Motivation-Hygiene Hypothesis

This is the hypothesis which says intrinsic factors of the work itself motivates a worker whereas extrinsic factors can only prevent disatisfaction.

Extrinsic to job Lack of job satisfaction No lack of job satisfaction
Intrinsic to job No job motivation Job motivation

Frederick Herzberg and colleagues surveyed two hundred engineers and accountants across Pittsburgh industry about when they felt exceptionally good about their jobs. Probing questions were then repeated for events that made them feel exceptionally bad about their jobs. The responses were then classified by topic for job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction.

The major finding of the study was that the events that led to satisfaction were different from those that led to dissatisfaction.

Job satisfaction Job dissatisfaction

  • Achievement
  • Recognition
  • Attraction of the Work Itself
  • Responsibility
  • Advancement

  • Company policy
  • Company administration
  • Supervision
  • Salary
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Working conditions

We see here not opposites but different needs. Job dissatisfaction is about avoiding physical and social deprivation. Herzberg called this Adam because when Adam was expelled from the Garden of Eden he had to satisfy the needs of his animal nature.

  • Food
  • Warmth
  • Avoidance of Pain
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Belongingness

Earning money in a capitalist economy is part of the Adam drive.

Job satisfaction is about human potential which Herzberg called Abraham because he was created in the image of God. Abraham was a developed individual with a purpose and vision, overcoming the constraints of social and physical environment and able to grow as a person.

  • Understand
  • Achieve
  • From achievement to psychological growth

Adam factors are extrinsic to the job itself concerning Job Hygiene or Maintenance.

Just as lack of hygiene will cause disease, but hygienic conditions do not themselves produce health, so the lack of adequate Job Hygiene will cause dissatisfaction, but cannot lead to satisfaction.

Satisfaction in the Abraham nature is concerned with intrinsic factors leading to Motivation Growth

Absence of these will not cause dissatisfaction but an absence of positive satisfactions.

The opposite of job satisfaction, therefore, is not job dissatisfaction but no job satisfaction. The opposite of job dissatisfaction is lack of job dissatisfaction.

So both aspects are needed: bringing about the Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Collating the information based subsequently on twelve different investigations, including over 1600 employees in a variety of jobs in business and other organizations and in a number of countries, Herzberg demonstrated that 81 per cent were motivators concerned with growth and development and 69 per cent of contributors to job dissatisfaction involved hygiene or environmental maintenance.

Adequate company policies, working conditions, pay and supervision, are almost as a right to be expected, not an incentive to greater achievement and satisfaction. That needs focus on the work itself. These changes must not be superficial: he proposes an industrial engineering approach, related to the design of jobs. Instead of rationalising and simplifying the work for efficiency, jobs should be enriched to include the motivating factors in order to bring about involvement and loyalty and psychological growth.

For this, job enlargement and job rotation is not good enough. Job enrichment opens opportunities for achievement, responsibility, recognition, growth and learning within the job. This vertical job loading, as opposed to the horizontal job loading of adding and rotating, means

  • Loosening some controls to increase job freedom
  • Increasing accountability and authority
  • Making the job complete and whole
  • Issuing reports directly to the worker rather than the supervisor
  • New and more difficult tasks

Herzberg reported on how changes had created considerable impact.

Stockholder correspondent:

Rejected as horizontal job loading

  • Quotas on letters answered daily
  • Employees type the letters as well as composing them
  • Difficult inquiries sent to a few workers so that the rest achieve high rates of output
  • Workers rotated through units handling different inquiries and then sent back to their own units

Taken on as vertical job loading

  • Direct responsibility for the quality and accuracy of letters sent under their own names (a verifier had checked all letters, the supervisor rechecked and signed them and was responsible)
  • Subject matter experts were appointed within each unit for other members to consult (the supervisor had dealt with all difficult and specialised enquiries)
  • Verification of experienced workers' letters was dropped from 100 per cent to 10 per cent
  • Correspondents were encouraged to answer letters in a more personalised way rather than relying upon standard forms

Laboratory Technicians Experimental Officers:

Taken on as vertical job loading

  • Write personal project reports in addition to those of the supervising scientists
  • Authorised to requisition materials and equipment direct

Sales representatives:

Taken on as vertical job loading

  • Made wholly responsible for determining the calling frequencies on their customers
  • Given a discretionary 105 or so on the prices of most products

Factory foremen:

Taken on as vertical job loading

  • Allowed to modify schedules
  • Hire labour against agreed manning targets
  • Appoint their deputies

Less on the job supervision is needed, but supervisors took on a greater managerial component. Supervising people who have authority is more demanding, rewarding and enjoyable.

Managers are in charge of generating the motivators as well as providing adequate hygiene, to relate to both Adam and Abraham natures.


Pugh, D. S., Hickson, D. J., Hinings, C. R. (eds.) (1971), Writers on Organizations, Second Edition, London: Penguin, 140-145.

Refers to:

Herzberg, F. (1966), Work and the Nature of Man, World Publishing Co..

Herzberg, F. (1968), 'One more time: How do you motivate employees?', Harvard Business Review, January - February 1968, 53-62.

Herzberg, F. Mathsner, B., and Snyderman, B. (1959), The Motivation to Work, Wiley.

Paul, W. J. Jr., Robertson, K. B., and Herzberg, F. (1969), 'Job enrichment pays off´', Harvard Business Review, March - April 1969, 61-78.