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Motivation Theory in Business

A simple game of bingo, if analyzed closely, can be shown to be a tedious task consisting of a repetitive action that occurs after being prompted by a repetitive stimulus. The skill level needed to make that action is low, and the variability in the rules of the game rarely changes. This game is not unlike many of the jobs that can be classified as having low motivational potential scores (Hackman, et al). So why do people not only enjoy playing games like bingo, but actually pay money to have the pleasure? The answer directly points to the motivating factors of monetary rewards and recognition which are provided on a "variable-ratio" schedule. Motivation by reinforcement (Miller). There are many theories regarding motivation with the most prevalent being the theories of Maslow and Herzberg. It is important to understand these theories and their implications to accurately comment on reinforcement theories of motivation. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, there are five classes: (1) physiological, (2) safety, (3) social, (4) esteem, and (5) self-actualization. Each lower level need must be satisfied before an individual experiences higher level needs. Also, Maslow hypothesized that as physiological, safety, social, and esteem needs were satisfied, they ceased to motivate, while the self-actualization needs actually motivate an individual more as they are satisfied (Schwab, 1978: 57). Herzberg used this theory as a base to build his motivation-hygiene theory which ties Maslow's needs to on the job achievement. The hygiene elements relate to low needs (physiological, safety, and social). For an individual, hygiene conditions include company policy and administration, supervision, relationships with peers and supervisors, work conditions, salary, status, and security. These, according to Herzberg account for 69% of the factors which cause employee dissatisfaction or lack of motivation. The motivation conditions, which include achievement, the job itself, recognition, responsibilities, and personal growth, accounted for 81% of the factors which contributed to job satisfaction. The hygiene conditions are extrinsic factors while the motivation conditions are intrinsic factors, and the only way to sustain motivation toward organizational goals is through the achievement of intrinsic outcomes. Each of these theories have proven to contain ideas consistent with human nature, but each also has its limitations within organizational settings. Because lower order needs are generally satisfied in the workplace today, managers have to deal with how to provide esteem and self-actualization to their employees, and that can be a nebulous concept to a manager who demands results immediately. Also, studies demonstrate that different workers are motivated by different factors be them intrinsic or extrinsic. Centers and Bugental's studies on "intrinsic and extrinsic job motivation among different segments of the working population," show that while skilled workers are motivated the intrinsic rewards of their employment, lesser skilled workers in jobs that are deemed routine were motivated by extrinsic factors such as incentives and bonuses. This fact can be reaffirmed by analyzing union contacts and job descriptions in an industry like the steel industry. Employees who have routine jobs or jobs that have little in the way of decision making are often provided high monetary incentives based on productivity and quality. These ideas do not discount the work of Herzberg and Maslow, but instead show that as needs progress up the hierarchy ladder, focus must be made on what a manager should do to provide their workers with what they lack, an increasingly difficult task that have influenced the motivational theories of job enrichment (Hackman, et al. 1975). Job enrichment efforts have proven somewhat successful in improving performance and attitude amongst employees. Job enrichment theories are analogous to why people enjoy games so much. M. Scott Meyer wrote in his book, Every Employee a Manager, that the key to job enrichment can be related to why people enjoy bowling. His answer sums of the seven characteristics of bowling: 1. The bowler has a visible goal, 2. he has a challenging but attainable goal, 3. he is working according to his own personally accepted standards, 4. he receives immediate feedback, 5. he has an opportunity to satisfy social needs, 6. he is an accepted member of a group, and 7. he can earn recognition. The one thing that job enrichment cannot do, ... more

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B. F. Skinner
B. F. Skinner
People do on a day to day basis, many actions without realizing it, and most of the time, they dont know why they do them.  Certain reinforcements, some positive, and some negative have conditioned their actions and thoughts.  All organisms, including humans, are greatly influenced by the consequences produced by their own behavior.  The environment holds the key to most of the changes that occur in the way a person behaves and a humans own behavior brings consequences that change his or her actions (B. F. Skinner).  Dr. B.F. Skinner forged the theory of Behaviorism, a school of psychology that rejects the unobservable and focuses on patterns of responses to external rewards and stimuli (Skinner, B. F.).
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born March 20, 1904, and raised in Susquehana,
Pennsylvania, where his father worked as a lawyer and his mother was a strong and intelligent housewife (Boeree).  Skinners parents encouraged him in his schoolwork, and he was well read as a child (B. F. Skinner).  B. F. was an active, out-going boy who loved the outdoors and building things, and actually enjoyed school (Boeree).  He enjoyed literature and biology especially (B. F. Skinner).  Skinner attended Hamilton College in New York State (R. W. Kentridge).  He didnt fit in very well, not enjoying the fraternity parties or the football games.  He wrote for school paper, including articles
critical of the school, the faculty, and even Phi Beta Kappa!  To top it off, he was an atheist in a school that required daily chapel attendance (Boeree). He continued to read widely and to pursue interests in literature and biology.  He began to write a lot of fiction and poetry, and became known as an aspiring poet.  After his junior year, he attended the Summer School of English at Breadloaf, where he met Robert Frost (B. F. Skinner).  When he graduated, he planned to spend a year writing a novel, but found that he had nothing to write about and suffered through what he would later refer to his dark year.  Skinner considered pursuing graduate study in English, but eventually settled on psychology instead.  The choice of psychology followed Skinners realization that what intrigued him about literature was actually human behavior, a topic he felt could be approached more suitably through science  (B. F. Skinner).   The writings of Frances Bacon had interested since eighth grade.  In reading Bacon, Skinner
had been exposed to a view of science that emphasized observation, classification,
the gradual inductive establishment of laws, and the avoidance of hasty
overgeneralization and metaphysical Ernst Mach, an Austrian scientist and the
author of Science of Mechanics, which served as a model for Skinners doctoral
dissertation and as the chief basis for his own positivistic view of science (B. F. Skinner).
He got his masters in psychology in 1930 and his doctorate in 1931, and stayed there to do research until 1936.  In 1945, Skinner became the chairman of the psychology department at Indiana University, and in 1948 he was invited to come back to Harvard to teach, which is where he spent the rest of his life.  
B. F. never became the award winning novelist he originally dreamed of, but he does write a large amount of papers and books on behaviorism.  He will be most remembered for Walden II, a book about a utopian society that is run on Skinners own operant principles.  He worked in the lab of an experimental biologist, and developed behavioral studies of rats. He loved building Rube Goldberg contraptions as a kid; he put that skill to use by designing boxes to automatically reward behavior, such as depressing a lever, pushing a button, and so on.  His devices were such an improvement on the existing equipment, they've come to be known as Skinner boxes (A Science Odyssey).
B. F. Skinners entire system is based on operant conditioning.  The organism is in the process of operating on the environment, which in ordinary terms means it is bouncing around its world, doing what it does (Boeree).  While Skinner was in his office window at the University of Minnesota, Pigeons often roosted out side, which gave him the idea to use them as experimental subjects they became ... more

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