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expectancy theory


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Is a theory of motivation that seeks to identify the conditions necessary for worker motivation to occur. Expectancy theory is rooted in cognitive psychology and is frequently classified as a ‘process’ theory of motivation. It originates in the work of Victor Vroom, who identified three conditions for motivation to occur: valency, instrumentality, and expectancy. In basic terms what this means is that for a reward system to motivate employees it must offer rewards which are valued, and there must be a predictable link between the employee's input and the measure of performance and a further link between the performance measure and the reward available. The practical significance of the theory lies in the lessons that can be derived for the design of incentive systems. Thus, it may be important that these offer substantial incentive payments, make use of performance indicators which are fully under the employee's control, and operate in a transparent manner, such that a change in behaviour which leads to higher performance necessarily leads to higher rewards.

Subjects: Human Resource Management.


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