Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version



Library Philosophy and Practice 2012



In most establishments, the desire to achieve optimal level of productivity is very central to managerial objectives. To attain this level, management of any organisation needs to look in wards as to how best the staff's morale can be boosted through a number of incentives. Researchers have over the years looked into how best workers can be motivated and how the employees were expected to behave and conduct themselves for the purpose of organisational effectiveness and a high level of productivity. Therefore, the continued existence and functioning of an organisation according to Adebisi (2000) depends largely on the extent to which such an organisation is effective and efficient. In his research, 'organisational effectiveness' is the degree to which an organisation realises its goals.'

There were quite a number of researches conducted on this subject matter. The earliest economist such as Adam (1994) sees man as a rational animal motivated by the desire to maximise his economic gain and this has subsequently led management to believe that workers can be instantly motivated to increase production by means of mere promise of more money. However, the psychological theory of motivation gives one an insight into factors which influence human behaviour on the attitudinal disposition of the individuals as Robin (1996) divided motivational theories into two categories termed content and process. In content theory, it is assumed that every individual possesses the same set of needs, that is, having similar needs while the process theory stresses differences in people's needs and focus on the cognitive processes that create these differences.

Motivation is the sense of needs, the desire that prompts an individual to act. Hackett (1976) sees motivation as something which implies a person to act, a reason for behaviour. It is about understanding the need for urge which will prompt people to do things and provide ways of helping them satisfy those needs through organisations.

Incentives involve needs that exist within the individual needs. Satisfaction within individuals may prompt them to engage in behaviour directed towards the attainment of goals. The diagram below shows the sequence of events that comprise the motivational process.

Need (tension) > > > > Goal directed behaviour > > > > Incentive > > > > Goal Achieved > > > > Reduced (tension).

The inclusion of the word tension indicates that with many motivational situations, the individual senses feeling of tension. Motivation is said to be multidimensional (Obadofin (2000). First, the arousal of need which creates a state of disequilibrium (i.e. tension) within the individuals, these individuals will then search for and choose strategies to satisfy these needs. Thirdly, the individual will engage in goal directed behaviour or performance to carry the selected strategy – creating a basic model of motivation that incorporates the concepts of needs, drives, goals and rewards. This step of developing the basic emotional model is to relax this sequential or process framework as shown below:

The model above attempts to show the basic relationship between the identification of arousal of needs through the state where strategies to satisfy these needs are formulated. These, assisted by individuals' ability leads to behaviour or performance which is directed at achieving the individual goals thereby satisfying his needs. After this stage, the individual's performance or level of work is graded. This could be done by comparing the actual level with the expected level of performance. Besides, this stage motivator/ rewards or punishes the individual depending on his appraised performance. After this stage, the individual re-evaluates and re-assesses his needs. This will either lead him to start again where his needs have not been met or to be satisfied.

Contemporary Models of Motivation

One of the widely accepted theories of motivation is the hierarchy of needs propounded by a psychologist, Abraham Maslow. He ranked human needs in ascending order from the lowest to the highest needs. In his theory, we can deduce that human needs are continuous and that the satisfaction of one need leads to another higher need in the hierarchical level. These needs are in order of importance such that lower needs must be satisfied before the needs at immediate higher level of hierarchy.

Maslow identified four categories or classifications of needs – which represent the order of importance to the individual. These needs are:

  1. Physiological
  2. Safety and security
  3. Social and belongingness
  4. Ego, status and esteem
  5. Self-actualization



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