This theory (Vroom, 1964) has on organisational

This essay will discuss and analyse the implications,
benefits and limitations the expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964) has on
organisational practices. The essay will first define motivation and then move
on to­ defining the chosen process theory before scrutinizing its effectiveness
and restrictions when put into practise within the work place. Industries such
as the cruise line and hotels will be used as examples to show the motives
behind employees and the expectancy theory in action.

Motivation is defined by Bratton et al (2007) as “the
driving force within individuals that affect his/ her direction, intensity and
persistence of voluntary behaviour”. Alternatively, Vroom (1964) defined
motivation as “a product of an individual’s expectancy that a certain effort
will lead to the intended performance, the instrumentality of this performance
in achieving a certain result and the desirability of this result for the
individual, known as valence” (Barba-Sánchez & Atienza-Sahuquillo, 2017:
online). An individual’s motives can influence behaviour within the workplace.
Therefore, it is essential that employers who want to encourage and stimulate
their employees understand their motives on an individual basis. There are many
examples where organisations have failed to motivate their employers. In 2010
Apple came under criticism after their employees started to commit suicide at
their factories in China. Suicide notes revealed that workers were under
immense stress, long workdays and harsh managers who were prone to unkept
promises of benefits (Merchant, 2017). All of which could have been avoided if
Apple and their managers acted in motivating their workers with rewards and
positive recognition, while applying reasonable goals and working hours. To do
this, they could have used the expectancy theory to investigate their workers
motives.

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The expectancy theory was first introduced by Vroom in 1964
and it suggests that individuals will respond to their expectations that
specific behaviours will result in particular outcomes (Robinson, 2006). It has
3 main concepts: valence, instrumentality and expectancy. The multiplication of
these variables creates the force of the individual’s motivation and is expressed
using the following expectancy equation: F = V x I x E (Buchanan &
Huczynski, 2013). Valence is an individual’s value or preference that they have
for an expected outcome (Kroth, 2007). For example, if an employee is
interested in receiving a promotion then he or she might not value other offers
such as additional time off or recognition in comparison. Instrumentality is
the probability that increase in performance will attain valued rewards
(Buchanan & Huczynski, 2013). Therefore, to be motivated the employee must believe
that a promotion is obtainable if the performance expectation is met. Expectancy
is the perceived likelihood that effort will result in wanted performance goals.
This can depend on the individual’s variables including goal difficulty, self-efficacy
and perceived control (Chiang, 2008). For instance, the employee will assess if
they have the required knowledge or skills needed to accomplish a promotion. Instrumentality
and expectancy are both subjective probabilities. If all of three of these
concepts are positive outcomes, the employee will then be motivated and work
hard to obtain their goal.

The expectancy theory is no doubt an important framework
available for organisations and managers to take advantage of. The theory
allows employers to understand what motivates their staff, as well as
increasing their efficiency and setting achievable goals for them to work
towards. There have been numerous studies of the expectancy theory being
implemented within organizational practise. For example, a study by Chiang
(2008) applied the expectancy theory to employee motivation within the hotel
industry. It used data from 289 employees from 56 hotels in the United States.
Expanding on the three concepts, the findings showed that instrumentality and
valence contribute more to motivation than expectancy. Compared to previous
studies, pay rises and promotions are deemed the most motivational for hotel
employees. However, the study illustrated that other motives such as achievements,
challenging work and an increase in responsibility are good incentives.
Therefore, organisations should give recognition, positive feedback and
encouragement, as well as rewarding employees with career growth and pay
increases. In return, hotel employees will be working hard, improving their
performance and enhancing productivity. Nevertheless, there is some limitation
to this data as managers distributed and collected the questionnaires, which
could possibly influence employees’ responses. Also, as motivation is decisive
on an individual perception, adding other variables such as demographic and
personal characteristics could enhance this study further.

Considering the implications the expectancy theory has on
organizational practises, it is important for managers to give attention to a
number of factors. One of the factors is the ability to have clear established
procedures to be able evaluate an individual performance effectively. Managers
should also take advantage of high valance outcomes by using them as an
incentive to work hard. Furthermore, managers should contemplate intervening
variables that could affect performance such as organisational procedures and role
perceptions (Mullins & Christy, 2013).

There are many benefits to the expectancy model as it is
straightforward and easily understood. It has strong support and has been subject
to rigorous academic testing. The approach helps to refocus behaviours and
corporate culture within several organisations (Memary & Wong 2009). The
theory has also helped recognise that each individual has different motives and
their perception on what goal/reward they value differs. For example, an
investigation by Butler and Cantrell (1989) at a state university revealed that
the tenure valence is incredibly higher for assistant professors than for full
professors. This is due to the assistant professors being eligible for
promotion compared to their colleagues who have already made it to the top of
their career ladder.

With the help of the expectancy theory, organisations can avoid
offering rewards employees do not value and put a stop to concentrating on just
financial rewards while ignoring other intrinsic and extrinsic aspects. This
has also led to the use of ‘total rewards’ by organisations. Total rewards account
for everything that has potential value to employees. This includes both extrinsic
and intrinsic rewards such as promotions, experience, work-life balance and
organizational culture (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2013). In the United Kingdom,
a survey by Charted Institute of Personnel and Development (2012) found that
nearly one third of employers have adopted the total reward strategy.

One of the main limitations of Vroom’s expectancy theory is
that it is a perception-based model and doesn’t take into consideration the
individuals abilities, skills, personality and past experience that could
affect the outcome. Critics such as Lawler and Porter (1968) developed the
theory after arguing that it was too simple. They categorised the rewards that
caused motivation as intrinsic and extrinsic. Self-administered positive
feelings caused by completing a task such as job satisfaction and sense of
achievement are known as intrinsic. Where as extrinsic are rewards that are administrated
from the organisation such as pay increases and promotions (Kesselman et al,
1974). This allows for a more in-depth analysis on the motivation influencing
the individual.

There is also some criticism regarding the fact that expectancy
and instrumentality can be deceived as conceptually equivalent due to them both
referring to a relationship between two variables. As explained by Chiang
(2008) “expectancy is the relationship between effort and performance, while
instrumentality is the relationship between performance and job outcomes”. As
well as this, the theory makes a broad assumption that all employees act purely
out of self-interest, rather than the possibility of them being a team player
regardless of the reward. This causes the employer to over look the incentive
of team work as a motivational tool.

Many different companies have adopted techniques and tools
for motivating their staff. For example, there has been academic research
surrounding the cruise industry and how crew members motives differ. A study by
Sehkaran and Sevcikova (2011) interviewed a sample of sixteen people from
various countries to obtain information surrounding their motivation and
experiences of working for a cruise line. The study showed that most employees
were motivated by the money-saving opportunity as they didn’t need to spend
money on rent and food. Most of the employers received a range of benefits
including accommodation, traveling expenses and health care. The opportunity to
travel and explore new places was also a strong intrinsic motivator.

Viking Cruises have put this information into practise by
rewarding their employees for hard work, initiative and sense of
responsibility. They also have opportunities for employees to enhance their
skills by attending their training programme ‘Viking College’. Furthermore, as
travel is one of the main motives for cruise ship employees, Viking Cruise have
expressed that working for them is “combining your love for travel with the
ability to move up in your career”. It is evident that this has been a success
as 80% of their employees come back to them for more work (Viking Cruises, 2016:
online). While Viking Cruises might not have directly applied the expectancy
theory, there is some aspects of it being used. For instance, they understand
their employee motives (valance) and offer both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards
including opportunity to travel and promotion. However, the crew members need
to be aware that these rewards are obtainable for the outcome to positive and
for them to be motivated to work towards their goals. Furthermore, the value of
the rewards may change over a period of time, so it is important for it to be
monitored.

To conclude this essay, it is evident that the expectancy
theory is an effective tool to examine motivation and has provided many benefits
to businesses. The use of the expectancy theory has led to advantages such as
understanding what motivates employees on an individual basis. By offering valuable
rewards to employees, it can increase the organisations productivity and achieve
higher levels of output. However, there are prominent disadvantages such as not
taking into consideration other contributing factors such as personality or
past experiences and the assumption that all employees act out of self-interest.
Overall, the expectancy theory is straightforward and has been used effectively
in both academic studies and organisations worldwide.