Category Archives: HRD

Three-Dimensional Theory of Attribution

Attribution Theory explains how we attach meaning to our own, and other people’s, behaviour. There are a number of theories about attribution.

Bernard Weiner’s Three-Dimensional theory of attribution assumes that people try to determine why we do what we do. According to Weiner, the reasons we attribute to our behaviour can influence how we behave in the future.

For example, a student who fails an exam could attribute their failure to a number of factors and it’s this attribution that will affect their motivation in the future.

Weiner theorised that specific attributions (e.g. bad luck, not studying hard enough) were less important than the characteristics of that attribution. According to Weiner, there are three main characteristics of attributions that can affect future motivation.

1. Stability – how stable is the attribution? For example, if the student believes they failed the exam because they weren’t smart enough, this is a stable factor. An unstable factor is less permanent, such as being ill.

According to Weiner, stable attributions for successful achievements, such as passing exams, can lead to positive expectations, and thus higher motivation, for success in the future.

However, in negative situations, such as failing the exam, stable attributions can lead to lower expectations in the future.

2. Locus of control – was the event caused by an internal or an external factor?

For example, if the student believes it’s their own fault they failed the exam, because they are innately not smart enough (an internal cause), they may be less motivated in the future. If they believed an external factor was to blame, such as poor teaching, they may not experience such a drop in motivation.

3. Controllability – how controllable was the situation? If an individual believes they could have performed better, they may be less motivated to try again in the future than someone who believes they failed because of factors outside of their control.

How to apply it to the workplace

Weiner’s Three-Dimensional theory of attribution has implications for employee feedback.

Make sure you give your employees specific feedback, letting them know that you know they can improve and how they can about it. This, in theory, will help prevent them from attributing their failure to an innate lack of skill and see that success is controllable if they work harder or use different strategies.

You could also praise your employees for showing an improvement, even if the outcome was still not correct. For example, you might praise someone for using the correct methodology even though the results weren’t what you wanted. This way, you are encouraging employees to attribute the failure to controllable factors, which again, can be improved upon in the future.

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Posted by on November 21, 2019 in MBA


Porter and Lawler’s Expectancy Theory:

In fact, Porter and Lawler’s theory is an improvement over Vroom’s expectancy theory. They posit that motivation does not equal satisfaction or performance. The model suggested by them encounters some of the simplistic traditional assumptions made about the positive relationship between satisfaction and performance. They proposed a multi-variate model to explain the complex relationship that exists between satisfaction and performance.

What is the main point in Porter and Lawler’s model is that effort or motivation does not lead directly to performance. It is intact, mediated by abilities and traits and by role perceptions. Ultimately, performance leads to satisfaction,. The same is depicted in the following Fig 17.4.

The Porter and Lawler Motivation Model

There are three main elements in this model. Let us briefly discuss these one by one.


Effort refers to the amount of energy an employee exerts on a given task. How much effort an employee will put in a task is determined by two factors-

(i) Value of reward and

(ii) Perception of effort-reward probability.


One’s effort leads to his/her performance. Both may be equal or may not be. However the amount of performance is determined by the amount of labour and the ability and role perception of the employee. Thus, if an employee possesses less ability and/or makes wrong role perception, his/her performance may be low in spite of his putting in great efforts.


Performance leads to satisfaction. The level of satisfaction depends upon the amount of rewards one achieves. If the amount of actual rewards meet or exceed perceived equitable rewards, the employee will feel satisfied. On the country, if actual rewards fall short of perceived ones, he/she will be dissatisfied.

Rewards may be of two kinds—intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Examples of intrinsic rewards are such as sense of accomplishment and self-actualisation. As regards extrinsic rewards, these may include working conditions and status. A fair degree of research support that, the intrinsic rewards are much more likely to produce attitudes about satisfaction that are related to performance.

There is no denying of the fact that the motivation model proposed by Porter and Lawler is quite complex than other models of motivation. In fact motivation itself is not a simple cause-effect relationship rather it is a complex phenomenon Porter and Lawler have attempted to measure variables such as the values of possible rewards, the perception of effort-rewards probabilities and role perceptions in deriving satisfaction.

They recommended that the managers should carefully reassess their reward system and structure. The effort-performance-reward-satisfaction should be made integral to the entire system of managing men in organisation.

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Posted by on November 21, 2019 in MBA


Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

One of the most widely accepted explanations of motivation is offered by Victor Vroom in his Expectancy Theory” It is a cognitive process theory of motivation. The theory is founded on the basic notions that people will be motivated to exert a high level of effort when they believe there are relationships between the effort they put forth, the performance they achieve, and the outcomes/ rewards they receive.

The relationships between notions of effort, performance, and reward are depicted in Figure 17.3

Vroom's Expectancy Model of Motivation

Thus, the key constructs in the expectancy theory of motivation are:

1. Valence:

Valence, according to Vroom, means the value or strength one places on a particular outcome or reward.

2. Expectancy:

It relates efforts to performance.

3. Instrumentality:

By instrumentality, Vroom means, the belief that performance is related to rewards.

Thus, Vroom’s motivation can also be expressed in the form of an equation as follows: Motivation = Valence x Expectancy x Instrumentality

Being the model multiplicative in nature, all the three variables must have high positive values to imply motivated performance choice. If any one of the variables approaches to zero level, the possibility of the so motivated performance also touches zero level.

However, Vroom’s expectancy theory has its critics. The important ones are:

1. Critics like Porter and Lawler lebeled it as a theory of cognitive hedonism which proposes that individual cognitively chooses the course of action that leads to the greatest degree of pleasure or the smallest degree of pain.

2. The assumption that people are rational and calculating makes the theory idealistic.

3. The expectancy theory does not describe individual and situational differences.

But the valence or value people place on various rewards varies. For example, one employee prefers salary to benefits, whereas another person prefers to just the reverse. The valence for the same reward varies from situation to situation.

In spite of all these critics, the greatest point in me expectancy theory is that it explains why significant segment of workforce exerts low levels of efforts in carrying out job responsibilities.

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Posted by on November 21, 2019 in MBA


Argyris’s Theory

Argyris has developed his motivation theory based on proposition how management practices affect the individual behaviour and growth In his view, the seven changes taking place in an individual personality make him/her a mature one. In other words, personality of individual develops

Argyris's Theory

Argyris views that immaturity exists in individuals mainly because of organisational setting and management practices such as task specialisation, chain of command, unity of direction, and span of management. In order to make individuals grow mature, he proposes gradual shift from the existing pyramidal organisation structure to humanistic system; from existing management system to the more flexible and participative management.

He states that such situation will satisfy not only their physiological and safety needs, but also will motivate them to make ready to make more use of their physiological and safety needs. But also will motivate them to make ready to make more use of their potential in accomplishing organisational goals.

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Posted by on November 21, 2019 in MBA


Urwick’s Theory Z:

Much after the propositions of theories X and Y by McGregor, the three theorists Urwick, Rangnekar, and Ouchi-propounded the third theory lebeled as Z theory.

The two propositions in Urwicks’s theory are that:

(i) Each individual should know the organisational goals precisely and the amount of contribution through his efforts towards these goals.

(ii) Each individual should also know that the relation of organisational goals is going to satisfy his/her needs positively.

In Urwick’s view, the above two make people ready to behave positively to accomplish both organisational and individual goals.

However, Ouchi’s Theory Z has attracted the lot of attention of management practitioners as well as researchers. It must be noted that Z does not stand for anything, is merely the last alphabet in the English Language.

Theory Z is based on the following four postulates:

1. Strong Bond between Organisation and Employees

2. Employee Participation and Involvement

3. No Formal Organisation Structure

4. Human Resource Development

Ouchi’s Theory Z represents the adoption of Japanese management practices (group decision making, social cohesion, job security, holistic concern for employees, etc.)by the American companies. In India, Maruti-Suzuki, Hero-Honda, etc., apply the postulates of theory Z.

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Posted by on November 21, 2019 in MBA


McGregor’s Participation Theory

Douglas McGregor formulated two distinct views of human being based on participation of workers. The first basically negative, labeled Theory X, and the other basically positive, labled Theory Y.

Theory X is based on the following assumptions:

1. People are by nature indolent. That is, they like to work as little as possible.

2. People lack ambition, dislike responsibility, and prefer to be directed by others.

3. People are inherently self-centered and indifferent to organisational needs and goals.

4. People are generally gullible and not very sharp and bright.

On the contrary, Theory Y assumes that:

1. People are not by nature passive or resistant to organisational goals.

2. They want to assume responsibility.

3. They want their organisation to succeed.

4. People are capable of directing their own behaviour.

5. They have need for achievement.

What McGregor tried to dramatise through his theory X and Y is to outline the extremes to draw the fencing within which the organisational man is usually seen to behave. The fact remains that no organisational man would actually belong either to theory X or theory Y. In reality, he/she shares the traits of both. What actually happens is that man swings from one set or properties to the other with changes in his mood and motives in changing .environment.

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Posted by on November 21, 2019 in MBA


McClelland’s Need Theory

Another well-known need-based theory of motivation, as opposed to hierarchy of needs of satisfaction-dissatisfaction, is the theory developed by McClelland and his associates’. McClelland developed his theory based on Henry Murray’s developed long list of motives and manifest needs used in his early studies of personality. McClelland’s need-theory is closely associated with learning theory, because he believed that needs are learned or acquired by the kinds of events people experienced in their environment and culture.

He found that people who acquire a particular need behave differently from those who do not have. His theory focuses on Murray’s three needs; achievement, power and affiliation. In the literature, these three needs are abbreviated “n Ach”, “n Pow”, and “n Aff” respectively’.

They are defined as follows:

Need for Achievement:

This is the drive to excel, to achieve in relation to a set of standard, and to strive to succeed. In other words, need for achievement is a behaviour directed toward competition with a standard of excellence. McClelland found that people with a high need for achievement perform better than those with a moderate or low need for achievement, and noted regional / national differences in achievement motivation.

Through his research, McClelland identified the following three characteristics of high-need achievers:

1. High-need achievers have a strong desire to assume personal responsibility for performing a task for finding a solution to a problem.

2. High-need achievers tend to set moderately difficult goals and take calculated risks.

3. High-need achievers have a strong desire for performance feedback.

Need for Power:

The need for power is concerned with making an impact on others, the desire to influence others, the urge to change people, and the desire to make a difference in life. People with a high need for power are people who like to be in control of people and events. This results in ultimate satisfaction to man.

People who have a high need for power are characterized by:

1. A desire to influence and direct somebody else.

2. A desire to exercise control over others.

3. A concern for maintaining leader-follower relations.

Need for Affiliation:

The need for affiliation is defined as a desire to establish and maintain friendly and warm relations with other people’. The need for affiliation, in many ways, is similar to Maslow’s social needs.

The people with high need for affiliation have these characteristics:

1. They have a strong desire for acceptance and approval from others.

2. They tend to conform to the wishes of those people whose friendship and companionship they value.

3. They value the feelings of others.

Three Need Theories of Motivation

Figure 17.2 is a summary chart of the three need theories of motivation just discussed. The chart shows the parallel relationship between the needs in each of the theories. Maslow refers to higher- lower order needs, whereas Herzberg refers to motivation and hygiene factors.

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Posted by on November 21, 2019 in MBA