Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation

Principle & Practice of Management

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Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation

Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation is an extension of the need hierarchy model of A. H. Maslow. In 1950s Herzberg and his associates conducted extensive interviews of about 200 engineers and accountants to find the forces which motivate them at work. The conclusions based on this survey is called Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation. According to this theory, there are two types of factors which affect motivation. These factors are:
1. Hygiene factors, and
2. Motivators.

Herzberg’s Theory

1. Hygiene factors:

The first group of factors are called by Herzberg as extrinsic, hygiene, maintenance or job context factor: They relate to the environment and are external to the job. They include: i. company policy and administration, ii. technical aspects of supervision, iii. interpersonal aspects of supervision, iv. interpersonal relations with peers and subordinates, v. working conditions, vi. salary, vii. status, and viii. job security. The presence of these factors does not cause motivation or positive satisfaction, though their absence cause dissatisfaction. They are, therefore, dissatisfiers and not motivators. They are surrounding physical, administrative and social environmental factors. Hygiene factors make up a continuum ranging from dissatisfaction to no dissatisfaction. These factors are necessary to maintain a reasonable level of satisfaction in employees. Since any increase in these factors will not affect employee’s level of satisfaction, these are of no use for motivating them.

2. Motivators:

The second class of factors are referred as intrinsic, job content or motivation factors or motivators or satisfiers. These factors include: i. achievement, ii. recognition, iii. responsibility, iv. advancement, v. growth, and vi. work itself. Their absence does not cause dissatisfaction but their presence has an uplifting effect on employees motivation they are intimately related with the job and not related to surrounding environment. These factors make up a continuum leading from no job satisfaction to satisfaction and therefore they can be used in motivating for higher output.
There are many related studies which support the view of Herzberg. Research findings of Ishwar Dayal and Saiyadin are highly supportive of this theory in Indian context. On the other hand, there are various studies, the result of which are against the model given by Herzberg. It has been subjected to following criticisms:
1 This theory is based on delineation between satisfiers (motivators) and dissatisfiers (hygiene). This is obviously doubtful and inaccurate. Pay may be a dissatisfier to some individuals and a satisfier to others. Hygienes and motivation factors should not be considered as absolute categories.
2. The theory focuses too much attention on satisfaction, dissatisfaction rather than on the performance level of individuals. Numerous research studies have shown that an employee’s productivity does not vary directly to those who are low producers and vice-versa.
3. This theory does not attach much importance to pay status or inter-personal relationship which are generally held as important contents of satisfaction.
4. The theory is most applicable to knowledge workers, i.e., managers, engineers, accountants, etc. Studies of lower level or manual workers are less supportive of the theory.
In spite of these criticisms, this theory has been applied in the industry and has given several new insights. The theory has focused management’s attention to the possibility of increasing productivity by adoption of job enrichment practices.