Goals determine a substantial amount of human behavior. Motivation to achieve these goals is a major factor in a business company and in any organizational effectiveness. For these reasons we devote a full post to this topic to show the relationship between individual goal and company goal and how does motivations take place through it. Individuals have goals and organizations have goals.

For maximal business company effectiveness it is important to make these two sets of goals compatible. In fact, that is the major role of management. The business company manager must have a clear understanding of both sets of goals and find ways to make them similar, overlapping, and at least non contradictory. Business company effectiveness depends on

(1) Individual motivation for organizational effectiveness (i.e., individual goals that are compatible with the goals of the organization),

 (2) Individual performance (just because one has the right goals does not automatically result in effective performance), and

(3) Adequate coordination of individual performances. Performance depends on more than motivation.

One must have adequate skills and abilities and proper training, and there must be a good match between the individual and the business company goals. Coordination depends on adequate communication, and it can be improved when there is participation by employees in decisions that affect them and when company goals overlap with personal ones.

In order to understand performance better, it is useful to focus on a model that links the probability of an act to particular determinants.


For our purposes here an act is a short sequence of behaviors that eventually results in some outcome, such as the publication of a paper or the development of a good research design. In other words, we are using the word “act” in a very specific way. Hundreds of these acts are necessary to produce a publication or to develop a product. What we are trying to understand is what makes these small acts more or less probable. Actions have results that are evaluated, and considered as the outcomes of action that may satisfy individual needs.

Two variables are important in this case: previous habits and self-instruction. For example, when a person says, “I should look up these references,” that is a self-instruction or behavioral intention. Research has shown that behavioral intentions predict behaviors quite well. The model thus states that the probability of an act is dependent on two kinds of variables: habits and behavioral intentions.

However, even when people have the proper habits and intentions to carry out a particular act, they may fail to do so because external conditions may not be favorable. We utilize the concept of facilitating conditions in order to explain the phenomenon that even though the individual may have all that is required, the act may not occur. Reasons beyond the intentions of the individual may not allow it. For example, there may be a lack of proper equipment or there may be distractions in the environment. Facilitating conditions can be measured both with data obtained “outside the individual” (e.g., by asking objective observers, who know the conditions of work well, to judge if the act can occur) and with data obtained from “inside the individual,” by measuring the individual’s sense of “self-efficacy.” This can be measured by asking the individual, “Can you do that?” A scale can be constructed that measures the individual’s beliefs that the behavior can take place under different kinds of circumstances. The circumstances described in the scale can be more and more difficult. Those who think that they can do the behavior under the most difficult circumstances are highest in self-efficacy.

Thus, a high sense of self-efficacy is an especially important facilitating condition. For instance, we can ask, “Can you solve this equation?” A person who says no is very low in self-efficacy. Those who answer yes are higher in self efficacy. A person who says yes when the question is “Can you solve this equation when you are waiting to board a plane in a noisy airport?” is very high in self efficacy. Consider a more specific example. If a person said, “I will look up this reference,” but the book that contains the particular reference is not around, the probability that the act will occur decreases. Facilitating conditions modify the probability that habit and intention in them will result in the act. They reflect the situation within which behavior may occur.

Determinants of Habits

What are some of the variables that determine a habit? Habits build up as a result of previous rewards. We call such rewards “reinforcements” because they reinforce the link between stimulus conditions and behavior. Behavior is a function of its consequences. As people engage in a particular behavior in the presence of a certain configuration of stimuli, and when desirable events follow the behavior, the probability increases that the configuration of stimuli will in the future produce the same behavior. The behavior eventually becomes automatic, without thinking. When this happens, we say that the act has become “overlearned” and occurs under the control of habits. In that case, behavioral intentions are not relevant as explanations of the behavior.

Determinants of Intentions

Let us now examine what determines behavioral intentions. Three classes of variables are relevant for the determination of behavioral intentions: social factors, act satisfaction, and perceived consequences.

Social Factors. Social factors include norms, roles, self-concept of the person, and interpersonal agreements.

  1. Norms. Ideas about correct behavior for all members of the organization. They emerge in discussions among members of the organization. For instance, arriving at 8 a.m. would be a norm since it applies to all members of the group.
  2. Roles. Ideas about correct behavior for the specific position that a member of the organization holds. These are evident when a person says to him or herself, “I am supposed to be doing this because it is my job.” In short, the role has become embedded in the person’s thinking and has certain activities associated with it. The probability of these activities (acts) increases when the person thinks that he or she is doing the job. Researchers who feel it is their job to keep supervisors informed are more likely to do
  3. For instance, what behaviors are expected of a “principal investigator”? In some cases, these expectations are quantitative, such as “producing three papers a year.” In other cases, they are qualitative—for example, the expectation of an important scientific contribution, or the development of a new product that will benefit the company.
  1. Self-Concept of the Person. This includes the ideas a person has about the types of activities that are appropriate for him or her. For example, if a researcher feels it is appropriate to present his or her views, even though they differ from others, he or she is more likely to participate actively in discussions and meetings.
  1. Interpersonal Agreements. These are similar to management by objectives. The supervisor and subordinate agree that the subordinate will try to reach a particular goal. Interpersonal agreements increase the probability that the goal will be reached through behavioral intention (self-instruction). Some research projects use milestones that are really interpersonal agreements as conceptualized here.

Act Satisfaction. The second class of variables that determines behavioral intentions is satisfaction associated with the act itself. Many acts are enjoyable in themselves, such as eating certain types of foods, playing the piano, or working on computer problems. Often such acts associated with pleasure have been formed through classical conditioning. In other words, the activity itself was associated with pleasant events in the past and is pleasant to think about, so this factor involves affect (emotion) toward the behavior itself. This affect motivates the person to self-instruct to do the act, and this in turn becomes the behavioral intention that causes the behavior. Working on a challenging research project or working with a noted scientist could fall in this category.

Facilitating Conditions

There are a number of factors that facilitate the performance of a behavior. Most of them are situational, such as helpful conditions, the right setting, or access to the resources needed to carry out the behavior. However, there are also internal conditions over which the individual does not have much control, such as the person’s physiological state (e.g., hormonal balance), beliefs that the behavior is possible and likely to lead to the successful reaching of goals (sense of self efficacy), and the level of difficulty of the task relative to the person’s ability. For instance, no matter how intensive a researcher’s intention to invent a new product, and how brilliant the past record of inventions (habits), there are situations in which no invention will be possible because the person is feeling depressed, or he or she believes that they are not able to have a new idea, or the task is much too difficult relative to the available talent. Some of these conditions can be measured objectively, and others may be estimated by objective observers of the total situation. The point about the F component of Equation 1 is that when it is zero, it can bring the probability of the act to zero, no matter how high the levels of habits or intentions.


People are more motivated if they have clear goals and know how their job fits the goals of the business company than if they do not have this information. Thus, structuring the company for optimal communication can help individual motivation. There has been a good deal of literature on the question of how to expose members of research and development department to the information they need to have to do their jobs well. One concern has been the accessibility of technical literature to the members of the department.


A variety of factors can be used to motivate an individual. Nonetheless, individuals will be just that when it comes to personal motivations, motivations for performance were based around pay and benefits, recognition, and opportunities for achievement. They concluded that motivations are dependent upon the employees and are likely to change within differing industries. Therefore the individual, company, and industry must be taken into account when motivators are applied.

The reason business company lack creativity or success is usually found in the nature and frequency of the rewards that are being distributed. Rewards can be given every month, such as salary, but this is not nearly as motivating as rewards that occur with a variable schedule. There is evidence that a variable schedule of rewards is much more motivating than one that occurs on a regular basis. Receiving recognition after each publication is less effective than getting a major recognition following a series of publications. While motivation is an important aspect of individual performance, we must not neglect to mention that the availability of proper skills and adequate training is also crucial to good performance. Furthermore, the rewards that the person receives from the business company should be tied to company performance.

Otherwise, the person may function extremely effectively, but his or her performance may have no impact on the company. Consider, for example, the case of an employee who is inspired on the job to invent something that could make a million dollars. However, the organization has neither the need for such a product nor the resources to take advantage of the invention. Such a person is performing well at the individual level, but not at the organizational level. The most important principles of compensation are

(1) equity,

(2) Competitiveness, and

(3) Link to performance.

Equity is achieved by making sure that employees are rewarded according to their education and merit. Competitiveness requires salary surveys. Links to performance are difficult to establish but are important. Specifically, if salary is the major means of compensation, it does not correlate sufficiently to performance. Bonuses do so much more. Systems of compensation that review the employee’s achievements every few months and that provide a raise according to the outcomes of these reviews link compensation and performance even more effectively.


Business company effectiveness does depend on individual motivation and individual effectiveness. It obviously depends on individual performance, but it also depends on communication and coordination among individuals as well as between the individual and the company. Techniques such as gain sharing and profit sharing bring the goals of the individual and the company into line with each other and are also methods for motivating the individual. One of the most successful plans to motivate employees has been developed by Lincoln (1951) and involves profit sharing.

In addition, openness of information is necessary so that the individual knows what the company expects and hopes to get from him. Job rotation can help the individual get a better feel for what the business company is trying to achieve, and intrinsic rewards (getting a kick out of doing the job) that are tied to individual performance can help the individual line up his or her own rewards and goals with the goals of the business company.

Finally, designing jobs in such a way that individuals have a sense of control over their activities is very important. Individuals must feel that a lot of what they do is consistent with their goals. Thus, the individual should have a certain amount of choice. Individuals who see themselves as having some alternatives are much more satisfied and have a greater sense of control than individuals who are told “this is it.” Having only one alternative is demotivating.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s