What is Motivation? Definitions of Motivation by Different Authors

(Last Updated On: April 27, 2019)




Several definitions of motivation have been given by different authors and researchers. Here are the various definitions of motivation as given by different scholars.

According to Staw (1983), motivation is generally defined ‘as a prepotent state that energizes and guides behaviour’. It is rarely measured directly, but is inferred from changes in behavior, or even attitudes (p. 302).

Motivation refers to the degree of readiness of an organism to pursue some designated goal, and implies the determination of the nature and locus of the forces inducing the degree of readiness (Golembiewski, 1973, p.597).

Jones (1955) states that motivation is ‘concerned with how behavior gets started, is energized, is sustained, is directed, is stopped and what kind of subjective reaction is present in the organism while all this is going on’ (p. 14).








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Zedeck and Blood (1974) view motivation as a predisposition to act in a specific goal-directed manner.

To Kelly (1974), motivation ‘has to do with the forces that maintain and alter the direction, quality and intensity of behaviour’ (p.279).

Motivation is the process of influencing or stimulating a person to take action that will accomplish desired goa (Mondy, Holmes and Flippa, 1980, p. 263).

Berelson and Steiner (1964) defined motivation as ‘all those inner-striving conditions described as wishes, desires, drives, etc,… it is an inner state that activates or moves’ (p.309). Motivation involves effort, persistence and goals.




Motivation is an emotion or desire oerating on a person’s will and causing that person to act (Mathis and Jackson, 1982).

According to Middlesmist and Hitt (1981), motivation refers to ‘the willful desire to direct one’s behavior toward goal’ (p. 136).

Hoy and Miskel (1987) define motivation as the complex forces, drives, needs, tension states, or other mechanisms that start and maintain voluntary activity directed toward the achievement of personal goals.

According to Sixtus, Motivation is any positive or negative attitude or act that stimulates and sustains a person’s energy to start and accomplish a desired goal. This means that motivation does not only come by positive acts like incentives and fringe benefits; it also come by negative acts like query and punishment.







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