Expectancy theory of motivation developed by Victor H. Vroom states that individuals are motivated to do something if the perceive the outcome as being desirable for them, and if they believe that their actions will result in successful achievement of that outcome (Kroontz, 2010). In other words, it is possible to measure the strength of a person’s motivation by multiplying the perceived value of the outcome by the confidence that this person’s efforts will substantially contribute to achievement of the goal.
Formula depiction of this concept is the following: Motivation = Valence * Expectancy. According to Hill and McShane (2008), Valence represents the level of satisfaction that an individual expects to receive by accomplishing a goal. It can vary from negative to positive, and using a specific range is not necessary. Positive valence falls in line with our values and needs, while negative valence contradicts them. Expectancy is a subjective perception of probability that specific actions and efforts will result in performance that enables successful goal achievement.
Expectancy can be divided into effort-to-performance (E-to-P) and performance-to-outcome (P-to-O) expectancies (Kroontz, 2010). The first one reflects a person’s confidence level of converting efforts into particular performance level. E-to-P expectancy can vary between the probability range from 0.0 to 1.0, with 0.0 meaning that an individual believes that even when he/she demonstrates maximum level of effort; it will not result in the desired level of performance. When E-to-P expectancy is 1.0, an individual claims that he/she can undeniably accomplish a task. P-to-O is often referred to as “instrumentality” (Lussier & Achua, 2010). It represents a person’s belief that by demonstrating a certain level of performance they can achieve the desired outcome. Probability range is the same with the one of E-to-P expectancy.
Therefore, Vroom’s Model of Expectancy Theory measures motivation as a combination of an individual’s confidence that he/she is capable of reaching a goal by maintaining a certain level of performance, belief that this performance will result into a desirable outcome, and the subjective value that the outcome represents for the individual. The greater any of those elements is, the stronger motivation develops, and vice-versa. Consequently, in order to ensure that the workforce is constantly motivated, it is important to understand individual values of each employee, and estimate whether the complexity of duties that employees perform corresponds to their capabilities.
Because the measure of valence represents an employee’s most important subjective values, it can aid in resolving staffing issues within an organization. If a company is overstaffed, and the manager needs to let some people go, with the help of valence it is possible to identify those employees whose values do not correspond to the key values of the organization. These employees cannot be effectively motivated to demonstrate outstanding performance, because they do not consider the outcomes of their performance to be valuable and important to them. Therefore, they are motivated to put their best effort into organizational development and growth, and it is better to dismiss such employees, and focus on those who fit the organizational culture better and can relate to its core values. In the same way, it is possible to utilize valence in order to find excellent candidates for vacant positions, if the organization is understaffed. To do that, human resource department must structure an interview process correspondingly, in order to identify employees that can connect organizational values to their own. As a result, it becomes easier to hire people who will be motivated to overachieve and make a valuable contribution to success and development of the company they work for.
Hill, W. L. C., McShane, L. S. (2008). Principles of Management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Kroontz, H., Weihrich, H. (2010). Essentials of Management (8th ed.). New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.
Lussier, R. N., Achua, F. C. (2010). Leadership: Theory, Application, & Skill Development. (4th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.