How Incentives Effect the Performance of Managers Research Paper

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Incentives and Performance

Kopelman, R., et al. (2012); Further Development of a Measure of Theory X and Y Managerial Assumptions. Journal of Managerial Issues. 24 (4): 450-62.

Certainly, there is no one best way to ensure that either employees or managers are properly motivated. Most scholarship, in fact, indicates that motivation is a balance between the task-relevant behavior and the maturity and acumen of the group in which the individual manages or participates in. In fact, motivation is the basic driving force that helps individuals work, change and actualize to achieve their goals. This motivational behavior may be intrinsic or extrinsic, depending upon the individual and the manner in which that individual's personality uses different sets of motivation to incur actualization. Much of the basic theory of motivation tends to be based on the work of Benjamin Maslow, not only on human needs, but on the manner in which those needs are met within the cultural context of that individual's world -- or in the modern world, likely the workplace (Hersey and Blanchard, 1977). Research shows that regardless of the organization, whether it be public, private, entrepreneurial or corporate, various types of motivation revolve around two overall predispositions toward motivation -- individual are inherently demotivated and avoid work and must be aggressively motivated and individuals who are highly self-motivated and ambitious. Of course, these are two ends of a continuum and most people fall in between one or the other ends. They theory behind this level of motivation is that Theory X is the more autocratic and authoritarian model, while Theory Y is the more egalitarian and self-motivational paradigm. We are then asked to attempt to understand which of these models or their permutations become are more effective from a managerial point-of-view and what assumptions are made regarding their overall efficacy (Kopleman, et al., 2012).

Theory X assumes that managers rely on threat and coercion to gain employee compliance and to fulfill job requirements. Typically, the Theory X manager believes that the sole motivation for work is fiscal, and that it is only through salary, bonuses, and wages that work gets done. Theory Y managers believe that the satisfaction of doing great work is a good motivator, and that managers need to be open to other forms of motivation (compliments, greater responsibility, etc.) to get results. Thus, incentives range from purely monetary to a broad range of emotional and attitudinal issues that allow for the individual to complete tasks. For managers, applying Y principles, workers receive independence and responsibility for work -- opportunities to excel and less direct supervision. They X managers believe in close supervision and a clear chain of command to motivate; maintaining a distance and less personal relationship with employees (Sahin, 2012).

The issue of motivational theory is important because it relates to the very nature of the manner in which organizations work, fine tune, and work within the 21st century. The relevancy to the field is quite obvious -- managers in the 21st century have a different type of employee and different type of motivational activities. In particular, this study will help us understand how the XY Theory has undergone changes and issues over time, and how the new brand of employee, manager, and stakeholder has a different set of reactions and motivations based on a more continuum of motivations than being simply all X or all Y.

The hypothesis for the study is stated clearly, and looks at The Human Side of Enterprise from 1960 and asks what has changed during the past 50 years in managerial theory: what assumptions are now necessary to ensure motivation in a global economy, and what has changed about managers that needs to be identified and elucidated that might change the manner in which 50 years of research have uncovered a number of limitations and preconceptions that are of relatively little value in the current century, or, as one author put it, "we have not yet found a good enough measure of the X-Y dimension" (Schein, 2011).

This study does assume that the reader has at least a partial experience with X/Y theories of motivation; but not necessarily the 50 years' worth of secondary material and other research. In this case, the literature review section is rather week, consisting of only a few paragraphs that summarize decades of study. However, because the assumption is that the reader has a broad enough background in the previous literature on the subject, we can perhaps forgive the brevity of the literature review. The overall hypothesis and assumptions are clearly stated within the introduction: four different associations with X/Y motivational theory are considered and measured, and the assumptions of linkage and limitations of the theory are clearly stated. The literature used is scholarly and robust, consisting of sources from post-2000 and actually post 2010 whenever possible.

For managers, the adoption of the core belief of either X or Y is, in the modern area, quite rare. Instead, Theory X and Y relates to Maslow's Hierachy of needs and shows how human behavior and motivation are the major priorities within a work situation that maximize output. Twenty-First centry managers, for instance, tend to optimize their motivational philosophy more towards Theory Y because it creates a more symbiotic relationship between managers and workers; and thus there is a larger tool-kit for managers from which to pull to motivate employees and then be motivated and respected in turn (Kopleman). Realistically, for self-actualization of both the manager and the worker motivation must include creativity, spontaneity, problem solving and the ability to accept individual differences and find ways to motivate that are not necessarily tied to just monetary rewards (Heil, et al., 2000).

Hypothesis and Objectives

The authors hypothesize that instead of simply a bipolar example of XY theory, there are actually four different associations with XY theory: proximal measures, conceptual measures, attitudes, and linkages to a sliding dimension and continuum of events within the universe of XY. The objectives of the research are well stated and focus on what conceptual assumptions are given to XY events within each facet of measurement on a continuum. There is no specific delineation about a null hypothesis, but the section

Population/Research Sample

In this case, n-564 and participation was both voluntary and anonymous; surveys were conducted outside the academic environment. There were two sets of collections, T1 and T2, with about 3 weeks in between. Using SPSS the population was split into two, with about 2/3 graduate students, a mean of 28.16 age, and a mean salary of just over $50K; 74% were employed in a for-profit enterprise. The sample seemed appropriate and consistent based on the model and questions asked, particularly given the previous evidence connected with the range and theoretical constructs of the bipolar nature of the XY Theory. There might be a few weaknesses in demographics and psychographics -- there is likely not a broad enough spectrum of diverse ethnic populations, nor was educational level and past knowledge, previous experience, part of the measurement criteria. As well, if one subscribes to the notions that each type of career might have divergent levels of motivational authority, then this research may have too many medical (11%) and legal (20%) participants and not enough smaller businesses or those with entrepreneurial intent (See: Martin, 2009).


To validate the study, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis was done using parallel analysis. This analysis helped determine the number of factors upon the continuum that required retention, and factor loading was used to ensure that the population data fit the expected models; which it did. To determine convergent, substantive and discriminant validity, regression analysis was used. Overall, the data set was correlative, finding that women were a bit higher in Y factor than men. The statistical materials were quite well annotated, presented in cogent terms, not particularly long or discursive, but clear and made sense in buttressing the arguments given.

Research Design

The overall design was one of a comparative level and then using a 10-item fit scale to see if the experimental results confirmed that it is more common to have a measurement scale with XY as opposed to a typology. One weakness, pointed out by the authors, was that the term of employment had a median of 2.85 years, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics believes that number of, be higher at 3.6. Certainly, future research should draw on sample sizes that include a larger mix of population breakdowns that are far more representative of the actual workforce, and of whom the motivational modifiers make more sense in extrapolation.

Results and Conclusions

The results were, however, consistent between those with longer terms of managerial experience and those with just an introduction to management. Subsamples showed the hypothesis was quite accurate; there is really no way to definitely say that individuals are either X or Y, but like the Kinsey scale, they may be predisposed to X or Y as a dominant paradigm but retain certain attitudes that show more motivational…[continue]

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