Motivating Across Cultures

Motivation is the activation or energization of goal-oriented behavior. Motivation may be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but, theoretically, it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article 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, morality, or avoiding mortality.

The Nature of Motivation

The Assumption of Content and Process

  • Content Theories of Motivation: Theories that explain work motivation in terms of what arouses, energizes, or initiates employee behavior.
  • Process Theories of Motivation: Theories that explain work motivation by how employee behavior is initiated, redirected, and halted.

Motivation across Cultures: The Universalist Assumption

The motivation process is universal; all people are motivated to pursue goals they value. But, culture influences specific content and goals pursued so, the specific nature of motivation differs across cultures.

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The Hierarchy-of-Needs Theory

The Maslow Theory

Maslow’s theory rests on a number of basic assumptions:

  1. Lower-level needs must be satisfied before higher-level needs become motivators
  2. A need that is satisfied no longer serves as a motivator
  3. There are more ways to satisfy higher-level than there are ways to satisfy lower-level needs.

The Hierarchy-of-Needs Theory

International Findings on Maslow’s Theory

Hofstede’s research indicates:

  1. Self-actualization and esteem needs rank highest for professionals and managers
  2. Security, earnings, benefits, and physical working conditions are most important to low-level, unskilled workers
  3. Job categories and levels may have a dramatic effect on motivation and may well offset cultural considerations
  4. MNCs should focus most heavily on giving physical rewards to lower-level personnel and on creating a climate where there is challenge, autonomy, the ability to use one’s skills, and cooperation for middle- and upper-level personnel.

Two-Factor Theory of Motivation

A theory that identifies two sets of factors that influence job satisfaction:

  1. Motivators
  2. Job-content factors such as achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, and the work itself.
  3. Hygiene Factors

The Two-Factor Theory of Motivation

The Herzberg Theory

The two-factor theory holds that motivators and hygiene factors relate to employee satisfaction – a more complex relationship than the traditional view that employees are either satisfied or dissatisfied

  1. If hygiene factors are not taken care of or are deficient there will be dissatisfaction.
  2. There may be no dissatisfaction if hygiene factors are taken care of – there may be no satisfaction also
  3. Only when motivators are present will there be satisfaction.

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