Motivation and Cultural Diversity

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Human beings, as individuals, are very complex in their psychological make-up. When they interact with one another in groups and in large organizations, the complexities are multiplied. In this effort to guide and direct others, the manager must first of all acquire an understanding of why people act as they do. Why is one employee sparkling and cheerful, whereas another is downcast and sullen? Initially it’s important to know that all human behavior has a cause. There is a reason for a person behaving as he does. The successful leader is a one who can uncover these causes and take steps to correct them. Bawling out an uncooperative worker doesn’t get at the cause. This constitutes treating the symptom only.

Motives are the mainsprings of action in people. The term “motive” implies action to satisfy a need. Motivation is an inner strivings of individuals that direct behavior; it’s a willingness to expand energy to achieve a goal or a reward.

The motivation process centers on needs, which produce motives that lead to the accomplishment of objectives. Needs are caused by deficiencies or imbalances. Motives, or stimuli, produce an action taken to satisfy the need. In the motivation process, the achievement of the objective satisfies the need and reduces the motive. When the objective is reached, balance is restored; of course, other needs then arise. The motivation process then must satisfy these new needs.

The types of rewards that an organization offers its employees play a critical role in determining the level of motivation. In addition, rewards have an impact on the quality and quantity of personnel that the organization is able to recruit, hire, and retain. Organizational rewards include both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.

Traditional theory of motivation is based on the assumption that money is a primary motivator – employees will produce more for greater financial gain. It evolves from the work of Frederick W. Taylor and others in the scientific management movement.

In “The human Side of Enterprise” Douglas McGregor outlined two opposing theories of work and motivation. Theory X is the traditional approach to workers and working which assumes that people are lazy and dislike work, and they have to be both threatened and rewarded. It assumes that most people are incapable of taking responsibility for them and have to be looked after. Theory Y, on the contrary, assumes that people have a psychological need to work and want achievement and responsibility.

Later theorists argued that Theory Y makes such greater demands on both workers and managers than McGregor realized. Abraham Maslow, for example, spent a year studying a Californian company that used Theory Y and concluded that its demands for responsibility and achievement are excessive for many people. Even strong and healthy people need the security in order and discretion. Managers can’t simply substitute Theory Y for Theory X. They have to replace the security provided by Theory X with a different structure of security and certainty.

Abraham Maslow (in his book entitled “Motivation and personality) put forward the need hierarchy theory. In his theory, h identified certain basic human needs and classified them in an ascending order of importance. The needs of an individual are said to exist in a hierarchy as follows:

  • Physiological needs (these were things required to sustain life like food, water, air, sleep etc…)
  • Security needs (these are the needs to be from danger, physical pain and loss of job, they include the needs for clothing and shelter)
  • Social needs (a human being need to belong to a group, to be liked and loved)
  • Esteem needs (people want to have self-respect and to be esteemed by others. They have a need for power, status, respect and self-confidence)
  • Self-actualisation needs (these are the highest needs, according to Maslow. They are the desire to develop, to maximize potential and to achieve one’s goals).

Maslow said that people satisfied their needs in a systematic way. When a need had been met, it stopped being a motivating factor. Research into Maslow’s theory hasn’t been very conclusive. Studies have tended to show that needs vary greatly among individuals. At the higher levels in a company, self-actualisation needs may be very strong whereas at lower levels, social and security needs may be dominant.

It’s logical to suppose that things like good labour relations, good working conditions, good wages and benefits, and job security motivate workers. But in Work and the Nature of Man, Frederick Herzberg argued that such conditions don’t motivate workers. His hypothesis is referred to by several names: motivation-maintenance, dual factor, or motivation hygiene theory. The conditions aforesaid are merely “satisfiers” or, more importantly, “dissatisfiers” where they don’t exist. “Motivators”, on the contrary, include things such as having a challenging and interesting job, recognition and responsibility, promotion and so on. It’s worth nothing that the hygiene factors refer to the context of the job and the condition of work while the motivators refer to job content. By the hygiene factors Herzberg meant company policy and administration, salary and fringe benefits, quality and supervision, relationship with colleagues, job security, status and work conditions. Herzberg maintains that motivation comes from within the individual, not from the manager. Herzberg’s motivation-maintenance theory is closely related to the need hierarchy theory of motivation; thus, it is subject for many of the same criticisms. If his theory is true, it means that managers must pay great attention to job content. They must find ways of making jobs more challenging and interesting.

As a result managers in the USA and elsewhere have recently been showing great interest in job enrichment programs.  The increasing the content of individual jobs is proposed to increase worker satisfaction and the meaningfulness of work. Job enlargement, job enrichment and job rotation are three basic approaches to defining job content.

Job enlargement is an attempt to reduce boredom and increase the meaning of work by increasing the number of operations in a process performed by a single worker. The theory behind job enlargement is that combining tasks reduce boredom, increasing task variety and strengthening the worker’s identification with his or her job.

Job enrichment is an attempt to give workers more control over their tasks and more responsibility for design, execution, and output. The worker assumes some of the functions previously carried out by his or her immediate supervisor or by other staff.

Job rotation is a practice whereby each employee learns several operations in manufacturing process and rotates through each in a set period.

The idea of such programs is to make jobs more challenging and to give the worker a sense of achievement.

The preference-expectancy theory implies that motivation depends on the preferences and expectations of an individual. This theory emphasized the need for organizations to relate rewards directly to performance and to be sure that recipients desire the rewards.

The reinforcement theory of motivation by B. F. Skinner is based on the idea that reinforced behavior will be repeated and behavior that is not reinforced ill not be repeated. The theory assumes that the consequences of an individual’s behavior determine his or her level of motivation.

Equity theory is based on the belief that employees will take whatever actions are necessary to produce feelings of equity with respect to their jobs. An important point regarding equity theory is that an individual’s feelings of equity are based on his or her perceptions of inputs versus outcomes.

However, even with the development of computers and robotics, there are and always will be plenty of boring and repetitive and mechanical jobs in all three sectors of the economy, and lots of unskilled workers who have to do them.

So how do managers motivate people in such jobs? One solution is to give them some responsibilities, not as individuals but as part of the team. Other employers ensure that people in repetitive jobs change them every couple of hours, as doing four different repetitive jobs a day is better than doing only one. Many people now talk about the importance of a company’s shared values or corporate culture, with which all the staff can identify: for example, being the best hotel chain, or hamburger restaurant chain, or airline, or making the best, the safest, the most user-friendly, the most ecological or the most reliable products in a particular field. Such values are more likely to motivate workers than financial targets, which ultimately only concern a few people. Unfortunately, there is only a limited number of such goals to go round, and by definition, not all the competing companies in an industry can seriously claim to be the best.

Cultural diversity

Managing a truly global multinational company would obviously be much simpler if it required only one set of corporate objectives, goals, policies, practices, products and services. But local differences often make this impossible. To be true multinational an organization should operate in at least 6 countries and have no less than 20% of its sales or assets in those countries. And it also should think internationally/ It means that management should have a global perspective. It should see the world as inter-related and inter-depended.

A fairly obvious cultural divide that has been much studied is the one between, on the one hand, the countries of North America and North-West Europe, where management is largely based on analysis, rationality, logic and systems, and, on the other, the Latin cultures of southern Europe and South America, where personal relations, intuition, emotion and sensitivity are of much greater importance. There are some examples of what happens when manages do not take foreign conditions into account in a book entitled International Business Blunders.

Managers working abroad need various skills. Of cause, it is a great advantage if they know the language of the country they are working in. But this is not the most important requirement. They need above all human relations skills, an understanding of the other culture and the ability to adapt.

In some countries such as Canada, the USA, Britain, Germany and other are essentially individualist. In such countries status has to be achieved. A young , dynamic, aggressive manager can quickly rise in the hierarchy. While in most Latin and Asian cultures status is automatically accorded to the boss, who is more likely to be in his 50s or 60s than in his 30s.

In northern cultures, the principle of pay-for-performance often successfully motivates sales people. The more you sale, the more you get paid. But the principle might well be resisted in more collectivist cultures, and in countries where rewards and promotion are expected to come with age and experience.

So, differences in cultures are very important when a manager is negotiating in a foreign country. Those who working abroad  must remember that a deal is not always a deal. In some countries, a person may say yes to proposal simply to be polite.

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Source by Michael Newman

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