Process theories of motivation are about a cognitive rational process and concentrate on the psychological and behavioural processes that motivate an individual.
Put simply, this is all about how people's needs influence and drive their behaviour. People need to see what is in it for them and to sense that "fair play" is being exercised to all concerned. Clearly a basic understanding of this is foundational to the psychological underpinning of successful change management and the strategies for managing change that will deliver that.
These process theories of motivation also totally support and underpin the findings and practical observations of Goleman, Katzenbach, Pearson, Axelrod and others referred to in
and the research and thought leadership highlighted in
The two main process theories of motivation are:
Process Theories of Motivation - Expectancy Theory
Expectancy Theory [also called Valence-Instrumentality-Expectancy Theory or VIE Theory] is associated with Vroom, Porter and Lawler and it suggests that effort (a) is linked to the desire for a particular outcome, and (b) moderated by an evaluation of the likelihood of success.
This is a pragmatic perspective that assumes that as we are constantly trying to predict potential future outcomes, we attempt to create what we perceive to be as realistic expectations about future events.
Thus if things look reasonably likely and attractive, and if we know what to do in order to get there, and we believe we can actually do it, then this will motivate us to act to make this future come true.
According to Victor Vroom, individual motivation depends on three variables, namely: Force, Valence and Expectancy.
Valence: [W.I.F.M] What's in it for me? i.e. The value of the anticipated outcome
Instrumentality: Achievability i.e. The belief that if I complete certain actions then I will achieve the outcome.
Expectancy: Confidence in my capability i.e. The belief that I am able to complete the actions.
Process Theories of Motivation - Adam's Equity Theory
At a basic level, most people generally prefer to be in relationships where give and take are about equal. So if one person is getting too little from the relationship, then clearly they are going to be unhappy with this but it is also likely that the other person will also be feeling rather guilty about this imbalance. This is reinforced by strong social norms about fairness.