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Organizational Behavior Essay

1877 words - 8 pages

VOLUME 15, NUMBER 1, 2011

Expectancy Theory of Motivation:
Motivating by Altering Expectations

Fred C. Lunenburg
Sam Houston State University
Vroom’s expectancy theory differs from the content theories of Maslow, Alderfer,
Herzberg, and McClelland in that Vroom’s expectancy theory does not provide specific
suggestions on what motivates organization members. Instead, Vroom’s theory provides
a process of cognitive variables that reflects individual differences in work motivation.
From a management standpoint, the expectancy theory ...view middle of the document...

Expectancy theory is based on four assumptions (Vroom, 1964). One assumption
is that people join organizations with expectations about their needs, motivations, and
past experiences. These influence how individuals react to the organization. A second
assumption is that an individual’s behavior is a result of conscious choice. That is, people
are free to choose those behaviors suggested by their own expectancy calculations. A
third assumption is that people want different things from the organization (e.g., good



salary, job security, advancement, and challenge). A fourth assumption is that people will
choose among alternatives so as to optimize outcomes for them personally.
The expectancy theory based on these assumptions 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). (See Figure 1.)






Figure 1. Basic expectancy model.

Expectancy is a person’s estimate of the probability that job-related effort will
result in a given level of performance. Expectancy is based on probabilities and ranges
from 0 to 1. If an employee sees no chance that effort will lead to the desired
performance level, the expectancy is 0. On the other hand, if the employee is completely
certain that the task will be completed, the expectancy has a value of 1. Generally,
employee estimates of expectancy lie somewhere between these two extremes.

Instrumentality is an individual’s estimate of the probability that a given level of
achieved task performance will lead to various work outcomes. As with expectancy,
instrumentality ranges from 0 to 1. For example, if an employee sees that a good
performance rating will always result in a salary increase, the instrumentality has a value
of 1. If there is no perceived relationship between a good performance rating and a salary
increase, then the instrumentality is 0.


Valence is the strength of an employee’s preference for a particular reward. Thus,
salary increases, promotion, peer acceptance, recognition by supervisors, or any other
reward might have more or less value to individual employees. Unlike expectancy and
instrumentality, valences can be either positive or negative. If an employee has a strong
preference for attaining a reward, valence is positive. At the other extreme, valence is
negative. And if an employee is indifferent to a reward, valence is 0. The...

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