Compare and Contrast Expectancy and Goal Setting Theories of Work Motivation. Which Do You Find the More Useful and Why?

1384 Words Mar 9th, 2013 6 Pages
Compare and contrast expectancy and goal setting theories of work motivation. Which do you find the more useful and why?

Two of the best known approaches to work motivation are the expectancy theory introduced by Victor Vroom (1964) and the goal-setting theory introduced by Edwin A. Locke (1968). Both of these theories have garnered support from subsequent empirical research and have proved influential in how companies motivate their workers through incentive schemes and objective-setting exercises. As their original authors admitted, however, both also have some limitations and they also have contrasting implications in some respects. In particular, expectancy theory might suggest that setting very difficult goals may de-motivate
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He also recognised that greater task complexity could make the link between goal-setting and performance less strong since complex tasks may involve trading off various different goals and because fewer people may have the skills to achieve difficult goals in complex task. People without these skills may just become discourage and put in less efforts if they are set overly challenging goals for complex tasks that they may have little chance of achieving. Comparison of two theories
The theories have some similarities in terms of focusing on understanding the thought processes that workers go through when determining how much effort to put in and how to behave at work more generally. Expectancy theory assumes a rational evaluation by workers of the link between effort, performance and reward, similar to the approach of mainstream economic theory, which models people as expected utility maximisers. Goal-setting theory allows for some such rational evaluation, but it also allows for less rational behavioural factors such as the simple act of setting a target influencing behaviour.
The main empirical difference between the theories relates to the fact that expectance theory would suggest that setting a tougher target would tend to reduce effort (for a given level of reward) since the
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