Professional Version of Motivation: Camps are Divided


While motivation is regarded as the real driving engine of every action of all living beings, there is considerable differences among the theorists about its mechanism, especially when it comes to explore the possibility to bring out the best out in persons through imbibing motivational ideas or through promising tangible rewards to them. Both the ideas have proven track record, which have generated two camps of followers of either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. This can happen to any issue, but this motivation holds far more significance than many, as it is now regarded as the prime tool towards handling gearing up human resource amid the fiercely competitive environment of globalization process.

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Therefore, this paper delves deep into the past theories presented in the professional literature with special emphasis on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, before coming into its own conclusion.

Fundamental Theories of Motivation:

Dr. William G. Huitt, psychologist and counselor, tried to encompass the issue of motivation with least of words in 2001, which went like below:

a)      It is an internal state or condition that activates behavior and gives it direction;

b)      It is desire or want that energizes and directs goal-oriented behavior;

c)      It is an influence of needs and desires on the intensity and direction of behavior. (Huitt, 2001).

However, one cannot do without mentioning Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Alderfer’s ERG Theory, McClelland’s Acquire Needs Theory or Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory while talking about motivation theories.

Theory 1: Hierarchy of Needs. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)[1] had provided an outline of human needs by dividing them into five broad-based categories as below:
1. Physiological Needs: Air, Water, Nourishment and Sleep – these are the basic needs and it’s only after meeting this need, humans can look towards sustenance, and thus arrives the need like Safety need.

2. Safety Needs: This need involves issues of safety in every sphere of living, and a satisfactory state of this need enables humans to satiate their next need, Social Need.

3. Social Needs: Socialization forms a sense of belonging, which paves the way for seeking to attain the next need, i.e., Esteem Need.

4. Esteem Needs: This need makes humans focusing on recognition and social status to enjoy self-respect and sense of achievement.

 5. Self-actualization: At this stage delve deep within and keep on discovering oneself from many perspective both on mental and physical plane to find their moments of profound happiness (Maslow’s, 2008).

Theory 2: ERG Theory. Clayton Alderfer had presented an improvised version of Maslow’s Model with added flexibility by redistributing Maslow’s elements into three segments like
Existence (E) – It involves physiological and safety needs.

Relatedness (R) – It contains social and external esteem needs.

Growth (G) – Self-actualization and internal esteem needs. (ERG, 2007).

Clayton’s model had allowed to set the order of needs according to the existing need structure of any human.  This Model had promoted a frustration-regression principle that referred to the situation where an individual could placate his/her mind with the fulfillment of one need after failing to meet another higher need.

Theory No. 3: Acquire Needs Theory. David McClelland[2], the main propagator of this concept, defined motivation within two segments like below:
1. The Need for Achievement: It referred to the extent a person wants to perform tough and challenging tasks on a high level, where they thrive on continuous supply of success and positive feedback.

2. The Need for Power: This has two segments – personal and institutional, where people want to direct and influence others in the first and want to organize other’s efforts to win the goals of the company. The second category usually enjoys an edge over its counter part (McClellands’, 2007).

Theory No. 4: The Two-Factor Theory. Frederick Herzberg, another noted researcher, had conducted an investigation of 200 accountants and engineers in the USA, before dividing the entire concept of need into two factors like Hygiene and Motivation from professional perspective.
1. Hygiene Factors: Herzberg observed that without being satisfied in this part, humans cannot motivate them to achieve higher levels of life, and he listed following components in this zone:

Quality of supervision


Company policies, administration



Interpersonal relations

2. Motivation factors: Here Herzberg presented another set of components that he considered as essential to motivate an employee into higher performance.

Recognition for achievement

Responsibility for task

Interesting job

Advancement to higher-level tasks

Some observers had found this model as advantageous because it could be utilized in identifying the following situations:

1. High Hygiene + High motivation: This is an ideal situation where employees are highly motivated and have few complaints.

2. High Hygiene + Low Motivation: Here Employees have few complaints but are not highly motivated. The job is viewed as a mere professional engagement to earn money.

3. Low Hygiene + High motivation: Here the employees are motivated, though they have a lot of complaints. In this situation the job might be interesting and challenging, though the pay packet or the working conditions are not up to the mark.

4. Low Hygiene + Low Motivation: This is the worst condition for the employees, where they are full of complaints and lacking in motivation (Two Factor, 2008).

Motivating Tools: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
The motivating tools can be classified into two broad based categories like Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic Motivation: This takes place when one gets motivated by internal factors that inspires one to do things rather involuntarily, where there would be no desire of gain attached to it (Deci and Ryan, 1985).

This type of motivation contains elements like pride, sense of achievement, responsibility and belief. It also takes an important fact into consideration that the inner motivation is actually the inner gratification that might not always depends on the material success – it is an innate desire to feel content with an accomplishment, rather than just achieving a goal (Khera, 2004).

Extrinsic Motivation: This takes place when external factors like objective gain in any form motivate humans. Here the chance/promise of gain brings them to such voluntary act (Deci, 1971).

Extrinsic motivation can be interpreted as reward system, because it works its way through the effect of appreciation and recognition on the humans, much like the way trained birds in the circus respond to the incentives. Extrinsic motivation thus associates itself with elements like money, societal fame approval, or fear.


The above review from professional literature shows that in all its form, motivation is an extremely powerful tool to succeed in life. It persuades, convinces and propels one into action. The humans crave for success, as that brings a sense of pride and justification for one’s actions, without which there is little left in life; no enjoyment or excitement are felt either at work or at play. For that matter intrinsic motivation keeps one going, and for the gains in the material world, extrinsic motivation takes over.


All said and done, yet the elements like praise, love and faith can rise anytime as the most important element of motivation under any environment, where they can be instrumental to boost one’s self esteem, or to build a strong conviction to march ahead towards one’s cherished goal. From a greater perspective, inner motivation factors are bound to be more powerful than the outer ones, though the modern time projects an opposite impression by highlighting material wealth as the key to happiness, thereby discouraging people to introspect and find what would work best for them. Consequently, people today are more bent on collecting appreciation and recognition in terms of money or other material wealth, which in fact are transient items.  However, choice rules, and thus there would always be two camps in its professional utilization.



Deci, E. (1971). Effects of externally mediated rewards on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 18, 105-115

Deci, E. L. and Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human           behavior. New York: Plenum Press

“ERG Theory” 2007. Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, Inc.           Retrieved 15 July 2008, from

Huitt, W. (2001). “Motivation to learn: An Overview”. Educational Psychology   Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved 15 July 2008,            from

Khera, S. You Can Win. Macmillan India, 2004

“Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”. Internet Center for Management and Business   Administration, Inc. Retrieved 16 July 2008, from  

McClelland’s Theory of Needs. 2007. Internet Center for Management and Business      Administration, Inc. Retrieved 15 July 2008, from  

“Two Factor Theory” 2008. Web document. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2008, from   

[1] A devoted Social Scientist who researched extensively to create a workable pattern and placement of various human needs, where he traced clues in monkeys!
[2] American Behavioral Psychologist who improvised and popularized the work of Henry Murray, another doyen of this field.

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