There are many critics on the analysis of behavior, many of whom disagree with the notion that animal experiments can be used as a basis to discuss human behaviors. Referring to an experiment where reinforcement was used to teach pigeons to play a simple tune on a toy piano, Eric Ashby made the following criticism, “Employees do behave like pigeons, and this is why this technique is so dangerous. Pigeons can be taught to play the piano but they cannot be taught to understand music. Rote Learning without understanding is useless” (Mayer:Richard, 2003) Vroom’s expectancy theory (1964):
Vroom’s theory is based on the belief that employee effort will lead to performance and performance will lead to rewards (Vroom, 1964). Rewards may be either positive or negative. The more positive the reward the more likely the employee will be highly motivated. Conversely, the more negative the reward the less likely the employee will be motivated. Implications for Management: Recent studies have expanded Vroom’s expectancy theory, and have pointed out that expectations have a great deal to do with how the “psychological climate” is formed in the workplace.
The psychological climate, which can be positive or negative, is made up of various aspects which contain expectations. Leadership style is critical in managing expectations and one of the most important determinants of psychological climate (Litwin:Stringer,1966). To use expectancy theory in the workplace, rewards or other outcomes to motivate people must be desired by those individuals. Managers must therefore try to identify desirable, valued outcomes rather than simply assuming they know exactly what their employees want.
Incentive awards and recognition systems should take into account a variety of employee preferences. If employees are to be motivated, they must perceive that differences in actual performance will result in differences in rewards in this present world of high competition and performance. Expectancy theory is one of those “highly rational” models of motivation, taking no account of the non rational and unconscious aspects of individual behavior. But understanding the role expectations play prior to and after performance is relevant in addressing the work force’s motivation level (Kopp,2005).
Criticism on Skinner’s reinforcement theory: Vroom and all expectancy theorists before him had one area of concern that was not clearly defined and that was the absolute distinction between what is an act and what is an outcome. Vroom stated that the distinction is not always absolute, rather, actions are frequently described in terms of particular outcomes that they affect. Vroom defines an action as a person’s behavior, or the act of trying. As long as the distinction between what an act is and what an outcome is, is not clear than the theory and the model are questionable6.
Adams’ Equity theory (1965): Adams’ theory states that employees strive for equity between themselves and other workers. Equity is achieved when the ratio of employee outcomes over inputs is equal to other employee outcomes over inputs (Adams, 1965). Implication for management: It is important to consider the Adams’ Equity Theory factors when striving to improve an employee’s job satisfaction, motivation level, etc. , and what can be done to promote higher levels of each.
Positive outcomes and high levels of motivation can be expected only when employees perceive their treatment to be fair to strike a healthy balance, with outputs on one side of the scale; inputs on the other – both weighing in a way that seems reasonably equal. Criticism on Adams’ Equity Theory: If the balance lies too far in favor of the managers, some employees may work to bring balance between inputs and outputs on their own, by asking for more compensation or recognition. Others will be demotivated, and still others will seek alternative employment7.
Conclusion: The effectiveness of Knowledge Based Organization is dependent upon the motivation of its employees (Chesney, 1992; Buford, 1990; Smith, 1990). Knowing what motivates employees and incorporating this knowledge into the reward system will help identify, recruit, employ, train, and retain a productive workforce. Motivating employees requires both managers and employees working together (Buford, 1993). Employees must be willing to let managers know what motivates them, and managers must be willing to design reward systems that motivate employees. If properly designed reward systems are not implemented, however, employees will not be motivated.
Beck R. C. (1978), “Motivation – Theories and Principles,” Prentice Hall, New Jersey. Mullins M. J. (2002), “Management and organizational behaviour”, Prentice Hall, Harlow. Weisbord M. R. (1987), “Productive Workplaces: Organizing and Managing for Dignity, Meaning, and Community,” Jossy-Boss, Inc. Publishers. Lindner J (June 1998), “Understanding Employee Motivation”, volume 36(3), Journal of Extension.