The Expectancy Theory of Victor Vroom (1964) deals with motivation and management, and how managers may secure a motivated workforce. The essence of this theory is that actions and behaviors of individuals are taken based on an objective to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Individuals are therefore more likely to be motivated to do certain acts, if they expect that rewards can be obtained, and that these rewards can be obtained without to much trouble and pain.
This Theory is often presented as Vroom's VIE Model of Motivation.
The VIE model consists of the following elements:
Valence is the strength of an individual's preference for obtaining some particular outcome. Valence will be positive, when the individual prefers to attain some outcome to not attaining it. If the individual is indifferent, valence will be zero. Great valence will therefore strengthen e.g. an employee's motivation for attaining a particular outcome, which makes it important for managers and employers to discover what is valued by the employees. If an extrinsic factor, such as recognition, is seen as a valuable outcome by an employee, managers may use this information to motivate his/her employee.
Instrumentality refers to the individual's believe in that the accomplishment of a given task, will result in the attainment of some valued reward. If instrumentality is high, an employee believes that certain actions will result in the attainment of the rewards valued by him/her. Instrumentality refers to the importance of that e.g. employees see a clear path to rewards and goal attainment, and that they trust that managers will reward their actions as promised. If recognition is seen as valuable by an employee, the manager must thus assure that the employee believes that he/she will get this reward, if the task is accomplished satisfactorily.
Expectancy relates to the confidence that individuals may have in themselves in accomplishing a certain task or assignment satisfactorily. If the individual does not regard himself as competent enough to do a certain job, the individual will not see it as feasible to get the desired rewards, and hence demotivate the employee.
According to Vroom, the strength of an individual's motivation to perform a certain task can be calculated using this formula:
Motivation = Valence × Expectancy(Instrumentality).
Managers can use the VIE-model accordingly:
Firstly, managers have to find out which rewards the employees want, and which rewards are seen as valuable by the employees. (Valence). Secondly, managers have to create instrumentality, in which managers must convince the employees about that the accomplishments of certain tasks, will generate the rewards valued by the employees. Thirdly, managers must ensure that the employees have the necessary capabilities to accomplish the given task, so that the employees expect that they will be able to accomplish it, and thus get rewarded.