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motivation-hygiene theory

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Herzberg, Frederick, Mausner, Bernard and Snyderman, Barbara
United States
change agent, coach and manager
analyse, design, implement and reflect
leadership & management and personnel management
abstr. level:
classics I




In the late 1950's, the American psychologists Herzberg, Mausner and Snyderman, analysed the foundations of job motivation based on a large-scale literature review and a survey amongst 200 engineers and accountants from the Pittsburgh area.


They challenged the traditional view that workers are only satisfied or dissatisfied with their jobs and proposed a system with dual continuums of satisfiers and dissatisfiers to understand employee motivation and satisfaction. Thus, when workers are satisfied, they attribute their satisfaction to the work itself. When they are dissatisfied with their jobs, they are concerned about their work environment. The researchers named their dual continuums motivation and hygiene.


HYGIENE factors

The factors that help prevent dissatisfaction. They do not lead to higher levels of motivation but dissatisfaction exists without them. The factors are primarily extrinsic:

  • company's policies and administration;
  • quality of supervision;
  • working conditions;
  • interpersonal relations;
  • salary;
  • status;
  • job security.



The five factors that lead to job satisfaction and higher levels of motivation. These factors are neutral if they are not activated. They are primarily intrinsic factors:

  • achievement;
  • recognition;
  • the work itself;
  • responsibility;
  • advancement.


Preferably, the two approaches, hygiene and motivation, must be carried out simultaneously. Treat people so they obtain a minimum of dissatisfaction. Use people so they achieve, get recognition, grow and advance in their careers. Based on Maslow's Hierarchy, Herzberg et al. theorised that the factors that motivate the worker or are likely to satisfy their needs, lead to positive job attitudes.


Management ought to focus on rearranging work to promote motivation factors. They suggested three possibilities:

  1. Job extension that combines the work of several jobs;
  2. Job rotation, that alternates workers between a limited number of jobs over time;
  3. Job enrichment that diversifies work and provides greater but more responsibility.


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motivation-hygiene theory
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motivation-hygiene theory matrix
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The theory not only defined the elements of job satisfaction, but provided a valuable template to conduct job attitude studies. The original research employed the 'critical incident technique' that involved interviewees discussing occasions of great satisfaction and dissatisfaction with their jobs.


The theory showed that a participative management style is most effective with staff of professional services firms. Wages are important, but insufficient for obtaining a motivated team.


The theory showed that a participative management style is most effective with staff of professional services firms. Wages are important, but insufficient for obtaining a motivated team.



The theory is biased towards professionals. The study did not include blue collar workers.


Later studies suggested that the independent effect of motivators and hygiene factors is flawed. One study demonstrated that both can be related to job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction.


Job satisfaction does not necessarily imply a high level of motivation or productivity.



Job Satisfaction: Application, Assessment, Causes, and Consequences
  • Paul E. Spector
  • 1997
  • Sage
  • United States
  • ISBN 0761989234
The Motivation to Work
  • Frederick Herzberg, Bernard Mausner and Barbara Snyderman
  • 1959
  • Wiley
  • United States
  • ISBN 156000634X