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Evaluate to What Extent Expectancy Theory and Equity

Evaluate to what extent expectancy theory and equity theory can explain motivation at work. Motivation can be defined as a set of reasons which regulates ones behaviour. As observed the success of any organization depends largely on employee motivation. Motivated workforce leads to reduced absenteeism, staff turnover, greater efficiency leading to higher productivity. Various motivation theories by social scientists can be classified into process and content theories. Content theories concentrate on drives and needs of individuals whereas process theories discuss our goal oriented decisions.

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In this essay we will discuss two process theories and evaluate their applicability. First we will have a look at equity theory. “ It’s a process theory which argues that perception of unfairness leads to tension which motivates the individual to resolve the unfairness”. A notable statement by Stacey Adams describes employees’ perception of fair treatment at work place and reaction to unfairness. According to equity theory, employees prefer situations of equity, when ratio of employees inputs and outcomes are equals ratio of inputs and outcomes for a comparison other .

Adam proposed two types of inequities under reward (ratio of employee less than comparison with other) and over reward (ratio of employee more than comparison with other) and pointed that employee reaction to these might differ. To understand its applicability, let’s look at this example. Inequity was created in two plants A and B by decreasing the wages by 15%. Plant A workers were given a reasonable explanation for reduction while plant B wasn’t. It was noticed that resultant thefts were more in plant B This research supports the predictions of the theory.

As predicted by Adams, underreward created tension and provoked the underpaid workers to resolve inequity by increasing output, theft in this case. Lack of information in plant B causes imprecisely perceived inequity, therefore for equity theory to operate there has to be communication of accurate information about rewards. Research confirms that from management perspective, perceived equity leads to higher job satisfaction and commitment. This theory highlights the concept of social comparison and help managers understand employees’ preference of being treated in terms of their environment, not in isolation.

Moreover equity theory can be applied to small and large organizations example- Rank and Yank applied in Enron Corporations. Conversely, the practical application of this theory has been criticized . “Much of the research supporting the basic propositions of equity theory has been conducted in laboratory settings, thus has questionable applicability to real-world situations” To understand this let’s look at the study of reactions to inequity in American firms (scheer et al2003). It was observed that American workers did not act negatively towards over rewards.

In this case the assumption of equity theory fails as presumption that negative equity leads to guilt causing tension to resolve inequity doesn’t hold true. In this case the theory’s failure might be due to various reasons. Firstly while calculating input output ratio the weightage given to input and output factors depends upon employee’s perception. The basis of social comparison differs , some people compare with peers while others might compare with employees in other  organizations. Moreover this theory might not work in long run as prolonged perceived inequity might result in bad management employee relationships.

We now look at expectancy theory presented by Edward Tolman who argued that behaviour is directed by our expectations to achieve desired goals Employees choose work behaviours that they believe leads to valued outcomes. Later Victor vroom developed the first model of expectancy theory based on the concepts of valence instrumentality and expectancy using expectancy equation: Force = Expectancy X Instrumentality X Valence  Valence means  value a worker assigns to the outcome, expectancy refers to  belief that efforts will lead to desired performance and instrumentality means successful performance will lead to desired outcome.

If any of these factors is zero it will lead to no motivation, therefore the manager should ensure that all three values are high. To examine its applicability let’s consider this example. Grace co. through a survey determined that maximum employees value monetary rewards. The company introduced a scheme: employees meeting their performance targets would get bonuses which further resulted in higher employee productivity. This case supports expectancy theory.

Here, identification of valued outcomes followed by proposal of monetary rewards, increased the valence of employees hence increasing their motivation force. This theory enables managers to  adjust  motivation  of employees  by determining what goals employees want to achieve. By assessing long terms goals of employees and assigning them tasks which help achieve them, the theory can work in the long term. Moreover it focuses on individual needs and development by giving challenging but doable performance goals leading to valued outcomes, required training and adequate resources.

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