Expectancy Theory

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An employee's performance is based on individual factors. Explanation of Expectancy Theory of Victor Vroom. ('64)


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Expectancy Theory

What is Expectancy Theory? Description

The Expectancy Theory of Victor Vroom deals with motivation and management. Vroom's theory assumes that behavior is a result from conscious choices among alternatives. The purpose of the choices is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Together with Edward Lawler and Lyman Porter, Vroom suggested that the relationship between people's behavior at work and their goals was not as simple as was first imagined by other scientists. Vroom realized that an employee's performance is based on individual factors such as personality, skills, knowledge, experience and abilities.

The expectancy theory says that individuals have different sets of goals and can be motivated if they have certain expectations.

Expectancy Theory expectations

  • There is a positive correlation between efforts and performance,
  • Favorable performance will result in a desirable reward,
  • The reward will satisfy an important need,
  • The desire to satisfy the need is strong enough to make the effort worthwhile.

Vroom's Expectancy Theory is based upon the following three beliefs.

Expectancy Theory beliefs

  1. Valence. Refers to the emotional orientations which people hold with respect to outcomes [rewards]. The depth of the want of an employee for extrinsic [money, promotion, free time, benefits] or intrinsic [satisfaction] rewards. Management must discover what employees appreciate.

  2. Expectancy. Employees have different expectations and levels of confidence about what they are capable of doing. Management must discover what resources, training, or supervision the employees need.

  3. Instrumentality. The perception of employees whether they will actually receive what they desire, even if it has been promised by a manager. Management must ensure that promises of rewards are fulfilled and that employees are aware of that.

Vroom suggests that an employee's beliefs about Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valence interact psychologically. In this way they create a motivational force, such that the employee will act in a way that brings pleasure and avoids pain. This force can be 'calculated' via a formula:

Expectancy Theory formula

Motivation = Valence x Expectancy(Instrumentality).

This formula can be used to indicate and predict things as: job satisfaction, occupational choice, the likelihood of staying in a job, and the effort that one might expend at work.

Expectancy Theory Forum
  Can Perpetual Demotivation Be Reversed?
Demotivation is like the decomposition process, once it has started, the tale-tale signs remains in spite of whatever vigorous process of disinfecting.
Albeit with limited research, the thesis that it is difficult if not impossible to reverse th...
  Human Motivation Lies Within
A human can never be motivated. You can just push a bit and show a way. A person always needs to be self-motivated to perform best and be successful.

We as a company in HR spend a lot of effort on motivation programs and trai...
  Extended Version of the Expectancy Theory (Lambright)
Lambright (2010) addresses an important weakness of the expectancy theory: it makes no distinction between certainty and uncertainty conditions. Indeed, the expectancy theory does not take into account the cases in which there is uncertainty o...
  Creative Chaos is Conducive to Motivation
When one considers motivation in business organizational terms and politics, the first thing that comes to mind is monetary. Stick-and-carrot.
But taking a more holistic view, I believe motivation is a by-product of human nature liberated from t...
  Motivation is Owned by the Individual
Motivation is a slippery slope. I believe Wlodkowski who says: one cannot directly motivate another since motivation is owned by the individual; it comes from within us. It's the same as telling one to stop thinking abut sex. You have no control over...
  Measuring Motivation:The PIAV Assessment
When it comes to looking at the individual there is no substitute (personal bias here) for the Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values (PIAV) assessment.
It is a validated tool (based on the work of Spranger) that ranks the six common motivator...
  Motivation Should be a Two-way Process
I think the motivation process between the manager and the employees is exchangeable, i.e. bosses should motivate their subordinates in various ways, but at the same time the subordinates should also motivate their bosses through spending a maximum e...
  Small Motivation Tips
I would be more interested in easy small things to get people motivated. Any ideas such as participating in some special interesting meeting or so. Let's try to collect many motivation tips and ideas. Thanks....
  Effort Leads to Performance
This is true in most cases, the more you put in the more you get out but there are times when this is not the case.
If you put in all of your effort you do perform better, but it is hard to see how someone can keep up such effort. The human mind...
  Motivating Workers: McGregor´s Example
I believe that success in motivating employees is well explained in McGregor´s example in which, to the question: "What are you doing?", three workers answered differently.
- The first one says, I'm breaking stones.
- The seco...
  Misunderstandings About Motivation
Motivation is found to be hard by many people but I would like to put across that:
1. Motivation can be done even without financial benefits. Take an example of a thank you from your boss, a pat on the back, a recognition letter, a hand s...
  Expectancy versus Needs?
There are many different ways to reach goals, but I believe that the NEEDS have more weight than the EXPECTANCY. So what about Maslow thinking of human behavior?...
  Applications of the Expectancy Theory
This is a very good summary of Expectancy Theory, but I 'd like to know the applications of it in budgeting and planning, and in the implementation of the balanced scorecard or any other valuable applications in HR & performance management. Thanks....
  Problems with Expectancy Theory. Disadvantages
A problem with Expectancy Theory is that it breaks down if employee does not believe in the motivation or reward. Then other leadership or motivation skills are needed as well as the use of other theories....
  How to Align Vroom's Theory with Psychological Contract in Disengaged Employees?
Has anyone/organisation successfully achieved meaningful employee motivation applying the Vroom formula in appraisal systems and still addressing psychological contract theory to disengaged employees (mostly manifested through grandpare...
  Satisfaction from Achieving Goals
Satisfaction will usually stem from achievement of goals. Naturally, any employee who believes that his needs have been or will be met, would put in more efforts....
  What Precisely is Valence? Definition of Valence
Hi, for me it's hard to understand "valence"? It's not in my English dictionary. Can you give me some help?...

Expectancy Theory Special Interest Group

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Best Practices - Expectancy Theory Premium
  What Motivates Employees? The Answer Depends (Partly) on their Generation
The age of retirement has been moved to 60, 65, 70 years and beyond. Where each generation used to pass the baton; there is no baton being passed anymore.
We can now find multiple generations (up to 4!) working in the workplace together. ...
  How Can You Motivate Knowledge Workers?
In the current 'knowledge era', the question what motivates knowledge workers, and, being a manager, how you should motivate and manage them is important.
In their article "The Progress of Small Wins" in HBR May 2011, Professor Theresa M...
  Controlling the Minds of Employees
I think there can be several way to achieve goals, however what's more important is to have control over the mind of the team members. And that's up to the managers how they carry their team....
  Motivation in Non-Profit Organizations
I'm having difficulties finding a theory to help me research motivation, and the importance of it, in a non-profit organization. Could someone please give me some advice for the best possible theory? Thanks so much!...

Expert Tips - Expectancy Theory Premium

4 Steps to Motivate your Employees...

As a manager, you can motivate your employees applying Expectancy Theory. Take these 4 steps:
1. Find out what each indvidual employee wants / va...
Usage (application): Using Expectancy Theory in your Department / Group

It's All About Perceptions!

Note that what matters in expectancy theory are the perceptions of the person who is to be motivated, not the reality of the situ...
Usage (application): Implementing Expectancy Theory

Expectancy can be Unexpected!

Be careful with assuming what the expectancy of a person (employee) is going to be:
Zakary Tormala did research on how people react on other peop...
Usage (application): On Experts and Surprises

Relationships in Expectancy Theory

The Expectancy theory focuses on three relationships:
1. Effort<>Performance relationship. The probability perceived by the individual that exer...
Usage (application): Understanding / Teaching Expectancy Theory

The Effort -> Performance Relationship

As mentioned in the summary, one of the expectations of Vroom’s theory is the positive relationship between effort and performance. Porter and Lawler ...
Usage (application): Coaching, mentoring

Reasons Why People are Doing Voluntary Work

Voluntary work has long been seen as an activity performed mainly by unemployed individuals –mostly women, both in their youth and retired - because t...
Usage (application): Expectancy Theory, Corporate Social Responsibility, Stakeholder Perspective, Volunteers

Family-Work Conflicts (FWC) and Daily Job Performance

FAMILY ROLES and WORK are two factors influencing each other: - Work can interfere with family roles; this is called a Work-Family Conflict (WFC).
Usage (application): Family-work conflicts, Coaching, Mentoring, Job Performance

Differences in Organizational Commitment Between Paid Workers and Volunteers

Paid and unpaid workers in hybrid organizations
Although financial considerations are an important reason to work for a certain organization, the...
Usage (application): Organizational Commitment, Employee Motivation, Non-profit Organizations

Resources - Expectancy Theory Premium

Human Motivation

Comprehesive presentation on Human / Employee Motivation. Topics:
1. What is motivation?
2. How do needs motivate people?
3. Are ther...
Usage (application): Employee Motivation

Overview of Content and Process Motivation Theories

Overview presentation of the major content motivation theories (Hierarchy of Needs; Acquired Needs theory; Two-Factor Theory) and process mo...
Usage (application): Motivation, Needs, Incentives, Goal Setting, Behavior

External and Internal Motivation

Presentation about motivation, from a psychological perspective. The presentation includes the following sections:
1. Psychological Needs
Usage (application): Motivation

Reasons and Secrets of Employee Retention

This presentation is about Employee Retention and includes the following sections:
1. Introduction
2. Reasons for Employees to Leave
Usage (application): Employee Retention, Attrition

Intrinsic Motivation versus Extrensic Motivation

How can I do a better job of motivating a team?
Dan Pink and Dan Ariely make a distinction between extrinsic motivators (such as strict schedules...
Usage (application): Initial Understanding of Motivator Types and Consequences

Attitude, Motivation and Persuasion

This presentation by S.J. Grant is about attitudes, motivation and how affects persuasion. The following sections are included:
1. Defining Attit...
Usage (application): Persuasion Theory, Managing Behavior

Voluntary Activities of Employees | Employee Volunteerism

Presentation about employee volunteerism, including the following sections:
1. What is employee volunteerism
2. Employee volunteerism is gro...
Usage (application): Employee Motivation, Employee Volunteerism, Employee Commitment, Shared Value, CSR, Corporate Reputation

Work-Family Conflicts and Work-Life Policies

This presentation is about Work-Family Conflicts and Employee Performance. The presentation includes the following sections:
1. Learning Objectiv...
Usage (application): Performance Management, Work-Life Balance, HR, Programs

Introduction and Summary of the Expectancy Theory of Motivation

Inspiring explanation of Victor Vroom's Expectancy Theory using examples from the world of basketball and the meaning. Explains the 3 major components...
Usage (application): Initial Understanding of the Expectancy Theory, Trainings, Workshops

Forecasting motivation

Some interesting formulas to calculate both negative and positive motivation....
Usage (application): Calculating motivation

Expectancy Theory Diagram

Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in intranets, websites, books, ma...
Usage (application): Employee Motivation

Performance Measurement, Expectancy and Agency Theory

Theoretical analyses of (optimal) performance measures are typically performed within the realm of the linear agency model.
An important ...
Usage (application): Performance Measurement


Expectancy Theory


Motivation Employees


Expectancy Theory


Motivation Employees


Expectancy Theory


Motivation Employees


Expectancy Theory


Motivation Employees

Compare with the Expectancy Theory on Motivation with:  Hierarchy of Needs  |  Servant-Leadership  |  Theory of Needs  |  Hawthorne Effect  |  Competing Values Framework  |  Attribution Theory  |  Framing  |  Two Factor Theory Herzberg   |  Theory X Theory Y  |  Managerial Grid  |  ERG Theory  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Path-Goal Theory  |  Leadership Styles  |  Situational Leadership  |  EPIC ADVISERS  |  Coaching  |  Mentoring

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