Brain-Based Aspects Of Cognitive Learning Approaches In Second Language Learning Motivational Theories

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Motivational Theories

Studies of organizational behavior and theories of motivation to account for the need to get the most out of workers in industrial or commercial problems is very much a phenomenon of the twentieth century. After the industrial revolution, large concentrations of workers were needed in mills and factories to mass produce goods on factory sites, which replaced the agricultural and artisanal work hitherto produced in small rural family or communal units . In the early days of industrialization in the West, slave labor, or indentured labor including child labor at starvation wages, could be exploited at the behest of the ruling classes.

After two wars of words and a radically changed social, economic and political environment, the owners of capital could no longer treat labor as a disposable commodity. Unions, Communism, and the demand for universal education by the population in Western and Western democracies, together with world markets meant that the old methods of almost forced and repetitive labor (“the dark satanic mills”) became a thing of the past . New disciplines such as psychology, sociology and economics emerged. Unlike the natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry and even biology, the construction theory in the social sciences often followed practice, and were unequal and much less cumulative, reliable or universally valid and applicable ( see Gillespie below). Organizational behavior and management science developed alongside advances in the social sciences.

The “carrot and stick” approach to the first theories of management owes to the writings of Frederick Winslow Taylor. He coined the term “scientific management” to a theory later called simply “Taylorism” that sought to break down tasks into their simplest elements so that an assembly line robot could accomplish the task without needing to think. All brain work should be removed from the shop floor and handled by managers only. This is the principle of separating the conception from the execution. This approach may have worked with the first immigrants to the United States without much language skills (English), but its effectiveness was short-lived. However, in automated plants that use very high technological solutions for 24-hour routine work with little or no human input, the principle is still applied.

Douglas McGregor called Taylorism and similar command and control approaches to work management, Theory X, and instead proposed Theory Y by giving employees more autonomy and discretion at work, as long as they meet the objectives of the general organization. It was calling for a more skilled and educated workforce as work technology became more and more sophisticated with the passage of time. McGregor followed the work of Elton Mayo in what became known as the Hawthorne Studies conducted between 1927 and 1932 at the Western Electric plant in Cicero, Illinois.

Gillespie did a thorough review of Mayo’s Hawthorne plant experiments and questioned the sound ethics of regarding the work as objective science, although Mayo’s conclusions are widely discussed and accepted in the intervening years. Gillespie believes that there is “no purely objective scientific methodology” and that what is recognized as “scientific knowledge is manufactured and not discovered” (ibid.). Every type of intervention that Mayo instituted in the factory, including changing the lighting, changing the working hours, and giving more, or less breaks, all ended up with the workers producing more with each intervention by the social scientists. The “Hawthorne Effect” has been summarized as employees becoming more productive because they know they are being sympathetically observed. In other words from the psychological stimulus of being singled out, involved and made to feel important.”

Industrial relations had to be based on “human relations”, which was the name adopted by the Theory Y School of motivators. Their conclusions were that there was an informal group life developing among factory workers, and the norms that developed affected productivity. In short, the workplace is a social system and managers must ignore the fact at their cost. Workers develop among themselves a sense of responsibility to work well. Such an ethos was adopted by Japanese car manufacturers, and until recently it worked very well for them when they conquered the world car market.

A very similar type of investigation was carried out by the Tavistock Institute in London to study the work of coal miners. The researchers found that job simplification and specialization did not work in conditions of uncertainty and non-routine activity. They advocated semi-autonomous groups. Meanwhile, there had been extensive work carried out outside the organizational framework that was to influence motivational theory. This is the seminal work of Abraham Maslow who identified a hierarchy of human needs that require satisfaction from the lowest level of basic physiological needs that climb the ladder to creativity and self-actualization. According to Maslow, “a need once satisfied, no longer motivates. The company relies on monetary rewards and benefits to satisfy the lower level needs of employees. Once the needs have been satisfied, motivation is forward … employees can be more productive when their work goals align with their higher-level needs.”

Although McGregor used Maslow’s theory to reinforce his Theory Y, Maslow’s theory with its much more complex hierarchy was labeled Theory Z. In short summary form and visualized as a pyramid with its broad base first : :

– Physiological needs (lower)

– security needs;

– Needs for love/affiliation;

– estimation needs; and

– Self-actualization needs (higher)

There is one more influential theory of motivation (among many lesser known) that needs to be explored. This is Herzberg’s “two-factor” theory of motivation. “The theory was first drawn from an examination of events in the lives of engineers and accountants. At least 16 other investigations, using a wide variety of populations, (including some in communist countries) have been completed, making the original research one of the most replicated studies in the field of work attitudes’ (op. cit.). He hypothesized that the ‘factors involved in the production of job satisfaction (and motivation) are separated from the factors that lead to job dissatisfaction … The opposite of job satisfaction is not job satisfaction, but, rather, no job satisfaction; and similarly, the opposite of Job dissatisfaction is not job satisfaction, but not job dissatisfaction.”

Herzberg’s lower level hygiene factors can be listed as security, status, workplace relationships, personal life, salary, supervision and company practices. In their highest order, the motivators can be listed as growth, advancement, responsibility, work itself, recognition, and at the top a sense of success, which corresponds to self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy.

After exploring the changing nature of motivational theory as reflective of the changing nature of the global social, political, and economic landscape over the years, this essay also delves into the more general Hierarchy of Needs Theory. Maslow and Herzberg’s workplace-oriented two-factor theory. motivation Since all social science theorizing remains contingent on many factors, more recent theories such as total quality management (TQM) and business process reengineering (BPR) have evolved to take into account the current organizational issues.

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