Expectancy Theory

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An employee's performance is based on individual factors. Explanation of Expectancy Theory of Victor Vroom. ('64)


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Expectancy Theory

What is Expectancy Theory? Description

The Expectancy Theory of Victor Vroom deals with motivation and management. Vroom's theory assumes that behavior is a result from conscious choices among alternatives. The purpose of the choices is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Together with Edward Lawler and Lyman Porter, Vroom suggested that the relationship between people's behavior at work and their goals was not as simple as was first imagined by other scientists. Vroom realized that an employee's performance is based on individual factors such as personality, skills, knowledge, experience and abilities.

The expectancy theory says that individuals have different sets of goals and can be motivated if they have certain expectations.

Expectancy Theory expectations

  • There is a positive correlation between efforts and performance,
  • Favorable performance will result in a desirable reward,
  • The reward will satisfy an important need,
  • The desire to satisfy the need is strong enough to make the effort worthwhile.

Vroom's Expectancy Theory is based upon the following three beliefs.

Expectancy Theory beliefs

  1. Valence. Refers to the emotional orientations which people hold with respect to outcomes [rewards]. The depth of the want of an employee for extrinsic [money, promotion, free time, benefits] or intrinsic [satisfaction] rewards. Management must discover what employees appreciate.

  2. Expectancy. Employees have different expectations and levels of confidence about what they are capable of doing. Management must discover what resources, training, or supervision the employees need.

  3. Instrumentality. The perception of employees whether they will actually receive what they desire, even if it has been promised by a manager. Management must ensure that promises of rewards are fulfilled and that employees are aware of that.

Vroom suggests that an employee's beliefs about Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valence interact psychologically. In this way they create a motivational force, such that the employee will act in a way that brings pleasure and avoids pain. This force can be 'calculated' via a formula:

Expectancy Theory formula

Motivation = Valence x Expectancy(Instrumentality).

This formula can be used to indicate and predict things as: job satisfaction, occupational choice, the likelihood of staying in a job, and the effort that one might expend at work.

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Expert Tips - Expectancy Theory Premium

4 Steps to Motivate your Employees...Sign up

As a manager, you can motivate your employees appl...
Usage (application): Using Expectancy Theory in your Department / Group

It's All About Perceptions!Sign up

Note that what matters in expectancy theory are th...
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Relationships in Expectancy TheorySign up

The Expectancy theory focuses on three relationsh...
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Resources - Expectancy Theory Premium

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Inspiring explanation of Victor Vroom's Expectancy...
Usage (application): Initial Understanding of the Expectancy Theory, Trainings, Workshops

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Presentations about Motivation EmployeesSign up


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Compare with the Expectancy Theory on Motivation with:  Hierarchy of Needs  |  Servant-Leadership  |  Theory of Needs  |  Hawthorne Effect  |  Competing Values Framework  |  Attribution Theory  |  Framing  |  Two Factor Theory Herzberg   |  Theory X Theory Y  |  Managerial Grid  |  ERG Theory  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Path-Goal Theory  |  Leadership Styles  |  Situational Leadership  |  EPIC ADVISERS  |  Coaching  |  Mentoring

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