Essay on the Traditional Approaches to Motivation

Traditional approaches to motivation were based on Scientific Management Approach and Human Relations Approach.

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Scientific Management Approach:

This approach was introduction and popularised by Frederic W. Taylor. He was one of the first persons to study time and motion systematically in order to calculate the most efficient and simplified means of production. Taylor considered that the ideal worker was a rational economically oriented individual who was motivated almost wholly by monetary incentives.


It follows that if the workers are motivated by money, we should increase their wages and the production will be higher. The workers will, thus get motivated. But we have seen the limitations of these theory ourselves. Even with the increase of wages and pay scales we have not been able to motivate our workers and, employees.

Moreover, this theory is mechanical in the sense that it considered worker only as an “economic man” motivated only by monetary incentives, thus, totally ignoring other aspects of his personality.

Human Relations:

This approach was started with the ‘Hawthorne studies by Elton Mayo and others. Mayo envisaged that the social, needs of man many a time outweigh economic needs, and that these non-economic needs were also powerful motivation.

This approach stressed that there was a positive co-relation between productivity and job satisfaction. Happy and satisfied employees produced more in comparison with unhappy and dissatisfied ones.


This approach, however, over simplifies the nature of human motivation. The phenomenon of human motivation is, however, a complex one. Human relations approach serves only as a satisfier and, not as a motivator.

The real motivation comes from within and not from without. However, this approach has made a considerable contribution by stressing worker, as human beings and not mere cogs in machines.