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Research of The Theories of Motivation: Expectancy Theory and The Equity Theory

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According to the Oxford dictionary motivation is defined as ‘A reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way and the desire or willingness to do something. ‘ An example of motivation for me is getting up early in the morning to catch two buses for a two hours journey to get to university on time. The reasons that lie beneath motivation can be biological, emotional,social and awareness in nature (Emotion and Motivation- ncert).

Managers often view motivation as psychological forces that determine the direction of a person’s behaviour in an organisation, a person’s level of effort and a person’s level of persistence in the face of obstacles. Managers look for ways to improve work productivity and quality. There are many different theories which managers employ to motivate the employee. Motivational theories have been grouped in three main categories by taking into consideration different approaches as it follows: content theories, process theories and influence theories. In this essay I will be discussing: Expectancy Theory (Vroom 1964) and The Equity Theory (Adam 1965)

Expectancy theory Victor Vroom, developed a cognitive theory which has three key elements: expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. A person is motivated to the degree that he or she believes that (a) effort will lead to acceptable performance (expectancy), (b) performance will be rewarded (instrumentality), and (c) the value of the rewards is highly positive (valence). (Vroom, 1964)Vroom’s theory states that the ‘choices made by a person among alternative courses of action are lawfully related to psychological events occurring contemporaneously with the behaviour’ (Vroom, 1964). The greater the valence of any outcome, the more likely the person is to choose to exert effort to take action (Work Motivation, Gary P. Latham p48). Vroom suggests that motivation, expectancy, instrumentality, and valence are related to one another by the equation: M = E * I * V (Motivation = Expectancy * Instrumentality * Valence).

The multiplier effect in the equation is significant as it means that higher levels of motivation will result when expectancy, instrumentality, and valence are all high than when they are all low. If any of the three factors is zero it means that the level of motivation is zero. Therefore, even if an employee believes that his effort will result in performance, which will result in reward, motivation will be zero if the valence of the reward he expects to receive is zero (Lunenburg, 2011) Expectancy theory is not complete and all comprehensive. All theories of motivation suffer from this limitation. Not all the employees may have the time, willingness, favourable situation, resources or even the adequate ability to calculate motivation in the way this theory assumes. As well as the managers also may be lacking one or more of the above parameters to take a decision of what motivates a particular employee. Some critics suggest it has only limited use and is more valid where individuals clearly perceive effort reward linkage of the three. (Robbins Stephan and Judge Timothy)Experts have also suggested that reliable measures of valence, expectancy and instrumentality need to be developed. (Newstrom John W, Davis Keith)

The second process theory that I will analyse is the Equity theory (Adams, 1963, 1965) which states that people evaluate information sources in terms of personal relevance, using similar others for comparisons (Gary P. Latham. 2007). In brief, the theory says that people examine the ratio of their ‘outcomes’ relative to their ‘inputs’ relative to those of a comparison other. There is a fair balance to be struck between an employee’s inputs (hard work, skill level, acceptance, enthusiasm, and personal sacrifice) and an employee’s outputs (salary, benefits, intangibles such as recognition).

However, Equity theory states that unequal ratios produce tension within the person. This tension will lead to dissatisfaction, anger, and guilt. People will feel angry and dissatisfied when they are getting less of what they expect in comparison to what they input and people also feel guilty if they receive more that their worth. (Adam 1965) The modes of inequity resolution are the weakest part of the theory (Robert Pritchard 1969). Even though the theory predicts behaviour in underpayment conditions, it does not predict overpayment conditions and does not account for individual differences impact upon equity.

In conclusion, The expectancy theory and Equity theory are two process theories of motivation based on how people make choices to work hard or not. The type of choices are based on:  Individual preference . Available rewards and (. Possible work outcomes. Expectancy theory holds that individuals seek to maximise their positive outcomes. In contrast, Equity theory poses that individuals seek to find balance between their inputs and outcomes. (Vecchio, 1981).

Managers find themselves juggling employee job satisfaction, motivation, and performance while attempting to adapt to new cultural requirements that come with globalisation. Managers face the challenge of building a culture conducive to high morale and efficiency in their evolving organisations. According to Adams (1965), managers must consider that employees will make situational comparisons between themselves and their coworkers. Additionally,it is important that managers understand that although they may not treat each employee the same, they must treat them fairly. Expectancy theory shows a heavy linkage between rewards and the amount of work needing to be done to achieve the reward. Managers will be better able to predict performance and employees will know their position at any given time within the organisation if standards are established and expectations are delivered consistently. Reflection When first started out this research on the different theories of motivation I wasn’t sure which two theories I wanted to do.

As this was my first essay I have ever done as a third level student I was motivated to try and do my best to complete the assignment. After a long research I narrowed it down to Vroom’s expectancy theory and Adam’s Equity theory as they represent best, my knowledge of motivation and how I will apply it to my college experience. I believe by completing a task or achieving the necessary performance, I am presented with expectancy.

For example my expectancy of successfully performing the particular assignment is High. I have set out my task and goals of what I want to achieve. By doing this it results in the accomplishment of my desired outcomes, Instrumentality. For example students willing to put in the effort, necessary time and energy, because by taking action it would lead to their goal which can only be achieved by doing their best and investing their time to excel in the course and gain valuable ideas and theories. The end outcome we want to achieve and truly desire is the valence. Achieving excellent grades in the course and showing high passion for learning and applying the knowledge. The final result can only be achieved if all three factors are high. I found when researching Vroom’s theory that this theory maximises out the positive outcomes, which can be very hard sometimes to do so.

As a college student its hard to find a balance between college hours, hobbies and work, to put in the energy and time constantly to achieve the final result. As for the Adam’s Equity theory, comparing my inputs and outputs to others, can not always equal. For example when working in a group, I expect everyone to put input ( effort, commitment and enthusiasm) so we can all receive equal outputs ( good grades and achievement ). This theory can more relate to workplace then College. Also it can add tension, for example some students they are aiming for pass while others aim for honours. Their inputs/outputs can not be compared. To conclude, for me the best theory that describes my motivation in college is the expectancy theory. I think it represents me the most, as I try to improve all three factors to receive the result. Not only did I find it interesting to researching it, but helpful to motivate me to achieve good grades at DCU and for the future in the workplace.

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Research Of The Theories Of Motivation: Expectancy Theory And The Equity Theory. (2020, Jun 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from
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