In an organizational context, motivation can bedefined as the psychological characteristics that guide and stimulate the humanbehaviour in order to generate voluntary actions aligned with the organizationsgoals. Scholars tried to tailor the motivation definition differently, thus wecan find multiple definitions in the organization literature. Nevertheless, allthese definitions shared three main aspects that turn around factors thatstimulate, channel, and prolong human behaviour through time (Steers et al., 2004).Lakhani and Wolf (2005), Lakhani and Von Hippel (2003)and Lemer and Tirole (2004) distinguished between two components of motivationrelated to intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
The former relies on internalfactors or deep-rooted desires within the human nature, such as self-esteem,personal satisfaction, acceptance, curiosity… The latter relies on external factorsthat serve as stimuli that trigger motivation, such as rewards, bonuses, andbenefit packages. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, manypractitioners and scholars tried to determine the factors that enhanceemployees’ motivation within organizations.Theearliest perceptions of motivation One of the pioneerresearchers in the field of employees’ motivation is Frederick Winslow Taylor.
Through his scientific management theory, Taylor (1911) claims that in order tomotivate employees and enhance their performance, the organization should adopta paternalistic style of management. Taylor is an adept of “the one best way”approach, thus he claims that workers are “economic men” and the only way to guaranteetheir motivation is to link their level of productivity to the wage rate; thehigher is the wage rate, the higher is the motivation and thus the level ofproductivity (Taylor, 1911).Elton Mayo (1953) brought into light a new approach ofemployees’ motivation based on human relations. For Elton Mayo, employees arenot only interested in monetary rewards, but they also require understanding,recognition, respect, and consideration. Therefore, social needs play animportant role in triggering employees’ motivation and enhancing performance.McGregor (1960) came up with theory X and Y.
Thistheory describes two different attitudes toward work. Theory X claims thatworkers are lazy by nature and that they reject work, unless if they are forcedto do so. For this reason organizations should adopt and autocratic style ofmanagement. At the opposite, theory Y assumes that people enjoy work and thatthey have intrinsic motivation, therefore, they are voluntary willing to workand meet the organization objectives without any external control.