Essay on Motivation and Herzberg’s Theory

Submitted By yanlingqian
Words: 711
Pages: 3

Guided by the question what employees in the information society of the twenty-first century perceive as relevant for their personal motivation in comparison to Herzberg’s two-factor theory this dissertation presents a qualitative study conducted with a group of German knowledge workers. The participants reject Herzberg’s two factor theory as an adequate motivational theory for their workplace motivation. According to the participants view a cultural bias can be found in Herzberg’s theory. Furthermore the underlying assumption of Herzberg’s theory that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction depend on different factors is doubted. Instead it is suggested by the participants the difference needs to be made between motivation and job satisfaction. The theory does not reflect the German cultural tendency towards a team-based approach and the importance of safety needs for motivation. The motivator factors proposed by Herzberg only partially meet the perception of the group of participants. A mentally challenging work, visionary leadership and psychological safety are the key motivators in the researched organisation. Differences in the nature of the job and the cultural environment are suggested as reasons why earlier studies on Herzberg’s theory resulted in ambivalent findings concerning the validity of Herzberg’s theory. Implications of a possible misunderstanding of Herzberg concerning the relationship between job satisfaction, job dissatisfaction and motivation on the two-factor theory and other relevant motivational theories get discussed.

Honour where honour is due: in order to last for 45years without being disproved and maintain a place under the most influential of its kind an academic theory has to be a truly outstanding specimen. This is the case for Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory of workplace motivation, published in “The Motivation to Work” (Herzberg, Mausner and Snyderman) in 1959. In its essence the theory relates motivation and job satisfaction with a set of work-related factors and job dissatisfaction with a set of factors in the organisational environment.

Since its introduction in 1959 it can be said that the two-factor theory has had considerable influence on the body of science on workplace motivation. Despite existing criticism it can be stated that the two-factory theory fulfils all four criteria of a valuable academic theory (Whitsett and Winslow 1967), it has resolving and explanatory power, has generated a vast amount of further research (Herzberg 1993) and is a useful base for prediction on the topic of workplace motivation. In addition Herzberg (Herzberg, Mausner and Snyderman 1959) introduced a new research method to generate his findings, the so-called “critical incident technique” that caused great sensation and dispute in academic circles at that point in time. In this way Herzberg’s theory has lost nothing of its attractiveness to and influence on academics and manager’s alike over the past decades. In contrary it can still be found on the “manager’s motivational toolbag” for