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Achievement as Motivation

The motivation theory of John Atkinson (1974) focuses on the concept of achievement. In his theory, he asserts that an individual’s motivation towards a specific behavior is largely determined by the person’s drive to achieve as well as the probability of succeeding with the task at hand. Atkinson’s theory of motivation applies to the context of contemporary small business firms such as the sales department of a clothing retail store as well as home furniture repair services.

On the other hand, the same theory may hardly apply in the context of employees of businesses whose salaries are fixed and do not depend largely on the sales performance of the goods and services that their companies offer. Since Atkinson’s theory of motivation focuses on the achievement of the individual, the most important aspect of the theory’s application is how the individual perceives his work. More specifically, does the employee enjoy his job? Does the employee get the satisfaction he seeks in connection with his work?

Or, perhaps, does the employee see himself as a potential achiever with respect to the duties he has to fill? The motivation of the employees working in the sales department of a small clothing retail store can be affected by their desire to achieve or, specifically, by their urge to sell more (Shetzer, 1993). On the other hand, the urge to sell more can be fueled by the desire to gain more profit for the business which, in effect, raises their salary that depend on the sales performance of the business.

Apart from the desire of the employees to receive higher wages for higher sales, an increase in sales may also translate to an opportunity for job promotion. If, for example, a certain individual in the sales department of the children’s clothing section of a certain clothing retail store is able to boost the sales of his department, there is a chance that the employee will receive a bonus for his satisfactory performance. On the contrary, the same employee might be given certain sanctions if the performance of his department is unsatisfactory.

The same is true for those who offer home furniture repair services. Since the most basic necessity in their line of work is the need to meet the client’s expectations with regard to the service they render, the tendency for these workers is to fix broken furniture to the best of their capabilities. Otherwise, their clients may become unsatisfied with their services and may not call them back for future repair. Worse, these workers may even get a negative impression on potential customers if their unsatisfied previous clients refer them to others in a negative light.

It is therefore easy to see why these types of employees—sales department personnel and repairmen—are motivated by their urge to achieve in their respective fields. The results of the work that they do can pose either positive or negative consequences to the future of their profession. Thus, it is an unspoken imperative for these employees to strive for the best and to maintain the drive to excel. On the other hand, employees whose wages are fixed and are unaffected by the sales performance of their department or of their company can hardly be motivated in terms of their urge to achieve more in their work (Osterloh & Frey, 2000).

They may have the urge to achieve in their respective roles but that same urge does not immediately amount to a corresponding effect on their wages or position in the company to name a few. One of the most common examples to this group of employees is the contractual worker. For example, an employee who is contracted to work for a period of at least six months in a construction firm may still receive the same wages that is stated in his contract regardless of whether or not he is able to work proficiently.

His urge to achieve more in his profession in this case simply does not hold immediate positive consequences to his work. With the lack of such consequences, the worker can just simply perform his duties within the bounds of what is expected of him to do without having to put much effort in his work. In the case of inapplicability of the achievement motivation theory of Atkinson in the case of the contractual construction worker, there is a need to develop and create a new theoretical model of motivation.

The need arises because even if contractual construction workers are not directly influenced by their desire to achieve in their profession, their performance still matters because of the impact that the results of their work can have on the lives of others. For instance, if these workers are unable to work properly on their construction of buildings, there is a high risk that the results of their labor can turn-out defective or are not able to meet the quality standards, thus posing hazards to those who are to use the product of their labor.

If the results of their labor are inefficient, it is highly likely that they will get the corresponding sanctions, thereby decreasing their personal motivation and their productivity. The need to motivate these types of workers, specifically the contractual workers, is imperative. One way to meet that end is to create a new motivational theory that will take into consideration the fact that such workers are not directly motivated in terms of their work achievement.

It can be suggested that such workers are rather motivated by the aversion to certain risks or threats to life and property among others. The personal satisfaction of these workers in their job should also be considered so that they can be more productive with their work which can yield to more efficient, notwithstanding safe, results. With the recognition of probable risks involved resulting from poor work motivation and actual labor, a new theory can be formulated in order to motivate contractual construction workers and, eventually, to avoid the possible threats.

By introducing a new work motivation theory, we can begin to scrutinize the ways to increase the productivity and personal satisfaction of contractual construction workers in particular and contractual workers in particular. The motivation theory of John Atkinson may hardly apply with the case of these workers, but nevertheless his achievement theory of motivation bodes well in the context of employees whose wages and promotion status largely depend on their performance which, in turn, also depends on their urge to achieve more.

References Atkinson, J. (1974). A Theory of Achievement Motivation. Melbourne, FL: Krieger. Osterloh, M. , & Frey, B. S. (2000). Motivation, Knowledge Transfer, and Organizational Forms. Organization Science, 11(5), 538-550. Shetzer, L. (1993). A Social Information Processing Model of Employee Participation. Organization Science, 4(2), 252-268.

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