Understanding Vroom’s expectancy theory of valency and instrumentality


Expectancy theory contends that employee behaviours are based on the choices of an individual dependent on their expected outcome. Basically, the tenet of this theory is that people are influenced by the desired outcomes of their actions (Renko, Kroeck & Bullough, 2012).

Vroom came out with two major propositions, that is: people will be motivated to pursue the achievement of their desired objectives if they believe in the worth of such goal, and secondly, if they believe that their deeds will ensure the set objective being attained. Therefore, Vroom believes that the motivation of an individual’s is firmly dependent on the value that individual place on the results of his or her effort if multiplied by his/her confidence that effort will indeed help to achieve the expected goal (Vroom, 1964; Lawler, & Suttle, 1972).

Vroom’s approaches to motivation are quite distinct from the other writers as he brought out the following perceptions to buttress his view. Vroom posits that when an individual is deciding among the behavioural options, he will select the most motivation option, which he termed a function of expectancy, instrumentality and valence. He explains expectancy to mean the belief that effort will lead to the expected performance; instrumentality to mean the belief that if one meets performance expectations, that person will receive a greater reward and finally, the valence to mean the value an individual places on that particular rewards (Vroom 1964; Dodu, Raboca &Tripon, 2011).

Expected performance theory developed by Victor H. Vroom shows that motivation is determined by the expected outcomes and as a result, the employee is interested in maximising gain and minimises loses (Lunenburg, 2011). According to Armstrong, Expectations Theory is a theory based on cognitive design fundamental on a rational-economic concept of humans. This cognitive design maintains that people shall take decisions that give the greatest benefits through the selection and evaluation of alternatives before known (Armstrong, 2007). This is based on the premises that motivation is given by the deliberate option of the individual’s consciousness to perform a certain activity, which will be rewarded in a certain way.

The theory produced the following mathematical relationship that appears like a product of three variables:

M= A x E x V


M – Motivation;

A – Expectations regarding the Remuneration;

E – The submitted Effort;

V – Value of Remuneration.

The primary implication of Vroom’s theory for managers is that, since motivation is closely tied to reward, they should aim to encourage high work performance by tailoring rewards to those things that employees value most (Asim, 2013). Incentives and benefits should be explicitly linked to actions that are in line with the organisation’s strategy and will contribute to organisational success (Robbins & Judge, 2013).

In Ghana for instance, motivation takes the dimensions of hygiene factors and motivational factors (Afful-Broni, 2012; Ampofo, 2012; Asim, 2013; Bonsu & Kusi, 2013). In this regard, it is the duty of the managers and or supervisors to clearly communicate their blue print of the organisation to the workers for them to fully understand what the organisation is about and what the organisation want to achieve. Based on these, issues concerning promotion, pay, recognition among others can be earned in terms of what behavioural patterns are already known to the employees and based on such patterns, rewards should be administered to employees.

The writer is with the   Bank of Ghana (BoG)

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