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Organizational Behavior Course Notes – Motivation Theories

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Premise is that people are motivated by a desire to satisfy certain specific types of needs, and that these needs are arranged sequentially in a hierarchical form. Once lower-level needs are satisfied, the individual moves up the hierarchy one level at a time and attempts to satisfy the next higher-order level needs..

Expectancy Theory

The basis is that people’s behavior results from conscious choices among alternatives, and these choices/behaviors are related to the person’s perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes. This theory has three parts, and they are multiplicative, so the person must believe that they can have a positive impact on each of the three areas.

Equity Theory

This theory compares perceived inputs (a person’s contributions to an exchange) with perceived outputs (the things that result from an exchange). An individual weights his or her inputs and outcomes by their level of importance, and then compares their output/input ration to someone else’s ration in order to determine if a situation is “fair”. *The key point is that you are comparing the ratios and not individual inputs or outcomes.

Comparison ratio:

Outputs (person)
 Inputs (person)

is less than (<), equal to (=) or greater than (>)

Outputs (other person)
 Inputs (other person)

Equity exists when the comparison ratios are perceived to be equal. When the comparison ratios are perceived to be unequal, the individual will compensate by taking one of the following actions to restore equity:

NOTE: People tend to maximize their outcomes and minimize the amount of effort they must increase to restore equity. In addition, most people will try to avoid changing the object of their comparison and will try to distort the other’s inputs and outcomes rather than their own inputs or outcomes.