Motivation Theories


Motivation is one of the key factors driving us towards achieving something. Without motivation, we will do nothing. Therefore, motivation is one of the key aspects when it comes to corporate management. In order to achieve the best business results, the organization needs to keep employees motivated.

In order to motivate the employees, organizations do various activities. The activities the companies do basically the results and findings of certain motivational theories.

Following are the main motivational theories practised in the modern world:

The Theories

1. Acquired Needs Theory

According to this theory, people are motivated by the greed for power, achievement and affiliation. By offering empowerment, titles and other related tokens, people can be motivated for doing their work.

2. Activation Theory

Humans can be aroused easily by their nature. In this motivation theory, the arousal is used for keeping the people motivated. Take an army as an example. The arousal for eliminating the enemy is a good motivation factor.

3. Affect Perseverance

Let's take an example. An employee is attracted to a company due to its reputation. Once the employee starts working, he/she develops loyalty towards the company. Later, due to some issue, the company loses its reputation, but employee's loyalty remains.

4. Attitude-Behaviour Consistency

In this motivation theory, the alignment of attitude and behaviour is used for motivating people.

5. Attribution Theory

The urge people have to attribute is used as a motivational factor. Usually, people like to attribute oneself as well as others in different context. This need is used for motivation in this theory.

As an example, getting one's name published in a magazine is a good motivation for the same person to engage further in writing.

6. Cognitive Dissonance

This theory emphasizes the fact that the non-alignment to something could make people uncomfortable and eventually motivate them to do the right thing.

7. Cognitive Evolution Theory

This could be considered as the most widely used motivation theory across many domains. When we select tasks to complete, we chunk them down to be doable tasks. The person is motivated to do the tasks as they are simply doable.

8. Consistency Theory

This theory uses our internal values for keeping us motivated. As an example, if we promise to do something, we will feel bad about not doing it.

9. Control Theory

Giving the control to someone is one of the best ways to motivate them. People are thrilled to have control over things.

10. Disconfirmation Bias

People can be motivated by keeping them in an environment, which is in alignment with what they believe.

11. Drive Theory

People's need to satisfy their needs is used in this theory. As an example, imagine a case where a person is hungry in an unknown house and find some food under the staircase. When the same person feels hungry at some other unknown house, the person may look under the staircase.

12. Endowed Progress Effect

This motivation theory uses the progress as the motivation factor.

13. Escape Theory

Keeping the person in the wrong place may motivate that person to escape from that place. This is sometimes used in corporate environments for employees to find where they really belong.

14. Extrinsic Motivation

This is also one of the most used theories in the corporate world. The employee is motivated through rewards.

15. Goal-Setting Theory

Desire to achieve goals is the driving force behind this motivation theory.

16. Investment Model

The organization gets the employees to invest on certain things. If you have invested on something, you will be motivated to enhance and improve it.

17. Positive Psychology

This way, employees are motivated by making them happy when it comes to environment, rewards, personal space, etc.

18. Reactance Theory

Reducing the salary of a low performer and later setting goals to get the salary back is one of the examples for this type of motivation.


Motivation theories suggest many ways of keeping the employees motivated on what they do. Although a manager is not required to learn all these motivation theories, having an idea of certain theories may be an advantage for day-to-day activities.

These theories give the managers a set of techniques that they can try out in the corporate environments. Some of these theories have been used in business for decades, although we do not know them explicitly.