What Is Herzberg’s Motivation Theory And Its Criticisms?


Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory or the two-factor theory

Herzbergs Two Factor theory

Herzbergs Two Factor theory

Developed by  Frederick Herzberg (1964). He categories job-related factors divided into two categories—hygiene factors and motivators factors.

The basic principle- Job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction are not opposites. The opposite of Satisfaction is No Satisfaction. The opposite of Dissatisfaction is No Dissatisfaction.

1. Hygiene/ maintenance factors

These are job-related elements that result from but do not involve the job itself.

    • Pay
    • Security
    • Coworkers
    • Working conditions
    • Company policy
    • Work schedule
    • Supervisors

This factor is associated with Job Dissatisfaction and No Job Dissatisfaction.

If a hygiene factor is not present at an adequate level (e.g., the pay is too low), the employee will be dissatisfied and less motivated.

2. Motivators / Intrinsic / satisfiers factors

These are job elements that do concern actual tasks and duties.

    • Level of Responsibility
    • Achievement
    • Amount of job control
    • Interesting work
    • Growth
    • Challenge
    • Stimulation
    • Independence
    • Variety

This factor is associated with Job Satisfaction and No Job Satisfaction.

Only the presence of both motivators and hygiene factors can bring job satisfaction and motivation.

Criticism of Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory

  • An employee who is paid well and has control and responsibility will probably be motivated.
  • Again, Herzberg’s is one of those theories that makes sense but has not received strong research support.
  • In general, Rynes, Gerhart, & Parks (2005) have criticized the theory because of the methods used to develop the two factors—the idea that factors such as pay can be both hygiene factors and motivators,
  • The fact that few independent research studies have replicated the findings obtained by Herzberg and his colleagues


  • Aamodt, M.G. (2007). Industrial and organizational psychology: An applied approach. US:
    Thomson & Wadsworth

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