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V.1C.9   Motivation in the higher education workplace

                  Needs theories in leadership

According to Maslow (1943), human needs can be classified into five categories and these five categories can be arranged in a hierarchy of importance.   These include physiological, security, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs.  According to Maslow, a person is motivated, first and foremost, to satisfy physiological needs.  His theory is that as long as the employees remain unsatisfied, they tend to be motivated only to fulfill their lower-level needs.

Herzberg suggested that there are factors in a job which cause satisfaction.  These, he called intrinsic factors (motivators) and other factors he refers to as dis-satisfactions (hygiene factors).  According to Herzberg, if the motivational factors are met, the employee becomes motivated and hence performs at higher levels (Bess and Dee, 2012, p. 290).

Hill’s study provided support for the two-factor theory and he suggested that the model could be successfully applied to academic staff in higher education institutions. He concluded that job satisfaction of academic staff in universities and colleges is related to intrinsic factors (in particular, ministering to students and the work itself), and dissatisfaction is related to extrinsic factors, and arises from factors external to the job (Hill, 1986). She concluded that having tenured and well-paid employment provides satisfaction of the lower-order needs, whereas prestigious and autonomous work enables academic staff to satisfy higher-order needs to a greater degree than is possible for the general population (e.g., esteem need the need for self- actualization) (Moses, 1986). They examined factors that impact on academics' intentions to leave the university, and found that relations with colleagues were the largest predictor of intention to leave. They also found that general job satisfaction was a further strong predictor of intention to leave. In short, academics who found their work less intrinsically satisfying than others more commonly intended to leave the university. Salary or economic resources as such did not appear to influence intentions to stay or go (Manger and Eikeland, 1990).

McClelland's acquired needs theory (1971) asserts that low need for achievement is typically characterized by a preference for low risk levels and shared responsibility (Steers and Black, 1994).  In addition, David McClelland's acquired needs theory recognizes that everyone prioritizes needs differently. He also believes that individuals are not born with these needs, but that they are actually learned through life experiences. McClelland (1971) identifies three specific needs:

·              Need for achievement is the drive to excel.

·             Need for power is the desire to cause others to behave in a way other than they would have behaved.

·              Need for affiliation is the desire for friendly, close interpersonal relationships and conflict avoidance (Bess and Dee, 2012, p. 287-288).

McClelland associates each need with a distinct set of work preferences, and managers can help tailor the environment to meet these needs. High achievers differentiate themselves from others by their desires to do things better. These individuals are strongly motivated by job situations with personal responsibility, feedback, and an intermediate degree of risk. In addition, high achievers often exhibit the following behaviors:

·              Seek personal responsibility for finding solutions to problems

·              Want rapid feedback on their performances so that they can tell easily whether they are improving or not

·              Set moderately challenging goals & perform best when they perceive the probability of success as 50-50

An individual with a high need of power is likely to follow a path of continued promotion over time. Individuals with a high need of power often demonstrate the following behaviors:

·              Enjoy being in charge

·              Want to influence others

·              Prefer to be placed into competitive and status-oriented situations

·              Tend to be more concerned with prestige and gaining influence over others than with effective performance

People with the need for affiliation seek companionship, social approval, and satisfying interpersonal relationships. People needing affiliation display the following behaviors:

·              Take a special interest in work that provides companionship and social approval

·              Strive for friendship

·              Prefer cooperative situations rather than competitive ones

·              Desire relationships involving a high degree of mutual understanding

·              Interestingly enough, a high need to achieve does not necessarily lead to being a good manager, especially in large organizations. People with high achievement needs are usually interested in how well they do personally and not in influencing others to do well. On the other hand, the best managers are high in their needs for power and low in their needs for affiliation (CliffsNotes.com, 2012).

       Alderfer asserts in his “existence, relatedness, and growth theory,” commonly known as ERG theory, that there are three basic human needs: existence, relatedness, and growth, which must be met by an employee to enable him/her to increase performance (Bess and Dee, 2012, p. 292).  Alderfer’s ERG theory is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and oftentimes in literature described as one of the most popular extensions of Maslow’s theory.  As opposed to Maslow who claimed that there are five basic needs, Alderfer argued that all needs can be classified into three classes.  In addition, Alderfer suggested that these needs are arranged on a continuum ranging from the most to the least concrete. Alderfer identified three groups of needs:
                    -Existence needs - the existence needs are concerned with psychological existence of individuals and are comparable to Maslow’s physiological and safety needs.
                   -Relatedness needs – the relatedness needs are concerned with interpersonal and social relationships and therefore are related to Maslow’s social needs and external esteem needs.

                   -Growth – the growth needs are concerned with individual’s willingness to achieve personal development ((Landy, 1989).


                                             Process theory in leadership

Process or cognitive motivation theories attempt to understand how and why people are motivated. According to Cardona, Lawrence and Espejo (2003), cognitive development motivation tries to explain how people initiate, sustain, and terminate work motivation .  Vroom’s Expectancy Theory, Adam’s Equity Theory, Locke’s Goal Setting Theory and Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory, etc. are example of process theories. Vroom’s expectancy theory is founded on the basic notions that people desire certain outcomes of behavior and performance, which may be thought of as rewards or consequences of behavior, the performance they achieve, and the outcome they receive (Nelson and Quick, 2003). Equity theory suggests that individuals are motivated when they find themselves in situations of inequity or unfairness (Adams, 1965). Inequity occurs when a person receives more, or less, than the person believes is deserved based on effort and/or contribution. The goal setting theory assumes that human behavior is guided by conscious goal (Locke and Latham, 1968).


       The Job Characteristics Model (JCM), as designed by Hackman and Oldham(1980) attempts to use job design to improve employee motivation. They have identified that any job can be described in terms of five key job characteristics:

            1. Skill Variety - the degree to which a job requires different skills and talents to complete  a   number of different activities

2. Task Identity - this dimension refers to the completion of a whole and identifiable piece of work versus a partial task as part of a larger piece of work 

3. Task Significance - is the impact of the task upon the lives or work of others

4. Autonomy - is the degree of independence or freedom allowed to complete a job

5.  Feedback from the job itself - individually obtaining direct and clear feedback about the effectiveness of the individual carrying out the work activities (Hackman and Oldhan, 1980) .


The JCM links these core job dimensions listed above to critical psychological states, which results in desired personal and work outcomes. This forms the basis of this employee growth-need strength assessment. The core dimensions listed above can be combined into a single predictive index, called the Motivating Potential Score.  The score is calculated as follows:   Motivating Potential Score (MPS) =Skill variety +Task identity+Task significance/3 × AUTONOMY × FEEDBACK (Steel, 2012, p. 49).


Equity is said to exist whenever the ratio of my outcomes to inputs is equal to the ratio of the other person's outcomes and inputs.  Equity Theory suggests that if an individual thinks there is an inequality between two social groups or individuals, the person is likely to be distressed because the ratio between the input and the output are not equal.  Adams says that people are uncomfortable in situations of inequity and they will strive to restore equity (Bess and Dee, 2012, p. 299-301).


                         Social Construction and Motivation theory

So far, we have considered motivation based on needs theories rooting in basic human needs.  We have also looked at process theories that are unique to each individual and these lead to behaviors that are malleable in the course of human interactions.  Bandura (1986) labeled these theories as one-sided interactionism; he proposed a social cognitive theory that favors conceptualization of interaction through “triadic reciprocality” (Bess and Dee, 2012, p. 306).  Social learning theory talks about how both environmental and cognitive factors interact to influence human learning and behavior. It focuses on the learning that occurs within a social context. It considers that people learn from one another, including such concepts as observational learning, imitation, and modeling (Abbott, 2007).  This social learning theory is based on behaviorism which is a philosophy of learning that only focuses on objectively observable behaviors and discounts mental activities. Behavior theorists define learning as nothing more than the acquisition of new behavior, so motivation becomes a function of behavior (Bandura, 1986).


Based on these constructivist theories, motivation is usually seen as one of the more alterable and changeable factors in human behavior. It is rarely seen as a fixed, inborn personality trait. Rather motivation is neither fixed, nor is it inborn (Farley, 2012).  Motivation affects every aspect of leadership and human behavior. Although not as frequently discussed as other aspects of reform, motivation is a crucial part of a student’s experience from preschool onward. Motivation can affect how students approach school in general, how they relate to teachers, how much time and effort they devote to their studies, how much support they seek when they are struggling, and therefore how the school and its leaders perform (Center on Education Policy , 2012.

Researchers who have struggled with questions of what motivates leaders and students generally recognize two major types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is the desire to do or achieve something because one truly wants to and takes pleasure or sees value in doing so. Extrinsic motivation is the desire to do or achieve something not for the enjoyment of the thing itself, but because doing so leads to a certain result (Pintrich, 2003). Some theorists see not a divide but a spectrum; any action could be motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors (Murray, 2011). An essential question is “how can we determine if a student truly wanted to achieve something, if that person simply went through the motions to gain the promised reward, or if it was a mixture of both?” (Mone and Kelly, 1994).  Although complex, this concept of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation creates important questions for the designers of motivation programs (Bess and Dee, 2012, p. 282). 

In summary, motivation has been described as either “extrinsic” or “intrinsic”.  Deci and Ryan (2000) defined these in the following way: “Intrinsic motivation … refers to doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable, and extrinsic motivation … refers to doing something because it has a separable outcome” (p. 55). Extrinsic motivation therefore focuses on factors external to the individual and the task, such as rewards, praise, privileges, or attention; intrinsic motivation would propel achievement or accomplishment of a task for the task or activity in and of itself (Reiss, 2008).


                                                Feminist theory of leadership

Feminist educational leadership is about the ‘doing of feminism’ and leading in a way that challenges and changes hegemonic institutional practices (Blackmore, 1996). If feminist educational leadership is to be emancipatory then critical reflection is essential (Grundy, 1993). Emancipatory practices of feminine theory unite critical reflection with action (Blackmore, 1999).


Research documents that women have a different path to leadership (Eagly & Carli, 2007).   Studies of gender in higher education administration have raised questions of equity and efficiency, but they have also emphasized issues of cohesion and coherence as well (Bess and Dee, 2012, p. 308).  Basically though, the western view of being female has been dominated by an Aristotelian perspective up to the 18th century (Code, 2000). Aristotle wrote “the male is by nature superior, and the female inferior” (Ross-Smith and Kornberger, 2004).

       Some recent research links female leadership styles to a specific (natural or socialized) orientation of women towards communication, cooperation, affiliation and attachment, and to a conception of power as control not over the group but by the group. Some authors explain this distinctive style of female leadership as resulting from the influence of primary socialization (Chodorow, 1978), which develops women’s affective and relational resources and a propensity to communicate with others, to listen to them.


Feminist scholarship and theory of motivation is interdisciplinary, drawing on fields of study such as anthropology, legal theory, sociology, history, literature, and media studies ,among others.  Higher education is affected by feminist theory since this theory aims to understand the nature of gender inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations, and sexuality.  Thus, feminism is not a single ideology and cannot be easily explained without more research on how it informs institutional futures (Bess and Dee, 2012, p. 308).

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