The Process Perspective

The process theories are focuses on how motivation occurs. Theories falling under the process perspective include Goal Setting Theory, Reinforcement Theory, Expectancy Theory, Cognitive Evaluation Theory, Equity Theory and Behavior Modification.


Goal Setting Theory

Locke, E., & Latham, G. (1994) proposed this theory and stipulates that when employees are given clear and unambiguous tasks or objectives, they accomplish them faster. In other words employees are motivated to perform better and put in their maximum effort to accomplish the said goals when they have a clear idea of the major outcome from set and clearly defined goals.


Equity Theory

This theory as propounded by Stacy Adams (1965) suggest that individuals make cognitive evaluations of the difference between their contributions and the resultant outcomes (i.e., economic or social compensation), as compared to the difference of others’ input to outcomes ratio (Adams & Freedman, 1976). Adams believed that individuals go beyond a simple ranking system in their assessment of inputs and outputs, to where they precisely quantify the equity or inequity of the comparison (Deutsch, 1985). The theory argues that if the comparison to others resulted in a balanced perspective (i.e., both parties receiving an appropriate amount for their respective contributions) then equity exists and the parties involved would be satisfied (Bryne & Cropanzano, 1999). However there is inequity if individuals feel that the ratio of efforts to rewards is unfair when they compare themselves with other people (Helms, 2006).

Expectancy Theory

Victor Vroom (1964) coined this theory by relating three variables namely; valance, expectancy and instrumentality. In other words, the theory links individual effort to individual performance and individual rewards. Valance describes the strength of individuals’ preference for a particular output. Expectancy considers the likelihood that a specific effort will produce a particular first-level outcome. Instrumentality however refers to the extent to which first-level outcome will cause desire for second-level outcome. To this, Luthans, (2005) explained further by suggesting that employees could be motivated (motivational effort) toward superior performance (first-level output) in order to gain promotion (second-level output). According to Weihrich and Koontz, (1999), the theory is based on the assumption that people are motivated to work when the objective is worthy and sure that it will enable them accomplish their goals. Newstrom (2007) explains likewise that satisfaction is a product of how much reward is wanted (valance), the estimate of probability that effort will lead to successful performance (expectancy) and the estimate that performance will result in getting reward (instrumentality). Thus motivation/satisfaction = Valance x Expectancy x Instrumentality.


Reinforcement Theory

B. F. Skinner, (1953) propounded this theory by examining the effects of rewards and punishment on changing or modifying the behaviors of employees. The theory was coined from the ‘law of effect’ which states that behaviors that leads to positive outcomes will be repeated but those that lead to negative outcomes are less likely to be repeated ( Malik, Ghafoor and Naseer, 2011; Yavus, 2004; Bartol and Martin, 1991).

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