needs, the higher the performance in one’s business. Maslow (1954) saw these needs as catalysts. The degree at which these factors motivate individual determines the degree of his or her performance in business. Also satisfaction in business is a function of the type of need an entrepreneur is able to derive from her entrepreneurial venture. To explain this further, Schermerhorn (2004) classify human needs into two categories; higher-order of needs and lower-order of needs. This he represented in the figure below.

Figure 8 : Opportunities for Satisfaction in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs

What Satisfies Higher –order needs

Self-actualization Needs

* Creative and Challenging Task

* Participation in Decision Making

* Job Flexibility and Autonomy

Esteem Needs

* Responsibility of an important Task

* Promotion to higher status job

* Praise and recognition

What Satisfies Lower-order Needs

* Friendly Colleagues

Social Needs

* Interaction with customers

* Pleasant supervision

Safety Needs

* Safe working condition

* Job security

* Base compensation and Benefits

Physiological Needs

* Rest and refreshment breaks

* Physical comfort on the business

* Reasonable work hour

Source: Schermerhorn (2004)

(b) ERG Theory

The ERG theory was propounded by Clayton Alderfer (1972). ERG is an acronym for existence, relatedness and growth. ERG theory of motivation says that people strive to meet a hierarchy of existence, relatedness, and growth needs; if efforts to reach one level of needs are frustrated, individuals will regress to a lower level (Stoner, Freeman and Gilbert, 1999). Alderfer in his theory, supported Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs but distinguished his theory from that of Maslow with two basic points. First, human needs can be broken down into three basic needs and not five or six according to Maslow. These he called Existence needs (fundamental needs), relatedness needs (needs for interpersonal relations), and growth needs (needs for personal creativity or productive influence). Also Alderfer advocated that human beings when confronted with a frustration from higher needs can resort to a lower need even though they have been satisfied. Relating this assertion to women motivation into business, the push factor model can be relevant in this situation. Negative circumstances such as demotion or discrimination in one’s place of work can force women into starting their own business just to satisfy a lower need.

Table 24: Alderfer's Hierarchy of Motivational Needs  

Level of Need Definition  Properties Growth Impels a person to make creative or productive effects on himself and his environmentSatisfied through using capabilities in engaging problems; creates a greater sense of wholeness and fullness as a human beingRelatedness Involves relationships with significant othersSatisfied by mutually sharing thoughts and feelings; acceptance, confirmation, under- standing, and influence are elementsExistence Includes all of the various forms of material and psychological desiresWhen divided among people one person's gain is another's loss if resources are limited Alderfer (1972) developed a comparable hierarchy with his ERG (existence, relatedness, and growth) theory Adapted from Huitt (2001).

Alderfer recognized that not all personalities followed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. While a variety of personality dimensions might be considered as related to motivational needs, one of the most often cited is that of introversion and extroversion (Huitt, 2001). Alderfer (1972) and Cole (2001) argued that individual needs were better explained as being on a continuum rather than in a hierarchy. He concluded that people were more likely to move up and down the continuum in satisfying needs at different levels. Relating this theory to women entrepreneurial motivation, Alderfer argues that women can go into entrepreneurial venture basically to satisfy three major needs namely: existence needs-desires for physiological and material well being; relatedness needs- desires for satisfying interpersonal and growth needs- desires for continued psychological growth and development (Schermerhorn, 2004).

Table 25: Reorganization of Maslow's and Alderfer's Hierarchies  

LevelIntroversionExtroversionGrowthSelf-Actualization (development of competencies [knowledge, attitudes, and skills] and character)Transcendence (assisting in the development of others' competencies and character; relationships to the unknown, unknowable)Other
(Relatedness)Personal identification with group, significant others (Belongingness)Value of person by group (Esteem)Self
(Existence)Physiological, biological (including basic emotional needs)Connectedness,  securitySource: Huitt (2001) Reorganization of Maslow's and Alderfer's Hierarchies  
Reorganizing Maslow's hierarchy based on the work of Alderfer and considering the introversion/extraversion dimension of personality results in three levels, each with an introverted and extroverted component. This re-organization suggests that there may be two aspects of each level that differentiate how people relate to each set of needs (Huitt, 2001). Different personalities might relate more to one dimension than the other. For example, an introvert at the level of other/Relatedness might be more concerned with his or her own perceptions of being included in a group, whereas an extrovert at that same level would pay more attention to how others value that membership.

(c) Hertzberg’s Two Factor Theory

Two factor theory was propounded by Fredreck Hertzberg (1960). Hertzberg in his research was interested in identifying the factors that caused people to be satisfied with their work and the factors that make them dissatisfied. These factors he called hygiene factors or maintenance factors and the satisfiers or motivators respectively. While the hygiene factors focus on the job context, that is, the factors external to the business such as trade union, the satisfiers focus on the job content or the specific aspect of the business such as the job variety.

Hygiene factors include;

Company policy and Administrative practices

Technical supervision

Interpersonal relation with manager

The worker’s personal life

Physical conditions of the work setting

Satisfiers include;




The Task or work itself

The workers’ potential for personal learning or growth

The worker’s responsibility for result

The first sets of factors are also known as maintenance factors while the second sets are known as motivators (Koontz and Weihrich, 2001).

Relating the two factors to entrepreneurship, women are being motivated into entrepreneurship mainly based on the motivators or the satisfiers that is second factors. The absence of the hygine factors such as company policy, supervision, physical condition and others may lead to dissatisfaction which may lead to resignation from someone’s place of work for entrepreneurship as an alternative action. On the other hand, the presence of the satisfier may help women to reach their self-actualization stage and desire to be their own boss (entrepreneurship). Cole (2001) further classified these factors to the relationship between the hygiene factors and motivators.
Figure 9. Relationship Between the Hygiene Factors and Motivators.

Percentage frequency Percentage frequency

50% 40 30 20 10 0 10 20 30 40 50%

Achievement Recognition Work ItselfResponsibilityAdvancementGrowthCompany policy and administrationSupervisionRelationship with SupervisorWork ConditionSalaryRelationship with peersPersonal lifeRelationship with subordinatesStatusSecuritySource: Cole (2001: 35) Factors leading to extreme dissatisfaction and satisfaction

Note: The overlap of the boxes across the centres line indicates:

  1. That motivators have their negative aspects, eg. Lack of achievement can lead to dissatisfaction which can serve as a motivator for women entrepreneurship.

  2. The hygiene factors have their positive aspects, eg. Salary can be a source of satisfaction which can also act as pull factor for women entrepreneurship.

In support of this, Schermerhorn, (2004) argued that every attempt on improving motivator factors, will lead to increase on job satisfaction and improvement on hygiene factors will lead to decrease in job dissatisfaction. To buttress this point further he represented his argument on a figure as below.

Figure 10 : Herzberg’s two Factor Theory

Job Dissatisfaction Herzberg’s Two Job Satisfaction

Influenced by

Hygiene Factors

* Working condition

* Coworkers relations

* Policies and rules

* Supervisor quality

* Base wage, salary

Influenced by

Motivator Factors

* Achievement

* Recognition

* Responsibility

* Work itself

* Advancement

* Personal growth

Factor Principles

Improving the

motivator factors

increases job


Improving the

hygiene factors


job dissatisfaction

Source: (Schermerhorn, 2004).

(d) Needs Theory of Motivation

This theory was propounded by David McClelland (1961). He identified three types of basic needs that motivate people into higher performance. He called these; need for power (n/PWR), need for affiliation (n/AFF), and need for achievement (n/ACH). Although these three needs are relevant to entrepreneurship, need for achievement has been recognized as the most relevant factor that motivates people to entrepreneurship. McClelland (1961) has argued that entrepreneurs tend to have a high need for achievement (n/ACH) and such individuals gravitate toward situations in which they can achieve relatively immediate feedback on how they are doing. However, evidence suggests that entrepreneurs do have a relatively high need for achievement, it also indicates that high n/ACH, by itself does not single out entrepreneurs, meaning that other factors such as need for power and affiliation must also be in place for high and effective performance of entrepreneurs (Bartol and Martin, 1998). McClelland (1961) argues that apart from employees, entrepreneurs also acquire needs through their life experiences and the needs that are acquire include;

  • Need for Achievement (n/ACH)

  • Need for Power

  • Need for Affiliation (n/AFF)

Each of these needs can further be explained to show the variables involved:

  • Need for Achievement (n/ACH)

  • Desire to do something better or more efficiently, to solve problems, or to master complex tasks.

  • Entrepreneurs high in (n/ACH) prefer work that:

  • Involves individual responsibility for results.

  • Involves achievable but challenging goals.

  • Provides feedback on performance.

  • Need for Power (n/PWR)

  • Desire to control other persons, to influence their behavior, or to be responsible for other people.

  • Personal power versus social power.

  • Entrepreneurs high in (n/PWR) prefer work that:

  • Involves control over other persons.

  • Has an impact on people and events.

  • Brings public recognition and attention.

  • Need for Affiliation (n/AFF)

  • Desire to establish and maintain friendly and warm relations with other persons.

  • Entrepreneurs high in (n/AFF) prefer work that:

  • Involves interpersonal relationships.

  • Provides for companionship

  • Brings social approval.

Applying these theories to women entrepreneurial activities, Schermerhorn (2004) further argues that there is relationship between Maslow’s, Alderfer’s, Herzberg’s and McClelland’s motivation theories and women’s entrepreneurial motivation can be as a result of either high-order needs or low-order needs. This can be represented in the figure below;

Figure 11: Comparison of Maslow’s, Alderfer’s, Herzberg’s and McClelland’s motivation theories



Satisfer Factors


Maslow Alderfer Herzberg McClelland






Hygiene Factors



Source: Schermerhorn, (2004)

(e) Theory X and Theory Y

Another theory of motivation is theory X and theory Y propounded by McGregor. According to McGregor (1960) human nature can be viewed from two perspectives. He developed two sets of assumptions in his attempt at describing human attitude to life and work.

Theory X Assumptions

The assumptions underlining theory X are;

  1. Average human beings dislike work and will avoid work if possible.

  2. People’s hatred to work results in them being coerced, controlled, directed and forced to achieve a particular goal.

  3. Average human being liked to be directed and will avoid responsibility, want little ambition and want security in their place of work.

Theory Y Assumptions

The assumptions under theory Y include the following;

  1. The use of physical and mental effort of people in execution of their work is as natural as play or rest.

  2. The use of force and punishment to make people work is not the only way of getting people to work because some people naturally like work and will exercise self control and self- direction to get their task being executed.

  3. The degree of commitment to work is in direct proportion with the degree of the rewards associated with the achievement such work.
  4. Average human being learn not only to accept responsibility but also to achieve responsibility.

  5. The ability to exercise a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organizational problems is broadly distributed.

  6. The intellectual potentiality of the average human being is only partially utilized under the condition of modern industrial life.

Relating McGregor’s theory X and Y to entrepreneurship, both theory X and Y are related to factors that influence women entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial concept which has to do with certain attributes such as hard work, competitiveness, drive and energy, etc. can only be identified with theory Y. On the other hand, theory X has a way of defining or determining women entrepreneurs’ choice of business ownership. Women under theory X will rather choose the type of enterprise that will not exact much stress on them.

(e) Expectancy Theory

Another theory of motivation is expectancy theory propounded by Vroom (1964). According to him, people will be motivated to do things if they believe in the worth of that goal and if they can see that what they do will help them in achieving it (Koontz and Weihrich, 2001). Considering Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory, people will be motivated to start business if they have the expectation that the outcome of such business will enable them to achieve a particular set of goals. Motivation is therefore a product of the anticipated worth that an individual places on a goal and the chances he or she sees of achieving that goal (Koontz and Weihrich, 2001). It is the value people place on the outcome of their effort whether positive or negative, multiplied by the confidence they have that their effort will materially aid achieving a goal that determines their motivation toward doing anything. To buttress more on this point, Vroom (1964) further demonstrated this in an equation as;

Motivation = Perceived Probability of Success (Expectancy) *

Connection of Success and Reward (Instrumentality) *
Value of Obtaining Goal (Valance, Value)


F = v x e where: f = force, v = valance, and e = expectancy

Force = valence X expectancy,

Where Force is the strength of someone’s motivation,

Valence is the strength of a person’s preference for an outcome.

Expectancy is the drive that leads to result/outcome. Schermerhorn (2004) further argued that expectancy is the probability that a particular action will lead to a desired outcome. In other words, Motivation (M), expectancy (E), instrumentality (I), and valence (V) are related to one another in a multiplicative fashion. That is

M = E x I x V , hence, if either E, I, or V is low, motivation to entrepreneurial activity will also be low.

Since this formula states that the three factors, expectancy, instrumentality, and Valance or Value are to be multiplied by each other, a low value in one will result in a low value of motivation. Therefore, all the three factors must be present in order for motivation to occur. That is, if an individual does not believe he or she can be successful at a task or the individual does not see a connection between his or her activity and success or the individual does not value the results of success, then the probability is lowered that the individual will engage in the required learning activity. From the perspective of this theory, the three variables must be high for motivation and the resulting entrepreneurial behaviour to be high also (Huitt, 2001).

The equation also means that the force a person exerted to do something depends on both the valance and expectancy. Relating this to entrepreneurship, the force women exerted to go into entrepreneurship will depend on their preference for an outcome and the probability that going into business will lead to the desired outcome which will propel action for high performance. Schermerhorn’s (2004) study further revealed three major elements that can affect entrepreneur’s performance. These include; entrepreneur’s exerts work effort, task performance and work related outcome. The diagram below explains this further;

Figure 12: Elements in the Expectancy Theory of Motivation

Entrepreneurs’ exerts work effort

Task performance

Work related outcome
To achieve and realize
Can I achieve the desired level of task performance

What work outcomes will be received as a result of motivation

How highly do I value work outcome

Source: Schermerhorn (2004)

Figure 12 above can be explained as key expectancy theory variables. Expectancy — belief that working hard will result in desired level of performance; Instrumentality — belief that successful performance will be followed by rewards and Valence value a woman entrepreneur assigns to rewards and other work related outcomes determines her entrepreneurial motivation (Schermerhorn, 2004). The implications of expectancy theory shows that each of the variables in the theory affects the entrepreneurial performance as explained thus: (i) to maximize expectancy, women entrepreneurs should: select workers with ability; train workers to use ability; support work efforts and clarify performance goals. (ii) to maximize instrumentality, women entrepreneurs should: clarify psychological contracts; communicate performance-outcome possibilities; identify rewards that are contingent on performance. (ii) To maximize valence in a positive direction, women entrepreneurs should: identify individual needs and adjust rewards to match individual needs (Schermerhorn, 2004). This can be further represented in a diagram as below;

Figure 13: Entrepreneurial implication of Expectancy Theory

To Maximize Expectancy

Make the person competent and capable of achieving life desired performance level

* Select workers with ability

* Train workers to use ability

* Support work efforts

* Clarify performance goals

To Maximize Instrumentality

Make the person confident in understanding which rewards and outcomes will follow performance accomplishments

* Clarify psychological contracts

* Communicate performance

outcome possibilities

*Demonstrate what rewards

are contingent on performance
To Maximize Valance

Make the person understand the value of various possible rewards and work outcome

* Identify individual needs

* Adjust rewards to match these needs

Source: Schermerhorn (2004)
(f) Equity Theory

Equity theory as a motivational theory is propounded by Stacey (1963). According to Stacey (1963) an individual’s perception of a reward structure as equity determines how he or she is being motivated in doing a particular work. This theory refers to an individual’s subjective judgments about the fairness of the reward he or she gets in, relation to the inputs (which include factors, such as effort, experience and education), in comparison with the rewards of others (Koontz and Weihrich, 2001). This theory can be written in an equation as:

Outcomes by a person = outcomes by another person

Inputs by a person inputs by another person

In other words, the outcomes and inputs relationship for one person in comparison with another person should balance. This can further be put in a model as;

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