Expectancy Theory (Vroom)
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.
Vroom introduces three variables which he calls Valence, Expectancy and Instrumentality.
Valence is the importance that the individual places upon the expected outcome of a situation.
Expectancy is the belief that output from the individual and the success of the situation are linked, e.g. if I work harder then this will be better.
Instrumentality is the belief that the success of the situation is linked to the expected outcome of the situation, e.g. it's gone really well, so I'd expect praise
Expectancy Theory formulaThis 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.
This theory is meant to bring together many of the elements of previous theories. It combines the perceptual aspects of equity theory with the behavioral aspects of the other theories. Basically, it comes down to this "equation":
M = E*I*V
motivation = expectancy * instrumentality * valence
M (motivation) is the amount a person will be motivated by the situation they find themselves in. It is a function of the following.
E (expectancy) = The person's perception that effort will result in performance. In other words, the person's assessment of the degree to which effort actually correlates with performance.
I (instrumentality) = The person's perception that performance will be rewarded/punished. I.e., the person's assessment of how well the amount of reward correlates with the quality of performance. (Note here that the model is phrased in terms of extrinsic motivation, in that it asks 'what are the chances I'm going to get rewarded if I do good job?'. But for intrinsic situations, we can think of this as asking 'how good will I feel if I can pull this off?').
V(valence) = The perceived strength of the reward or punishment that will result from the performance. If the reward is small, the motivation will be small, even if expectancy and instrumentality are both perfect (high).
At first glance this theory would seem most applicable to a traditional-attitude work situation where how motivated the employee is depends on whether they want the reward on offer for doing a good job and whether they believe more effort will lead to that reward.
However, it could equally apply to any situation where someone does something because they expect a certain outcome. For example, I recycle paper because I think it's important to conserve resources and take a stand on environmental issues (valence); I think that the more effort I put into recycling the more paper I will recycle (expectancy); and I think that the more paper I recycle then less resources will be used (instrumentality)
Thus, this theory of motivation is not about self-interest in rewards but about the associations people make towards expected outcomes and the contribution they feel they can make towards those outcomes.
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
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.
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.
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.