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Modern Theories of Motivation


Modern Theories of motivation have been verified properly by proof. A few of these Modern Theories are as follows:

  • ERG Theory of Motivation
  • Goal Setting Theory of Motivation
  • McClelland’s Theory of Needs

ERG Theory of Motivation

Clayton Alderfer modified Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory of motivation in harmony with experimental research and explained it in his own way. His revised work is known as the ERG theory of motivation. He reclassified Maslow’s need hierarchy theory into three easier and wider classifications of needs:

Existence needs: This involves the need for essential material needs. In brief, it talks about a person’s physiological and personal safety requirements.

Relatedness needs: This refers to a person’s need for managing important personal relationships (for example, peers, family or superiors) and receiving public repute and approval. This class of needs includes Maslow’s social needs and peripheral factor of esteem needs.

Growth needs: The need for self-growth, personal development and progress are included under the Growth needs. This category of needs includes Maslow’s needs of self-actualization and inherent factor of esteem needs.

Goal Setting Theory of Motivation

Edwin Locke, in the 1960’s proposed the Goal-setting theory of motivation. As per this theory, goal setting is related directly to the performance of tasks. It certifies that niche and challenging goals in combination with the right feedback attribute towards a better quality of task performance. Stated simply, targets indicate and direct an employee regarding his tasks and the amount of effort required. Some major goal setting features are stated below:

  • Passion to work towards achieving goals is a vital job motivation.
  • Precise and transparent goals lead to better performance and higher results.
  • Goals must be practical and thought provoking.
  • Honest and correct feedback of results works better in attaining higher performance from employees rather than no feedback at all.
  • It is not always required to get employee contribution in goals.
  • Although, contribution toward goal setting makes it more acceptable and requires more involvement from employees.

Advantages of Goal Setting Theory

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  • Goal setting theory is a means to increase motivation for employees to quickly and efficiently complete tasks.
  • Goal setting leads to greater performance by boosting incentives and efforts and also by increasing and enhancing the quality of feedback.

Limitations of Goal Setting Theory

  • Organizational goals are sometimes not in accordance with the managerial goals. Goal conflict has harming results on the performance if it leads to mismatched action gist.
  • Complicated and tough goals give rise to higher risk behavior.
  • Goal setting can fail if the employee lacks expertise and competency required to perform actions necessary for goals and therefore performance can suffer.
  • It is not proven that goal setting enhances job satisfaction.

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McClelland’s Theory of Needs

McClelland’s theory of needs or Achievement Motivation Theory was proposed by David McClelland and his partners. This theory declares that human behavior influences three needs such as - Need for Power, Affiliation and Achievement. The Need for achievement is the need to outshine, to achieve with respect to certain norms and to take efforts to excel. The Need for power is the passion to be able to inspire others attitudes as per your requirement. It also means the need to manage others and to be successful. The Need for affiliation is the desire for being approachable and cordial in interdependent relationships.

People with high success rates are the ones who are extremely self motivated and are competitive and accept challenges well. They seek better job opportunities. They feel strongly about personal appraisals and they try harder to receive job satisfaction through better performance. Better performance is in direct relevance to better achievement. People who perform better than the average achievers are ones who are extremely motivated. They take full responsibility for problem solving in their work environment. McClelland named these people as risk takers / gamblers since create challenging targets for themselves and then take every possible risk to achieve these targets. These people seek creative means to perform their tasks. They are happier achieving targets and look at that as a reward rather than monetary benefits.

Power driven people have a strong need to control and influence. They make sure their ideas are adopted and have the leadership qualities to dominate. These people achieve motivation from their repute and self-esteem. Such authoritative people are better performers and are more efficient than their less powerful counterparts. Leaders who yearn for power are a lot more successful and efficient as managers. They are highly motivated and faithful to their company. The Need for power must not be taken in the negative sense always. It can be looked at as an optimistic approach in the interest of the company and is a huge help in the achievement of the company’s targets.

People who are influenced by affiliation have a desire toward an approachable and supportive surrounding. They are useful as team performers. They want to be accepted by everyone around them. The leader’s decision taking ability gets hindered if the affiliation factor is higher, as they perpetually want to be accepted and loved by all and this can dampen the main goals. People with higher need for affiliation prefer work environments that require more interpersonal relations. They always want to be in everyone’s good books and do not turn out to be great leaders.


Dilip Chandra (author) from India on June 04, 2013:

Thank you DFW TEEN VOICE for stopping by and commenting.

DFW TEEN VOICE from Richardson, Texas on June 03, 2013:

How you discussed leaders as they are related to motivation made this a great article to read! Much Success!

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