Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Two-factor motivation theory

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Two-factory of motivation:
What is the two-factor theory of motivation and how can it be applied?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Have you ever heard of the two-factor theory of motivation? What actually is the theory? How is it applied in a real-world context?

This chapter explores the key components of the theory to determine how it is related to motivation. The chapter also considers case studies in a range of different contexts to determine how the theory has been applied and future application of the theory.

Focus questions:
  1. What is the two-factor theory of motivation? What is it comprised of and how does it differ to other theories of motivation?
  2. How is the two-factor theory currently applied?
  3. How can individuals and organisations apply the two-factor theory for their benefit?

Two-Factor theory of motivation[edit | edit source]

The two-factory[spelling?] theory of motivation (also known as the motivator-hygiene theory, or dual-factor theory) was proposed in 1959 by Frederick Herzberg and is specific to the workplace. The theory is based on two types of factors; motivating factors, which lead to job satisfaction, and hygiene factors, which lead to job dissatisfaction (Sanjeev, Surya, 2016). The theory was fundamental in the development of workplace motivation. Herzberg's approach was unique and rather [missing something?] viewing satisfaction and dissatisfaction as two opposite ends of the one spectrum, he stated job satisfaction was made of two continuums (Sanjeev, Surya, 2016). He stated one continuum concerned hygiene factors which represented dissatisfaction at one end and the absence of dissatisfaction at the other. The second continuum which was controlled by motivation factors represented no dissatisfaction at one end, and satisfaction at the other. As a result of this classification, he recognised the factors were related but should be placed on separate continuums (Mehboob, Bhutton, et al.). Herzberg has held that when the hygiene factors deteriorate to a level below employee acceptance than[grammar?] job dissatisfaction occurs. However it is important to note the opposite effect is not true. When job context is optimal the employee will not be dissatisfied, however they will also not necessarily be positive. It is primarily the motivating, job content factors which result in job satisfaction (Ruthankoon, Ogunlana, 2003). The way hygiene and motivation factors interaction and the combination of different levels result in different performance of employees (see Table 1).

Figure 1. An example of how hygiene and motivation factors interact and affect job satisfaction.

Hygiene factors[edit | edit source]

The hygiene factors of the theory refer to the factors which are not directly related to the job but the conditions that surround doing the job and are largely performed by someone other than the employee or student. They can be referred to as maintenance factors as they are necessary to maintain a reasonable level of satisfaction but can also cause dissatisfaction (Dartey-Baah, Kofi Amoako, 2011). Hygiene factors are in regards to job context and includes a variety of factors such as company policy, supervision, relationship with supervisors, work conditions, peer relationships, salary/wages, personal life, and the relationship one has with subordinates, status and job security.

Motivation factors[edit | edit source]

The motivator factors are more related to the workplace itself and refer more to the physiological[say what?] need for growth and recognition. The factors build strong levels of motivation that result in good job performance and include factors such as achievement, recognition and personal growth. (Dartey-Baah, Kofi Amoako, 2011). Motivation factors relate to job content and are the factors intrinsic within the work itself like the recognition of a task completed and are mostly performed by the employee or student. These factors include achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, possibility of growth and advancement.

Table 1.

Theoretical Combination of different hygiene and motivation levels. (Dartey-Baah, Kofi Amoako, 2011)

Hygiene Level Motivation Level Result
High Hygiene High Motivation Ideal situation where employees are highly motivated and have few complaints
High Hygiene Low Motivation Employees have few complaints but are not highly motivated. The job is then perceived as a pay cheque due to the focus on the hygiene level.
Low Hygiene High Motivation Employees are motivated but have a lot of complaints. A situation where the job is exciting and challenging but salaries and work conditions are not.
Low Hygiene Low Motivation This is the worst situation. It results in unmotivated employees with a lot of complaints.

The theory focus'[grammar?] on hygiene and motivation factors. Motivation factors are the factors that promote satisfaction. According to Herzberg et al. (1959), motivators cause positive job attitudes because they satisfy the worker’s need for self-actualization (Maslow, 1954). In comparison, hygiene factors have the potential to cause dissatisfaction for employees. However their absenece{{sp} does not provoke a high level of satisfaction.

For this theory, it is important to understand the difference between motivation and satisfaction. Motivation is often used to indicate the level of 'enthusiasm' for something. However, satisfaction indicates the pleasant feeling that results in the engagement of the activity which matches the expectation held. For e.g. when an individual perceives they have a reasonable level of autonomy in their job (Sanjeev, Surya, 2016).

Quiz[edit | edit source]

Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

1 Why is Herzberg's approach considered unique?

It approached satisfaction and dissatisfaction separate concepts rather then two ends of a spectrum.
It viewed motivation factors in relation to job content.
It attempted to prove cross-cultural validity.
It stated hygiene factors can also be referred to as maintenance factors.

2 What type of factor would 'achievement' be classified as?

Motivation Factor
Hygiene Factor

3 What is the result of low hygiene and high motivation?

unmotivated employees with lots of complaints
employees are highly motivated and have few compaints[spelling?]
employees have few complaints but are not highly motivated
employees are motivated but have a lot of complaints

Case studies - how the theory has been tested[edit | edit source]

Figure 2. This is an example of someone working.

The [which?] theory provides management and individual workers with knowledge in[awkward expression?] how to optimise their performance in the workplace. Below is a range of studies based on the application of the two-factor theory of motivation with key points of the studies summarised.

Study 1: case of Ghana[edit | edit source]

Details of the study:

The purpose of this study was to critically examine the two-factor theory of motivation by assessing its application and relevance in understanding what motivation and hygiene factors specifically motivate and affect the Ghanian worker (Darety-Baah, Kofi Amaoko, 2011).

Key points which arose from the study:

  1. A combination of motivation and hygiene factors, such as good pay and challenging work encourage employees to work at an optimal level knowing they will be rewarded adequately in return.
  2. Extrinsic motivation in the form of hygiene factors such as 'bonuses' and 'benefits' encourages commitment and advancing organisational structures. The Ghanian worker becomes dissatisfied when adequate wages are not received for work done which reflects a hygiene factor as described by Herzberg.
  3. A key issue which affects Ghanian workers is job security, which according to Herzberg is an example of a hygiene factor. As stated in the study, Ghanian employees are typically concerned with hygiene factors such as job security and money due to the instability of employment in Ghana, especially in the private sector. Due to this, they play a major role in the level of satisfaction of workers. From this study it can arguably be concluded that due to this emphasis of money and job security, the Ghanian employee is more concerned with basic hygiene factors which surround employment and do not place much emphasis on motivator factors.
  4. Aligned with the values of the Ghanian workers surrounding job security, workers in Ghana desire a quality work environment. The study concluded that motivation factors such as opportunities for advancement, fair treatment and adequate work conditions contributes to the level of motivation of Ghanian employees. Despite not having as great affect[grammar?] on satisfaction and motivation as the hygiene factors listed above, the study concluded motivation factors are still of significant importance to Ghanian workers.
  5. After applying the Herzberg theory, managers with advisement from human resource departments should redesign jobs and responsibilities to ensure new challengers are presented to workers on a regular basis. As Herzberg described it, 'Job Enrichment' in the form of motivation factors, adds to the quality of work of employees.

Study 2: seasonal workers in hospitality and tourism[edit | edit source]

Details of the study:

The aim of this study is to investigate whether seasonal workers could be grouped into sub-categories based on their motivation at work. To determine this Herzberg's two-factor theory was tested using a structural equations model (Lundberg, Gudmundsn, Andersson, 2009).

Key points which arose from the study:

  1. The study was significant in the differences it highlighted between seasonal workers and resident workers. For example, the study highlighted that the hygiene factor of wage level was significantly of greater importance to the resident community members in comparison to the migrant community. This highlights a possible compensation between the two factors where the factor 'meeting new people' compensates for a lower wage for the seasonal workers.
  2. Overall, hygiene factors were very important for the general satisfaction of the workers at their place of work, and therefore it is central for management to meet these needs for their employees. [grammar?]Important to note however that in order to actually motivate employees, their growth needs to be met as well. This has the implication in order to get motivated employees, they need to be satisfied and given responsibility.
  3. Study two in particular highlights that management of businesses need to consider the different needs of their employees based on different kind of workforces. For example, in study 2 it was shown that close interpersonal relations were significant for resident employees. By understanding what satisfies employees, employers are then able to understand what motivates them. For example, activities which could help relations such as team-building training or events targeted at employees would satisfy their inter-relational needs and therefore satisfy hygiene factors.(Lundberg, Gudmundsn, Andersson, 2009)
  4. In conclusion, the findings supported the theory. As a result of the findings, employers and organisations in hospitality and tourism should consider that their seasonal workforce does in fact consist of different subgroups, each which place a different level of emphasis on motivation and hygiene factors.

Study 3: Malaysian universities[edit | edit source]

This study was conducted to measure job satisfaction of faculty members in university at Malaysia using ten major factors corresponding to job satisfaction by applying the two-factor theory of motivation (Wong, Heng, 2009).

Key points which arose from the study:

  1. The study has revealed that job satisfaction is a prerequisite for an educator's long tenure and higher performance.
  2. Satisfied employees deliver a better service because they understand what their customers want. In this case, the customers are university students who thrive of their educators guidance. Therefore if employers and educators are better motivated, they deliver a more efficient service.
  3. The study suggests that culture has a relatively strong impact on employee's reaction to job satisfaction, as the pattern of job attitudes for Malaysian faculty members of the university appears differed to Herzberg's model of job satisfaction. For example, the job satisfaction of faculty members was reflected by the presence of some hygiene factors with job dissatisfaction being reflected in the absence of motivators. This suggests the particular factors selected from the theory in this assessment are not reliable or valid measures of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in this context.
  4. There are many practical implications which can be concluded from this study which include:
    1. Enrichment of motivation factors to allow faculty members to reach satisfaction[vague].
    2. Improvement of motivation factors to provide more flexibility to changing work conditions.
    3. Emphasis should be put on ensuring adequate wages to avoid employee dissatisfaction.

Study 4: Malaysian retail sector[edit | edit source]

To determine the applicability of the two-factor theory, 180 sales personnel who worked in Malaysia answered a questionnaire in relation to their employment (Tan, Waheed, 2011). Next, a linear regression analysis was performed to determine the relationship between Herzberg's motivation hygiene factors and job satisfaction.

Key points which arose from the study:

  1. Hygiene factors dominate motivator factors in terms of job satisfaction for employees who work in the Malaysian retail sector. Three hygiene factors including working condition, company policy and wages/salary are the most important factors. The only motivation factor which is important is recognition.
  2. The study is of key importance as it has wide implications. The retail sector of society operates on a large scale and is crucial at a local, national and international level. Therefore as Herzberg's theory was successfully applied to the retail sector, it can be applied internationally and possibly enhance productivity.
  3. These results are consistent with another observation by who claimed Malaysian workers are much more concerned about hygiene factors than motivating factors in comparison to American employees (Islam and Ismail, 2008).

Study 5: Thai construction industry (Ruthankoon, Ogunlana, 2003)[edit | edit source]

The two-factor theory of motivation was applied in the context of the Thai construction industry to determine what the most applicable motivator and hygiene factors were.

Key points which arose from the study:

  1. In Herzberg's original study, he grouped factors according to job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. However, in this study on Thai Construction workers, some factors do not appear as they were originally classified. This highlights the results in the study show Herzberg's two factor theory is not entirely applicable to the Thai Construction Industry due to the differences of classification.
  2. By applying Herzberg's theory there is a range of motivation patterns which has been revealed specific to the construction industry.
    • The top motivation factors for workers, foremen and engineers include responsibility, advancement, growth possibility and supervision.
    • The hygiene factors most appropriate to construction workers based on the theory include working conditions, job security and site safety.
  3. There were a number of factors which contributed to both satisfaction and dissatisfaction which include recognition, work itself, company's policy and administration and interpersonal relations.
  4. This study based on construction employees means construction companies can apply these findings in their practical management styles. The study highlights the major factors to be consider are interpersonal relationships among employees and salary and wages due to the strong correlation they show in relation to both satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Quiz[edit | edit source]

Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

In regards to the Malaysian retail sector, which is the only motivation factor which is important?


Future application of the two-factor theory[edit | edit source]

Based on current research and applications, the two-factor theory of motivation remains influential in a range of industries at varied levels within the domain of organisational theory. The two-factor theory is one of the most widely applied job satisfaction theories in designing jobs. Based on both theory and research, two fundamental principles emerge which employers and managers can make to ensure their workers are motivated. These principles include taking away the dissatisfaction and creating conditions for satisfaction. The theory can help design jobs to include motivating factors to improve the motivation potential of the job while also ensuring job dissatisfaction does not occur through the presence of hygiene factors. More specifically, the two-factor theory has its applications in job enlargement, job rotation and job enrichment (Sanjeev, Surya, 2016).

Herzberg's theory has been influential for the effect it has had on managers by provoking them to consider that their are different types of factors which should be considered in order to motivate and satisfy employees (Darety-Baah, Kofi Amaoko, 2011). The two-factor theory offers an alternative framework in understanding motivational implications of work environments. The theory is specific to workplaces and takes a narrow approach specifically to employees. In this way the theory helps provide an answer to the question of what people want from their job. Due to this specificity, more specific implications can be withdrawn from employers and organisations. This is supported by Brenner, Carmack and Weinstein (1971) who stated the theory 'may provide more meaningful results in determining job satisfaction and the causes thereof' (Ozguner & Ozguner, 2014).

Job enlargement[edit | edit source]

Job enlargement refers to increasing the scope of a job through extending the range of its job duties and responsibilities generally within the same level and periphery. In regards to the two-factor theory of motivation, job enlargement is specific to motivation factors such as responsibility and the possibility of growth and advancement. For example, the two-factor theory of motivation can be applied to Ghanian workers with the effect occurring in job enlargement. Study 1 (above) highlighted that an important motivation factor for workers in Ghana is opportunities for advancement and responsibility. By applying the theory, employers can increase the responsibilities of their Ghanian workers and in turn also increase their workers level of motivation. Additionally, the same effect occurs for workers in the Thai construction industry with responsibility, growth possibility and advancement also being the top motivator factors for them. Both of these studies highlight the importance of motivation factors in employment, as by recognising responsibility motivates employees, organisations can have increased motivation for their workers and therefore also increased efficiency in the workplace.

Job rotation[edit | edit source]

Job rotation is a method used by employers to rotate their employees assigned jobs through the course of their employment. Job rotation is a job design method aimed at developing views and doubling productivity by improving performance at an individual and organisational level by creating multi-skilled workers. The method of job rotation is related to organisational consequences including job satisfaction (Saravani & Abbasi, 2013). In this sense, when employers understand what satisfies motivates employees, they can use the method of job rotation to ensure satisfaction of their employees. For example where employees are highly motivated by the work itself, and the possibility of growth and advancement, organisations may use job rotation as a method to provide opportunities for growth and advancement by developing employee skill.

Job enrichment[edit | edit source]

Job enrichment refers to the method of motivating employees where a job is designed to have interesting and challenging tasks. By focusing on the intrinsic aspects of the job, Herzberg conceptualised specific components of work which motivates people. In this way job enrichment can include methods such as goal setting to challenge the employee to achieve a certain goal (Umstot, Bell & Mitchell, 1976). For example by having a goal to strive for, employees are given the opportunity for achievement and the possibility of advancement and growth. Through careful job design to ensure job enrichment, employers are able to ensure their employees are achieving workplace goals. Herzberg himself reinforced the consequence of job enrichment as he stated if managers enriched jobs, that means employees would be more interested in their work, exercise greater responsibility and therefore produce higher quality work. In addition to this, Herzberg listed suggestions for employers and organisations which include:

  1. Providing employees with direct performance feedback from the work itself.
  2. Establishing client relationships where employees have the opportunity to serve an internal or external client.
  3. Creating continuous opportunities to learn.
  4. Giving employees control over their own schedules.
  5. Giving employees control over organisational resources.
  6. Granting employees the permission to communicate directly with people in the organisation.
  7. Providing employees with personal accountability for their own performance (Sachau, 2007).

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Take-home messages:

  1. Herzberg's two-factor theory of motivation is based on the workplace, and involves understanding hygiene factors which contribute to job dissatisfaction and motivation factors which lead to job satisfaction.
  2. Through applying Herzberg's two factor theory of motivation, it has shown to be cross-cultural in application and transcends different types of workers. However, evidence provides that different types of workers in different situations prioritise motivation and hygiene factors differently.
  3. Where the two-factor theory recognises employees are motivated by the possibility of growth and advancement as well as responsibility, the two factor can be successfully applied to job enlargement.
  4. Job rotation is another area of job design which can benefit from the application of the two-factor theory as it is related directly to organisational consequences. For example, job rotation helps satisfy the need for growth and advancement of employees.
  5. Finally, the two-factor theory also has implications in the area of job enhancement. For example by managers understanding what most motivates their employees and design the employee's job accordingly, the employee exercises greater responsibility and therefore produce a higher quality of work.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Chan, JKL., Baum, T. (2006). Determination of Satisfiers and Dissatisfiers using Herzberg's motivator and hygiene factor theory: an exploratory study. Tourism, Culture and Communication, 7, 1-9.

Dartey-Baah, K., Kofi Amoako, G. (2011). Application of Frederick Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory in assessing and understanding employee motivation at work: a Ghanaian Perspective. European Journal of Business and Management, 3 (9), 1-7.

Deshields JR, O, W., Kara, A., Kaynak, E. (2005) Determinants of Business studyent satisfaction and retention in higher education: applying Herzberg's two-factor theory. International Journal of Educational Management, 19(2), 128-138. doi: 10.1108/09513540510582426

Islam, R., & Ismail, A. (2008). Employee motivation: a Malaysian perspective. International Journal of Commerce and Management, 18, 344-362.

Lundberg, C., Gudmundson, A., Andersson, T, D. (2009). Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory of work motivation tested empirically on seasonal workers in hospitality and tourism. Tourism Management, 30, 890-899. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.20 08.12.0 03

Mehboob, F., Bhutton, N, A., Azhar, S, M., Butt, F., () Factors affecting job satisfaction among faculty members: Herzberg's two factor theory perspective. Asian Journal of Business and Managament Sciences, 1 (12), 1-9.

Heresy, P., & Blanchard, K. H. (1982. Management of organizational behaviour: Utilizing human resources. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Herzberg F (1965) The motivation to work among Finnish supervisors. Pers Psychol 18 (4):393–402

Herzberg F (1968) One more time: how do you motivate employees? Harvard Bus Rev 46(1):53–62

Umstot, D., Bell, C., & Mitchell, T. (1976). Effects of Job Enrichment and Task Goals on Satisfaction and Productivity: Implications for Job Design. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 61(4), 379-394.

Ozguner, Z., & Ozguner, M. (2014). A Managerial Point of View on the Relationship between of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Herzberg’s Dual Factor Theory. International Journal Of Business And Social Science, 5(7), 207-214. Retrieved from

Ruthankoon, R., Ogunlana, S, O., (2003) Testing Herzberg's two-factor theory in the Thai construction industry. Engineering, Construction and Architectrual Management, 10(5), 333-342.

Sanjeev, M, A., Surya, A, V. (2016) Two Factor Theory of Motivation and Satisfaction: An Empirical Verification. Ann Data Sci, 3 (2). 155-173.

Saravani, S., & Abbasi, B. (2013). Investigating the influence of job rotation on performance by considering skill variation and job satisfaction of bank employees. Technical Gazette, 20(3), 473-478. Retrieved from

Sachau, D. (2007). Resurrecting the Motivation-Hygiene Theory: Herzberg and the Positive Psychology Movement. Human Resource Development Review, 6(4), 377-393. doi: 10.1177/1534484307307546

Tan, T, H., Waheed, A. (2011) Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory and job satisfaction in the Malaysian retail sector: the mediating effect of love of money. Asian Academy of Management Journal, 16 (1): 1-31.

Tietjen, M, A., Myers, R, M. (1999). Motivation and Job Satisfaction. Management Decision, 36 (4), 226-231.

Wong, E, S, K., Heng, T, N. (2009) Case Study of Factors Influencing Jobs Satisfaction in Two Malaysian Universities. International Business Research, 86-98.

External links[edit | edit source]