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Does Herzberg's motivation theory have staying power?

Nigel Bassett‐Jones (Oxford Brookes Business School, Oxford, UK)
Geoffrey C. Lloyd (Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 1 December 2005




This paper seeks to examine the issue of whether Herzberg's two‐factor motivation theory still resonates nearly 50 years after it was first posited. The objective is to assess whether or not Herzberg's contentious seminal studies on motivation at work still hold true today.


The arena in which the theory is investigated is work‐based suggestion schemes, and the question considered is “What motivates employees to contribute ideas?” The paper begins by revisiting the literatures that form the basis of motivation theory and, in particular, the furore surrounding the work of Fredrick Herzberg.


The results are derived from a survey providing over 3,200 responses. They suggest that money and recognition do not appear to be primary sources of motivation in stimulating employees to contribute ideas. In line with Herzberg's predictions, factors associated with intrinsic satisfaction play a more important part.


The paper demonstrates that, despite the criticism, Herzberg's two‐factor theory still has utility nearly 50 years after it was first developed.



Bassett‐Jones, N. and Lloyd, G.C. (2005), "Does Herzberg's motivation theory have staying power?", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 24 No. 10, pp. 929-943.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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