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According to Igboeli, (1990: 137) the word motivation comes from the latin word- movere which means to move. It is a general term that refers to all those inner forces such as desires, drives or motives wishes, and so forth, which kindle, direct and sustain behaviour toward a goal. Molokwu (1993:92) defines it as a process of stimulating people to action in order to achieve desired goals or accomplish a desired task. It also refers to efforts made to satisfy the basic physical, psychological, economic, emotional, spiritual, political, mental drive or need of the individual either in group or as a person. It is a synthesis of how employees think and feel about their jobs, their working conditions, their supervisors, their organization and fellow workers.

Appleby in his book “Modern Business Administration” defines motivation as the urges, aspirations, drives and needs of human beings that direct or explain their behaviour. According to him, motivation may be described as keenness for a particular pattern of behaviour. Vroom gives the definition of motivation as a process of governing choice made by a person or a lower organism among alternative forms of voluntary action.

Furthermore, motivation is understanding the needs or urges which  prompt people to do things and provide ways of helping them satisfy these needs through the organization, while at the same time harnessing their contribution to satisfy the organizational needs. Productivity and motivation of employees are subjects of considerable concern to management, both of government and private organizations all over the world.


As managing involves the creation and maintenance of an environment for the performance of individuals working together in groups towards the accomplishment of common objectives. It is obvious that a manager cannot do this without known what motivates peoples. The basic element characteristics in people are the potential energy to behave in many different ways. Whatever stimulates this energy need is the issue here. People differ in their ways of itemizing needs and establishing priority.

 These needs and their priority over others cause certain behaviours to take place. Such behaviour directed towards a particular goal or want which the person has learned will satisfy the need. In our complex society, satisfaction of this need entails searching and obtaining employment from which to secure money. Any single act executed by a particular person may be reflecting a number of different needs. It is conceivable that at times, the act of behaviour fails to effect satisfaction. Usually, alternative acts are thereby energies in search of satisfaction. If all acts fail, one often labels the person as frustrated.        There is an inter-relationship between job satisfaction/dissatisfaction and motivation. The important point is that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are affected by different sets of factors and have different effects on employee’s motivation and performance. It is a phenomenon most fundamentally based in the physiological state of the individual. In simple terms motivation can be understood as the forces of response to the existing needs of the organism.


It is important for every manager to bear in mind that employees come to an organization with their needs, desires and motivations already determined. Furthermore, the content to which workers expend energy in working towards the corporate goal depends on how well their personal needs for job security, interest status and prestige can be achieved.

In this perceptive, the challenge to management therefore is to recognize and understand the impact of the various motivational tools that exist. These tools include:

  1. Increase in wages and salaries
  2.  Providing job security
  3.  Promoting workers as and when due devoid of favouritism
  4. Job enrichment
  5.  Objective testing and appraisal
  6. Increase responsibilities
  7. Authority and accountability
  8. Understanding or realizing the subordinates goals aspirations
  9. Provision of welfare services and recreational programmes.
  10. Staff development programme within and outside the company
  11.  Recognition of labour unions and management associations
  12. Fringe benefits- leaves allowance, housing, bonus etc
  13.  Effective communication listening to employees views
  14. Staff participation in decision making especially in matters concerning them.
  15.  Good working environment for efficient performances of workers

When the above tools of motivation are carefully manipulated by the organization, they will result in conducive psychological climate in which workers feel good and happy with the company, identifying with the goals and feeling motivated enough to make the invested capital, plants and materials function for the realization of the organizational goals.


The major theories of motivation have come to us from authors such as  Abraham Maslow, Douglas Mc-Gregor, Frederick Herzberg, David McClelland, and Victor Vroom. There is also the contribution of Rensis Likert in his Human relations Theory as well as the classical theory of motivation.

  1. Frederick Taylor: known as “The father of scientific management” who is inseparably tied with the classical theory was of the view that men could produce more if only they earn more. His plan was unique in that it greatly increased the reward for high productivity. Thus, men were able to double their wages under the system. It is clear that the classical theory makes the assumption that money is the best motivation.
  2. The power of money as a motivator has never been generally established with total agreement. People exist who can be motivated by money just as those who have none beyond being motivated by money. Tailors classical theory fails to specify other important considerations that affect individual motivation to work, by trying to make money the simple solution (Uzoma op cit)

The Need Theory: Abraham Maslow: Most people never reach the point where they no longer want more money. But there definitely comes a time when we begin to think that there is more to derive out of life than mere pay packets. Abraham Maslow (1970, p.35-50) has constructed a continuum of the human needs that motivate. This is popularly known as the Need hierarchy. These needs are:

(a) Physical Needs: These needs are associated with man’s strong drive towards self-preservation. They include shelter, food and water.

(b) Security Needs: The two types of security needs are physical and economic. In as much as physical security is important, people however lay greater emphasis on economic security. They want to be secure against loss of income, unemployment and lack of income in one’s old age.

(c) Social Needs: people need to feel relevant and accepted in any group they are identified with. They also need to have some influence over other group members.

(d) Esteem Needs: These are highlighted in the fact that man needs recognition in whatever he does, status and prestige.

(e) Self-Actualization Needs: This is the need to do what one is best suited for. Some people aspire to be politicians, leaders and dictators and are consequently power-hungry. Such people believe they are best suited for these, in terms of their skill and ability. Such factors as higher responsibility/advancement, challenging work, growth opportunity etc is all included here. It may be convenient at this point, to combine physiological and security needs into lower or “economic” needs.

The Two Factors Theory: (Herzberg)

Herzberg conducted experiments on motivation, and drawing from the data collected, be identified two vital factor in every job. First, there are certain elements in a job that he, called “maintenance factors” or hygiene factors, which include adequate salary, adequate working conditions, job security and fringe benefits. From Herzber’s point of view, these things are necessary for the worker to even begin to be motivated. The “maintenance factors” are those which when not present, will cause dissatisfaction, and if present will prevent dissatisfaction, but will not motivate people to greater performance. Herzberg (1964, p.3-7) has named these maintenance factors, the “Hygiene” factors in a poor analogy I must say with the way the term is used in preventive medicine. He concluded that there were ten maintenance factors, namely:

(i) Company policy and administration

(ii) Technical supervision

(iii) Salary

(iv)  Interpersonal relations with supervisor

(v) Interpersonal relation with peers

(vi). Interpersonal relations with subordinates

(vii) Job security

(viii) Personal life

(ix) Working conditions

(x) Status

Beyond the maintenance factors Herzberg calls the remaining ones the motivational factors. These are the things that could really bring about positive attitudes and motivation. However, if these are lacking positive attitude and motivation will not emerge. The motivational factors, which he called ‘satisfiers’ includes:

(i) Recognition

(ii) Achievement

(iii) Advancement

(iv) The work itself

(v) The possibility of growth

(vi) Responsibility

The insight into the motivational process that was gained via Herzberg’s research blends very well with Maslow’s theory. For instance, Herzberg’s maintenance factors are roughly-equivalent to Maslow’s lower (economic).

Needs – the things a worker must have to begin with. Herzberg’s motivational factors correspond with Maslow’s higher level needs. The significance of the two factor theory lies in the recognition that those organizations or individual managers who have traditionally approached the subject of motivation from a purely maintenance (or hygiene) perspective, have been seriously deluding themselves in some ways, because all they have succeeded in doing in most cases is preventing dissatisfaction. No positive motivation has this resulted beyond the neutral level. Furthermore, managers are often limited in their control over wages- one of the most important elements of the hygiene (maintenance) factors. Therefore, not only the effectiveness of money as a motivator in question, but also the extent to which any individual manager has control over it. Managers cannot motivate people with incentives over which they have no control (Uzoma 1989 op cit p.168).

4. Theories X and Y: MCGREGOR

From previous theories, several factors exist that motivate people. The manner, in which any of the theories is applied, will be determined by the concepts about man himself. (McGregor 1960), come up with two theories in explaining man and motivation, which he calls Theory X and Theory Y. Theory x Assumptions According to McGregor are:

i. The average man dislikes work and will avoid it the extent he can

ii. Therefore most people have to be forced or threatened with punishment to get them to make the effort necessary to accomplish organizational goals.

iii. The average individuals is basically passive and therefore prefers to be directed, rather than to assume any risk or responsibility. Above all else, he prefers security.

A manager who fits into the theory X group leans towards an organizational climate of centralized authority, close control and automatic leadership.

The Theory Y Assumptions are:

i. Work is as natural to man as play or rest and therefore, cannot be avoided.

ii. Self-motivation and inherent satisfaction in work will be achieved in situations where the individual is committed to organizational goals.

Hence, coercion is not the only form of influence that can be used to accomplish organizational goals.

iii. Commitment is a crucial factor in motivation, and it is a function of the rewards coming from it.

iv. The average individual learns to accept and even seek responsibility given the proper environment.

v. Contrary to popular stereotypes, the ability to be creative and innovative in the solution of organizational problems is widely and not narrowly distributed in the population.

vi. In modern business and organizations, human intellectual potentialities are only partially realized.

The manager who operates on Theory Y feels that an effective organizational climate has greater decentralization of authority, relies less on coercion and control, has a democratic leadership style, and more participation in the decision process.

The question often arises as to which management philosophy and organizational climate produces the best result. One might be tempted to favour Theory Y because it is humanistic on the surface and less authoritative then Theory X. But sentiments alone are not enough in making judgment because there are occasions when Theory X is called for, while Theory Y works brilliantly in others. Perhaps the optimum theory would be called Theory Z, in which case, the manager would have to apply both approaches at one time and another (Uwick, 1970, p.14-21).

5. Expectancy/Instrumentality Theories: VROOM

Instrumentality is the relationship between an individual’s goals or the rewards he desires and the organizational objectives that he is expected to fulfill. It exists when a person sees that attaining an organizational objective, such as high productivity, will result in receiving the reward he deserves: wages (Literer in Ejiofor op cit p.218). To make a recapitulation of the meaning of the term, it can be said to refer to the individual’s perception of the degree of relationship between the level out come and the second level outcome. (ibidp.152). the instrumentality theory attempts to relate effort to rewards. It however looks like an unattainable goal in its real sense because in many Nigerian organizations; rewards are tied to favouritism and nepotism. The practice has resulted in “bad attitude to work”, among Nigeria workers. The favoured worker becomes lax knowing that he will always get an unexpected strike of “good-luck” from his “master”. While those discriminated against, perceiving that nothing would be forth-coming by way of rewards, become disenchanted and refuse to put in their best through absenteeism, lateness to work, slow work pace and many other subtle means, such as stealing office stationery/equipment, conversion of office petty cash all in the attempt to reward themselves.


Ejiofor (op cit p.210) has set out four conditions that must be met in the application of the instrumentality theory for optimum motivation, namely:

i. The employer/organization must hold out rewards desired by the worker

ii. The worker must perceive that the desired reward can be obtained only through the execution of more effort on his part.

iii. The reward must be achievable, and as immediately as possible.

iv. The worker must be mentally and physically able to strive for the reward.

The questions now are: Can the employer/organization hold out rewards?

Is it willing to give out reward as immediately as they have been genuinely earned?

Does the worker perceive that the desired reward can be obtained only through the exertion of greater effort on his part? To the extent that these questions are answered positively, to that extent are workers motivated.


If rewards could be seen as inputs and motivation as outputs, then there appears to be what Ejiofor calls “the missing link in the motivational efforts of many of our employers/organizations, which do not bring about the desired motivation output, from the initiation reward inputs. The result therefore, is that while enjoying many Nigerians is still not motivated to produce. Why is it so? What is the missing link in the motivational chain? Vroom’s Expectancy Theory (1964) throws much light on this. He explains that motivation depends not just on the outcome desired by the worker, but also on the instrumentality of effort. That is the relationship perceived by the worker between his own effort (hard work, honestly, loyalty, putting oneself last) and the desired outcome (promotion, commendation, salary, movements, modals, tropics, and recognition in the community) Building on vroom’s theory, Pita Ejiofor identified four critical variables in workers motivation from which he later drew up the preconditions for instrumentality.


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