Expectancy Theory

Knowledge Center

Summary, forum, best practices, expert tips and information sources.

253 items • 1.451.343 visits

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.

Special Interest Group

Expectancy Theory Special Interest Group.

Special Interest Group (566 members)


Forum discussions about the Expectancy Theory. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

Start a new topic about Expectancy Theory


🔥 NEW How to Deal with Demotivated Employees: Learned Helplessness
It is easy to understand the principle of "Learned Helplessness" (LH) by imagining an elephant trainer who trains a baby elephant. The training commences by initially tying a baby elephant's leg to a ...
What Precisely is Expectancy? Definition
According to Vroom, Expectancy is the 'momentary belief concerning the likelihood that a particular act will be followed by a particular outcome'.
It can range from zero (belief that the outcome ...
Expectancy Theory versus Human Needs?
There are many different ways to reach goals, but I believe that the NEEDS have more weight than the EXPECTANCY. So what about Maslow thinking of human behavior?...
Effort Leads to Performance, But Only to a Certain Extent
This is true in most cases, the more you put in the more you get out. But there are times when this is not the case.
If you put in all of your effort you do perform better, but it is hard to see ...
Misunderstandings About Motivation
Motivation is found to be hard by many people. I would like to put across a number of misconceptions around motivation:
People are primarily motivated financially. Motivation can be done even ...
What Precisely is Valence? Definition of Valence
Hi, for me it's hard to understand "valence"? It's not in my English dictionary. Can you give me some help?...
Human Motivation Lies Within
A human can never be motivated. You can just push a bit and show a way. A person always needs to be self-motivated to perform best and be successful.

We as a company in HR spend a lot of ef...
Motivation Should be a Two-way Process
I think the motivation process between the manager and the employees is exchangeable, i.e., bosses can and should motivate their subordinates in various ways, but at the same time the subordinates can...
Problems with Expectancy Theory. Disadvantages
Two major issues with Expectancy Theory is that it breaks down if employees do not believe in their capability or in the reward.
Other leadership, motivation skills and theories are needed first ...
Measuring Motivation:The PIAV Assessment
When it comes to looking at the individual there is no substitute (personal bias here) for the Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values (PIAV) assessment.
It is a validated tool (based on the wor...
Identify your Passion for Success
In my opinion, success comes from loving what you do. Is your current work your passion?
When you study highly successful people, you understand that they have at least one thing in common, they ...
The Importance of the Goals in Motivating Workers
I believe that success in motivating employees is well explained in McGregor's example in which, to the question: "What are you doing?", three stone masons working on a construction site answer differ...

Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about the Expectancy Theory. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

How Can You Motivate Knowledge Workers?
In the current 'knowledge era', the question what motivates knowledge workers, and, being a manager, how you should motivate and manage them is important.
In their article "The Progress of Small...

What Motivates Employees? The Answer Depends (Partly) on their Generation
The age of retirement has been moved to 60, 65, 70 years and beyond. Where each generation used to pass the baton; there is no baton being passed anymore.
We can now find multiple generations (up...

All 3 Elements in Expectancy Theory are Mandatory
Will your employee work hard for a raise?
Of course management science is not mathematics. But a consequence that should not be overlooked of Vroom's formula M = V * E * I is that even if only on...

Why People Want to Become Leaders? Motivations to Lead
Leadership roles in an organization are obviously pivotal to the successful and smooth functioning of the organization in terms of both tactical (day-to-day) issues and strategic (long-term) perspecti...

Motivation in Non-Profit Organizations
I'm having difficulties finding a theory to help me research motivation, and the importance of it, in a non-profit organization. Could someone please give me some advice for the best possible theory? ...

Is your Job Meaningful?
Finding a purpose in your job is important for millennials and in fact for everybody.
Nevertheless, many people have a job that they don't regard as meaningful. Therefore, they are not completely...

Controlling the Minds of Employees
I think there can be several way to achieve goals, however what's more important is to have control over the mind of the team members. And that's up to the managers how they carry their team....

Extended Version of the Expectancy Theory (Lambright)
Lambright (2010) addresses an important weakness of the expectancy theory: it makes no distinction between certainty and uncertainty conditions. Indeed, the expectancy theory does not take into accoun...
Motivating an Employee by Valence
According to Vroom, Valence refers to a preference for one outcome over another. It can be positive, neutral or negative. For example, if an employee strongly desires a promotion, and believes that a...

Motivation is Owned by the Individual
Motivation is a slippery slope. I believe Wlodkowski who says: one cannot directly motivate another since motivation is owned by the individual; it comes from within us. It's the same as telling one t...

Expert Tips

Advanced insights about the Expectancy Theory. Here you will find professional advices by experts.

4 Steps to Motivate your Employees...

Using Expectancy Theory in your Department / Group
As a manager, you can motivate your employees applying Expectancy Theory. Take these 4 steps: 1. Find out what each ind...

It's All About Perceptions!

Implementing Expectancy Theory
Note that what matters in expectancy theory are the perceptions of the person who is to be motivated, not the rea...

Expectancy can be Unexpected!

On Experts and Surprises
Be careful with assuming what the expectancy of a person (employee) is going to be: Zakary Tormala did research on how ...

Relationships in Expectancy Theory

Understanding / Teaching Expectancy Theory
The Expectancy theory focuses on three relationships: 1. Effort<>Performance relationship. The probability perceived b...

The Effort -> Performance Relationship

Coaching, mentoring
As mentioned in the summary, one of the expectations of Vroom’s theory is the positive relationship between effort and p...

Reasons Why People are Doing Voluntary Work

Expectancy Theory, Corporate Social Responsibility, Stakeholder Perspective, Volunteers
Voluntary work has long been seen as an activity performed mainly by unemployed individuals –mostly women, both in their...

Family-Work Conflicts (FWC) and Daily Job Performance

Family-work conflicts, Coaching, Mentoring, Job Performance
FAMILY ROLES and WORK are two factors influencing each other: - Work can interfere with family roles; this is called a W...

Differences in Organizational Commitment Between Paid Workers and Volunteers

Organizational Commitment, Employee Motivation, Non-profit Organizations
Paid and unpaid workers in hybrid organizations Although financial considerations are an important reason to work for a...
Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding the Expectancy Theory. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

Human Motivation

Employee Motivation
Comprehesive presentation on Human / Employee Motivation. Topics: 1. What is motivation? 2. How do needs motivate peo...

Overview of Content and Process Motivation Theories

Motivation, Needs, Incentives, Goal Setting, Behavior
Overview presentation of the major content motivation theories (Hierarchy of Needs; Acquired Needs theory; Two-Factor Th...

External and Internal Motivation

Presentation about motivation, from a psychological perspective. The presentation includes the following sections: 1. P...

Reasons and Secrets of Employee Retention

Employee Retention, Attrition
This presentation is about Employee Retention and includes the following sections: 1. Introduction 2. Reasons for Empl...

Intrinsic Motivation versus Extrensic Motivation

Initial Understanding of Motivator Types and Consequences
How can I do a better job of motivating a team? Dan Pink and Dan Ariely make a distinction between extrinsic motivators...

Attitude, Motivation and Persuasion

Persuasion Theory, Managing Behavior
This presentation by S.J. Grant is about attitudes, motivation and how affects persuasion. The following sections are in...

Voluntary Activities of Employees | Employee Volunteerism

Employee Motivation, Employee Volunteerism, Employee Commitment, Shared Value, CSR, Corporate Reputation
Presentation about employee volunteerism, including the following sections: 1. What is employee volunteerism 2. Employ...

Work-Family Conflicts and Work-Life Policies

Performance Management, Work-Life Balance, HR, Programs
This presentation is about Work-Family Conflicts and Employee Performance. The presentation includes the following secti...

Introduction and Summary of the Expectancy Theory of Motivation

Initial Understanding of the Expectancy Theory, Trainings, Workshops
Inspiring explanation of Victor Vroom's Expectancy Theory using examples from the world of basketball and the meaning. E...

Forecasting motivation

Calculating motivation
Some interesting formulas to calculate both negative and positive motivation....

Expectancy Theory Diagram

Employee Motivation
Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in ...

Performance Measurement, Expectancy and Agency Theory

Performance Measurement
Theoretical analyses of (optimal) performance measures are typically performed within the realm of the linear agency mod...

Research Links

Jump to further research sources regarding the Expectancy Theory.













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

Return to Management Hub: Change & Organization  |  Human Resources  |  Leadership

More Management Methods, Models and Theory

Special Interest Group

Do you know a lot about the Expectancy Theory? Become our SIG Leader

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2023 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V16.1 - Last updated: 6-2-2023. All names ™ of their owners.