Expectancy theory deals with mental processes regarding choices and behaviors.
Analyze Vroom's expectancy theory to assess the accuracy and effectiveness of motivating based upon expectancy, instrumentality, and valence
Expectancy theory proposes that individuals decide to act in a certain way because they are motivated to select a behavior over other behaviors based on their expectation of the result.
The individual chooses based on estimates of how well the expected results of a given behavior are going to match up with the desired results.
Expectancy theory explains the behavioral process of why individuals are motivated to choose one behavioral option over another. It also explains how they make decisions to achieve the outcome that they perceive as most valuable.
A one-dimensional value assigned to an object, situation, or state that can usually be positive or negative.
Expectancy theory is about the mental processes involved in making choices. In organizational behavior, expectancy theory embraces Victor Vroom's definition of motivation. Vroom proposed that a person decides to behave in a certain way, selecting one behavior over other behaviors, based on the expected result of the selected behavior. For example, people will be willing to work harder if they think the extra effort will be rewarded.
In essence, the motivation behind chosen behavior is determined by the desirability of the expected outcome. At the theory's core is the cognitive process of how an individual processes the different motivational elements. Processing is done before an individual makes the final choice. The expected result, therefore, is not the sole determining factor in the decision of how to behave because the person has to predict whether or not the expectation will be fulfilled.
Vroom's Expectancy Theory
In 1964, Vroom defined motivation as a process controlled by the individual that governed choices among alternative forms of voluntary activities. Individuals make choices based on estimates of how well the expected results of a given behavior are going to match up with or eventually lead to the desired results.
In Vroom's analysis, the basis for motivation is threefold:
the individual's expectancy that effort will lead to the intended performance
the desirability of the result (known as valence) to the individual
Vroom introduces three variables within his expectancy theory: valence (V), expectancy (E), and instrumentality (I). These three elements also have clearly defined relationships: effort-performance expectancy (E>P expectancy), performance-outcome expectancy (P>O expectancy).
These three components of expectancy theory (expectancy, instrumentality, and valence) fit together in this fashion:
Expectancy: Effort → Performance (E→P)
Instrumentality: Performance → Outcome (P→O)
Effort → Performance (E→P): Expectancy is the belief that an effort (E) will result in attainment of desired performance (P) goals. Usually, this belief is based on an individual's past experience, self-confidence, and the perceived difficulty of the performance standard or goal. Factors associated with the individual's expectancy perception are competence, goal difficulty, and control.
Performance → Outcome (P→O): Instrumentality is the belief that a person will receive a desired outcome (O) if the performance expectation is met. This outcome may come in the form of a pay increase, promotion, recognition, or sense of accomplishment. Instrumentality is low when the outcome is the same for all possible levels of performance.
V(O): Valence is the value individuals place on outcomes (O) based on their needs, goals, values, and sources of motivation. Factors associated with the individual's valence are values, needs, goals, preferences, sources of motivation, and the strength of an individual's preference for a particular outcome.
Expectancy theory can help managers understand how individuals are motivated to choose among various behavioral alternatives. To enhance the connection between performance and outcomes, managers should use systems that tie rewards very closely to performance. Managers also need to ensure that the rewards provided are deserved and wanted by the recipients. To improve the connection between effort and performance, managers should use training to improve employee capabilities and help employees believe that added effort will in fact lead to better performance .