This essay will discuss and analyse the implications,benefits and limitations the expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964) has onorganisational practices. The essay will first define motivation and then moveon to defining the chosen process theory before scrutinizing its effectivenessand restrictions when put into practise within the work place. Industries suchas the cruise line and hotels will be used as examples to show the motivesbehind employees and the expectancy theory in action.Motivation is defined by Bratton et al (2007) as “thedriving force within individuals that affect his/ her direction, intensity andpersistence of voluntary behaviour”. Alternatively, Vroom (1964) definedmotivation as “a product of an individual’s expectancy that a certain effortwill lead to the intended performance, the instrumentality of this performancein achieving a certain result and the desirability of this result for theindividual, known as valence” (Barba-Sánchez & Atienza-Sahuquillo, 2017:online). An individual’s motives can influence behaviour within the workplace.
Therefore, it is essential that employers who want to encourage and stimulatetheir employees understand their motives on an individual basis. There are manyexamples where organisations have failed to motivate their employers. In 2010Apple came under criticism after their employees started to commit suicide attheir factories in China.
Suicide notes revealed that workers were underimmense stress, long workdays and harsh managers who were prone to unkeptpromises of benefits (Merchant, 2017). All of which could have been avoided ifApple and their managers acted in motivating their workers with rewards andpositive recognition, while applying reasonable goals and working hours. To dothis, they could have used the expectancy theory to investigate their workersmotives.The expectancy theory was first introduced by Vroom in 1964and it suggests that individuals will respond to their expectations thatspecific behaviours will result in particular outcomes (Robinson, 2006). It has3 main concepts: valence, instrumentality and expectancy. The multiplication ofthese variables creates the force of the individual’s motivation and is expressedusing the following expectancy equation: F = V x I x E (Buchanan &Huczynski, 2013). Valence is an individual’s value or preference that they havefor an expected outcome (Kroth, 2007).
For example, if an employee isinterested in receiving a promotion then he or she might not value other offerssuch as additional time off or recognition in comparison. Instrumentality isthe probability that increase in performance will attain valued rewards(Buchanan & Huczynski, 2013). Therefore, to be motivated the employee must believethat a promotion is obtainable if the performance expectation is met. Expectancyis the perceived likelihood that effort will result in wanted performance goals.This can depend on the individual’s variables including goal difficulty, self-efficacyand perceived control (Chiang, 2008).
For instance, the employee will assess ifthey have the required knowledge or skills needed to accomplish a promotion. Instrumentalityand expectancy are both subjective probabilities. If all of three of theseconcepts are positive outcomes, the employee will then be motivated and workhard to obtain their goal.The expectancy theory is no doubt an important frameworkavailable for organisations and managers to take advantage of. The theoryallows employers to understand what motivates their staff, as well asincreasing their efficiency and setting achievable goals for them to worktowards.
There have been numerous studies of the expectancy theory beingimplemented within organizational practise. For example, a study by Chiang(2008) applied the expectancy theory to employee motivation within the hotelindustry. It used data from 289 employees from 56 hotels in the United States.Expanding on the three concepts, the findings showed that instrumentality andvalence contribute more to motivation than expectancy. Compared to previousstudies, pay rises and promotions are deemed the most motivational for hotelemployees. However, the study illustrated that other motives such as achievements,challenging work and an increase in responsibility are good incentives.
Therefore, organisations should give recognition, positive feedback andencouragement, as well as rewarding employees with career growth and payincreases. In return, hotel employees will be working hard, improving theirperformance and enhancing productivity. Nevertheless, there is some limitationto this data as managers distributed and collected the questionnaires, whichcould possibly influence employees’ responses. Also, as motivation is decisiveon an individual perception, adding other variables such as demographic andpersonal characteristics could enhance this study further.
Considering the implications the expectancy theory has onorganizational practises, it is important for managers to give attention to anumber of factors. One of the factors is the ability to have clear establishedprocedures to be able evaluate an individual performance effectively. Managersshould also take advantage of high valance outcomes by using them as anincentive to work hard. Furthermore, managers should contemplate interveningvariables that could affect performance such as organisational procedures and roleperceptions (Mullins & Christy, 2013).
There are many benefits to the expectancy model as it isstraightforward and easily understood. It has strong support and has been subjectto rigorous academic testing. The approach helps to refocus behaviours andcorporate culture within several organisations (Memary & Wong 2009). Thetheory has also helped recognise that each individual has different motives andtheir perception on what goal/reward they value differs. For example, aninvestigation by Butler and Cantrell (1989) at a state university revealed thatthe tenure valence is incredibly higher for assistant professors than for fullprofessors.
This is due to the assistant professors being eligible forpromotion compared to their colleagues who have already made it to the top oftheir career ladder.With the help of the expectancy theory, organisations can avoidoffering rewards employees do not value and put a stop to concentrating on justfinancial rewards while ignoring other intrinsic and extrinsic aspects. Thishas also led to the use of ‘total rewards’ by organisations. Total rewards accountfor everything that has potential value to employees. This includes both extrinsicand intrinsic rewards such as promotions, experience, work-life balance andorganizational culture (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2013).
In the United Kingdom,a survey by Charted Institute of Personnel and Development (2012) found thatnearly one third of employers have adopted the total reward strategy.One of the main limitations of Vroom’s expectancy theory isthat it is a perception-based model and doesn’t take into consideration theindividuals abilities, skills, personality and past experience that couldaffect the outcome. Critics such as Lawler and Porter (1968) developed thetheory after arguing that it was too simple. They categorised the rewards thatcaused motivation as intrinsic and extrinsic. Self-administered positivefeelings caused by completing a task such as job satisfaction and sense ofachievement are known as intrinsic.
Where as extrinsic are rewards that are administratedfrom the organisation such as pay increases and promotions (Kesselman et al,1974). This allows for a more in-depth analysis on the motivation influencingthe individual.There is also some criticism regarding the fact that expectancyand instrumentality can be deceived as conceptually equivalent due to them bothreferring to a relationship between two variables. As explained by Chiang(2008) “expectancy is the relationship between effort and performance, whileinstrumentality is the relationship between performance and job outcomes”.
Aswell as this, the theory makes a broad assumption that all employees act purelyout of self-interest, rather than the possibility of them being a team playerregardless of the reward. This causes the employer to over look the incentiveof team work as a motivational tool.Many different companies have adopted techniques and toolsfor motivating their staff.
For example, there has been academic researchsurrounding the cruise industry and how crew members motives differ. A study bySehkaran and Sevcikova (2011) interviewed a sample of sixteen people fromvarious countries to obtain information surrounding their motivation andexperiences of working for a cruise line. The study showed that most employeeswere motivated by the money-saving opportunity as they didn’t need to spendmoney on rent and food. Most of the employers received a range of benefitsincluding accommodation, traveling expenses and health care. The opportunity totravel and explore new places was also a strong intrinsic motivator.Viking Cruises have put this information into practise byrewarding their employees for hard work, initiative and sense ofresponsibility. They also have opportunities for employees to enhance theirskills by attending their training programme ‘Viking College’. Furthermore, astravel is one of the main motives for cruise ship employees, Viking Cruise haveexpressed that working for them is “combining your love for travel with theability to move up in your career”.
It is evident that this has been a successas 80% of their employees come back to them for more work (Viking Cruises, 2016:online). While Viking Cruises might not have directly applied the expectancytheory, there is some aspects of it being used. For instance, they understandtheir employee motives (valance) and offer both extrinsic and intrinsic rewardsincluding opportunity to travel and promotion.
However, the crew members needto be aware that these rewards are obtainable for the outcome to positive andfor them to be motivated to work towards their goals. Furthermore, the value ofthe rewards may change over a period of time, so it is important for it to bemonitored.To conclude this essay, it is evident that the expectancytheory is an effective tool to examine motivation and has provided many benefitsto businesses. The use of the expectancy theory has led to advantages such asunderstanding what motivates employees on an individual basis. By offering valuablerewards to employees, it can increase the organisations productivity and achievehigher levels of output.
However, there are prominent disadvantages such as nottaking into consideration other contributing factors such as personality orpast experiences and the assumption that all employees act out of self-interest.Overall, the expectancy theory is straightforward and has been used effectivelyin both academic studies and organisations worldwide.