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Expectancy Theory of Motivation – Vroom’s Expectancy Theory | Theories of Motivation

Expectancy Theory 

In the present situation, expectancy theory is a widely accepted motivation theory because it focuses on the outcome. The theory states that the intensity of a tendency to perform is dependent on the intensity of expectation that performance will be followed by the definite outcome of an individual. It means that the expectancy theory of motivation focuses on the willingness of an individual to act in a certain way depends on the fulfillment of his expectation followed by the outcome.People are motivated when they know how to earn rewards, expect they will be able to earn rewards, and expect they will be worthwhile rewards. The expectation theory states that incentives will be high when people know what is required of them to earn rewards. In 1964, Vroom (1964) formulated the valency-instrumentality-expectancy (VIE) theory. The term value stands for value, instrumentality means a belief that if we do one thing it will lead to another, and expectancy means the probability of success.While expectations may be reinforced by past experiences (reinforcement), individuals are often faced with new situations – a change in job, payment system, or working conditions imposed by management – where past experiences are inadequate indicators of implications. Motivation is diminished under these circumstances.

It says that employee will be motivated and devote a high level of effort when he believes that effort will lead to a good performance appraisal and appraisal will provide a good reward. The rewards may involve bonus, increase in salary, promotion to higher-level, etc. reward and incentives provided by the manager should satisfy employee’s personal goals. The basic element of this theory is that motivation depends on how much an employee wants something and how likely he thinks he will get it. According to this theory:

Motivation= Expectancy * Valence (Goals)


This theory focuses on three relationships which are as follows.

Effort- Performance Relationship ( E-P )

It refers to a person’s perception of the probability that effort will lead to performance. Expectancy is defined as a probability rate range between 0-1. when there is a possibility of certainty of accomplishment of assigned task then E-P will be 1. Similarly, when there is no certainty on the accomplishment of the assigned task then E-P will be 0.

Performance-Reward relationship (P-R )

It is the degree to which employees believe that performing at a particular level will lead to the attainment of desired outcomes or rewards. If a person perceives there is an absolute certainty that high performance will lead to a pay raise then P-R will be close to 1. Similarly, if a person perceives that there is absolutely uncertainty that high performance will lead to a pay raise then P-R will be 0.

Reward-Personal goal Relationship (R-G )

It is the degree to which organizational rewards satisfy an individual’s personal goal. It shows the attractiveness of those potential rewards for the individuals. When an individual perceives that outcome leads to a high level of satisfaction then he will be motivated to work. It is anticipated satisfaction or dissatisfaction that an individual feels toward an outcome. It ranges from -1 to +1.

Therefore, the theory is helpful in understanding the relationship between individual effort and performance achieved, and between performance and reward provided, and again between reward provided and personal goal satisfaction. The study of the relationship between these elements helps to know employee level of motivation.

Expectancy Value Theory

Expectancy Value Theory

Expectancy Value Theory proposed by Vroom in the year 1964 postulates that motivation for a given behavior or action is determined by two factors:

(i) expectancy, ie, how probable it is that a wanted (instrumental) outcome is achieved through the behavior or action;

and (ii) value, ie, how much the individual values the desired outcome.

Advantages of the Expectancy Theory

Advantages of the Expectancy Theory

  • Individuals look for maximum satisfaction and minimize dissatisfaction based on self-interest.
  • Expectations and perception play an important role in this theory; what is real and what is actual is immaterial.
  • Reward-oriented theories emphasize payoffs.
  • The goal of psychological extravagance is to achieve maximum pleasure with the least amount of pain for the individual.
  • Managers are encouraged to design an environment that encourages positive behavior among employees. This can be accomplished by communicating with them effectively and creatively.
  • Cognitive psychology helps managers understand motivation as a mental process.
  • Because it assumes that employees are capable and rationally thinking individuals, this theory helps managers respect their employees’ dignity. They act accordingly according to their beliefs, perceptions, and probabilities.
  • Managers are encouraged to understand employees’ preferred outcomes and ensure that those outcomes are available.

Limitations of the Expectancy Theory

Limitations of the Expectancy Theory

  • There are many individuals who perceive a high degree of correlation between performance and rewards, making the expectancy theory seem idealistic.
  • In many organizations, rewards do not directly correlate with performance, limiting the application of this theory. Other parameters also play a role, such as position, effort, responsibility, and education.
  • The use of this theory is limited, according to the argument. Due to the fact that it tends to be valid only in situations where the effort-to-performance and performance-to-outcome linkages are clearly understood by the employees.
  • In many organizations, employees are rewarded based on their seniority, academic qualifications, etc. rather than on their actual performance. The theory tends to be idealistic in such a situation and has no practical application.
  • They cannot be used to measure valence, expectancy, and instrumentality in the real world of work.
    Since these factors may complicate the process of predicting motivation, this theory ignores many aspects of motivation.
  • Among these factors are long-term rewards, past favors, sense of loyalty, and fear of losing a job.
  • Although this theory has emerged as an important one, it hasn’t been fully tested. In order to build broad-based evidence in support of this theory, further testing is required.

Implications of the Expectancy Theory

Implications of the Expectancy Theory

  • Management can relate desired outcomes to aimed performance levels.
  • Employees must be able to reach the aimed performance levels.
  • The most deserving employees should be rewarded for their exceptional performance.
  • Organizations should have a just and equitable reward system.
  • Employers need to design challenging, interesting jobs.
  • Various techniques such as questionnaires, interviews, etc. should be used to continuously evaluate an employee’s motivation level.

Expectancy Theory of Motivation Quiz


Which component of expectancy theory covers the relative value of rewards and other consequences?

Which of the following does the expectancy theory explain about employees?

Which component of expectancy theory covers the performance-to-outcomes expectancy?

Which of the following statements is true about expectancy theory?

Victor vroom’s expectancy theory is based on the very simple assumption that

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