Expectancy Theory. Why Does It Appeal?

There are many motivational models that appeal because of their applicability to the real world. None more so than Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

His theory assumes that all our behaviour comes from choices among alternatives whose purpose it is to maximise pleasure and minimise pain. He suggested that the relationship between people’s behavior at work and their goals was not as clear cut as others had imagined. He realised that an employee’s performance is based on individuals factors such as personality, skills, knowledge, experience and abilities.

The theory states that people have different sets of goals and can be motivated if they believe that:

– 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.

This will only occur, Vroom states, if the following belief systems operate:

1. People actually want the reward, so managers must identify the value structures of their employees

2. People expect that they can attain the reward

3. The reality of the reward. Managers must ensure the promised rewards are carried through

Vroom suggested that an employee’s beliefs about these things interact psychologically to create a motivational force such that the employee acts in ways that bring about the conditions for the reward to actual come about. He stated that people will be driven and motivated by how much they want the reward on offer, the chances of them actually achieving the reward and whether the expectation of them receiving is is high.

This formula can be used to predict whether someone will actually be motivated to achieve goals set by management. And it answers the question why some people are more motivated than others; they simply want the rewards more than others.

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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Originally published: 14 June, 2010

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