Goal Setting Theory of Motivation

Goal Setting Theory of Motivation

Goal setting theory of motivation states that specific and challenging goals along with appropriate feedback contribute to higher and better task performance.

Goals indicate and give direction to an employee about what needs to be done and how much efforts are required to be put in.

In 1960’s, Edwin Locke put forward the goal setting theory of motivation. The theory states that goal setting is essentially linked to task performance.

In goal setting theory, goals must be set based on 5 principles. To motivate, goals must have these.

5 principles of goal setting theory are;

  1. Clarity.
  2. Challenge.
  3. Commitment.
  4. Feedback.
  5. Task Complexity.

Let’s look at each of these in detail.

from MRU archive

1. Clarity

Clear goals are measurable and unambiguous.

When a goal is dear and specific, with a definite time set for completion, there is less misunderstanding about what behaviors will be rewarded.

“Reduce job turnover by 15%” or “Respond to employee suggestions within 48 hours” are examples of dear goals.

2. Challenge

One of the most important characteristics of goals is the level of challenge.

People are often motivated by achievement, and they’ll judge a goal based on the significance of the anticipated accomplishment.

Rewards typically increase for more difficult goals. If you believe you’ll be well compensated or otherwise rewarded for achieving a challenging goal that will boost your enthusiasm and your drive to get it done.

If an assignment is easy and not viewed as very important – and if you or your employee doesn’t expect the accomplishment to be significant – then the effort may not be impressive.

3. Commitment

Goals must be understood and agreed upon if they are to be effective. Employees are more likely to “buy into” a goal if they feel they were part of creating that goal.

The notion of participative management rests on this idea of involving employees in setting goals and making decisions.

4. Feedback

In addition to selecting the right type of goal, an effective goal program must also include feedback. Feedback provides opportunities to clarify expectations, adjust goal difficulty, and gain recognition.

It’s important to provide benchmark opportunities or targets, so individuals can determine for themselves how they’re doing.

5. Task complexity

The last factor in goal setting theory introduces two more requirements for success.

For goals or assignments that are highly complex, take special care to ensure that the work doesn’t become too overwhelming.

Goal setting theory has certain eventualities such as Self-efficiency and Goal commitment.


Self-efficiency is the individual’s self-confidence and faith that he has potential.

if performing the task. Higher the level of self-efficiency, greater will be the efforts pm in by the individual when they face challenging tasks.

While lower the level of self-efficiency, less will be the efforts put in by the individual or he might even quit while meeting challenges.

Goal commitment

Goal setting theory assumes that the individual is committed to the goal and will not leave the goal. The goal commitment is dependent on the following factors:

  • Goals are made open, known and broadcasted.
  • Goals should be set-self by individual rather than designated.

Individual’s set should be consistent with the organizational goals and vision.

goal setting Lukonge achilees

Features of Goal Setting Theory

  1. The willingness to work towards the attainment of the goal is the main source of job motivation. Clear, particular and difficult goals arc greater motivating factors than easy, general and vague goals.
  2. Specific and clear goals lead to greater output and better performance. Unambiguous, measurable and clear goals accompanied by a deadline for completion avoids misunderstanding.
  3. Goals should be realistic and challenging. This gives an individual a feeling of pride and triumph when he attains them, and sets him up for the attainment of next goal. The more challenging the goal the greater is the reward generally and the more is the passion for achieving it.
  4. Better and appropriate feedback of results directs the employee behavior and contributes to higher performance than an absence of feedback. Feedback is a means of gaining reputation, making clarifications and regulating goal difficulties. It helps employees to work with more involvement and leads to greater job satisfaction.
  5. Employees’ participation in goal is not always desirable. Participation in setting the goal, however, makes the goal more acceptable and leads to more involvement.

Advantages of Goal Setting Theory

  1. Goal setting theory is a technique used to raise incentives for employees to complete work quickly effectively.
  2. Goal setting leads to better performance by increasing motivation and efforts, but also through increasing and improving the feedback quality.

Limitations of Goal Setting theory

  1. At times, the organizational goals are in conflict with the managerial goals. Goal conflict has a detrimental effect on the performance if it motivates incompatible action drift.
  2. Very difficult and complex goals stimulate riskier behavior.
  3. If the employee lacks skills and competencies to perform actions essential for goal, then the goal-setting can fail and lead to an undermining of performance.
  4. There is no evidence to prove that goal-setting improves job satisfaction.
always remember this.
Prof. Edwin Locke

MRU Psychology

Equity Theory of Motivation in Management

The equity theory of motivationdescribes the relationship between the employee’s perception of how fairly is he being treated and how hard he is motivated to work. J. Stacy Adams developed equity theory.

Equity Theory states that the employees perceive what they get from a job situation (outcomes) in relation to what they put into it( inputs) and then compare their inputs- outcomes ratio with the inputs- outcomes ratios of others.

This theory show-

  • Inputs: Inputs include all the rich and diverse elements that employees believe they bring or contribute to the job – their education, experience, effort, loyalty, commitment.
  • Outcomes: Outcomes are rewards they perceive they get from their jobs and employers outcomes include- direct pay and bonuses, fringe benefit, job security, social rewards and psychological.
  • Overrewarded: if employees fell over-rewarded equity theory predicts then they will feel an imbalance in their relationship with their employee and seek to restore that balance.
  • Equity: if employees perceive equity then they will be motivated to continue to contribute act about the same level.
  • Unrewarded: unrewarded who feel they have been unrewarded and seek to reduce their feeling in equity through the same types of strategies but same of this specific action are now reverse.

This theory is based on the following two assumptions about human behavior:

  1. Individuals make contributions (inputs) for which they expect certain outcomes (rewards). Inputs include such things as the person’s past training and experience, special knowledge, personal characteristics etc. Outcomes include pay, recognition, promotion, prestige, fringe benefits etc.
  2. Individuals decide whether or not a particular exchange is satisfactory, by comparing their inputs and outcomes to those of others, in the form of a ratio. Equity exists when an individual concludes that his/her own outcome/input ratio is equal to that of other people.

The essential aspects of the equity theory may be shown by an equation;

There should be a balance of the outcomes/inputs relationship for one person in comparison with that for another person. If the person thinks that the rewards are greater than what is considered, he/she may work harder.

If the person perceives the rewards as equitable, he/she probably will continue at the same level of output.

If the person feels that he/she is inequitably rewarded, he/she may be dissatisfied, reduce the quantity or quality of output, or even leave the organization.

The three situations of equity theory are illustrated in the following figure:

Equity Theory of Motivation in Management

An employee with several years’ experience can be frustrated to find out that a recent college grad hired at a salary level higher than he or she is current earnings, causing motivation levels to drop.


Roles played by equity in motivation;

  1. Employees make comparisons between their job inputs and outcomes relative to those of others.
    • If we perceive our ratio to be equal to that of the relevant others with whom we compare ourselves, a state of equity is said to exist. We perceive our situation as fair.
    • When we see the ratio as unequal, we experience equity tension.
  2. Additionally, the referent that an employee selects adds to the complexity of equity theory. There are four referent comparisons that an employee can use:
    • Self-inside: An employee’s experiences in a different position inside his or her current organization.
    • Self-outside: An employee’s experiences in a situation or position outside his or her current organization.
    • Other-inside: Another individual or group of individuals inside the employee’s organization.
    • Other-outside: Another individual or group of individuals outside the employee’s organization.
  3. Which referent an employee chooses will be influenced by the information the employee holds about referents, as well as by the attractiveness of the referent. There are 4 moderating variables: gender, the length of tenure, level in the organization, and the amount of education or professionalism.Men and women prefer same-sex comparisons. This also suggests that if women are tolerant of lower pay, it may be due to the comparative standard they use.Employees in jobs that are not sex-segregated will make more cross-sex comparisons than those in jobs that are either male- or female-dominated.
  4. Employees with a short tenure in their current organizations tend to have little information about others.
  5. Employees with long tenure rely more heavily on coworkers for comparison.
  6. Upper-level employees tend to be more cosmopolitan and have better information about people in other organizations. Therefore, these types of employees will make more other- outside comparisons.
  7. When employees perceive an inequity, they can be predicted to make one of six choices:
    • Change their inputs.
    • Change their outcomes.
    • Distort perceptions of self.
    • Distort perceptions of others.
    • Choose a different referent.
    • Leave the field.
  8. The theory establishes the following propositions relating to inequitable pay:
    • Given payment by time, over-rewarded employees will produce more than will equitably pay employees.
    • Given payment by the quantity of production, over-rewarded employees will produce fewer, but higher quality, units that will equitably pay employees.
    • Given payment by time, under-rewarded employees will produce less or poorer quality of output.
  9. Given payment by the quantity of production, under-rewarded employees will produce a large number of low-quality units in comparison with equitably paid employees.
  10. These propositions have generally been supported with a few minor qualifications.
    • Inequities created by over-payment do not seem to have a very significant impact on behavior in most work situations.
    • Not all people are equity-sensitive.
  11. Employees also seem to look for equity in the distribution of other organizational rewards.
  12. Finally, recent research has been directed at expanding what is meant by equity or fairness.
    • Historically, equity theory focused on distributive justice or the perceived fairness of the amount and allocation of rewards among individuals.
    • Equity should also consider procedural justice, the perceived fairness of the process used to determine the distribution of rewards.
    • The evidence indicates that distributive justice has a greater influence on employee satisfaction than procedural justice,
    • Procedural justice tends to affect an employee’s organizational commitment, trust in his or her boss, and intention to quit.
    • By increasing the perception of procedural fairness, employees are likely to view their bosses and the organization as positive even if they are dissatisfied with pay, promotions, and other personal outcomes.

Equity theory demonstrates that, for most employees, motivation is influenced significantly by relative rewards as well as by absolute rewards, but some key issues are still unclear.

From MRU archive

MRU Psychology

ERG Theory of Motivation

ERG theory consists of three groups of core needs: existence, relatedness, and growth. ERG theory shows that a person works on fulfilling these needs simultaneously or separately depending on the difference of goals, status, and the environment.

Clayton Alderfer reworked Maslow’s need hierarchy to align it with the empirical research.

His revised need hierarchy is labeled ERG theory.

Alderfer argues that there are three groups of core needs: existence, relatedness, and growth.

Existence Needs

These are constantly and pervasively important in the work setting.

Some of them are job security, suitable working conditions, reasonable working hours, pay and fringe benefits.

  • Provides our basic material existence requirements
  • They include Maslow’s physiological and safety needs.

Relatedness Needs

These needs focus on how people relate to their social environment.

It involves the relationship with significant others—family, supervisors, co-workers, subordinates, friends and so on.

  • The desire we have for maintaining important interpersonal relationships
  • These social and status desires require interaction with others.
  • They align with Maslow’s social need and the external component.

Growth Needs

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These needs are those that compel a person to make creative or productive efforts for him or herself.

The satisfaction of growth is what a person needs to experience in a sense of completeness as a human being.

  • An intrinsic desire for personal development. These include the intrinsic component from Maslow’s esteem category and the characteristics included under self-actualization.

ERG theory holds that the fewer existence needs are satisfied the more they will be desired, but the more existence needs are satisfied; the more relatedness needs will be desired.

The fewer relatedness needs are satisfied, the more both existence and relatedness needs will be desired, but the more relatedness needs are satisfied, the more growth needs are desired.

In this way, Alderfer distinguishes between chronic needs which persist over a period of time and the episode needs which are situational and can change according to the environment.

ERG Theory vs Hierarchy of Needs Theory

ERG Theory is an Improvement from Hierarchy of Needs Theory.

Maslow model suggested that in modern social worker has already satisfied their lower level need, so they are now motivated by higher needs.

On the other hand, ERG theory suggested that the failure to satisfy relatedness or growth needs will cause renewed interest in existence need.

In addition to collapsing Maslow’s five into three, Alderfer’s ERG theory also differs from Maslow’s in that:

  1. More than one need may be operative at the same time.
  2. If the gratification of a higher-level need is stifled, the desire to satisfy lower-level need increases.
  3. ERG theory does not assume that there exists a rigid hierarchy. A person can be working on growth even though existence or relatedness needs are unsatisfied, or all three need categories could be operating at the same time.
  4. ERG theory also contains a frustration-regression dimension:
    • Maslow argued that an individual would stay at a certain need level until that need was satisfied. ERG argues that multiple needs can be operating as motivators at the same time.
    • ERG theory notes that when a higher-order need level is frustrated; the individual’s desire to increase a lower-level need takes place.

      For Instance:
       When growth need aggravates, then an individual might be motivated to accomplish the relatedness need and if there are issues in accomplishing relatedness needs, then he might be motivated by the existence needs. Thus, frustration/aggravation can result in regression to a lower-level need.
  5. While Maslow’s need hierarchy theory is rigid as it assumes that the needs follow a specific and orderly hierarchy and unless a lower-level need is satisfied, an individual cannot proceed to the higher-level need; ERG Theory of motivation is very flexible as he perceived the needs as a range/variety rather than perceiving them as a hierarchy. According to Alderfer, an individual can work on growth needs even if his existence or relatedness needs remain unsatisfied. Thus, he gives an explanation of the issue of “starving artist” who can struggle for growth even if he is hungry.
  6. ERG theory is more consistent with our knowledge of individual differences among people.
    • Variables such as education, family background, and cultural environment can alter the importance or driving force that a group of needs holds for a particular individual.
    • The evidence demonstrating that people in other cultures rank the need categories differently would be consistent with ERG theory.
ERG Theory

MRU Psychology

Personality Traits: Big Five Personality Traits and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Big Five Personality Traits

Personality traits reflect people’s characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

These imply consistency and stability someone who scores high on a specific trait like Extraversion is expected to be sociable in different situations and over time.

Thus, trait psychology rests on the idea that people differ from one another in terms of where they stand on a set of basic trait dimensions that persist over time and across situations.

To understand and classify what makes people who they are has been a longstanding challenge in the world of personality psychology. Numerous theories and models have been developed over die years to better understand aspects of human personality.

Big Five Personality Traits

Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal advanced the initial model, based on work done at the U.S. Air Force Personnel Laboratory in the late 1950s.

J.M. Digman proposed his five-factor model of personality in 1990 and Goldman extended it to the highest level of organizations in 1993.

The Big Five personality traits, also known as the five factors model (FFM), is a widely examined theory of five broad dimensions used by some psychologists to describe the human personality.

Each of these five factors is actually a sort of mega pair of opposites;

  1. Openness v. Closedness,
  2. Conscientiousness v. Spontaneity,
  3. Extroversion v. Introversion,
  4. Agreeableness v. Hostility,
  5. Neuroticism v. Emotional stability.

Let’s discuss all Big Five personality traits.

Big Five Personality Traits
OpennessBeing curious, original, intellectual, creative, and open to new ideas.
ConscientiousnessBeing organized, systematic, punctual, achievement-oriented, and dependable.
ExtraversionBeing outgoing, talkative, sociable, and enjoying social situations.
AgreeablenessBeing affable, tolerant, sensitive, trusting, kind, and warm.
NeuroticismBeing anxious, irritable, temperamental, and moody.

1. Openness to experience

Openness addresses one’s range of interests. Extremely open people are fascinated by novelty and innovation. It is a general appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experience.

People who are high in this trait tend to be more adventurous and creative. People low in this trait are often much more traditional and may struggle with abstract thinking.

2. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement against measures or outside expectations. It is related to the way in which people control, regulate, and direct their impulses.

High conscientiousness is often perceived as stubborn and obsessive. Low conscientiousness is flexible and spontaneous but can be perceived as sloppy and unreliable.

3. Extraversion

Extroversion reflects a person’s comfort level with relationships. Extroverts are characterized by excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.

Introverts are less sociable, less talkative, less assertive, and more reluctant to begin a new relationship.

4. Agreeableness

The agreeableness trait reflects individual differences in general concern for social harmony. They are generally considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others.

High agreeableness is often seen as inexperienced or obedient.

They value harmony more than they value their own say. Low agreeableness personalities are often competitive or challenging people, which can be seen as aggressive or untrustworthy. They focus more on their own needs than the needs of others.

5. Neuroticism

Neuroticism is the tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression. It is sometimes called emotional instability, or in reversed it is referred to as emotional stability. A high need for stability manifests as a stable and calm personality but can be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned.

A low need for stability causes a reactive and excitable personality, often very dynamic individuals, but they can be perceived as unstable or insecure.

The Big Five Model continues to attract the attention of both researchers and managers.

These researchers began by studying known personality traits and then factor-analyzing hundreds of measures of these traits in order to find the underlying factors of personality.

The potential value of this framework lies in the fact that it encompasses an integrated set of traits that appear to be valid predictors of certain behaviors in certain situations.

Big five personality traits were the model to comprehend the relationship between personality and organizational behaviors.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Whereas the Big-Five has recently emerged from considerable basic research and has generally been demonstrated to significantly relate to job performance, the MBTI is based on a very old theory, has mixed at best research support, but is widely used and very popular in real-world career counseling, team building, conflict management, and analyzing management styles.

In the 1920s, based on the classical work of Carl Jung the Swiss Psychiatrist, the Myers-Briggs Type indicator ask people how they usually feel or act in particular situations.

Based on the answers received, people are differentiated in terms of four general dimensions: sensing, intuiting, judging and perceiving. He felt that although people had all four of these dimensions in common, they differ in the combination of their preferences of each.

After around 20 years after Jung developed his theoretical types, in 1943 by a mother-daughter team of Isabel Myers and Katherine Cook Briggs developed about a 100-item personality test asking participants how they usually feel or act in particular situations in order to measure the preferences of traits. Here they said about 16 distinct types of personality traits.

Sixteen Primary Traits

  1. Reserved Vs. Outgoing.
  2. Less intelligent Vs. More intelligent.
  3. Affected by feelings Vs. Emotional more stable.
  4. Submissive Vs. Dominant.
  5. Serious Vs. Happy-go-lucky.
  6. Expedient Vs. Conscientious.
  7. Timid Vs. Venturesome.
  8. Tough-minded Vs. Sensitive.
  9. Trusting Vs. Suspicious.
  10. Practical Vs. Imaginative.
  11. Forthright Vs. Shrewd.
  12. Self-assured Vs. Apprehensive.
  13. Conservative Vs. Experimenting.
  14. Group dependent Vs. Self-dependent.
  15. Uncontrolled Vs. Controlled.
  16. Relaxed Vs. Tense.

The MBTI is a popular instrument used to assess personality types.

It is widely used in the selection process. As many as two million people are reported to be taking it each year in the U.S.A.; research suggests that the MBTI is a very useful method for determining communication styles and interaction preferences.

The survey is criticized because it relies on types as opposed to traits, but organizations who use the survey find it very useful for training and team-building purposes. In fact, the Myers & Briggs Foundation has strict guidelines against the use of the test for employee selection.

How Personality Traits Influencing Organizational Behavior

  • Self-Monitoring.
  • Self-Efficacy.
  • Proactive Personality.
  • Self-Esteem.
  • Locus of Control.
  • Risk-Taking.
  • Positive and Negative Affectivity.
  • Type A Personality.
  • Type B Personality.
  • Machiavellianism.
  • Motivation.
  • Work Ethic.


A personality trait that has recently received increased attention is called self-monitoring.

Self-monitoring refers to the extent to which a person is capable of monitoring his or her actions and appearance in social situations. High social monitors are sensitive to the types of behaviors the social environment expects from them.

Their greater ability to modify their behavior according to the demands of the situation and to manage their impressions effectively is a great advantage for them.

In general, they tend to be more successful in their careers. They are more likely to get cross-company promotions, and even when they stay with one company, they are more likely to advance. They are rated as higher performers, and emerge as leaders.


Self-efficacy is a belief that one can perform a specific task successfully. It is the belief that we can do something is a good predictor of whether we can actually do it. Research shows that self-efficacy at work is related to job performance.

This relationship is probably a result of people with high self-efficacy setting higher goals for themselves and being more committed to these goals, whereas people with low self-efficacy tend to procrastinate.

Hiring people who are capable of performing their tasks and training people to increase their self-efficacy may be effective. Giving people opportunities to test their skills so that they can see what they are capable of doing is also a good way of increasing self-efficacy.

Proactive Personality

Proactive personality refers to a person’s inclination to fix what is perceived as wrong, change the status quo, and use initiative to solve problems. Instead of waiting to be told what to do, proactive people take action to initiate meaningful change and remove the obstacles they face along the way.

Proactive people are valuable assets to their companies because they may have higher levels of performance.

They adjust to their new jobs quickly because they understand the political environment better and often make friends more quickly. Proactive people are eager to learn and engage in many developmental activities to improve their skills.


Self-esteem is the degree to which a person has overall positive feelings about his or herself. People with high self-esteem view themselves in a positive light, are confident, and respect themselves.

High self-esteem is related to higher levels of satisfaction with one’s job and higher levels of performance on the job (Judge, & Bono, 2001).

On the other hand, people with low self-esteem experience high levels of self-doubt and question their self-worth. They are attracted to situations in which they will be relatively invisible, such as large companies.

Locus of Control

Locus of control deals with the degree to which people feel accountable for their own behaviors.

The people who believe that they control their destinies have been labeled internals, whereas the latter, who see their lives as being controlled by outside forces, have been called externals.

Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that they control what happens to them is their own doing, while those with a high external locus of control feel that things happen to them because of other people, luck, or a powerful being.

It is possible that internals takes more responsibility for their health and adopt healthier habits, while externals may see less of a connection between how they live and their health. Successful entrepreneurs tend to have high levels of internal locus of control.


People differ in their willingness to take chances. It is the degree to which an individual is willing to take chances and make risky decisions. Their propensity to assume or avoid risk has been shown to have an impact on how long it takes managers to make a decision and how much information they require before making their choice.

High-risk taking managers make more rapid decisions and useless information in making choices in comparison with low risk-taking managers.

The tendency to assume or avoid risk affects a manager’s behavior’ in making decisions. In general, managers in large organizations, tend to be risk-averse, especially in contrast to growth-oriented entrepreneurs who actively manage small businesses.

Positive and Negative Affectivity

Some people seem to be in a good mood most of the time and others seem to be in a bad* mood most of the time regardless of what is actually going on in their lives.

This distinction is manifested by positive and negative affectivity traits. Positive affective people experience positive moods more frequently, whereas negative affective people experience negative moods with greater frequency.

Negative affective people focus on the “glass half empty” and experience more anxiety and nervousness. Positive affective people tend to be happier at work and their happiness spreads to the rest of the work environment. As may be expected, this personality trait sets the tone in the work atmosphere.

When a team comprises mostly negative affective people, there tend to be fewer instances of helping and cooperation. Teams dominated by positive affective people experience lower levels of absenteeism.

Type A Personality

The theory describes a Type A individual as ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management.

The Type A personality generally lives at a higher stress level. This is driven by-

  • They enjoy the achievement of goals, with greater enjoyment in achieving of more difficult goals. They are thus constantly working hard to achieve these.
  • They find it difficult to stop, even when they have achieved goals.
  • They feel the pressure of time, constantly working flat out.
  • They are always moving, walking, eating rapidly, and they cannot cope with leisure.
  • They strive to think or do two or more things at once.
  • They hate failure and will work hard to avoid it.
  • They are generally pretty fit and often well-educated.

Type B Personality

The theory describes Type B individuals, as a contrast to those with Type A personalities.

People with Type B personality by definition generally live at a lower stress level and typically work steadily, enjoying achievements but not becoming stressed when they are not achieved. When faced with competition, they do not mind losing rather they enjoy the game.

They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts. They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds. This is driven by-

  • They work steadily, enjoying achievements but not becoming stressed when they are not achieved.
  • They never suffer from’a sense of time urgency with its accompanying impatience.
  • They play for fun and relaxation, rather than to exhibit their superiority at any cost.
  • They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts.
  • They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds.


Machiavellianism is another important personality trait. This concept is named after Niccolo Machiavelli, a sixteenth-century author.

In his book entitled The Prince, Machiavelli explained how the nobility could more easily gain and use power. Machiavellianism is now used to describe behavior directed at gaining power and controlling the behavior of others. Research suggests that Machiavellianism is a personality trait that varies from person to person.

Generally, high Machs manipulate more, win more, are persuaded less, and persuade others more than do low Machs. Yet these high Mach outcomes are moderated by situational factors. It has been found that high Machs flourish-

  • when they interact face to face with others rather than indirectly,
  • when the situation has a minimum number of rules and regulations, it allows freedom for creativeness, and
  • when emotional involvement with details irrelevant to winning distracts low Machs.


Sometimes it is difficult to understand what motivates a person.

Some people are motivated solely by money; if they are promised of a raise or bonus, they are likely to work harder. Other people prefer recognition among their peers, so celebrating their successes at a staff luncheon or sending out a recognition email to the staff could keep those employees working at full steam.

Other people are self-motivated, able to work hard for the personal satisfaction they receive when they achieve the goal. So firstly, the way of motivating the persons should be understood.

Work Ethic

A strong work ethic develops in employees who make their jobs a high priority. Some employees might perform adequately, but without fervor or any indication they are at work for more than a paycheck.

People with a weak work ethic often require more management and oversight to keep them focused on their work, while people with a strong work ethic typically work well with minimum oversight.

Big five personality traits. Lukonge Achilees

MRU Psychology.

Organizational Behavior Explained: Definition, Importance, Nature, Model

What is Organizational Behavior

Organizational Behavior (OB) is the study of human behavior in organizational settings, the interface between human behavior and the organization, and the organization itself.

Organizational Behavior researchers study the behavior of individuals primarily in their organizational roles.

One of the main goals of organizational behavior is to revitalize organizational theory and develop a better conceptualization of organizational life.

As a multi­disciplinary field, organizational behavior has been influenced by developments in a number of allied disciplines including sociology, psychology, economics, and engineering as well as by the experience of practitioners.

History and Evolution of Organisational Behavior Studies

History and Evolution of Organisational Behavior Studies

Origin of Organisational Behaviour can trace its roots back to Max Weber and earlier organizational studies.

The Industrial Revolution is the period from approximately 1760 when new technologies resulted in the adoption of new manufacturing techniques, including increased mechanization.

The industrial revolution led to significant social and cultural change, including new forms of organization.

Analyzing these new organizational forms, sociologist Max Weber described bureaucracy as an ideal type of organization that rested on rational-legal principles and maximized technical efficiency.

In the 1890’s; with the arrival of scientific management and Taylorism, Organizational Behavior Studies was forming it as an academic discipline.

Failure of scientific management gave birth to the human relations movement which is characterized by a heavy emphasis on employee cooperation and morale.

Human Relations Movement from the 1930’s to 1950’s contributed to shaping the Organizational Behavior studies.

Works of scholars like Elton Mayo, Chester Barnard, Henri Fayol, Mary Parker Follett, Frederick Herzberg, Abraham Mas low, David Mc Cellan and Victor Vroom contributed to the growth of Organisational Behaviour as a discipline.

Works of scholars like Elton Mayo, Chester Barnard, Henri Fayol, Mary Parker Follett, Frederick Herzberg, Abraham Maslow, David Mc Cellan and Victor Vroom contributed to the growth of Organisational Behaviour as a discipline.

Herbert Simon’s Administrative Behavior introduced a number of important concepts to the study of organizational behavior, most notably decision making.

Simon along with Chester Barnard; argued that people make decisions differently in organizations than outside of them. Simon was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on organizational decision making.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the field became more quantitative and produced such ideas as the informal organization, and resource dependence. Contingency theory, institutional theory, and organizational ecology also enraged.

Starting in the 1980s, cultural explanations of organizations and organizational change became areas of study.

Informed by anthropology, psychology, and sociology, qualitative research became more acceptable in OB.

Organizational Behavior Definition

Organizational Behavior Definition

“Organizational behavior is directly concerned with the understanding, prediction, and control of human behavior in organizations.” — Fred Luthans.

Organizational behavior is the study of both group and individual performance and activity within an organization.

This area of study examines human behavior in a work environment and determines its impact on job structure, performance, communication, motivation, leadership, etc.

It is the systematic study and application of knowledge about how individuals and groups act within the organizations where they work. OB draws from other disciplines to create a unique field.

For example, when we review topics such as personality and motivation, we will again review studies from the field of psychology. The topic of team processes relies heavily on the field of sociology.

When we study power and influence in organizations, we borrow heavily from political sciences.

Even medical science contributes to the field of Organizational Behavior, particularly in the study of stress and its effects on individuals.

There is increasing agreement as to the components or topics that constitute the subject area of OB.

Although there is still considerable debate as to the relative importance of change, there appears to be general agreement that OB includes the core topics of motivation, leader behavior, and power, interpersonal communication, group structure and processes, learning, attitude development and perception, change processes, conflict, work design, and work stress.

Features of Organizational Behavior

Organizational Behavior Features

Organizational Behavior is the study and application of knowledge about how people, individuals, and groups act in organizations. It does this by taking a system approach.

That is, it interprets people-organization relationships in terms of the whole person, the whole group, the whole organization, and the whole social system.

Its purpose is to build better relationships by achieving human objectives, organizational objectives, and social objectives.

Organizational Behavior is;

  • A Separate Field of Study and not a Discipline Only.
  • An Interdisciplinary Approach.
  • Applied Science.
  • A Normative Science.
  • A Humanistic and Optimistic Approach.
  • A Total System Approach.

These 6 features or characteristics shows the nature of Organizational Behavior that is the study of understanding and control behavior within the organization.

Objectives of Organizational Behavior

Objectives of Organizational Behavior

The organizations in which people work have an effect on their thoughts, feelings, and actions. These thoughts, feelings, and actions, in turn, affect the organization itself.

Organizational behavior studies the mechanisms governing these interactions, seeking to identify and foster behaviors conducive to the survival and effectiveness of the organization.

  1. Job Satisfaction.
  2. Finding the Right People.
  3. Organizational Culture.
  4. Leadership and Conflict Resolution.
  5. Understanding the Employees Better.
  6. Understand how to Develop Good Leaders.
  7. Develop a Good Team.
  8. Higher Productivity.

These 8 objectives of organizational behavior show that OB is concerned with people within the organization, how they are interacting, what is the level of their satisfaction, the level of motivation, and find ways to improve it in a way the yields most productivity.

Fundamental Concepts of Organizational Behavior

Fundamental Concepts of Organizational Behavior.

Organization Behavior is based on a few fundamental concepts which revolve around the nature of people and organizations.

  • Individual Differences.
  • Perception.
  • A whole Person.
  • Motivated Behavior.
  • The desire for Involvement.
  • The value of the Person.
  • Human Dignity.
  • Organizations are Social System.
  • Mutuality of Interest.
  • Holistic Concept.

Main Challenges and Opportunities of Organizational Behavior

Challenges and Opportunities of Organizational Behavior

Challenges and opportunities of organizational behavior are massive and rapidly changing for improving productivity and meeting business goals.

  1. Improving Peoples’ Skills.
  2. Improving Quality and Productivity.
  3. Total Quality Management (TQM).
  4. Managing Workforce Diversity.
  5. Responding to Globalization.
  6. Empowering People.
  7. Coping with Temporariness.
  8. Stimulating Innovation and Change.
  9. Emergence of E-Organisation & E-Commerce.
  10. Improving Ethical Behavior.
  11. Improving Customer Service.
  12. Helping Employees Balance Work-Life Conflicts.
  13. Flattening World.

Read more about 13 Challenges and Opportunities of Organizational Behavior.

Limitations of Organizational Behavior

Limitations of Organizational Behavior

Recognize the limitations of organizational behavior. Organizational Behavior will not abolish conflict and frustration; it can only reduce them. It is a way to improve, not an absolute answer to problems.

Furthermore, it is but part of the whole cloth of an organization.

We can discuss organizational behavior as a separate subject, but to apply it, we must tie it to the whole reality. Improved organizational behavior will not solve unemployment.

Organizational Behavior will not make up for our deficiencies, cannot substitute for poor planning, inept organizing, or inadequate controls. It is only one of the many systems operating within a larger social system.

3 major limitations of OB are;

  • Behavioral Bias.
  • The Law of Diminishing Returns.
  • Unethical Manipulation of People.

Learn how these organizational behavior limitations work.

Organizational Behavior Model

Organizational Behavior Model Chart

The OB model Shows the 3 levels, Individual level, Group level, and Organization System level and how they impact the elements of human output.

The above figure presents the skeleton on which constructed OB model.

It proposes that there are three levels of analysis in OB and that, as we move from the individual level to the organization systems level, we add systematically to our understanding of behavior in organizations.

The three basic levels are analogous to building blocks; each level is constructed on the previous level.

Group concepts grow out of the foundation laid in the individual section; we overlay constraints on the individual and group in order to arrive at organizational behavior.

Key Forces Affecting Organizational Behavior

Key Forces Affecting Organizational Behavior

There are a complex set of key forces that affect organizational behavior today. These key forces are classified into four areas;

  • People.
  • Structure.
  • Technology.
  • Environment.

There is an interaction between people, structure, and technology and these elements are influenced by the environment. 4 key forces affecting Organizational Behavior and it is applied.

Contributing Disciplines to the Organizational Behavior field

There are some important disciplines in the organizational behavior field which developed it extensively.

Due to the increase of organizational complexity, various types of knowledge are required and help in many ways.

The major disciplines are;

  • Psychology.
  • Sociology.
  • Social Psychology.
  • Anthropology.
  • Political Sciences.
  • Economics.

Learn more about the Contributing Disciplines to the Organizational Behavior field.

4 Approaches to Organizational Behavior studies

Approaches to Organizational Behavior Studies

Organizational behavior approaches are a result of the research done by experts in this field.

These experts studied and attempted to quantify research done about the actions and reactions of employees, with regard to their work environments.

  1. Human resources approach.
  2. Contingency approach.
  3. Productivity approach.
  4. Systems approach.

Learn how the 4 Approaches to Organizational Behavior studies works.

Research Methodology of Organizational Behavior

The understanding and effective application of organizational behavior depend on a rigorous research methodology.

The search for the truth of why people behave the way they do is a very delicate and complicated process.

In fact, the problems are so great that many scholars, Chiefly from the physical and engineering sciences, argue that there can be no precise science of behavior.

Research method of organizational behavior start with Theory, use of research designs, and checking the validity of studies

Reasons for Studying Organizational Behavior

Why Study Organizational Behavior

Organizational Behavior is concerned with the study of what people do in an organization and how that behavior affects the performance of the organization.

OB studies put the focus on motivation, leader behavior and power, interpersonal communication, group structure and processes, learning, attitude development and perception, change processes, conflict, work design, and work stress.

OB draws heavily from behavioral and social sciences, most importantly from psychology.

Why Study Organizational Behavior?

  1. OB is the study of learning how to predict human behavior and, then, apply it in some useful way to make the organization more effective. It helps in the effective utilization of people working in the organization guarantees the success of the organization.
  2. OB helps the managers to understand the basis of motivation and what he should do to motivate his subordinates.
  3. OB helps to maintain cordial industrial relations which help to increase the overall productivity of the industry.
  4. Helps greatly in improving bur inter-personal relations in the organizations.
  5. Helps managers apply appropriate motivational techniques in accordance with the nature of individual employees who exhibit a learning difference in many respects.

There are many reasons we study Organizational Behavior.


Organizational Behavior is the study and application of knowledge about how people, individuals, and groups act in organizations. It does this by taking a system approach.

That is, it interprets people-organization relationships in terms of the whole person, the whole group, the whole organization, and the whole social system.

Its purpose is to build better relationships by achieving human objectives, organizational objectives, and social objectives. OB encompasses a wide range of topics, such as human behavior, change, leadership, teams, etc.

Organizational behavior has a great impact on individuals and also in organizations which cannot be ignored. In order to run the businesses effectively and efficiently, the study of organizational behavior is very essential.

MRU Psychology

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory shows that an individual has a hierarchy of five needs that shape his reaction to any particular situation.

Human has a hierarchy of 5 needs;

  1. Physiological.
  2. safety needs.
  3. Social.
  4. Esteem
  5. Self-actualization.

Here the Physiological and safety needs are described as lower-order and Social, esteem, and self-actualization are higher-order needs. After satisfying one need will the person will move to satisfy next one.

The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory proposed by Abraham Harold Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”.

Maslow, a famous psychologist tried to understand human motivation. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the most well-known theory of motivation.

Here A.H. Maslow has shown that an individual has a hierarchy of needs that shape his reaction to any particular situation. Maslow advanced the following important propositions about human behavior;

  • The man is a wanting being: Man always wants and he wants more. But what he wants depends upon what he already has. As soon as one of the man’s needs is satiated, another appears in the place. This process is unending and continuous from birth to death.
  • A satisfied need is not a motivator: A satisfied need is not a motivator of human behavior. Only the unsatisfied needs motivate behavior.
  • A Need can be arranged in a number of levels: When a need can be arranged in a number of levels a hierarchy is formed. The satisfaction of lower level needs demands the fulfillment of the next level. That is, human needs move in an ascending order, from the lowest to the highest levels.

According to Maslow, each person had a different set of needs at the different point of time in his life.

He said that all needs of humans could be arranged in a hierarchy. Each person is said to move through the hierarchy by fulfilling each level of needs.

Some people may have dominant needs at a particular level and thus never move through the entire hierarchy.

He hypothesized that within every human being there exists a hierarchy of five needs.

Let us see what is meant by of each of these needs:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Needs of Human

  1. Physiological NeedsThese are the basic needs for the maintenance of human life. These are the basic needs of the organism—food, water, shelter, clothing, sexual satisfaction and the like.Maslow took the positions that until these needs are satisfied to the degree necessary to maintain life other needs will not motivate people.
  2. Safety NeedsThese are the needs to be free from physical danger and the fear of loss of a job, property, food, or shelter.
  3. Social NeedsSince people are social beings, they need to belong and to be accepted by others. Social needs are; physical association and contact, belongingness, love and affection, acceptance by fellows and the like.
  4. Esteem NeedsIf other needs are reasonably satisfied then ego needs become a motivator. People want to be held in esteem both by themselves and by others.This kind of need produces such satisfactions as power, prestige, status, and self-confidence.It includes internal esteem factors such as self-respect, autonomy, and achievement; and external esteem factors such as status, recognition, and attention
  5. Self-Actualization NeedsMaslow regards this as the highest need in his hierarchy. It is the desire to become what one is capable of becoming—to maximize one’s potential and to accomplish something.

It is apparent that it is impossible to motivate workers by satisfying all of the above-mentioned needs. It is not valid for the workers in developing countries. It may be somewhat true for developed countries.

The levels are presented in the form of a triangle or a pyramid with the largest and most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom tier, and the need for self-actualization at the top.

As a need becomes substantially satisfied, the next need becomes dominant. No need is ever fully gratified; a substantially satisfied need no longer motivates.

According to Maslow physiological, security, social, and esteem needs are deficiency needs or D-needs that arise because of deprivation.

The highest level of the pyramid is called the growth needs or B-needs. Maslow separated the five needs into higher and lower orders;

  • Physiological and safety needs are described as lower-order.
  • Social, esteem, and self-actualization arc as higher-order needs.
  • Higher-order needs are satisfied internally.
  • Lower-order needs are predominantly satisfied externally.

Criticism of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Maslow’s concept of Need-hierarchy has been subjected to considerable research. Researchers have raised questions about the accuracy of the hierarchical aspects of these needs. Maslow’s Need-hierarchy theory is criticized for the following reasons:

  1. The limitations of this theory lie in the fact that different cultures may cause people to have different hierarchies of needs. People necessarily may not satisfy one level after another and may have other needs not mentioned in the list and may be ready to sacrifice some needs.
  2. He describes that after fulfilling one need people jump over the need. But one person can exist in a definite hierarchy at the same time.
  3. He has overemphasized on the subjective side of motivation but failed to spell out clearly the objective side of motivation.
  4. The theory does not mention the proportion of need that must be satisfied to move to a higher need.
  5. The strength of needs varies in between individuals. In one individual social needs may predominate while in another actualization needs may be strongest.
  6. Maslow’s theory lacks clarity and consistency which are the prerequisites for the formation of a theory. Maslow has failed to show empirical evidence to support his theory.
  7. Maslow provided conflicting images of the self-actualized man.
  8. Maslow has over-emphasized the subjective side of motivation but he has failed to spell out clearly the objective side of motivation.
  9. Needs do not always follow a hierarchy, especially after lower level needs are satisfied.
  10. The upward movement of needs results from upward career changes and not from the satisfaction of lower-order needs.
  11. In almost all groups satisfaction of needs is definitely more or less insufficient.

Thus; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is not only outdated but also limited in its usefulness to act as an all-encompassing theory of human motivation.

Maslow’s need theory has received wide recognition, particularly among practicing managers.

Research does not generally validate the theory. Maslow provided no empirical substantiation and several studies that sought to validate the theory found no support for it.

Abraham Maslow great psychologist from Mru Archive

Acquired Needs Theory – Need for Achievement, Power & Affiliation

Acquired needs theory studies individuals needs and classify them into as three motivating drivers, need for achievement, power or affiliation.

In acquired needs theory, McClelland proposes each person falls into one three types of needs based on personal preference and personal experience of that person.

David McClelland describes how an individual’s life experiences can change the type of individual needs over time.

McClelland suggested that regardless of our gender, culture, or age, we all have three motivating drivers, and one of these will be our dominant motivating driver.

This dominant motivator is largely dependent on our culture and life experiences.

David C. McClelland’s acquired needs theory is also known as “human motivation theory “, “Motivational Needs Theory”.

It is used to understand the need of employees and create a strategy for the motivating process in the organization.

Acquired Needs Theory Classifies Needs in 3 Types

  1. Need for achievement (nAch).
  2. Need for power (nPow).
  3. Need for affiliation (nAfl).

1. Need for Achievement (nAch)

The drive to excel, to achieve in relation to a set of standards, to strive to succeed. The theory focuses on three needs: achievement, power, and affiliation.

Some people have a compelling drive to succeed. They are striving for personal achievement rather than the rewards of success per se. This drive is the achievement need (nAch).

McClelland found that high achievers differentiate themselves from others by their desire to do things better;

Features of people with Need for achievement (nAch);

  • They seek personal responsibility for finding solutions to problems.
  • They want to receive rapid feedback on their performance so they can tell easily whether they are improving or not.
  • They can set moderately challenging goals. High achievers are not gamblers; they dislike succeeding by chance.
  • High achievers perform best when they perceive their probability of success as 50-50.
  • They like to set goals that require stretching themselves a little.

2. Need for Power (nPow)

The need to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise.

Need for power (nPow) features are;

  • The desire to have an impact, to be influential, and to control others.
  • Individuals high in nPow enjoy being “in charge.”
  • Strive for influence over others.
  • Prefer to be placed into competitive and status-oriented situations.
  • Tend to be more concerned with prestige and gaining influence over others than with effective performance.

3. Need for Affiliation (nAfl)

The desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships.

Features of Need for affiliation (nAfl) are;

  • This need has received the least attention from researchers.
  • Individuals with a high affiliation motive strive for friendship.
  • Prefer cooperative situations rather than competitive ones.
  • Desire relationships involving a high degree of mutual understanding.
Acquired Needs Theory - Need for achievement (nAch), Need for power (nPow), Need for affiliation (nAfl).

Relying on an extensive amount of research, some reasonably well-supported predictions can be made based on the relationship between achievement need and job performance;

  • First, individuals with a high need to achieve prefer job situations with personal responsibility, feedback, and an intermediate degree of risk. When these characteristics arc prevalent, high achievers will be strongly motivated.
  • Second, a high need to achieve docs not necessarily lead to being a good manager, especially in large organizations People with a high achievement need are interested in how well they do personally and not in influencing others to do well.
  • Third, the needs for affiliation and power tend to be closely related to managerial success. The best managers are high in their need for power and low in their need for affiliation.
  • Finally, employees have been successfully trained to stimulate their achievement need.

Trainers have been effective in teaching individuals to think in terms of accomplishments, winning, and success, and then helping them to learn how to act in a high achievement way by preferring situations where they have personal responsibility, feedback, and moderate risks.

Motivation Needs Theory

1. McClelland’s Manifest Need Theory of Motivation.

Some people have an intense desire to achieve while others are not so keen about achievement. David C. McClelland had studied this phenomenon for over twenty years at Harvard University and proposed his Achievement Motivation Theory (Also called Manifest Need Theory). According to him, there are certain needs that are learned and socially acquired as the individual interacts with the environment. McClelland classified such needs into three broad categories. These are (a) Need for power, (b) Need for affiliation, and (c) Need for achievement.

David McClelland

(a) Need For Power.

This need is indicated by a person’s desire to control and influence the behavior of others. A person with desire for power likes to compete with others when the situation is favorable for such domination. Such persons prefer jobs that provide them an opportunity to acquire leadership with power. There are two aspects of power accordingly to McClelland. These are: positive and negative. Positive use of a power is necessary when a manager desires to achieve results through the efforts of others. The negative use of power is possible when a person uses power for personal aggrandizement. Such use of power may prove to be harmful to the Organisation.

(b) Need For Affiliation.

Here, the person has a need/desire for affection and wants to establish friendly relationships. A person with high need for affiliation seeks to establish and maintain friendships and dose emotional relationships with others. He wants to be liked by others and develops a sense of belonging by joining informal groups in the Organisation. Such persons (managers) prefer tasks that require frequent interaction with subordinates/co-workers.

(c) Need For Achievement.

Here, the person desires to succeed in competitive situations. He desires to prove his superiority over others. Such person sets reasonably difficult but potentially achievable goals for himself. He accepts moderate degree of risk. He is more concerned with personal achievement than with the rewards of success. Moreover, he feels that he can achieve the goal with his efforts and abilities. He also desires to have concrete feedback (social or attitudinal) on his performance. Such person has high level of energy and capacity to work hard. He naturally prefers jobs which tax his abilities and skills fully. This again is for achieving the objectives set. According to McClelland, the need for achievement is the most important need which can be used effectively for the economic progress of a nation.

Persons with achievement needs tend to be motivated by difficult, challenging and competitive work situations and not by routine and non-competitive situations. They habitually spend their time thinking about doing things better. They are not motivated by money but in their future achievements. Such employees are better achievers and naturally get promotions faster. An Organisation also grows faster and move towards prosperity with the support of such achievement seekers employees.

2. Importance of Achievement Motivation Thoery.

McClelland’s theory is important as he argues that the achievement motive can be taught. It can be achieved by learning. A manager can raise achievement need level of his subordinates by creating a healthy work atmosphere, provision of reasonable freedom to subordinates, provision of more responsibilities and by making tasks more interesting and challenging. Even reward and appreciation of high performance of subordinates is useful for raising their achievement need level. This is how motivation of employees is possible by developing the desire for higher achievement in their mind. Such achievement motivation is necessary and useful for the success of an enterprise.

McClelland’s theory of motivation is quite extensive. He developed achievement motive for motivation. His assertion that achievement motive can be developed among the employees is important. This is possible through well-conceived and deliberate learning process. This he (McClelland) proved in an experiment carried out in a large U.S. Corporation.

According to McClelland, every person has an achievement motive to some extent. However, some are constantly more achievement-oriented than others. Most people will put more efforts into their work if they are challenged to do better. However, the achievement-motivated person is likely to outstrip all others in his zeal to improve performance when he is challenged. He makes more efforts and accomplishes more. This background can be used for motivation of employees. In fact, McClelland’s achievement motivation theory is based on this experience which he gained while working with Harvard University.

Achievement motivation is very essential for the success of an entrepreneur or enterprise. Every employee should have some objective which he desires to achieve. Such desire for achievement acts as a motivating factor. According to McClelland, the need for achievement is the most important need. It can be used as motivating factor for economic progress of a nation and even for the success of an enterprise or entrepreneur. An entrepreneur or a manager has to put forward some objective before every employee and encourage the employee to achieve the same. To create the desire for achievement of objective is a way to motivate employee. In this way, achievement motivation is useful for the success of an enterprise/entrepreneur