Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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Library Philosophy and Practice 2012



A characteristic of organisations in the 21st century is the continuous and rapid pace of change. Volatile free market economic environments, rapidly changing technologies, global competition, workforce diversity, and new organisational structures are some of the challenges an organisation faces. Organisations may differ in the priority they attach to the human resource component, in their efforts toward achieving high productivity and competitive advantage, yet they all recognize the value of a qualified, motivated, stable, and responsive team of employees (Huselid, 1995).

Retention and productivity levels of the existing workforce are an essential concern in human resource management. Employee turnover is one of the most studied topics in organisational psychology (Mitra, Jenkins and Gupta, 1992) and is of interest to other professionals, including personnel researchers, and managers of organisations (Mobley, Griffeth, Hand and Meglino, 1979).

According to Tella, Ayeni and Popoola (2007), the management of people at work is an integral part of the management process. To understand the critical importance of people in the organisation is to recognize that the human element and the organisation are synonymous. A well-managed organisation usually sees an average worker as the root source of quality and productivity gains. Such organisations do not look at capital investment, but at employees, as the fundamental source of improvement. An organisation is effective to the degree to which it achieves its goals. An effective organisation will make sure that there is a spirit of cooperation and sense of commitment and satisfaction within the sphere of its influence. In order to make employees satisfied and committed to their jobs in academic libraries, there is need for strong and effective motivation at the various levels, departments, and sections of the library.

Literature Review

Motivation is a basic psychological process. A recent data-based comprehensive analysis concluded that competitiveness problems appear to be largely motivational in nature (Mine, Ebrahimi, and Wachtel, 1995). Along with perception, personality, attitudes, and learning, motivation is a very important element of behaviour. Nevertheless, motivation is not the only explanation of behaviour. It interacts with and acts in conjunction with other cognitive processes. Motivating is the management process of influencing behaviour based on the knowledge of what make people tick (Luthans, 1998). Motivation and motivating both deals with the range of conscious human behaviour somewhere between two extremes: reflex actions such as a sneeze or flutter of the eyelids; and learned habits such as brushing one's teeth or handwriting style (Wallace and Szilag 1982: 53).

Luthans (1998) asserts that motivation is the process that arouses, energizes, directs, and sustains behaviour and performance. That is, it is the process of stimulating people to action and to achieve a desired task. One way of stimulating people is to employ effective motivation, which makes workers more satisfied with and committed to their jobs. Money is not the only motivator. There are other incentives which can also serve as motivators.

Motivation is something that can come and go in an instant. The workplace often can be a fun and enjoyable place, but other times it can be the pit of hell. Not only do most of us cope with stress, fatigue, mental and physical anguish, but we must also complete the mission that is set forth for us. Motivation is delivered in many different ways. Each person may be different, but sometimes we share the same types of motivation with others.

Along with perception, personality, attitudes, and learning, motivation is a very important part of understanding behaviour. Luthan (1998), asserts that motivation should not be thought of as the only explanation of behaviour, since it interacts with and acts in conjunction with other mediating processes and with the environment. Luthan stresses that, like the other cognitive process, motivation cannot be seen. All that can be seen is behaviour, and this should not be equated with causes of behaviour. While recognizing the central role of motivation, Evans (1998), states that many recent theories of organisational behaviour find it important for the field to re-emphasize behaviour. Definitions of motivation abound. One thing these definitions have in common is the inclusion of words such as "desire", "want", "wishes", "aim", "goals", "needs", and" incentives". Luthan (1998), defines motivation as "a process that starts with a physiological deficiency or need that activates a behaviour or a drive that is aimed at a goal incentive". Therefore, the key to understanding the process of motivation lies in the meaning of, and relationship among, needs, drives, and incentives. Relative to this, Minner, Ebrahimi, and Watchel, (1995) state that in a system sense, motivation consists of these three interacting and interdependent elements, i.e., needs, drives, and incentives.

A simple definition of motivation is the ability to change behaviour. It is a drive that compels one to act because human behaviour is directed toward some goals. Motivation is intrinsic (internal), it comes from within based on personal interests, desires, and need for fulfillment. However, extrinsic (external) factors such as rewards, praise, and promotions also influence motivation. As defined by Daft (1997), motivation refers to "the forces either within or external to a person that arouse enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action".

People who are committed to achieving organisational objectives generally outperform those who are not committed. Those who are intrinsically rewarded by accomplishments in the workplace are satisfied with their jobs and are individuals with high self esteem. Therefore, an important part of management is to help make work satisfying and rewarding for employees and to keep employee motivation consistent with organisational objectives. With the diversity of contemporary workplaces, this is a complex task. Many factors, including the influences of different cultures, affect what people value and what is rewarding to them.

Motivation is the stimulus, incentive, or inducement to act or react in a certain way. Purposeful human behaviour is motivated behaviour, which means that either physiologic or social stimuli activate or motivate a person to do something.

According to Stephen (2000), motivation is the willingness to exert a persistent and high level of effort towards organisational goals, conditioned by the efforts' ability to satisfy some individual needs. The key elements in this definition are intensity of efforts, persistence, direction towards organisational goals and needs.

Decenzo (2001) stated that motivation is the result of the interaction between the individual and the situation. Certainly, individuals differ in the motivational drive, but an individual's motivation varies from situation to situation, from culture to culture. Robbins (2001) defined motivation as, the willingness to exert high levels of efforts to reach organisational goals, conditioned by effort's ability to satisfy some individual needs.

Motivation is the activation or energization of goal-oriented behaviour. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but, theoretically, it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behaviour as well. This study refers to human motivation. According to various theories, motivation may be rooted in the basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, hobby, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, selfishness, morality, or avoiding mortality. Conceptually, motivation should not be confused with either volition or optimism.

When management was first studied in a scientific way at the turn of the twentieth century, Frederick Winslow Taylor worked to improve productivity in labour situations. Taylor developed efficiency measures and incentive systems. When workers were paid more for meeting a standard higher than their normal production, productivity increased dramatically. Therefore, workers seemed to be economically motivated. At this time in history, social issues involved in human behaviour were not yet considered. A more humanistic approach soon developed that has been influencing management ever since.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Elton Mayo and other researchers from Harvard University conducted studies at a Western Electric plant in Hawthorne, Illinois, to measure productivity. They studied the effects of fatigue, layout, heating, and lighting on productivity. As might be expected when studying lighting, employee productivity levels increased as the illumination level was increased; however, the same effect was noted when the illumination level was decreased. The researchers concluded that the attention paid to the employees was more of a contributing factor to their productivity level than the environmental conditions. The fact that paying attention to workers could improve their behaviour was called the Hawthorne effect. As a result of this research, it was evident that employees should be treated in a human way. These findings started the human relations movement –a change in management thinking and practice that viewed increased worker productivity as grounded in satisfaction of employees' basic needs. Many years later, it was discovered that the workers in the Hawthorne experimental group had received an increase in income; therefore, money was probably a motivating factor, although it was not recognized as such at the time. (Daft, 1997).

Motivation theories have continued to evolve and have their roots in behavioural psychology. They provide a way to examine and understand human behaviour in a variety of situations. On - going changes in the workplace require that managers give continuous attention to those factors that influence worker behaviour and align them with organisational goals. No one theory is appropriate for all people and for all situations. Each individual has his or her own values and differing abilities. In business settings, managers apply motivation theories to influence employees, improve morale, and implement incentive and compensation plans.