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Understanding Relationship Between Motivation and Performance Essay

Motivation plays an important role in shaping the quality of our performances in achieving our goals and ambitions. Business Dictionary refers to motivation as “internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested in and committed to a job, role, or subject, and to exert persistent effort in attaining a goal” (Business Dictionary, 2011). I studied Business Administration for my bachelor’s degree and am now taking up Masters in Business Administration in the United Kingdom. A particular event in my past has greatly impacted my current performance and behavior in terms of being a top achiever in my chosen field. Three (3) years ago in March 2008, I had participated in the Olympiad for the mathematics category in Kyiv Ukraine.

There were one hundred-sixty (160) students from various places who participated in the competition. I was among these students representing my own country, Azerbaijan. Hard work and dedication paid off when I passed and finished all eight (8) stages of the competition and won a gold medal. When my country’s flag was raised high on the sky because of the victory I had brought upon I felt proud to have contributed to Azerbaijan’s pride. The best part is the competition and victory served as a valuable tool in motivating me to produce the best performance I can give in all aspects of my life. This paper aims to evaluate key factors that contributed to how I am motivated to perform tasks in life using organizational behavior theories. Furthermore, I will be demonstrating how my experiences helped me understand the relationship between motivation and performance.

In accomplishing any given task, goal setting is very important because it gives direction to individuals on what they are expected to do. Concerning motivation, according to Robert Swezey, Zach Meltzer and Jimmy Salas difficult but specific goals increase an individual’s performance (Locke et al., 1994, p.146). Examining the behavioral effects of goal setting, 90% of laboratory and field studies relating to precise and demanding goals resulted in superior performance than did easy or no goals (1981, pp.125-152). Studies by Gary Latham and Edwin Locke show that the significance of setting goals affects performances by focusing an individual’s attention towards activities which are relevant to the goals, goals also serve as energizers, they affect an individual’s persistence and activate cognitive knowledge and strategies (2002, pp.705-717).

In my experience many months before the Olympiad competition day, my trainers and I have set a goal of winning for Azerbaijan. Whenever I plan my day I set goals beforehand so as not to waste time and energy. Maslow’s theory of hierarchy needs demonstrates that human beings’ desires are drafted in a pyramid with physiological, the most fundamental for human survival, is the most basic, occupies the pyramid base, the next level is safety which pertains to security and health and well being, followed by love and belongingness, then esteem and lastly self-actualization (1943, pp.370-396). Marslow shows that before an individual desire the secondary or higher level needs the most basic level must first be met. Clayton Alderfer classified Maslow’s theory and came up with the Existence, Relatedness, and Growth (ERG) theory. He categorized physiological and safety under the existing group, love and esteem in the relatedness group, and self-actualization in the growth group (1969, pp.142-175).

Alderfer further explained that “when needs in a higher category are not met, individuals redouble the efforts invested in a lower category need” (1972). From my past to present I can attest to both theories of Maslow and Alderfer that my desire for needs is hierarchical. I start my day fulfilling physiological needs; I eat, drink, and sleep to function. My need for safety, love, and belongingness shape my self-esteem and confidence. Once all these lower leveled factors are satisfied I further seek growth. Alderfer observed in human behavior that by not being able to meet higher category needs, people, including me, tend to invest more efforts on lower category needs, but in my case, not all the time. For example, when I fail to attain the feeling of love and belongingness in a new environment I work hard to pursue such rather than concentrating on safety. According to Frederick Herzberg et. al. (1959), in motivation-hygiene theory, job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are caused by different factors separately. He referred to job satisfiers as motivators and dissatisfiers as hygiene because they are maintenance factors that do not provide employee satisfaction (1959).

Herzberg identified achievement, recognition, work, responsibility, advancement, and growth as satisfiers and company policy, supervision, relationship with superiors, work conditions, salary peer relationships, and security as dissatisfiers. The two (2) categories are completely different (1964, pp.3-7). This theory is related to Maslow’s because Herberg’s satisfiers are the same as those mentioned in Maslow’s pyramid. The fifth theory discussed in class is Victor Vroom’s Expectancy theory. Vroom states that “a person will decide to behave or act in a certain way because they are motivated to select a specific behavior over other behaviors due to what they expect the result of that selected behavior will be” (Oliver, 1974, pp.243-253). In this aspect, individuals choose to be motivated in doing something because of their expectation of gaining something they desire. This holds for almost everyone I know including me. For example, I joined the Olympiad because I wanted to attain growth in the process of training but also I wanted to serve my country by winning the gold medal. This has provided a great impact on how I make decisions today. I decided to take up my master’s degree because I wanted to be competent in the world of business. The expectancy theory:

“emphasizes the needs for organizations to relate rewards directly to performance and to ensure that the rewards provided are those rewards deserved and wanted by the recipients” (Montana et. al., 2008).

Lastly, John Stacey Adam’s theory of equity explains that in the workplace employees demand fair treatment in the distribution of resources which affects interpersonal relationships (1965, pp.335-343). Unfair distribution may lead to dissatisfaction of workers in the environment. In my everyday activity, students expect professors to see everyone equally without biases especially in giving out grades. I, for one, am a believer of equal and fair judgment and unfair treatment in a given environment would result in discouragement.

Winning in the Olympiad has been a great motivator. It trained me in the field of goal setting and achievement. When an individual is motivated he performs better. Many factors contribute to motivation. Performance is the result of good motivation.


Adams, J 1965, ‘Inequality in Social Exchange’, Social Psychology, vol. 62, pp. 335-343.

Alderfer, C 1969, ‘An Empirical Test of a New Theory of Human Needs’, Organizational Behaviour and Human Performance, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 142-175.

Alderfer, C 1972, Existence, Relatedness, and Growth: Human Needs in Organizational Settings, Free Press, New York.

Business Dictionary, 2011. Motivation. [online]. Web.

Herzberg,F 1964, ‘The Motivation-Hygiene Concept and Problems of Manpower’, Personnel Administration, Spring Issue, pp. 3-7.

Herzberg, F 1959, ‘Work and the Nature of Man’ in The Motivation to Work, eds F Herzberg, John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Latham, G and Locke, E 2002, ‘Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation’, The American Psychologist, vol. 57, no. 9, pp. 705-717.

Locke, E, Shaw, K, Saari, L and Latham, G 1981, ‘Goal Setting and Task Performance: 1969 – 1980’, Psychological Bulletin, vol. 90 no. 1, pp. 125-153.

Maslow, A 1943, ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’, Psychological Review, vol. 50 no. 4, pp. 370-396.

Montana, P and Charnov, B 2008, Management, Barron’s Educational Series Inc., New York.

Oliver, R 1974, ‘Expectancy Theory Predictions of Salesmen’s Performance’, Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 11, pp. 243-253.

Swezey, R, Meltzer, Z and Salas, J 1994, ‘Some Issues Involved in Motivating Teams’ in Motivation: Theory and Research, eds H O’Neil and M Drillings, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New Jersey, p.146.

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