Vroom Expectancy Theory of Motivation

March 14, 2019

Victor Vroom propounded a process theory namely Expectancy theory to explain motivation. The central concept of the Vroom Expectancy theory of motivation is that individual is motivated and the strength of his action depends on close association between his preference to a specific outcome and the actual outcome. The theory established relationship between effort, performance and rewards. According to expectancy theory, motivation is the result of the sum of the products of valence, instrumentality and expectancy. It can be stated in the form of the following mathematical formula.

Motivation = Σ( Valence X Instrumentality X Expectancy)


Relationship between Effort, Performance and Rewards

  • Effort-Performance Relationship: It is the probability perceived by the individual that exerting a given amount of effort leads to performance.
  • Performance-Reward Relationship: This is the degree to which the individual believes that performing at a particular level will lead to the attainment of a desired outcome.
  • Rewards-Personal Goals Relationship: It is the degree to which organisational rewards satisfy an individual’s personal goals or needs and the attractiveness of those potential rewards for the individuals

Vroom Expectancy Theory: Valence, Instrumentality and Expectancy

  • Valence: Valence is the strength of an individual’s preference for a particular outcome. Every individual believes that his effort leads to certain definite outcome. This is expected utility or value. The greater the strength or the expectation of the outcome the greater would be the level of motivation. The valence can be positive or negative. It is positive when employee has a strong preference to reward. It will be zero if he is indifferent. Similarly, it will be negative if employee does not prefer to attain the outcome.
  • Instrumentality: Instrumentality refers to the strength of the belief about the certainty of outcome. Thus, it is the expression of probability between performance and reward. This varies between ± 1. The performance reward relationship is positive, in case of positive instrumentality and vice versa.
  • Expectancy: Expectancy is the belief that effort will lead to outcome and performance. Therefore, expectancy determines the strength of performance rather than the outcome. It is based on the self-efficacy. Employee with a high level of self-efficacy is more likely to believe that exerting effort will result in satisfactory performance. A high level of self-efficacy has high expectancy, while low level of self-efficacy has low expectancy. Persons suffering from low level of self-efficacy exhibit a phenomenon known as ‘imposter phenomenon’. This means that individuals are capable, as they appear to be. They are afraid of their inferiority, which may be revealed in public if they exert high effort. Imposters have low expectancy, as they believe that they lack the necessary competence. Expectancy is evaluated as a probability. It varies from 0 to 1. Zero is associated with complete uncertainty. As the performance is assured the expectancy rises and it will be high if the performance is certain. It is interesting to note that both internal and external environment influence expectancy.

Vroom Expectancy Theory of Motivation

The Level of Motivation

Valence Instrumentality Expectancy Motivation
High High High Strong motivation
Low High High Moderate motivation
High Low High Strong avoidance
Low Low High Moderate avoidance
High High Low Moderate motivation
Low High Low Weak avoidance
High Low Low Moderate avoidance
Low Low Low Strong avoidance

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