Porter and Lawler's Theory of Motivation

The many facets of motivation we have been considering thus far are brought together in Lyman Porter and Edward Lawler's comprehensive theory of motivation, which also uses two additional factors. Despite relying heavily on Vroom's prediction algorithm, motivation can be better understood through Porter and Lawler's approach. Their research on managers has also made use of this approach. Here, a multivariate model is used to explain the link between being happy at work and being productive.

What is the Porter and Lawler Theory of Motivation?

In their theory of motivation, Porter and Lawler postulated that rewards might boost morale and productivity. They think that a third component, rewards, links contentment with performance. They believe that if they work hard enough, they will be rewarded. It is a complicated model that considers several factors to shed light on the interplay between intrinsic motivation, performance, and job happiness. They contend that it is only sometimes the case that happiness breeds success in the workplace. The opposite is true, though, because some people get complacent after experiencing success. In contrast, if the incentive systems are fair, then improved performance might result in happiness.

The theory proposed two types of reward

  • Intrinsic Rewards are those that a person chooses to give himself in response to exceptional accomplishment. Attainment of goals and fulfilling Maslow's "higher-order needs" are examples. An individual's ability to reward himself if he feels he has worked well is closely tied to the job's varied and difficult structure.

  • An organization's extrinsic benefits tend to appeal to employees' baser desires. This category falls under salary, advancement opportunities, and employment stability.

In this approach, incentives contribute to feelings of contentment through the expectation of receiving such incentives in the future. This metric measures how much compensation an individual thinks he deserves for his efforts. The extent to which an individual believes a certain position within the business deserves a certain reward is another factor that can be added to this equation. As a result, contentment is seen as a deficit metric by Porter and Lawler. The disparity between actual and imagined equitable rewards is the primary determinant of happiness. Satisfaction is achieved when real rewards exceed expectations; if the contrary occurs, it will lead to unhappiness. How happy or unhappy someone is depending on how big the difference is between what they get and what they think they deserve.


Major assumptions are

  • This paradigm suggests that internal and external forces shape an individual's behavior.

  • People are assumed to be thinking, deliberate beings who can decide for themselves what to do at work.

  • It is important to remember that everyone is unique and has their requirements, wants, and objectives.

  • Individuals choose alternative behaviors based on their expectations and the outcomes they hope to achieve.


It includes


The effort is the energy that one expends to complete a task.

Value of Reward

Persons first consider the value of the rewards they will gain from performing a task. According to Vroom's theory, this is referred to as "valence." For someone prioritizing financial gain, for instance, paid time off may not be an enticing incentive. One will exert more effort to complete a task if they are assured of receiving a desirable or valuable reward for their efforts. Unless you push him, he will relax and stop trying.

Perceived Effort Reward Probability

Furthermore, before making any effort, people will assess the likelihood that a certain amount of effort would result in the desired performance and the likelihood that this performance would result in different types of rewards. People can choose how much effort to put in based on the value they place on the reward and the likelihood that they will receive that value as a result of their efforts.


Performance can be equated with the amount of work put in. The level of success an individual can achieve depends on his level of effort, his natural talent and character, and his awareness of and commitment to his role. In addition to encompassing physical prowess, capacity includes cerebral acuity and the aptitude for learning. Workplace success can be attributed to traits like perseverance and self-preservation, as well as an unwavering dedication to one's advancement. Because of this, things like aptitude and character will weaken the link between effort and results. Those in these positions also need accurate "role perception" or an understanding of their responsibilities as others see them. A person's workday may look very different from someone else's. The only people who can expect to achieve their business goals are those with a firm grasp on the roles they play there.


You may receive extrinsic or intrinsic incentives depending on your performance. Those incentives that come from outside of oneself, such as money, recognition, or acclaim, are known as extrinsic rewards. One's pride in oneself and one's abilities are examples of intrinsic benefits.


Both internal and extrinsic incentives can lead to feelings of satisfaction. Still, one must weigh his actual rewards against his projected rewards to determine whether he is content. If the person's perceived fair rewards are higher than their actual rewards, they will feel happy. If the person's actual rewards are lower than their perceived fair rewards, they will feel unhappy.

Significance of Porter and Lawler's Theory of Motivation

These are

  • Put the right person in the proper job based on their abilities and attributes.

  • He should explain subordinates' tasks and how to be rewarded. Then he must ensure comprehension.

  • Prescribe concrete performance levels and make them attainable.

  • For incentives, effective performance must be rewarded.

  • Make certain that employees value rewards. He should find out what rewards the employee wants and give them to him.


The Porter and Lawler model's contributions to our knowledge of what drives employees and how employee happiness and performance are linked are undeniable. In theory, human resource management may be a good idea, but it has yet to lead to real changes in the field.

Updated on: 04-Jan-2023

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