Organizational Application of Motivation Theories

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George Washington University
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Motivation is among the force that leads to good performance. Motivation refers to desiring to attain a goal that leads to goal-oriented behavior (Brit & Jex, 2014). Therefore, a motivated person is someone who tries hard in accomplishing a particular task. However, motivation is not the only sufficient aspect for someone to perform. There is also a persons ability which in most situation is the key determinant of performance. Also, another aspect is the environmental factors which include resources, support, and information one needs to perform (Brit & Jex, 2014). Consequently, being motivated is not equal to being a high performer and it is not the only reason why individuals perform well however it is the only influence over peoples performance level. Therefore there is the need to analyze what motivates employees so that some try to achieve their targets and are in pursuit of excellence whereas others see work as a burden and keep on counting stars while at work.

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Motivation-hygiene theory

The theory was propounded in 1950 by Fredrick Herzberg who conducted research about positive and negative feeling on work. In his research, Herzberg discovered that there are two factors that cause satisfaction and others that cause dissatisfaction. Thus he believed the opposite of satisfaction is no satisfaction, and the opposite of dissatisfaction is no dissatisfaction (Brit & Jex, 2014). According to Herzberg, the two factors are hygiene factors and motivation factors. Hygiene factors are sometimes referred to as dissatisfiers which are the physiological needs that team members want and anticipate to be achieved and are extrinsic in the workplace. They include salary, job security, interpersonal relations, company policies and administrative policies, status, physical working conditions, and fringe benefits (as cited in Brit & Jex, 2014). On the other hand, motivational factors represent the psychological needs and are intrinsically rewarding and are innate in work. Moreover, if they are non-existent they lead to dissatisfaction are also known as satisfiers. They include feelings of achievement, responsibility, feelings of growth and promotional opportunities, and importance.

The Needs theory by Abraham Maslow

The theory was developed in 1943 by Abraham Maslow, and its pivotal point is that for any human being to perform highly their basic needs have to be met. Maslow came up with a hierarchy that has five levels of needs often presented in a pyramid (Brit & Jex, 2014). At the base are the physiological needs, then the safety needs, then love and belonging, followed by esteem and at the top is self-actualization. Physiological needs are the basic needs of survival. This include shelter, water, and food (as cited in Brit & Jex, 2014). Safety needs include a person security and finance security also having a healthy life and wellbeing. Love and wellbeing are the needs for family, relationships, and friends. Esteem include the need for others to be respectful to you and the feeling of self-confidence. Lastly, self-actualization involves desiring to gain and achieve everything and get the best out of ones self.

Achievement and acquired needs theory by David McClelland

McClelland explains three types of motivational need in his book The achieving society published in 1961. He argued there is the acquisition of specific needs in over time by an individual and are later modified by a persons experiences (Brit & Jex, 2014). The three needs that influence a persons effectiveness and motivation in a particular job are achievement motivation, authority motivation, and affiliation motivation. Achievement-motivated people as the name suggest they seek achievement, to attain the realistic but challenging objective, and advance in their jobs (as cited in Brit & Jex, 2014). They avoid low and high-risk situations and prefer working alone or with other high achievers. The authority-motivated individual seeks to be effective, make an impact and being influential (Brit & Jex, 2014). They have a strong need for leadership and prevailing of their ideas, and there is an increased need for personal status and prestige. The affiliation motivated people seek to find a friendly relationship and are motivated in interacting with others. They have a need for acceptance by others, be liked and be regarded as popular. They love working well in teams and have a tendency of conforming to the norms of their group.

The X and Y theories by Douglas McGregor

McGregor argued that managers style of management is highly influenced by the beliefs and assumptions they have on what motivates their team members. For instance, if managers believe that their employees hate work they are likely to adopt the authoritarian style of management these fall under the X theory whereas if they believe their employees love their work they will adopt the participative style of management these fall under Y theory (Brit & Jex, 2014). The X theorist believe their employees hate work, they need to be controlled and highly supervised at all levels, and there is a need for enticement so as to produce results. On the other hand, the Y theorists believe their employees love work, are happy and self-driven, and creative, take and accept responsibility, and consider work as a natural part of life.


The above-discussed theories can be applied in some ways in any organization or business. For instance, the motivator-hygiene theory suggests that managers have to make improvements on motivator and hygiene factors in order to increase productivity and happiness among its workforce and make their employees feel the appreciation and support. Consequently, in the British Airways, the company provides fringe benefits through pension schemes such as Airways Pension Scheme (APS) and New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS) that are available worldwide (Khusanraymjonov, 2014). Also in HSBC, it applies Herzberg theory whereby it holds training and team sessions to up the skills of their employees which makes it possible for self-growth, attainment of status, recognition and progress which are the traits of motivators in theory (Khusanraymjonov, 2014). Also, it motivates its staff by offering them organizational benefits. For instance, it has a benefit called My Choice which is a package of benefits that has flexibility and abides by the choice of team members.

The two organization HSBC and British Airways use Maslows needs theory to transform the organizations. In British Airways, they organize social clubs in which leisure activities and games are arranged this gives their employees a sense of love and belonging as per the hierarchy of needs (Khusanraymjonov, 2014). Also, the primary organization concerns are health and safety as per the hierarchy of needs, and it fulfills it by trying to manage behavioral risks, injuries, and health problems and enhance awareness of risks. Hence, to ensure successful implementation of this the organization organizes for specific handling training. Self-actualization is the desire of an individual to achieve and do their best. In British Airways they have developed a system called High-Performance Leadership (HPL) that highly gives support in maintaining employees personal growth (Khusanraymjonov, 2014). The system assesses an appropriate candidate for leadership, and they are rewarded in terms of monetary support and training. HSBC also tightens the relationship among the employees and organization hence creating a sense of belonging.

The theory of achievement and acquired needs is workable and is frequently practiced in the present day workplace such as British Airways and HSBC. In British Airways, for instance, the need for affiliation is great since individual have strong desire to belong to a group. HSBC come up with a new program called Branch Leadership Program whereby strategic and leaderships skills are taught for 24 months (Khusanraymjonov, 2014). Therefore, such an opportunity is remarkable and desired by anyone who is ambitious. Hence with the help McClelland theory, HSBC motivates their employees by leading and influencing them to seek power.


Brit, T. W. &Jex, S. M. (2014). Organizational Psychology: A scientist practitioner approach (3rd ed.). Hobeken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Khusanraymjonov. (2014). Understanding Motivational Theories and Their Application in the Context of British Airways and HSBC. khusanraymjonov. Retrieved 23 February 2017, from

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