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Expectancy theory

Expectancy Theory

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory states that an individual will act in a certain way based on the expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual.

This motivational model (Vroom 1964) has been modified by several people, to include Porter and Lawler (Porter et. al., 1968).

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory is written as a formula:

Valence x Expectancy x Instrumentality = Motivation

  • Valence (Reward) = the amount of desire for a goal (what is the reward?)
  • Expectancy (Performance) = the strength of belief that work related effort will result in the completion of the task (How hard will I have to work to reach the goal?)
  • Instrumentality (Belief) = the belief that the reward will be received once the task is completed (Will they notice the effort I put forth?)

The product of valence, expectancy, and instrumentality is motivation.  It can be thought of as the strength of the drive towards a goal.  For example, if an employee wants to move up through the ranks, then promotion has a high valence for that employee.

If the employee believes that high performance will result in good reviews, then the employee has a high expectancy.  However, if the employee believes the company will not promote from within, then the employee has low instrumentality, and the employee will not be motivated to perform better.

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