Employees’ Motivation and its Origins

How Cooperation with Employees can Improve Business Success

Bachelor Thesis, 2010

129 Pages, Grade: 1,6


Table of Contents

Table of Figures

Index of Appendices

1 Introduction
1.1 Occasion for Choice of the Subject
1.2 Objective Target of the Bachelor Thesis

2 Investigation of Peoples Needs and Motivation
2.1 The Myth of Motivating Employees
2.1.1 Motivating People – Yes we can?
2.1.2 Definition and Goals of Management by Motivation
2.2 Theoretical Approaches of Motivation
2.2.1 Motivation in Cultural Setting Introductive Thoughts A View on the Far East The View of Peoples Self in the Hindu-Indian Culture
2.2.2 Discovering Peoples Needs
2.2.3 Motivation vs. Demotivation
2.2.4 Management’s View on Employees Behaviour
2.3 Summary

3 The Actual Situation of Companies and Employees
3.1 Responsibility of the Companies
3.2 The Situation of the Working People
3.2.1 Formation of the Questionnaire
3.2.2 Block 1: Work Environment
3.2.3 Block 2: Communication
3.2.4 Block 3: Development Potentialities
3.2.5 Block 4: Personal Needs
3.2.6 Block 5: Relationship with Superiors
3.2.7 Block 6: Salary
3.2.8 Block 7: Common Questions
3.3 Negative Effects of not Paying Attention to Employees
3.3.1 Negative Effects on Side of the Employees
3.3.2 Negative Effects on Side of Company and Community

4 Other Management Instruments and Approaches
4.1 Trust as Basic Condition
4.2 The Importance of Communication
4.3 Different Approaches of Leadership
4.4 Other Possibilities to get Balanced Employees

5 Conclusion



I want to express my gratitude to several people that supported me in the creation of this thesis.

Sincere thanks go to my parents and my partner for all their functional and other help and support and especially for their immense patience and comprehension over the whole creation period. At all times I felt their strong belief in me and in this subject, which was very encouraging. - Thank you very much indeed!

Special thanks go to my tutor, Steve Engelking, for his encouragement during the composition as well as for all the mind-opening visions and ideas during the last years which actually led to an increasing interest in this topic and finally to the decision of choosing such topic for my Bachelor Thesis.

Also special thanks to all the people who provided me different useful and interesting sources and materials concerning this topic.

Furthermore I want to thank all the people who supported my work by proofreading and by fill-out and distribution of the questionnaire.

Also thanks to company Regine GmbH.

Finally I want to thank all the different inspiring people who opened my mind and showed several new aspects in the many different conversations and discussions.

Thank you very much!

Table of Figures

1 Chain and Neurons

2 Cultural Differences

3 Pyramid of Needs

4 Maslow and Herzberg

5 Theory X and Theory Y

Index of Appendices

1 Questionnaire for the Survey

2 Results Work Environment

3 Results Communication

4 Results Development Potentialities

5 Results Personal Needs

6 Results Relationship with Superiors

7 Results Salary

8 Results Common Questions

9 Results Environment – Size of Enterprise

10 Results Work Environment – Gender

11 Results Development Potentialities – Gender

12 Results Personal Needs – Size of Enterprise

13 Results Personal Needs – Position

1 Introduction

1.1 Occasion for Choice of the Subject

“The fact is that people are good, if only their fundamental wishes are satisfied, their wish for affection and security. Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behaviour.”

Abraham Harold Maslow, American psychologist

This Bachelor thesis investigates the motivation of employees and its origins. It will figure out especially which factors influence people and how these factors influence the quality of peoples´ performance in their workplace.

Our times are shaped by a number of different bad influences that more and more create feelings of disaffection, insecurity and even fear.

The situation on the employment market got strained over the last years and the fear of losing ones means of existence got more and more a daily companion.

As a result it can be discovered that there is a great increase of mental diseases beneath our population and even in situations less drastic, it one will find that people are more and more unhappy and disaffected by their situation even in their jobs.

Furthermore, it can be noticed that it seems as there are two sides in business society.

On the one side there are the managers, the supervisors and on the opponent side there are the employees.

It seems as both of them are working in their own, separate environment and that both have a critical opinion towards the other.

For supervisors employees often are seen just as plodders that have to function and do what they are told. There is no space for the private situation of the employees in the office. Superiors often are seen as arbitrary, aloof and unfair.

It is obvious that this situation is not only a bagatelle. Furthermore, it is a very dangerous development that occurred more and more over the last few years.

The result can be dramatic: depressed employees effect costs for the company by losing motivation and effort for their daily work or when they call in sick because of their mental disease.

For the companies this situation also is not satisfying as they use much time and money to motivate their employees but, however, with only little success.

However, the consequences for the employee are even more drastic.

Psychological problems can affect the breakdown of the individual, its family and social contacts and in the worst case can lead to suicide.

Our current society is facing a turning point.

It has to be investigated if rather the individual people have to change their mind and behaviour to satisfy the demands the companies pose to them or if the companies should reconsider if the way they manage their employees is the right one.

Therefore this thesis is trying to find answers to this question and to figure out, on base of several findings, which point of view is the more realistic one.

In fact in parts of our business society something is going wrong and this development leads to increasing dissatisfaction and frustration and thus to a decreasing of personal success on side of the employees and to decreasing of business success on side of the companies.

1.2 Objective Target of the Bachelor Thesis

The actual situation will be investigated based on the perception of a big and very important group of stakeholders a company has: the employees.

The goal of this thesis is to investigate the personal situation of employees in their daily work, their difficulties and what motivates them to work, to bring effort in their job. Therefore several theoretical models will be presented and analysed.

Because there are lots of literature and theories about this topic only a few of the most important und most known theories will be used.

Each theory will be introduced and described separately. But due to the fact, that all these theories sometimes influence each other and are closely linked with each other and accordingly will be compared with each other, it will appear often throughout the thesis that arguments and thoughts of the different theories will be used in different chapters and argumentations. This is necessary because there are no sharp edges in any theory and because of the diversity of the topic this factor is very important to get a holistic view.

In the next step, the actual situation in praxis will be clarified by taking a closer look at the companies and the individuals of course. The main part of this chapter is an empiric questionnaire that shows the actual feelings and judgements of the employees towards different aspects of their daily work. Several questions and the according results will be observed and discussed on basis of the earlier mentioned theories. Also for any single fact some solution statements will be made.

To bring in also some hard facts about the topic it will be shown, what cost for company and even society could appear when employees are inhibited in showing their full potential, or when they get ill because of wrong and inhuman treatment.

All these findings in theory and practise will be summarised, pulled together and discussed.

Through all investigations that base on common literature, statistics and examples also it will be looked beyond the obvious and lateral examples and excursus will be made to document the theories.

Finally some models of a new kind of management additionally to the solutions that were found by the theories will be presented that could solve above mentioned problems and lead to more humanity in business life.

It should show where the origins of employees’ motivation can be found and how motivation can be stimulated and created to get improvement of the actual situation for both, companies and employees.

2 Investigation of Peoples Needs and Motivation

2.1 The Myth of Motivating Employees

2.1.1 Motivating People – Yes we can?

Today a tremendous abundance of motivation trainings, workshops and motivation teachers can be observed.

Much money is earned in that branch that tries to develop people itself and teach managers in terms to motivate their employees and thus create a better output for their companies by pushing the employees to bring more effort even with a smile on their face.

The upraising of this “Motivation-Tsunami” came together with the upraising of the new economy back in the early nineties.

While the euphoria in the new economy market crashed down together with the stock quotations of the involved companies, the success of the motivation branch remained and even grows.

Searching in “Google” for the keyword “motivation” 49.900.000 hits can be recognized.[1] A more specified search for “motivation, training” still brings 19.200.000 hits.[2]

While on the one hand people in the private sphere spend enormous amount for workshops, hoping to get more self-assured, on the other hand companies and managers of any kind also spend much money and effort in motivation activities to get more effort out of their unmotivated employees.

The question that naturally arises, is whether the people are motivated and furthermore if these motivational activities really lead to more motivation and in consequence to more effort and more output.

Therefore, a look on a sector where motivation has a real strong influence can be helpful.

In competitive sport, motivation appears to be one of the key factors for success.

The physical differences between the athletes and teams disappear together with the increasing of professionalism, and other characteristics need to make the difference between opponents.

Christoph Daum, coach of the German soccer club “Bayer 04 Leverkusen” told the players in the nineties to walk with their bare feet over cullet and glowing coal to motivate them.

Also still in mind of the German people is Jürgen Klinsmann as coach of the German national soccer team during the soccer championship 2006 in Germany.

He told the players that they can become world champion and before every match he pushed them with flaming motivation speeches. The result was that Germany unlucky failed in getting champion but Klinsmann was praised as great motivator.

The team played very attractive and, except the semi-finals, also very successful.

This was accredited to Klinsmanns methods of motivation.

Two years later he became coach of Germanys most successful and famous soccer club “FC Bayern München”.

This fact is astonishing because of two important circumstances: first the management of “Bayern München”, that led this club through very successful decades, can be described as rather conservative and very careful in changing established structures. The second circumstance is that Klinsmann had no experience in coaching a team except of leading the national team to and through the world championship.

Therefore one needs to mention that there is a great difference in coaching a team that consists of the best players of the country and coaching a private club. The national team plays a match every two months, while the private club has to be coached on a daily basis.

It is comparable to the daily work in a company whereas coaching the national team is more like a single project limited in time and resources.

Keeping these factors in mind it is very unusual to give that much responsibility for coaching the best club in Germany in the hands of a complete novice.

This example shows very well how professional people today think about the effort of motivation activities, and even see some kind of “Holy Grail” in it.

But is it really that way? Is motivation of the employees really the second to none, the “Holy Grail” for any company, or could it rather turn into some kind of “Pandora’s box”?

To bring above mentioned examples of the sports business to an end one needs to know that the team of Christoph Daum although walking over broken glass never succeeded in any championship.

While looking at the German national soccer team, one needs to ask if it is really necessary to motivate some good and experienced sportsmen from the outside. Is it not motivation enough for the player to wear the jersey of the national team? Is there a need for more motivation than knowing that he belongs to the best players of his home country, and that the whole country will watch the match and cheer for the team?

Last but not least the player faces the chance to win the most important cup in soccer business and the chance to write history.

This is an important question about what motivates people to do their job and it will be investigated throughout the next chapters.

Finally the euphoria towards Klinsmann and his motivation activities found an abrupt ending after ten months.

The club was far away of being successful and the players hardly criticized the coach and his abilities in coaching. They even said that the repeating of Klinsman’s motivation speeches before every match began to get boring and ineffective. So the management realised their mistake and finally fired Klinsmann.

Another amazing example for primary euphoria and later disappointment about motivating people can be seen in the election campaigns of nearly every political system, most obvious however in the campaign and later election of Barack Obama as US President in 2008.

He fascinated the US people by embodying a new kind of politician. He acted as a modern man with a big smile on his face that truly cares for the people and fights to create an elementary change in US politics.

His campaign was coined by motivating the people that they can achieve change, equality and advancement of their situation.

The people and the entire world saw in Obama some kind of new John F. Kennedy or even some kind of Messiah.

Now after Obama’s first two years as US President he lost his shine and the people are more and more disappointed, because the big change Obama promised has not taken place in the way the people thought.[3]

In all this discussion about motivation and the success it brings it is a nice and ironic anecdote that Obamas mission statement “Yes we can”, on which his whole campaign was built, was adapted from a children TV series called “Bob the Builder”.[4]

The conclusion that can be made is that motivating people does not inevitably lead to more success. It can even lead to dissatisfaction and demotivation.

In the next chapter these negative effects of motivating people will be reflected especially on the focus of motivating employees in the company.

2.1.2 Definition and Goals of Management by Motivation

Reinhard K. Sprenger, a German philosopher and author of many books about management and economy has a very critical view on this development of increasing motivation-programmes. For him “Every Motivation is Demotivation[5] which means that any trying of the superiors in the company to motivate the employees only can fail and as result leave the employees rather demotivated than motivated.

The above mentioned phenomenon of a huge increase of motivation in our society is also recognized by Sprenger which leads him to the opinion that the ability of motivating people nowadays, is seen as one of the most important attributes the management of a company should have.[6]

By looking on the wide sphere of the motivation topic it is not quite clear what accurately is meant by talking about motivating people. Sprenger tried to break down all the existing motivational theories to 5 key points.[7]

Motivating people for him is:

1. To give someone motifs which this person did not have before.
2. To “pick up” someone at his own motifs and create possibilities for the realisation of them.
3. To fit up several behaviours with kind of subjective importance.
4. To ignite Enthusiasm
5. Stimulation of the people.

At the first glance these points seem to be positive and it hardly can be found any critical aspects.

But on closer examination it can be observed that all the mentioned points are of extrinsic nature, which means that one person influences another person.

As previously mentioned in the example of the German soccer team during the World-Cup, it can be assumed that every human always has some specific motifs that influence him and motivate him in life. Of course these motifs are influenced by different extrinsic circumstances like age, social situation and so on, but these motifs are not given by any other person.

In cases where motifs are given to a person by another person, this act can be seen on the one hand as some kind of enlightenment in the positive way, on the other hand it can be seen as manipulation in the negative way.

The difference between these two ways, lies in the freedom that is given to the person that is enlightened or manipulated.

An enlightened person is persuaded of something by themselves, while the manipulated person is driven by another person to act as this other person wants it to act.

The former American president Dwight D. Eisenhower said about just this topic of Motivation: “Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”[8]

These two ways are very close together and people sometimes tend to manipulate others although there is a positive and good cause they advocate for.

Keeping this in mind, by looking on the situation of the employees in the company it can be figured out that “Motivation” on the one hand describes the very own motifs of each employee and on the other hand the aim of superiors to enlighten or manipulate the employees.

In praxis predominantly the case of manipulation can be seen where superiors try to “motivate” the employees to get more effort and in a row more benefit for the company.

This is manipulation in pure form because there is no persuasion on basis of any good cause and the own goals and motifs of the employee are just neglected.[9]

One of the reasons why most of the superiors act like that, is because they are forced by their superiors to get the best out of their employees. When they recognize that their employees have a lack in motivation they get alarmed and think that they rather have to motivate the employees, by using different extrinsic motivational tools. Subsequently they just take a close look at the individual employee and his situation, needs and motifs and think about why this employee shows an unmotivated behaviour.[10]

This approach leads in the wrong direction and creates a vicious circle, where the superior tries everything to motivate the employee who gets more and more unmotivated by these actions. He feels punished and misunderstood by his superior, which implies him to have a bad attitude, without caring for the circumstances that are responsible for the lack of motivation. This leads to a growing frustration on both sides and finally culminates in the situation, where employee resigns and in the future is just busy with avoiding mistakes and avoiding attracting attention by just being a clock-watcher.

The tragic point about this is that the superior recognizes that the employee makes no more mistakes and stops being intractable which leads the superior to the conclusion that the motivational tools he used, like gratifications and punishments, were successful. He will continue with this style of management and the employees will stay frustrated and finally quit the company together with their unused potential.[11]

For Sprenger motivation is duty of one’s self, to give this motivation free space is duty of the company and the superiors.[12]

2.2 Theoretical Approaches of Motivation

As seen in previous chapter people do not get motivated by any external motivation-tools.

In this chapter it will be investigated how people really get motivated in general and towards their job. Therefore several different theories of social scientists, psychologists and economists will be introduced and discussed.

2.2.1 Motivation in Cultural Setting Introductive Thoughts

Before examining the motifs and the motivation of the individual human in general, and later the individual motivation in context of the situation in daily work, it can be useful to investigate first´, if there are any links between motivation and culture.

In the majority it can be detected that factors like culture or biological conditions are strongly neglected in the research of the origins and settings of motivation. Most frequently, only the individual human being with its individual behaviour is regarded such as psychologists do in their scientific work.

Based on this background the individual human being is in the centre of all investigations. Culture, consequently, is seen as an accumulation of many different of these individual human motifs and behaviours.

In opposition to the opinion about culture brought by psychologists, other scientist as for example anthropologists, centre the culture as the base in which the individual lives and gets influenced in his motifs and behaviours by the superior culture.[13] It hardly can be proclaimed one of these approaches as uniquely appropriate. In fact there is the need to combine arguments and findings out of both to get a holistic view on this topic.

Donald Munro, Conjoint Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Newcastle in Australia, sees another important deficit in the actual psychological findings about human behaviour. In his opinion, all results of the psychological research on human behaviour are just snap-shots of the respective actual situation. For him it requires additionally to look at how these snap-shots of behaviour have developed and how they will lead behaviour into future.[14]

Following Munro’s argumentation he defines human behaviour not as independent and detached from any other context. Rather he identifies human behaviour as a part embedded together with elapsed and future behaviours in a kind of process chain. Because of the complexity it has to be specified that there is not a singular and linear subsiding chain of processes. In fact it can be observed that some actions are independent to others respectively are only linked with several specific actions. Furthermore, it can occur that actions and behaviours interfere with each other and certain actions may influence motifs and behaviours farther in the future.[15]

For Peter Senge, director of the Centre for Organizational Learning, the disregard of exactly this setting leads to wrong management thinking and thus to disaffection by wrong management actions. Senge states that people tend to think that cause and effect are closely linked in time and space, which can be falsified by now stated findings of Munro. If Managers recognize a problem they tend to search only in the direct surrounding where the problem occurred rather than thinking which event in this bundle of different (and often expanded in time and space) events really led to the mistake.[16] Our everyday processes of cause and effect are much more complex and intricate than it may appear. This includes technical processes in producing a product and running a company as well as the process of human development in motivation and behaviour.

In continuing this point of view, it can be assumed that these complex processes rather can be compared with the organisation of neurons in the human brain than with a common chain.[17]

The figure shows the complexity and pronounced interconnectedness of the neurons which are independent but for all that also very closely linked together. Additionally, they are influenced by each other and by external influences just as human behaviours and motifs as figured out above in the text.

Based on this assumption it can be conjectured if the complex systems of human behaviours and social networks, which are very similar organized as the neurons, actually developed to the way they are because of this special neuronal organisation in the single human brain. It could be that the human brains organisation itself was the initial point that led to the development of such in complexity and organisation similar forms of human behaviour and human networks.

Given that it can be said that every single human has got several behaviours and motifs which get influenced and transformed among them and by different external actions. As mentioned before this single human being lives in a society and is part of a certain culture. No matter if the human is seen as influencer of the culture or if the culture influences the single human it is obvious that everything is subordinated to different processes and different influences. Because of these different influences and, as a result different developments it is not astonishing that several different cultures emerged.[18]

And driven by these influences existing cultures can change, as seen on the example of Germany.

The German culture abroad was seen as stamped by attributes like discipline, punctuality and accurateness. The Germans were seen as rather grim and unemotional. This opinion rapidly changed after the World Cup 2006 in Germany where the world discovered very emotional, friendly and fun-loving German people. And in fact in Germany this was the first time that so many people, proud of their country and friendly towards strangers went to the streets to celebrate a huge and emotional festival.[19] [20]

This shows that it is indispensable to keep in mind the influence of processes when investigating cultures and accordingly their influence to motivation.

On the next pages two cultures will be investigated which are very different to our western culture and which are furthermore interesting to look at because of their fast growing importance as trade partner and market area: The Far East and India. A View on the Far East

There is no need of exhausting research to recognize that there are strong distinctions between our western culture and the cultures in the Far East in general.

Also in business life there are different ways of managing people and different views on motivation.

In western oriented companies people are tried to be motivated by incentives and awards with the goal to create success, effort and loyalty towards the company. Because these awards are only given to the successful employees a situation of pressure is given where every employee is forced to be successful.

This means to act according to the thoughts and guidelines the superiors give. Employees that fail in trying to meet the expectations of the superior (whether this failing is caused by ones own disability or external factors on which the employee has no influence at all) get more and more unmotivated.[21] First because they feel unable and not useful and second because they feel that they are seen by their superiors as inherently lazy and unmotivated.[22]

In the Far East the main difference in the perception on motivation can be found that there is no incentive-system as in the western companies. Motivation is not seen as an attribute that has to be provided by the superiors.

This perspective definitely arises out of the Confucian stamped cultural settings in the Far East, where motivation is seen as an intrinsic moral duty.

Because of strong nonmaterialistic attributes that can be found in the Confucian doctrine managing by rewards and incentives just is dispensable and useless.[23]

The Confucian influenced art of business has been recognized of many western managers during doing business with any people from Far East.

The Confucian influence on the Chinese business, for example, is shown in the importance of altruistic attributes like trust and moral duty in contrast to the importance of materialistic and individual attributes in the West. In the Chinese society, an excessive individualism can not be found, because of the very important part the family and the whole society takes in the life of the single Chinese person.[24]

According to this importance every Chinese person knows his part and rank in his family and so in the company and the whole society. Because of that, he has got a moral duty towards these groups and he feels good following these duties and contributes to generate a good and prosper situation for the community.[25]

Because of that before signing any contract the Chinese manager first wants to create a good personal base by talking about family and personal interests. For the western manager this seems as if the other party has no interest in the contract and he feels uncomfortable because usually he does not want to speak over personal things to strange people he has no relationship to. For him the personal things follow the commercial things. For the Chinese it is right the other way around. This example shows very clearly the big difference between both cultures, and how this influences people’s behaviour and as a consequence the role “motivation” plays in the business field.

In summary it can be said that in Chinese culture the community is important, in contrast to the individualism in the West. Also attributes like altruism, trust and solidarity in the East are opponent to materialistic and in common egoistic behaviour which is found in the West.

Therefore, there is no need in motivating employees to work because they internalized their moral and social duties towards any community and so also towards their job.[26]

Does that mean that the employees of the western society have no personal duty towards their job? Actually not! As seen in the above written aspects of Sprenger, for example, every employee has got motivation towards his job.

But this motivation can be destroyed by a lack of trust, competence and personal caring of the superiors towards the employees. As discovered these aspects are very important and thus very solid practised in Chinese business.

Of course this setting has grown in the eastern societies for hundreds of years which makes it very hard or even impossible to adapt in the western culture.

But it can open the mind and show another point of view especially under the aspect of cause and effect in business behaviour and the topic of motivation.

As it was found out that across cultures employees by themselves are motivated the question has to be posed if rather the attitude and the arrangements of our

western management lead in the wrong direction and that the fault or the cause has to be searched there. The View of Peoples Self in the Hindu-Indian Culture

Hereafter another growing market place and its cultural differences will be examined.

In the Indian culture there one can find many analogies to the Chinese culture.

As the Chinese culture is influenced by the philosophical Confucian device the Indian culture is very strong influenced by the religious device of the Hinduism.

To get some more insights to what motivates people to do their work the following layer gives some insights in the perception of peoples self-perception in the Hindu-Indian culture in comparison with the one in the Western culture. The basic thinking about individuals and society in the Hindu-Indian culture is very similar to the Chinese culture and it can be noticed that there also the community is much more important than the single individual.

The main difference between the Indian and the Western culture is based on the different views of peoples own self and its role and position in the society.[27]

As mentioned before, individualism is one of the most important factors in the Western culture. This leads to a very intensive caring of ones own interests and thus to a rigorous and in most part egoistic chase to fulfil these.

For this reason it does not astonish that for the Western individual the requirements of the community towards him are seen as burdens, which seem to hinder him in fulfilling satisfaction of his own needs and interests. In most cases the individual has to cooperate with the community in which he lives and even if he does not cooperate he will play different roles but will very rarely show his true self and his own true and inner motifs, needs and interests. Borders between Individual and community are very sharply defined, with only a few intersections.

In the Hindu-Indian culture ones self and all actions of the individual are aligned and closely linked with the surrounding community.[28]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2 shows pictorially this difference in the role of the individual in the community.

For the Western thinking, it shows the sharp borders and the small intersection and with the help of the arrows the pressure and hindering of the social duties that avoids or encumbers the expansion of the individual.

On the other side the different view of the Hindu-Indian and the Asian cultures is shown by no parting line where the individual is located in the core of the community and both are linked with each other, influence each other and can hardly exist without the existence of the other. In fact this is a holistic view of the human being and the community where both are inseparable united.

The Western individual always ponders if the requirements of the community are as high to suppress the achievement of the own interests. If this occurs he feels threatened and will avoid any support for the community.

The individual in the Indian-society sees no separation in the self and the society. It feels as part of the community that brings in its own skills to fulfil the needs of the community. On the other hand the individual himself can also benefit by the whole community. In fact for the individual this merging in the society brings great satisfaction.[29]

It can be assumed, that the Western individual due to above mentioned theories will only support the requirements of its social surrounding, when they do not influence or hinder its own goals too much. Most of the time,the individual will put more effort into achieving its goals and satisfying its needs, than in supporting the community.

How can these findings be interpreted concerning the motivation of the employees?

It was found out that the individual and the culture are linked together. The discussion if the multiplicity of single humans is creating a culture, or if a culture influences and leads the single human being can be neglected, as long as any link between culture and individual can be observed.

As this point clearly is shown, it can be assumed that the findings about the cultures also can be seen in the business life.

In summary it can be said that the Western employee in common is strongly individualistic and tries to achieve his goals and satisfy his needs.

But does that mean that the Western employee in his daily work is just egoistic and selfish without caring for the needs of the company?

Many managers maybe would agree with this statement, but it leads in a wrong direction because as found out every individual cooperates with its surrounding when it suppresses it not too much and when it can benefit by cooperating to satisfy its needs. Because the individual needs its job to earn money and therefore can buy food and pay the rent it definitely benefits by cooperating with the needs of the society.[30]

Another even more important argument against the view of an egoistic [ Author’s note: egoistic in a negative way] employee, is the fact that if this argument is supported, it states that the employees goals are not as important as the ones of the company. So there is a kind of rivalry and opposition between the individual and the company. This situation is exactly what is displayed in figure 2, as the existing situation in Western cultures.

Because this is the situation it can not be claimed that one of the two is right and the other not. Of course it is in the nature of the situation, that any of the two opponents feels being right, but both have to step out of their box, accept it as circumstance and try to observe this situation from an external position.

As mentioned earlier it will be nearly impossible to change culture and for example adapt these fundamental things from Asian or Indian cultures, and maybe it would be the wrong way because every grown culture is unique in its being with all the positive and negative factors.

But when there are aspects in a different culture, which seem to be positive and adaptable, it should be tried to convert these things on the base of ones own culture.

When the Asian and Indian way of the individual embedded in the society is seen as more positive than the Western way of two opponents, it is possible for a manager to try to convert this idea in his company. However, it requires also some Asian attributes as trust, solidarity and personal caring towards the employees that they can grow up and emerge in the company-community!

2.2.2 Discovering Peoples Needs

As achieved in hitherto existing findings of the thesis motivation is closely linked with needs. In daily life it can be found that the needs of the employees have to be brought in accord to the needs of the company and how people in our Western culture use to handle with their own needs and the requirements of the community just were figured out in the last chapter.

Abraham H. Maslow, an American psychologist, researched these needs of the single human being and investigated how they influence human’s motivation.

With this work Maslow founded a new approach in psychology, the so called humanistic psychology which is portrayed by a positive idea of man where a healthy personality grows and develops self-actualization.

As the human being is seen in the common sense not as accumulation of different organs and functioning of the body but as a complete holistic organism Maslow points out the need of a holistic view of human’s behaviour as well.[31]

For Maslow people from different cultures are more similar to each other than it appears on the first sight. The differences he figured out are just superficial like clothing or different speech and different ordinances. Also in looking at the needs

Maslow takes the view that behaviours and superficial desires and wishes may differ beyond the different cultures, the underlying basic needs however are very similar.[32]

In comparison with the earlier chapter about motivation and culture one can draw a first conclusion: As people in both cultures act individually with own desires and motifs but under different circumstances, the assumption can be made that people themselves are similar, and the great differences lay in the cultural and surrounding setting of each culture. In continuing this thought it can be said that not the single individual has to be changed, rather the surrounding situation has to be changed.

Breaking this down on the context of a company it could mean that there is now need and even no sense in motivating [ Author’s note: which actually means changing[33] ] the employees. So the bottom line is, that under these assumptions the surrounding situation, so the situation in the organisation of the company, has to be changed to create a better motivation.

The base for the following investigations is Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs.

Below these different needs will be looked at and figured out how they influence people’s behaviour.

Physiological Needs

The base of the pyramid is described by the physiological needs which for Maslow are the most powerful needs that dominate all other needs.

These needs are not only located in the need of food. Also sexuality, the need for sleep or activity can be seen as physiological needs. Maslow points out that the investigation of these needs is not as simple as it appears because these needs are influenced by homeostasis and psychological needs that can be embodied in the need for physiological things. Nevertheless it can be pointed out that a human that is threatened by terrible hunger will put the satisfaction of this need in the centre of all his thinking and acting. In this situation there is no space for any other need or desire as long as the hunger is not sated. Also the whole life plan and all future actions, behaviour and thinking will be oriented towards the satisfaction of this physiological need.[34] It can be adhered that this link between the basic need and all actions, behaviour and thinking which are activated thereby can be seen as a process just as described in chapter in this thesis.[35] As figured out in this argumentation human behaviours and motivation is influenced by different influencing variables and so a dynamic process is built. In assuming that these processes in human life are responsible for certain behaviours and motivation it can be made the deduction that the process activated by the basic needs just as hunger also is responsible for specific behaviours and motivation of the people [ Author’s note: These findings about basic needs seen as processes that influence people’s behaviour and motivation can also be conveyed to any other basic needs that will be investigated in following] .

In praxis it can be recognized, that especially in civilized cultures as the Western culture the need for physiological things and following need for safety are largely satisfied by the cultural society itself. Societies were founded just to avoid such states of emergency.

The community works together to solve the problems of every single participant. This can be seen in the large net of fire departments or police stations (to

guarantee safety) and in the activity of the community concerning welfare and social service (to guarantee satiation).[36]

That there is more in humans’ life than satisfying only the physiological needs already is showed in the bible. In Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13 it is stated „ Man shall not live by bread alone […][37] The statement that there are higher goals and needs in people’s life is obvious.

Need for safety

When the need for physiological things is largely satisfied the need for safety, protection and stability gets more and more important for the human being.

Just as seen in the case of deep hunger all behaviours and actions will be concentrated on the satisfaction of this need for safety. None the less, the domination of this need does not mean that things like eating and drinking will be neglected. The difference is in fact, that the main behaviours and actions are driven by this new lack in the basic need of safety which means that a different holistic process is developed.

As mentioned before, also this strong need for safety largely is satisfied in civilized cultures by the already mentioned aspects and by providing instruments as insurances of different kind. If anything, nowadays only the fear of losing employment can result a higher concern for this need.[38] Therefore it can be said that the analysis of the questionnaire, which was made for this thesis, show that people who are more concerned of losing their employment, tend to make less demands on their work situation than the people who are not concerned of losing employment. Of course this is far away to be a solid argument but it shows a direction which is quite interesting in conjunction with the actual topic.

An interesting aspect, however, can be seen in the behaviour of the government of a society concerning this need for safety. Even if the satisfaction of this need is guaranteed by the society sometimes this fact hinders government in pursuing its interests. Sometimes for governments it is more useful when people are mainly focused on their safety and other desires and needs get neglected by this.

An important and actual example represents the fear mongering concerning the danger of terrorist attacks especially practised by the US-Government.[39]

By creating a large situation of fear where everybody always and everywhere seems to be endangered by terrorist attacks government creates possibilities to achieve its interests more than it would be possible in a normal situation where safety is guaranteed.[40] [41]

In such a situation, the need for safety for the people gets higher than other needs, just as Maslow mentions. In praxis this means that people accept security procedures like the strict controls on airports for example because the need for security and safety grows bigger than the need for a quick and uncomplicated check-in.

Another example for exploited fear mongering was the worldwide panic concerning the swine-flu.[42] The whole issue was dramatized with the result that people were frightened and because of that refused social contacts or resigned their vacations because the need for safety and health was much bigger than all the other needs.

Recognizing this on the layer of society it also can be broken down to the situation in the company where superiors exploit employees fear of losing employment to hold employees down and therefore guarantee effort and vanishing of other needs the employee has. This actually is manipulation just similar to the methods figured out in chapter 2.1.2.[43]

Need for Love and Belonging

When the physiological needs and the need for safety are satisfied, for Maslow, the human being then is oriented to find its place in a family and community where

it can feel associated and in which it can emerge. All actions and behaviour, as mentioned before, now will focus in a process on satisfaction of this need.[44]

The influence of this need in human behaviour can be seen in every episode of people’s life. The child that is segregated by other children feels bad about that and focuses on changing this situation just as the employee will do when this need of love and belonging is not satisfied in his work situation.

Need for Self Esteem

The next higher need that is described by Maslow is the need of self esteem. When a person is saturated, feels safe and belongs to a community it soon will begin to crave for tribute from the others and from itself.

For Maslow this self esteem consists of two parts: first is described the need of power, achievement, competence and freedom. The second part is seen in the need of status, fame and appraisal.

The satisfaction of these needs finally leads to an increase of self esteem.[45]

In order for humans to achieve satisfaction there is a huge need of freedom that the people can grow and develop their attributes and thus increase their self esteem. Also they need to be recognized and they should get the feeling that their contribution is important and useful. When this setting is not given, there is no chance for a growing self esteem.

This theory has to be kept in mind because later in the thesis the argumentation will return to this point.

The Need of Self Actualization

As highest need in Maslow’s hierarchy the need of self actualization is seen.

According to Maslow the upraising of this need can be recognized at people whose basic needs are satisfied. Self actualization is seen as the fulfilment and orientation towards ones own talents and interests. Therefore Maslow mentions the example of an artist that has to paint to become self actualized.[46]

It also can mean to become a famous scientist or anything else that is comparable to that. It is just following ones own nature and deepest desire.

Therefore all the other needs have to be satisfied first. And when they are satisfied a huge freedom is required to achieve self actualization. The artist who gets self actualized by paining pictures therefore needs much time which he usually does not have when he hast to work eight hours a day and additionally has to look after a family. So for any working employee it is difficult to reach self actualization even under the aspect of the absent time. Maslow points out that a full satisfaction of the higher needs requires good or very good surrounding circumstances.[47]

A step forward to solve this problem could only be if the people get more freedom and time in their work life to follow their need and develop themselves towards self actualization.

The hierarchy beyond these needs is described by Maslow as the lower needs are the more substantial they are and thus the satisfaction of them is more urgent than it is on the level of the higher needs.[48] This fact is not astonishing by keeping in mind that a human can hardly survive a few weeks without any food whereas a lack in satisfaction of example self esteem does not lead to physical exitus [ Author’s note: Of course low or non-existing satisfaction of higher needs can lead to strong mental diseases and depression which can effect physiological illness and even suicide. But these assumptions will be neglect in this actual discussion and will be investigated more detailed in another chapter of the thesis.]

The hierarchy beyond the needs also is one of the biggest points of critique about Maslow’s theory.[49] Often it is argued that in fact there is no strict division and hierarchy beyond the mentioned needs. It is said that people in praxis do not necessarily satisfy one need after another.[50] Maslow itself gives an answer to this criticism in saying that the hierarchy in fact is not that fixed as it may appear and goes hand in hand with the individualism of the different people also there are exceptions to that hierarchy.[51] Also Maslow argues that in fact not all the lower needs are satisfied to hundred percent before another need appears. For him there is also the possibility that the order of the needs can vary and that the needs can superpose each other.[52] Maslow’s theory should not be seen as ultimate truth or some kind of dogma and this surely also was not the intention of Maslow. Rather it is a new approach to this topic of motivation and human behaviour which points out a specific kind of view. To get a holistic view it is very useful but it has to be discussed and compared with other theories and that is exactly what is done in this thesis.

In summary the needs can be divided into two groups: The lower needs as physiological needs and the needs for safety and love/belonging are seen as deficit-needs which mean that the satisfaction of them just leads to normality without any emotional outbreaks while a lack in satisfaction leads to huge emotional and physiological consequences. The absence of satisfaction of the higher needs does not lead to huge change in personal behaviour or any negative physiological consequences. But the satisfaction of these can effect to high emotional feelings and thus can effect to a higher grade of motivation and performance.[53]

These findings are very interesting in comparison to the main topic of motivation. As satisfaction of the higher human needs can lead to more motivation and more effort and better performance this is the point where superiors can join and support the satisfaction of these needs by giving more competence and freedom to the employees and treat them with respect and recognition. They can give the employees room to grow. Unfortunately in praxis Maslow’s theory is used under the assumption that the human being is not more than an accumulation of needs and thus the challenge of the superiors consists of indentifying these needs and

exploit the satisfaction of them to push the employees to more effort and to a better fulfilling of the company’s goals. This in fact is nothing more than manipulation just as Sprenger argues.[54]

2.2.3 Motivation vs. Demotivation

After looking at Maslow’s theory about motivation, which is stamped by traditional psychology, it now will be made a little step forward towards the motivation of employees in particular. Therefore the Motivation-Hygiene-Theory of the American psychologist Frederick Irving Herzberg will be investigated.

This theory is more than adequate because of Herzberg’s work as professor for psychology and later as professor for management[55] links those two sciences to a complete and holistic perception.

Herzberg bases his research on the simple question of, what do employees want from their job.[56] Because all research in the field of motivation of employees is useless without questioning the employees themselves about their needs this approach of Herzberg leads in the right direction.

The incitement for Herzberg to research the motivation of employees can be seen in his opinion that economy always was subject to fluctuations such as unemployment, crises and recession (This cognition, affirmed by macroeconomic research, additionally gets verified by the existence of an institute that was founded just to investigate these economic cycles with its up’s and down’s.[57] ).

For Herzberg the most important fact therefore is that there are always good times and bad times according to above mentioned cycles, but employees’ attitude towards their jobs will remain the same through all economical cycles.[58]

If this point of view can be completely verified has to be discussed. Because as figured out in chapter 2.2.2[59] of the thesis employees’ fear of losing employment can lead them to have less demands on their work situation than they may have when they do not fear losing employment. As this fear usually is growing in times of economical crisis, it can be argued that thus these cycles do influence employees’ attitude towards their jobs.

The correctness of Herzberg’s point of view can be assessed by looking on Maslow’s theory about the need of security.[60] It states that in case of urgent need of security, all other needs and demands will take a back seat. In comparison to Herzberg’s idea therefore it can be said, that of course external situations can influence employees attitude towards their job, but only in the way that negative things may be are more accepted in times of huge fear about losing employment than in normal times. So it is kind of the lesser evil when job situation is bad than having no job at all.

Nevertheless, one can say that a negative work situation always does influence employee’s motivation and even their productivity. Herzberg bases this on studies where employees had to note down periods when they had bad feelings or good feelings and additionally when accidents occurred. The finding was that in times of bad feeling the number of accidents largely raised.[61]

As superiors are driven by the challenge to get effective and productive employees this finding already shows that they should rather try to avoid bad feelings among their employees than trying to motivate them.

A similar perception is made by Sprenger which states that every employee is motivated. When an employee does not do a good job, he got demotivated by outside factors and thus superiors are forced to investigate these factors and avoid them.[62]

To get an explicit view of what employees want from their job Herzberg chooses a kind of semi-structured interview to question the employees about their situation. The people were asked to tell about times in which they had positive or negative feelings about their job and which special events were responsible for that.

Instead of asking accurately defined questions where the people are limited and bordered in their answers and some might be pushed in a certain direction of answering, this form of interview offers the respondents the possibility to talk in their own words. For Herzberg the advantage of this is that the respondents tell things they want to tell and thus seem to be important for them.[63]

Because of asking after work situations and the resulting feelings also in Herzberg’s modus operandi the thinking of processes can be seen just as mentioned in the chapter of Maslow and the chapter of the cultural influence on motivation. This aggregation of evidences showing motivation as embedded in several processes of cause and effect meanwhile leads to the conclusion that the argumentation until now follows the right direction.

During the analysis of these interviews the different reports were assorted in terms of intensity, endurance and if they are positive or negative. Out of this the so called First-Level-Factors were identified which were marked by the respondents as special actions or events that were responsible for their feelings (for example when the employee was promoted). The second step was the identification of the so called Second-Level-Factors. These factors are seen as the reason for the respondents why the accordant First-Level-Factors led to a certain feeling (when the employee told that he felt recognized by the promotion he got). The third step consisted in looking on the effects that were caused by these First- and Second-Level-Factors. Therefore on productivity, interpersonal relationships and even mental health was focused.[64]

To break the findings down to a few specific points Herzberg and his team sorted the First-Level-Factors according to the definitions: recognition, achievement,

possibility of growth, advancement, salary, interpersonal relations, supervision-technical, responsibility, company policy and administration, working conditions, work itself, factors in personal life, status and job security.[65]

According to that, the Second-Level-Factors were sorted after the feelings of: recognition, achievement, possibility of growth, group feelings, interest in job performance, status, security, fairness, pride and salary.[66]

A first result found out by Herzberg is that achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility and advancement were mentioned the most in the interviews. This leads to the finding that the most mentioned factors all concentrate on the job itself as Herzberg mentions: doing the job, liking the job, success in doing the job, recognition for doing the job and professional growth. These factors are seen as satisfiers which are able to positively increase employees’ attitudes towards their job. Together with this Herzberg found out that the factors which are not able to be satisfier all have to do with the job surrounding just as the working place or the general external situation in the company.[67]

This relatively small portion out of all factors is responsible for highly positive feelings about the job and these positive feelings are proportionally long-lasting. In adding the results of the analysis of the Second-Level-Factors, it shows that personal growth and self-actualization are the key factors for positive feelings in the job situation. On the other hand the factors company-policy and administration are seen as the most responsible factors for negative feelings towards the job. Here in special ineffectiveness in the working organisation and bad logistics in common are mentioned as well as unfairness, relationship with superiors and the functional ability of the superiors.[68]

The effects resulting out of these factors are different in their occurrence and intensity just as the interviewed people are individually different. Nevertheless Herzberg found tendencies that led to the conclusion that negative job experiences influence employees’ attitude towards the job, the superiors and the company and finally negatively can be seen in terms of performance and mental health. In summary Herzberg shows that the attitude towards the job is very important because it is closely linked with productivity and stability. Furthermore, it is stated that the effects on work caused by positive feelings are much stronger in praxis than the effects caused by negative feelings. In addition, therefore it also has to be stated that negative events which occur in the company are sensed by employees as more long-lasting and more intensive than positive events.[69]

An example is given in Herzberg’s work, where an interviewed employee said that he just put out some personal effort out of his work because of the negative relationship towards his superior. He reported that he just did the work as it has to be done and the result was rather average than really good, as it was at the time where the employee put all his talent and effort in the job.[70]

This fact is very interesting in combination with the findings of Maslow and Sprenger. By keeping in mind the need of security, people have and the subsequent resulting actions, it is not astonishing that people in bad mood will just put their effort down to a minimum where the working results are in quality not more and not less than the minimal demanded. This can be explained by the fact that people avoid things that could assault their security and thus they will not do bad work because this could affect the security of their employment. They just avoid more effort than necessary and this leads to the fact that the quality of work just is average as demanded but never extraordinary good.[71]

Also the mentioned findings of chapter 2.1.2, in which an employee is mentioned who just acts as a clock-watcher because of his deep frustration, can be seen one-to-one in this finding of Herzberg.[72] Again this development is very dangerous for the superiors and the company. As employees just do the minimum of work just as they should for the superiors everything seems to be alright because the employee does the work and does not attract [ Author’s note: for the superiors eye negative] attention. The huge mass of unused potential of the employee and the negative influences on employees’ life and health the negative job situation have are just not recognized by the superiors.


[1] Cf. Motivation in Google.

[2] Cf. Motivation, training in Google.

[3] Cf. N.U., Approval.

[4] Cf. Last, Jonathan V., TV for Tots.

[5] Sprenger, Reinhard K., Mythos, p. 12.

[6] Cf. ebenda, p. 20.

[7] Cf. ebenda, p. 21.

[8] N.U.: Eisenhower.

[9] Cf. Sprenger, Reinhard K., Mythos, p.22.

[10] Cf. ebenda, p.24.

[11] Cf. ebenda, p.26 ff..

[12] Cf. ebenda, p. 258.

[13] Cf. Munro, Donald, Levels and Processes, p. 3.

[14] Cf. Munro, Donald, Levels and Processes, p. 5.

[15] Cf. ebenda, p. 6.

[16] Cf. Senge, Peter M., Fifth Discipline, p. 63.

[17] Please compare therefore Munro, Donald, Levels and Processes, p. 7 ff.

[18] Cf. Munro, Donald, Levels and Processes, p. 13.

[19] Cf. Smith-Spark, Laura, Germans.

[20] Cf. Tiede, Jennifer, Image der Deutschen.

[21] Cf. Kao, Henry S.R. and Sek-Hong, Ng, WMAC, p. 120.

[22] Cf. also the argumentation of Sprenger in chapter 2.1.2.

[23] Cf. Kao, Henry S.R. and Sek-Hong, Ng, WMAC, p. 121.

[24] Cf. Lowe, Sid, Chinese Culture, p. 5 – 8.

[25] Cf. Kao, Henry S.R. and Sek-Hong, Ng, WMAC, p. 122 – 124.

[26] Cf. Kao, Henry S.R. and Sek-Hong, Ng, WMAC, p. 127.

[27] Cf. Cappelli, Peter, Singh, Harbir, Singh, Jitendra, et.al., India, p. 286 – 287.

[28] Cf. Miller, Joan G., Duty, p. 178 – 179.

[29] Cf. Miller, Joan G., Duty, p. 187.

[30] The needs of the people will be discovered more detailed in chapter 2.2.2.

[31] Cf. Maslow, Abraham H., Persönlichkeit, p. 46.

[32] Cf. ebenda, p. 49 and p. 82 - 83.

[33] Cf. Chapter 2.1.2, Sprenger about motivation and manipulation on page 9 of the thesis.

[34] Cf. Maslow, Abraham H., Persönlichkeit, p. 62 - 64.

[35] Cf. Arguments of Donald Munro about motivation in cultural settings, p. 12 - 13.

[36] Cf. Maslow, Abraham H., Persönlichkeit, p. 64 - 65.

[37] Cf. N.U., Matthew.

[38] Cf. Maslow, Abraham H., Persönlichkeit, p. 68 - 69.

[39] Cf. Jonathan, Simon, Crime, p. 6.

[40] Cf. Brzezinski, Zbigniew, War on Terror.

[41] Cf. Klaidman, Daniel, Terror.

[42] Cf. Jefferson, Tom, Pandemic.

[43] Please compare with p. 8 - 11.

[44] Cf. Maslow, Abraham H., Persönlichkeit, p. 70-71.

[45] Cf. ebenda, p. 72 - 73.

[46] Cf. Maslow, Abraham H., Persönlichkeit, p. 73 – 74.

[47] Cf. ebenda, p. 129 – bullet point 9.

[48] Cf. ebenda, p. 128 – bullet point 3.

[49] Cf. Gutenschwager, Gerald A., Social Science, p. 231

[50] Cf. Boeree, C. George, Maslow, p. 9.

[51] Cf. Maslow, Abraham H., Persönlichkeit, p. 79 - 81

[52] Cf. ebenda, p. 82.

[53] Cf. ebenda, p. 128 – bullet point 4 and 6.

[54] Cf. Sprenger, Reinhard K., Mythos, p. 47 – 53.

[55] Cf. N.U., Frederick Herzberg.

[56] Cf. Herzberg, Frederick, Motivation, p. 6.

[57] Cf. N.U., ECRI.

[58] Cf. Cf. Herzberg, Frederick, Motivation, p. Preface xxii.

[59] Please see p. 23.

[60] See p. 23 ff. in this thesis.

[61] Cf. Herzberg, Frederick, Motivation, p. 13.

[62] Cf. Sprenger, Reinhard K., Mythos, p. 205.

[63] Cf. Herzberg, Frederick, Motivation, p. 14 – 17.

[64] Cf. ebenda, p. 28.

[65] Cf. Herzberg, Frederick, Motivation, p. 44 – 49.

[66] Cf. ebenda, p. 50.

[67] Cf. ebenda, p. 63.

[68] Cf. ebenda, p. 69 – 73.

[69] Cf. Sprenger, Reinhard K., Mythos, p. 220.

[70] Cf. Herzberg, Frederick, Motivation, p. 84 – 96.

[71] Cf. findings of Maslow in chapter 2.2.2 on p. 23 - 24.

[72] Cf. findings of Sprenger in chapter 2.1.2 on p. 10.

Excerpt out of 129 pages


Employees’ Motivation and its Origins
How Cooperation with Employees can Improve Business Success
University of Cooperative Education Villingen-Schwenningen  (Mittelständische Wirtschaft)
Strategic Management
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
1456 KB
Management, Personalführung, HR, Burnout, Depression, Leadership, Motivation, Teambuilding, Personalwirtschaft, Vorgesetzter, Success, Erfolg, Mitarbeiterzufriedenheit
Quote paper
Daniel Tschater (Author), 2010, Employees’ Motivation and its Origins, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/289143


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Employees’ Motivation and its Origins

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free