motivation models theories in diverse situations
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We review several motivation models this week and consider different ways in which various theories work best in diverse situations.
1. In what ways does your own personality affect the ways in which you are motivated under different circumstances? 2. What does the most current research indicate about which of these theories works best under a variety of workplace situations? 3. Please provide an anecdote from your own experience to illustrate your points.
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EXAMPLE FROM INSTRUCTOR……”When considering theory and practice, a useful concept is the wheel of theory. This concept was developed by Walter Wallace (1969) and it is a circular image that can be conceptualized as a clockwise arrangement with theory at the twelve oâ€™ clock position and data at the six oâ€™clock position. However, before describing the workings of the wheel of theory it is necessary to define terms. Theory is a relationship between concepts that can be operationalized into observable variables whose relationships can be tested; the purpose of theory is to explain and predict (Wacker, 1998). Data is simply observations or particulars. Since theory describes relationships between variables, this description can be tested on new observations (i.e., new particulars). If the theory in use doesnâ€™t fit these new particulars, it is necessary to build a new theory. Again moving clockwise, the space between twelve oâ€™ clock and six oâ€™ clock is the application of theory to data (or theory testing), while the position from six oâ€™ clock to twelve oâ€™ clock is theory building or the construction of theory based on new observations. Since a particular motivation theory may not necessarily fit the situationâ€™s particulars a new (working) theory may be needed. Thus, the individual may need to find and apply complementary motivational theories or apply elements of complementary theories.
At a macro-level, goal setting theory (Locke & Latham, 2006) describes the motivation process that I use. Early in my life I determined that I wanted three things. I wanted to be well-educated, well-traveled, and well-off. In general all goals have been achieved. I earned a Ph.D. from a rigorous university program, I have lived, worked, and traveled in more than 40 countries, and while I do not intend to do so, I could retire today. At a micro-level, setting and achieving goals is important to me as well. These goals include such things as annually publishing a certain number of articles, earning a certain amount of money, etc. However, as described by Daniel Pink (2009) autonomy, mastery, and purpose are needed for internal motivation and this scheme is particularly fitting to motivate creative knowledge work such as the that work I do as a scholar, researcher, and consultant.
While much of my work life is not routine, a goodly part of it is and internal motivation as found through goal setting, and external motivations (attaining rewards and avoiding punishments) come into play. Finally, Vroomâ€™s (1964) expectancy theory plays a role in my motivational calculus. Vroomâ€™s theory is based on the idea that one is motivated if he or she values the end state, has the ability to achieve the end, and will receive the desired reward. I can give two examples of my use of Vroomâ€™s expectancy theory. If I do not have the ability to conduct a particular sort of consulting, no matter how lucrative, I will not pursue the work. When my home institution stopped valuing my grant writing and grant management expertise, I stopped writing grants.
In conclusion, motivation for knowledge intensive and creative work is well served by measures that spur internal motivation such as those described by Pink (2009). Routine work can be motivated by seeking external rewards and avoiding punishments, but goal setting theory (Locke & Latham, 2006) finds internal motives for routine work too. Finally, Vroomâ€™s (1964) expectancy theory provides an understanding of the reasons that effort may or may not be applied.
Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P. (2006). New directions in goal setting. Current Directions in
Psychological Science, 15(5), 265-268.
Pink, D. (2009). Dan Pink on motivation. TED Talks. Retrieved from
Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work and motivation, New York, NY: Wiley.
Wacker, J. G. (1998). A definition of theory: research guidelines for different theory-building
research methods in operations management. Journal of Operations Management,
Wallace, W. L. (1969). Overview of contemporary sociological theory. Chicago, IL:
Aldine Publishing Company.”
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