After reading this essay you will learn about Herzberg’s theory of motivation with its criticism.

Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation is an extension of the need hierarchy model of A.H. Maslow. In 1950s Frederick Herzberg and his associates conducted extensive interviews of about two hundred engineers and accountants working in eleven different companies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. This led Herzberg to identify two sets of factor which determine human behaviour at work.

These factors are as follows:

1. Hygiene Factors, and


2. Motivators.

1. Hygiene Factors:

Hygiene factors refer to the context of job and not to job itself. They include company policy and administration, job security, interpersonal relations with supervisors, subordinates, salary and working conditions. These factors prevent employee dissatisfaction and are referred to as satisfiers.

2. Motivators:


Motivators relate to job itself and include the factors of achievement, recognition, the work itself, advancement and responsibility. They provide satisfaction to the employees. When these factors are present in the job employees tend to tolerate the dissatisfaction arising out of environmental factors.

Herzberg’s hygiene factors represent the first two needs of Maslow’s need hierarchy while motivating factors represent the higher order needs. There is one major difference between these two models. A.H. Maslow presents a hierarchical view of motivation and maintains that people tend to satisfy their needs in a hierarchical fashion. On the other hand, Herzberg maintains that hygiene factors do not motivate employees.

According to Herzberg there are two sets of factors, hygiene factors and motivators which determine human behaviour at work. These two sets of factors do not have the same implications for human motivation. Motivators provide job satisfaction while hygiene factors prevent job dissatisfaction.

As per Herzberg’s motivation hygiene theory, a manager who is interested in motivating his subordinates should emphasise those factors which provide job satisfaction and at the same time, minimise the adverse effects of those factors which cause dissatisfaction.



The Herzberg’s motivation hygiene theory has been extensively criticised. The findings of this theory cannot be considered valid for those employees whose lower level needs have not been reasonably satisfied.

Herzberg’s conclusion that hygiene factors cause dissatisfaction and motivators lead to satisfaction and productivity seems to be an over-simplification of complex process of human motivation. It is difficult to conclude that only motivators increase the satisfaction and productivity.