• Victor Vroom was a Canadian management psychologist who proposed the expectancy theory of motivation.
  • His expectancy theory was developed in the 1930s
  • His theory suggests that an individual’s behaviour is determined by their perception of the link between effort, performance, and outcome.
  • The expectancy theory can be summarised as follows: Effort → Performance → Outcome
  • His theory is based on the following key concepts:
    • Effort: The level of energy that an individual is willing to exert to achieve a particular goal.
      • The effort-performance linkage: individuals must believe that increased effort will lead to improved performance.
      • Managers can increase expectancy by providing training and resources to help employees improve their skills.
      • The perception of equity and fairness in rewards also affects expectancy.
    • Performance: The extent to which an individual achieves their goals.
    • Outcome: The result that an individual receives for achieving their goals.
    • Expectancy: The belief that effort will lead to a desired level of performance.
    • Instrumentality: The belief that performance will lead to a specific outcome.
      • The performance-outcome linkage: individuals must believe that improved performance will lead to desired outcomes.
      • Managers can increase instrumentality by providing clear communication about the relationship between performance and outcomes, and ensuring that rewards are tied to performance.
    • Valence: The value that an individual places on a particular outcome.
      • The value placed on the outcome by the individual: individuals must perceive the outcome as desirable in order to be motivated.
      • Managers can increase valence by understanding the needs and values of their employees, and tailoring rewards to meet those needs.
  • In coming up with the theory Vroom made three key assumptions:
    • Individuals make choices based on their expectations of achieving desired outcomes.
    • Individuals are rational and will choose the option that they believe will lead to the best outcome for them.
    • Individuals have different goals and values, which affect their motivation.

Implications for management:

  • Managers should focus on increasing expectancy, instrumentality, and valence to improve motivation and performance.
  • Managers should ensure that rewards are tied to performance and that employees understand the relationship between performance and outcomes.
  • Managers should understand the needs and values of their employees and tailor rewards to meet those needs.
  • Managers should provide training and resources to help employees improve their skills and increase their belief in the effort-performance linkage.
  • Managers should ensure that rewards are perceived as fair and equitable to increase expectancy.

Strengths of Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

  • Vroom’s theory takes into account the cognitive processes that underlie motivation, which is important in understanding human behaviour.
  • It recognizes the importance of individual differences in motivation, as each individual may have different perceptions of effort, performance, and outcomes.
  • It provides a framework for understanding how motivation is influenced by the environment, such as the availability of resources and the support of management.
  • It emphasizes the importance of clear communication and feedback in promoting motivation.
  • It is applicable in a variety of settings, including the workplace, education, and personal goals.

Weaknesses of Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

  • It can be difficult to accurately measure an individual’s perceptions of effort, performance, and outcomes.
  • It assumes that individuals are rational decision-makers, which may not always be the case. It may not fully capture the complexity of motivation, as other factors such as personality, emotions, and social context can also influence behaviour.
  • It may not be applicable in all cultural settings, as some cultures may prioritize group goals over individual goals.
  • It may not address the intrinsic motivation that individuals may have for certain tasks, such as the enjoyment of the task itself.

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