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Psicologia USP

versão On-line ISSN 1678-5177


PEREZ-RAMOS, Juan. Work motivation: theoretical approaches. Psicol. USP [online]. 1990, vol.1, n.2, pp. 127-140. ISSN 1678-5177.

The paper consists of a concise review of the main contemporary theoretic approaches on motivation in work organizations. These theoretic approaches are grouped into "content theories" and "process theories". The theories of the first group ("content theories") are based in the assumption that the human behavior has its ground in an unconscious psychophysical disposition. Individuals not always conscious of all their desires an needs; therefore, the motivational phenomenon is seen as resulting from unknown forces even to the individual himself. The "process theories" are based in the tenet that major determinants of the human behavior are the beliefs, expectations and anticipations that individuals have concerning future events. Behavioral motivations are seen as purposeful and goal directed, based on conscious intentions. In the context of such dichotomy are examined the following approaches: first, the "contents theories"; Maslow's Need Hierarchy Theory; Theory X and Theory Y (McGregor); Two-factor Theory: Motivation-Hygiene (Herzberg); Power, affiliation and achievement Theory (McClelland); E. R. G. (Existence-Relatedness-Growth), Theory (Alderfer), and Theory Z (Ouchi). Second, the "process theories": Social Comparison Theory (Festinger); Equity Theory (Adams); Expectancy Valence (VIE) Theory (Vroom); Goal Setting and Cognitive Theory (Locke); Performance-Satisfaction Theory (Porter & Lawler); Attribution Theories: Causal Attribution Theory (Kelly), Cognitive Estimate Theory (Heider) and Self-perception Theory (Bern). This review points out the increasing interest on the topic in work motivation, both on the academical environment and also in the organizations. The creation, of a stimulating, productive and satisfactory work environment can be benefical for both management and employees. However, the main role of this process belongs to the managers, because of their influence in determining the characteristic of the performance environment. Important implications can be drawn from the theoretical reviewed. Their value lies in their capacity to render sensitive both to researchers and managers on specific factors and processes of the motivational approaches that can have an important bearing on the behavior of people at work.

Palavras-chave : Employee motivation; Job satisfaction; Employee attitudes; Industrial psychology.

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