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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Review: Work and Motivation by Victor Vroom


Work and Motivation by Victor Vroom is a paradigm shifting book that looks at the human motivation within the workplace through both an individual and group based lens. For managers who are seeking methods of improving on worker motivation the book is not one that should be passed up without a thorough read.  It provides keen insight on the potential, nature, and limitations of employee motivation. 

The book attempts to summarize the findings of industrial psychologists and research related to human motivation within the workplace. The work focused on three areas:

1.       The choices made by persons among work roles.
2.       The extent of their satisfaction with their chosen work roles
3.       The level of their performance or effectiveness in their chosen work roles. 

Vroom makes the assertion that there are two types of determinants of attitudes which include 1.) The cognized utility of the attitude toward attaining particular outcomes; and, 2.) The intensity and nature of the affect expected from the outcomes. In essence people will either move toward a particular outcome or avoid a particular outcome based upon how they mentally weight and judge information to make a final decision. It is these decisions and expected outcomes that the expectancy theory is developed.

Expectancy theory makes the assumption that worker motivation is a result of how much a worker wants an outcome (valence), the cognitive belief that a certain behavior will lead to a particular outcome (expectancy) and that performance will lead to the particular outcome (valence). Each employee is seen as having needs and scanning their environment to find pathways that are most convenient and efficient in creating needs fulfillment. 

After reading the work you may also come to the conclusion about how important it is for people who work within groups to have positive relationships with their management team if effective improvements in workplace motivation are going to be realized. It is through both their workgroups as well as management relationships that they make certain decisions to engage or not engage the workplace.

One of the necessary conditions for exchange of rewards to occur between persons is some degree of interaction between them.” (Vroom, 1964, pp 138). 

It is hard to create expectations and possible rewards unless there is interaction among organizational members. It is through these interactions that employees determine their potential approaches and opportunities to achieve rewards. Thus, the interactions among the work group and the workers interaction with management influence a significant proportion of people’s decisions.

The book is well written and is scientific in its orientation. It not only proposes the cognitive theory of expectancy but also justifies it through leading research of the day. Even though the book is dated it provides an excellent understanding of the concepts of motivation and satisfaction.  Each aspect of his writing is cited with appropriate references. Such a book should be part of every manager’s and business student’s library.

Vroom, V.  (1964). Work and Motivation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. ISBN 0-7879-0030-0

Price: $35
Pages: 336
Blog Ranking: 4.7 (No age penalty as it is a root theorist).

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