Two Factor Theory

Posted on Apr 21 2018 - 12:17am by simplinotesadmin



The psychologist Frederick Herzberg extended the work of Maslow and proposed a new motivation theory also known as Two factor theory. He conducted a research study of 200 accountants and engineers employed by firms in and around Western Pennsylvania. He asked these people to describe two important incidents at their jobs :

i. When did you feel particularly good about your job?

ii. When did you feel exceptionally bad about your job?

He used critical incident method for obtaining data. The responses when analysed were found quite interesting and fairly consistent. Herzberg concluded that there were two categories of needs essentially independent of each other affecting behavior in different ways. His findings are that there are some job conditions which operate primarily to dissatisfy employees when the conditions are absent, however their presence does not motivate them in a strong way. These are the maintenance or hygiene factors. Another set of job conditions operates primarily to build strong motivation and high job satisfaction, but their absence rarely proves strongly dissatisfying. These are motivational factors.

1. Hygiene Factors

According to  Herzberg, there   are  ten  maintenance   or  hygiene  factors.    These   are  company policy and  administration,   technical   supervision,  interpersonal   relationship  with supervisors, interpersonal   relationship   with  peers,   interpersonal   relationship   with subordinates, salary,  job  security,  personal    life, working   conditions,  and  status. They are not an intrinsic part of a job, but they are related to the conditions under which a job is performed. The maintenance factors are necessary to maintain at a reasonable level of satisfaction in employees. Any increase beyond this level will not provide any satisfaction to the employees, however any cut below this level will dissatisfy them. As such.   these  are  also called  as  dissatisfiers.   Since  any  increase   in these  factors   will not  affect  employee’s  level of, satisfaction,  these   are  of no  use  for  motivating  them.

According to Scott Myers “ maintenance factors are characterized by the fact that they inspire little positive sentiment when added, but incite strong negative reactions when removed”.

2. Motivational Factors

Herzberg includes   six factors   that  motivate   employees.  These are:   achievement.     recognition,     advancement,     work    itself., possibility  of  growth.   and responsibility.  They are related to the content of the job. An increase   in these factors will satisfy the employees however, any decrease will not affect their level of satisfaction. Since, these increase level of satisfaction in the employees; these can be used in motivating them for higher output.


1. The opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction. The removal of dissatisfying characteristics from a job does not necessarily make the job satisfying.

2. Today’s motivators are tomorrow’s hygiene because the later stop influencing the behavior of persons when they get them.


1. The theory is supported with considerable empirical data and is included in other research that is supportive of the original hypothesis.

2. Recognizes the fact that motivation comes from within the individual as opposed to any external factors.

3. The Two Factor Theory Provides practical solutions for organizations.


1. The two factor theory has been criticized for ignoring the influence of situational variables in classifying the factors. Herzberg’s description of money as a mere maintenance factor and not a motivator for employees cannot always be true.

2. People generally tend to take credit themselves when things go well. They blame failure on the external environment.

3. The theory basically explains job satisfaction not motivation.

4. No overall measure of satisfaction was utilized. A person may dislike part of a job yet still think the job is acceptable overall.

5. Herzberg assumed a relationship between satisfaction and productivity, but the research methodology he used looked only at satisfaction not at productivity. To make such research relevant, one must assume a strong relationship between satisfaction and productivity.

About the Author

Leave A Response