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There is no one perfect approach to this essay. Flexibility is written into the question so that you have to plan carefully and come up with a structure that suits you and your topic. You can do the same topic as your seminar (or you can do a different topic), but the requirements of the task would mean that your essay would far exceed the research you have done for your seminar, particularly when looking for interesting theories to critically examine. 

The broad topic of the essay is motivation. However, you should decide on a more specific topic because “motivation” on its own is too broad. For example, if you’re a primary school teacher you might want to write about student motivation in primary schools. If you are a manager, you may want to consider employee motivation. Or, if you are a scientist undertaking research, participant motivation may be an interesting topic. If it helps, you could decide on a title for your essay first. 

Find some published examples (from journal articles and eBooks) about student motivation in primary schools, such as:
1. In primary schools, teachers need to motivate different students in different ways. The effectiveness of this approach was explored in a qualitative study of primary teachers.

2. New teachers benefit from training in student motivation so Education QLD has implemented a training program.

3. When faced with a challenging task, highly-motivated students will tackle it head on whereas less motivated students might avoid it.

Motivational Theories

In today’s business scenario, organizations strive harder in keeping their employees motivated throughdifferent techniques, so as to maintain an increased level of productivity.Motivation of employees not only encourage employee to work hard and achieve goals, but good techniques of motivation attracts skillful and experienced workforce from the market.(De Sousa Sabbagha, Ledimo& Martins, 2018)The managerial staff is entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the employees motivated. There have been many motivational theories since no one theory can explains all aspects of people's motives. In the essay below three different theories have been analyzed how they revolve around the employees and anoverview of application of these theories by the managers in various business organizations is also discussed.

Motivational Theories

Bernard Weiner’s was a psychologist who came up with the three dimensional Theory of attribution .Attribution means making a sense to the other persons or to our own behavior at a particular situation. (Weiner, 2018).  It basically is based on idea of perceiving the information and getting on to the conclusion about the events happening around the people. As per the theory people around us try to make out how we do and what we do and the reasons that we attribute to them effects our behavior in future. For example an employee who failed to achieve his targets could attribute his failure to various factors, and these factors play an important role in the motivation of employee in future so that he does not fail again due to the occurrence of the same events that attributed to his failure. Weiner characterized attributions that affect motivation in three steps. (Mitchell, 2013).

  • Stability

This characteristic of attribution explains how stable a particular attribution is for example if the employee failed to achieve a target because he was not smart enough is a stable attribution of the employee towards his failure. While if the employee could not achieve his target because he was sick then it is considered to be an unstable attribution, it being not permanent. The event which has no stability like falling sick can be worked on and hence for future, motivation can be given to the employees to perform better next time. (Fishman, 2014)

  • Point of control

A particular situation happened due the internal or external factor.For example the employee feels that he is internally not smart enough to perform his job well, then no motivation can help him to perform better in future, on the other hand if he thinks he failed due to the external factors like no proper instruction manual was given to him then getting proper instructions he may perform better in future resulting into future motivation.

  • Controllability

Bernard Weiner’s Attribution Theory

If the employee thinks that he could have performed better, i.ethe situation could have been changed so as to achieve the targets, the employee would remain unsatisfied and hence non motivated in future also. On the other hand if employee feel that the event that resulted in failure were not in his control, he will feel motivated for future and would perform better.( Weiner, Osborne, & Rudolph, 2011). 

McClelland’s need theory of motivation lays emphasis on the needs that human beings acquire or learn through experiences that they go through in their environment and culture. Since the human being learn and recognize their need, that is why McClelland needs theory is closely linked with the learning theory because those people who have acquired their needs they strive to achieve them and when they achieve their needs, they feel satisfied and motivated.( Harrell, Stahl, 1981) His theory has its focus on Murray’s theory of three needs. These three needs are abbreviated in short as “n Ach”, “n Pow”, and “n Aff. They are explained in details below

  • Need for achievement

People who strive for achieving certain level perform with a standard of excellence and hence they achieve success. McClelland also explained that the people who strive for success and achieving higher levels are much more motivated in comparison to the people who have medium urge for achievement or even the people who have low need for achievement. He explains the following characteristics of high need achievers

  1. The people who strive for achievements assume their personal responsibility of taking up tasks and performing towards finding the solutions to the problems.
  2. High need achievers take up difficult and challenging tasks, so that they feel highly motivated when they achieve those set goals.
  3. People with higher achievements goals desire feedback for their performance at the earliest so that they can set other targets and follow them to achieve.
  • Need for power

People who have desire to leave a strong impact on the people, who urge to influence others strive to get into the position from where they can control people and events. So those people work harder to reach at that powerful position which keeps them satisfied and motivated. He explains the following characteristics of the people who urge for power

  1. A desire to leave impact on other people and direct them.
  2. An urge to gain control on other people.
  3. A need for maintaining the environment of leader and follower relationship.
  • Need for affiliation

This need of affiliation is similar to the Maslow’s needs theory in which the people strive to maintain a good and friendly relationship within the organizations. The people feel motivated and satisfied if they are able to build up cordial relations with the other people in the organization.

BF skinner proposed the theory of reinforcement this theory is based on the concept of law of effect, which means that people like to perform those activities having positive outcomes repeatedly and avoid doing things which resulted in negative outcomes. It explains about the behavior that people acquire as a result of the outcome of an activity, this is why it is also called as operant conditioning. BF skinner in reinforcement theory lays emphasis on improving the external factors in the organization instead of understanding the inner feelings and capabilities of the workforce. In his opinion the employees can be kept motivated by designing the environment of the organization effectively. Following are the methods of keeping control on the employee’s behavior

  • Positive Reinforcement

McClelland’s Needs Theory

Positive reinforcement like giving rewards each time employees perform well, which in return would result into the occurrence of the same behavior repeatedly.For example if the employee was appreciated for coming early on to the job, he will feel satisfied and motivated, and in order to continue with getting appreciation he will repeat the action.

  • Negative reinforcement

By this the employees feel motivated if the negative or the undesirable consequences are removed from the system. The employees would work harder if they feel the things that were having negative impact on their activities are removed. Both of these reinforcements would result into the development of positive behavior in the employees.

  • Punishment

It means the application of undesirable behavior for undesirable circumstances. So as not to repeat the circumstances that resulted into loss in any form for the organization, the punishment is imposed. By doing this the employees would be more careful in performing things in a better way.

  • Extinction

In this method, the occurrence of undesirable circumstances can be reduced by lowering the appreciation from the system for certain employees showing undesirable behavior. For example, an employee who was previously appreciated for his work is no longer getting appreciation, so he will again strive for that lost appreciation resulting into the positive behavior and hence in turn positive consequences.

Critique of the Theories

Bernard Weiner’s attribution theory is a widely accepted and applied theory but there are certain facts about this theory which needs to be studied. This theory suggests that the people perceives the behavior of others or self on the basis of the outcomes and recognizes the factors that attributed to that behavior (Pekrun& Marsh, 2018). It has not taken into account a fact that a feedback from other sources can influence the perception of an individual about the reason of happening of certain event. In addition perception will always be different from the point of view of individual and the observer. Similarly Reinforcement theory focuses largely on improving the external factors to the workforce while gives very low importance to the concept of inner feelings and desires of the employees which should also be considered since if the employee remains internally unmotivated he can never perform well, no matter how effective the external factors are. In addition, it is difficult to determine the quantum of reward or punishment, as all the human being are different and therefore, particular reward may result into the motivation of one employee and the same reward may have no motivational effect for others. Further how long a particular employee feels motivated from a particular rewards, as needs of the human beings keeps changing, this has also not been taken into account. Similarly, McClelland’s theory has also been criticized on the ground of its practical implications, since the needs have been explained as subconscious i.e we may be urging for certain needs without even having any idea about it. Further, the needs are difficult to measure.

BF Skinner's Reinforcement Theory

Despite the criticism of three theories they have certain strengths also like attribution theory can be applied in any environment on individual of any age. In addition it also explains the effects on the perception due to cultural and social norms. Further if an Individual assumes his personal responsibility then he can also control the outcomes of the environment.Similarly in the reinforcement theory emphasis have been laid down on motivating the employees through improving the external factors like pay hike, promotions etc. which is considered to be the easiest way to keep workforce motivated.(Gopalan, Bakar, Zulkifli, Alwi& Mat, 2017) Further this technique can be applied easily in any organization.

Role of Motivation Theories in Business

Reinforcement theory is widely applied in the workplace as a way to enhance the work performance by decreasing the undesired behavior and hence increasing the desired behavior The assumptions of this theory is that by modification of the behavior, the management can cope up with the problems like absenteeism to the higher level of productivity. This can be done by explaining and making employees understand the goals and keeping them focused on to achieving them.

Additionally McClelland’s needs theory can also be applied by the managers by giving authorities to the employees so that they feel powerful and work harder to achieve the goals. Also few employees who strive for achievement can be given challenging tasks so that they feel motivated by achieving them. Further occasional informal meets should also be kept so that the employees feel recognized and affiliated to each other. (Badubi,2018)

Further attribution theory can be applied by the managers in the organization by ensuring to give them feedback and encouraging them to improve (Shoraj&Llaci, 2015). The employees can be trained in such a manner that they use different strategies to make success controllable and hence the employees would prevent from attributing their failure to their innate incapability, rather they would be attributing their failures if any to the controllable factors and can be improved for better future.


Analyzing the motivation theories is helpful in a business organization since it assists the managers to understand how they can develop a workforce that is productive and effective. Bernard Weiner’s theory talks about the attribution of employee’s behavior to certain situations. And also how can these situations which resulted in failure are controlled. however this theory has also been criticized since this theory doesn’t give relevance to the However, the Reinforcement theory purports to explain improving the external factors and have given low importance to the internal factors of employees in order to motivate them due to which it has also been criticized Lastly, McClelland’sTheory of needpurports to explain the needs that a human being possess which can be used as a source of motivation in organization. Managers delegate authorities, conduct unofficial meets, set challenging targets to motivate employees.


Badubi, R.M. (2018). Theories of Motivation and Their Application in Organizations: A Risk Analysis. Retrieved from

Gopalan, V., Bakar, J., Zulkifli, A., Alwi, A., & Mat, R. (2017).A review of the motivation theories in learning.doi: 10.1063/1.5005376

De Sousa Sabbagha, M., Ledimo, O., & Martins, N. (2018).Predicting staff retention from employee motivation and job satisfaction. Journal Of Psychology In Africa, 28(2), 136-140. doi: 10.1080/14330237.2018.1454578

Shoraj, D., &Llaci, S. (2015). Motivation and Its Impact on Organizational Effectiveness in Albanian Businesses.SAGE Open, 5(2), 215824401558222.doi: 10.1177/2158244015582229

Pekrun, R., & Marsh, H. (2018). Weiner’s attribution theory: Indispensable—but is it immune to crisis?. Retrieved from

Mitchell, G. (2013). Selecting the best theory to implement planned change. Nursing Management (through 2013), 20(1), 32.

Weiner, B., Osborne, D., & Rudolph, U. (2011). An attributional analysis of reactions to poverty: The political ideology of the giver and the perceived morality of the receiver. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15(2), 199-213.

Fishman, E. J. (2014). Toward a theory of the perceived control of the attribution process. Educational Research Review, 13, 1-16.

Weiner, B. (2018). My Journey to the Attribution Fields.

Harrell, A. M., & Stahl, M. J. (1981). A behavioral decision theory approach for measuring McClelland's trichotomy of needs. Journal of Applied Psychology, 66(2), 242.

Dwivedula, R., & Bredillet, C. N. (2010). Profiling work motivation of project workers. International Journal of Project Management, 28(2), 158-165.

Lazaroiu, G. (2015). Work motivation and organizational behavior. Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, 7(2), 66.

Richelle, M. N. (2016). BF Skinner-a Reappraisal. Routledge.

Skinner, B. F. (2014). A world of our own. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 15(1), 21-24.

McLeod, S. A. (2007). BF Skinner: Operant conditioning. Retrieved September, 9, 2009.

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