Work, Behaviour and Motivation of Civil Engineers


Ananda D Moonasingha


ABSTRACT: The expectancy theory of motivation assumes perceptive deliberation of the expectancies and values of the multiple outcomes of performance. Maslow’s needs theory concedes the unconscious and unmotivated personal decision making behaviour and performance in the workplace. Herzberg introduced the dual concept of motivators and the hygiene dissatisfiers. The individual personality is relevant in motivation and personal development as much as the group behaviour in personnel management. Motivation is not a major in civil engineering education and training. This paper is problem-centred and focuses on both the personal development and performance in civil engineering organizations.


            Motivation is encouragement to expend effort towards executing tasks to energise the activities that people are engaged in, to achieve the set objectives and goals. Motivation provides a direction, stimulus and impetus to perform a task or a job, or to choose between alternatives. Motivation of people in work place is a task of management that straddles on economic and human needs of the employing organization and the employees. Since the promulgation of the treatise of 'scientific management' in 1911(Taylor - 1964) many social scientists and industrial psychologists have conducted studies in human behaviour at work to determine the factors and their relationships contributing to the motivation. Correlations between personality traits and attributes of the employees, and the organizational attributes like management, working conditions and wages have been surveyed to examine the determinants and their strengths of motivation.

            Unlike the theories of engineering science, it is hard to find a universal consensus on the consistency of the theories of social sciences as of the theories of motivation, despite the statistical significance of some studies. Studies indicate that more often these theories are valid, suggesting, anomalies and controversies of the hypotheses tested. Notwithstanding this qualification, the theories of motivation like the Maslow's hierarchy of needs (Maslow – 1954, Alderfer - 1972), Herzberg's hygiene factors (Herzberg et al – 1959), McGregor’s theory of X and Y (McGregor – 1960), and the Expectancy theory (Vroom – 1964, Atkinson – 1964) are well documented. There are many other concepts of hypotheses that seem highly plausible and useful in the limited context they are constructed for consideration in situations of motivation.

Culture is not only fine arts, customs, traditions and such like. The culture is shared meanings and practices, hence the concepts of organizational culture, production culture, agriculture and so on. Corporate culture is a modern concept of management that is formulated to inculcate, and internalize the corporate values, and motivate the employees for higher performance in a flexible, liberalized organizational culture (Gay - 1997).

Not withstanding the heterogeneity of personalities, the individuals must be conscious of the sensitive behavioural norms, and the need to coalesce as a team, group and an organization, to maximise performance for the success of achieving the common goals of employment. The organization and the management must recognize the needs and motivate to develop the potential of the individual in the occupational environment.

             Research on motivation often concerns with studies in the form of interviews and inquiries and deducing statistical correlations. This paper considers the empirical nature of the work roles, working conditions and cultures, the psychology and cognitive behaviours of the people. The psychology refers mainly to the mindfulness and the unconscious or unmotivated nature of the human behaviour at work. Rather than adopting the theories of motivation as foundations and structural elements, this discourse appropriates the theories and ideologies of motivation as essential building materials and tools, and a language for discourse.

            The senior members of the employer's organization like the senior engineers and managers are employees with special privileges and status, who are subjects of motivation and performance evaluation as same as other employees. Civil engineers' performance intrinsically entails motivation of other employees that include both peers and subordinates, as well as other parties like consultants, contractors, clients, communities and students. Besides the motivation, the interacting factors, variables and parameters in the performance and personal development are numerous; they are topics on their own. The theme of this paper represents sufficient latitude to represent the civil engineers in most global cultures and economies while reasonably excluding all manner of occupations and abnormal environments extraneous to the purview of this discourse.




Psychological Basis

            Maslow's theory and other views suggest, psychological affliction of the important higher achievement goals and needs attributed to the unconsciously unsatisfied lower needs and unconsciously satisfied achievement needs.

            The following abstract of the "unconscious in psychoanalysis" by Freud (1912), a pioneer in the research in unconscious behaviour, expounds: "There are some latent ideas which do not penetrate into consciousness, however strong they may have become. The term unconscious designates not only latent ideas in general, but especially ideas with a certain dynamic character, ideas keeping apart from consciousness in spite of their intensity and activity. The unconscious idea is excluded from consciousness by living forces which oppose themselves to its reception. Every mental act begins as an unconscious one, and it may either remain so or go on developing into consciousness, according as it meets with resistance or not" (Freud - 1948).


Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs


                                                                                                 Fig. 1. Individual and Corporate Hierarchy of Needs

(Maslow – 1954, and Martin – 1986)


            Maslow and others of drive theory of motivation posited the individual’s needs as the basis of motivation of behaviour. Maslow expounded this theory of needs by classifying the human needs in a hierarchy of prepotence as depicted in the Fig 1. The basic and most prepotent need category is the physiological needs like food, shelter, clothing, warmth, sleep and health. When these are not satisfied, the person is motivated for their satisfaction and is less concerned of the other needs. When a need or need category in general or partially satisfied the person is motivated to satisfy the next need in the hierarchy. A satisfied need is not a motivator at that instance, but most needs re-emerge in a cycle.

            The second prepotent category of need hierarchy is the safety needs. Feelings of safety are important at early stages in life for that they will ingrain to serve some aspects like fortitude of the adult psychological behavioural characteristics. For adults in general the safety and security of job, family and self, property and good health are important. When the physiological and safety needs are fairly gratified, the person is motivated by the desire for belongingness, love and affiliation with a group, community, person, society like. Maslow states the thwarting of these needs produces psychopathology. The next category of individual needs hierarchy is the esteem. The esteem need is subdivided into first the need of adequacy and competence for achievement and confidence. Secondly the desire for reputation and recognition.

            The final in the basic need hierarchy is the self-actualization. That is utilizing and actualizing the individual’s abilities and potential. The clear emergence of these needs usually rests on the reasonable satisfaction of the previous need categories. The satisfaction of basic needs requires social freedom within the sensible values and norms of the society, and the individual’s own cognitive and behavioural capacities. The needs of aesthetics, cognition and conation – desire for beauty, curiosity, knowledge and understanding are not included in the basic needs, but are higher needs Maslow recognized as of individuals with intellectual capacity. Maslow’s description of self-actualized individual personifies an enlightened, psychologically healthy person of the society.

            Maslow acknowledged that the hierarchy of needs might not operate in the described order in all situations and with everyone. He suggested that severely thwarted lower needs could inhibit the higher needs to distort the character and behaviour, and long-term satisfied need could be devalued. Where as the lower needs like some of the physiological needs when satisfied can turn out to be undesirable, the higher needs of achievement, self-actualization and cognition are cumulative. Maslow emphasized that the basic needs are often unconscious. Not all behaviour is motivated. Need gratification permits the emergence of unmotivated behaviour (Maslow – 1954).


Martin’s Corporate Hierarchy

             The corporate hierarchy illustrated is to some extent helpful to compare the performance and culture of the rural settlement management organization considered in the present review (Martin – 1986). Corporate culture is a management culture of organization more akin to production culture and inspires the employees of the corporate values, aims and objectives to improve production and service efficiency through the internalization, co-operation and consensus of the employees (Gay – 1977).

            The most basic need of the corporate hierarchy is the survival of the organization. The survival of the organization depends on its ability to provide a satisfactory product or service. This stage is connected with the facilitation of infrastructure or a production system. The project should be economically or financially viable for survival. There are opportunities in interesting work, achievement and responsibility for the engineers and technical staff.

            The second important need is the security. The capital development is mostly completed. There may be significant administrative departments parallel with the engineering sectors. The technical responsibilities are mainly in the production of goods and operation and maintenance of the works. The hygienic factors are better than at the beginning, the social infrastructure and the personnel administration are well developed. The organization must attain the security of safe and satisfactory functioning of the works and good relations with the customer care and satisfaction.

            As the project matures and reaches the next need stage of prominence, the socio-cultural environment takes precedence and the engineering loses importance. Hygienic factors remain conscious, job satisfaction factors become obscure. The penultimate stage need is awareness. The organization must be conscious of its overall objectives and the means of fulfilling these objectives, not least for the satisfaction of its original need of survival. The organization must realize the public responsibility of its existence and have a manifest strategy for this end. The ultimate need hierarchy is realization, which is that the whole organization including employees and the beneficiaries self-actualize their potential. In reality there could be a substantial gap between the aims of these higher needs of the corporate hierarchy and their achievement by the organization and its intended beneficiary environment. This proposition will be briefly illustrated with respect to the rural settlement management projects, in a later paragraph.


Alderfer’s Hierarchy of Needs


            Alderfer’s theory of motivation deals with the hierarchy of three categories of needs, namely the existence, relatedness, and growth (ERG). Alderfer’s work on ERG is based on Maslow’s and other need theories. ERG is not intended to be a theory to explain how people learn, make choices or perform. It is a theory about subjective perception of satisfaction and desire. The ERG theory assumes that existence, relatedness and growth needs are innate to human beings, and are not learned needs. The strength of the needs may be increased as a result of learning or satisfaction (Alderfer – 1972). Alderfer placed little importance on the hierarchy of needs and assumed all needs are simultaneously active (Lawler and Suttle in Steers and Porter – 1975). 

            The existence needs include material and physiological needs and desires like food, health, a job and salary. Relatedness needs involve relationships both personal and in the work environment. Growth needs concern the creativity, performance, utilization of one’s abilities and capacities, and learning and acquiring new knowledge and skills. Existence, relatedness and growth are desired in that order similar to the Maslow’s basic needs. An important difference is that safety and security needs are subsumed in the existence needs, and relatedness. Esteem is similarly included within the relatedness and growth needs. The theory suggests that satisfaction of lower need tends to desire higher need. Dissatisfaction of a higher need tends to desire more of that need category and the lower need. Similar to the Maslow’s theory satisfaction of growth needs tends to desire more growth needs. In some individuals the growth need satisfaction can exist regardless of their degree of interpersonal satisfaction. The shorter ERG need hierarchy is more conducive to explain the relations of needs and accommodate the need theory of motivation as a hierarchy than an interacting ensemble that often the present discourse tends to view.


Fig. 2. Comparison of Maslow’s and Alderfer’s Need Categories

(Alderfer – 1972)

            For instance the security is concerned with possessions and values - where the security of material, physiological and relatedness attributes must co-exist, and not in a separate hierarchy. Esteem dwells with acceptance, achievement and growth. Nevertheless, the Maslow’s two-tier analysis of esteem in terms of competence and reputation like is a pertinent phenomenon. Growth needs of ERG theory are pragmatic for the engineers.

            Similarly the ERG theory of needs is apposite to the corporate hierarchy. The existence signifies construction, operation, maintenance and may include productivity. Relatedness, the unity between the corporate organization and the farmer community, and also among the community. Safety and security are needs attached to all stages of the project, for example in connection with construction, maintenance, health, property and social security. The growth needs comprise the agricultural extension, success in performance and the resulting business ramifications, community development and modernization. All three hierarchies are cyclically and interactively interlinked. 


Herzberg's Theory of Hygiene

              Herzberg posited the theory of hygiene that classified the factors and variables of the job situation into two categories of job-satisfiers and dissatisfiers. The latter he called hygiene factors for that, frustrating, unpleasant conditions in the environment surrounding the doing of the job represent an unhealthy work-environment. The improvement of these conditions will ameliorate the avoidance feelings in the work environment. The factors that motivate and make the employee satisfied are those relate to the job tasks, like the interesting work, responsibility, success in the performance of work, and the personal growth that comprise, achievement, recognition and professional advancement.

            The hygiene factors include supervision, interpersonal relations, physical working conditions, salary, company policy and administration practices, and job security. An important constraint purported is that the improvement of hygiene conditions only removes the elements of dissatisfaction and does not cause job-satisfaction or motivation. In the same precept the improvement of the job-content factors does not ameliorate the avoidance behaviour (Herzberg et al - 1959). In spite of statistical validity the especially the above criterion of the Herzberg's theory of hygiene is controversial. Some subjects indicate job-content factors as dissatisfiers, and hygiene factors as motivators (House and Wigdor, and Steers and Porter - 1975). Herzberg and also Vroom in his interpretation conceded that the theory of hygiene, generally tends to be true and the reversal suggested above tends to be untrue. The concept of hygiene by it self is pertinent.


McGregor's Theory of  'X' and 'Y'

            The traditional view of direction and control, McGregor called the theory X. It is based on the assumptions that, in general the workers dislike and avoid work, lacks ambition, hence must be motivated, coerced and directed by the carrot and stick approach of reward and punishment into action to achieve the goals (McGregor – 1960).

            The progressive approach of human resources management, McGregor called the theory Y, and is based on the assumptions of the self-motivated behaviour of the employee. It represents connotations of Herzberg's motivator and hygiene factors, that direct self for responsible action towards the reward oriented achievement goals, and propensity for avoidance of poor hygiene conditions of punishment respectively. The theory Y assumes that the employee is amenable to considerate management and good job context factors; and the employee as ambitious, responsible, willing to learn, creative, imaginative, and responds to achievement based rewards. The theory Y acknowledges opportunity for growth and development and concedes that the scope for self-actualization is limited in the organization. The theory Y points the cause of unmotivated, indifferent, irresponsible behaviour to the management methods and the organization policy and administration practices (McGregor – 1960). In a perspective the assumptions of the theory Y and the job-content motivators and the hygiene factors supplement each other.


Equity Theory

            The equity theory can be defined in terms of the ratio of an individual's inputs such as abilities and performance to the outcomes such as pay and other rewards as compared to a relevant other person (Vroom - 1964, Steers and Porter - 1975). The equity is basically fair outcomes commensurate with inputs equivalent to a comparable other. As is the case with most behavioural situations it is the perceived or subjective equity often that is the subject. The both situations of greater or lower ratio of outcomes to inputs are regarded as inequity. Adams posited that inequity is a source of tension, which an individual is motivated to reduce (Goodman and Friedman, in Steers and Porter - 1975). It is assumed that an employee with positive inequity will try to reduce the inequity by working harder. Inequity can cause defensive or dissatisfied, antisocial behaviour.


Mayo’s Social Skills


Mayo's work since 1929, asserted the importance of erudite social skills and measures to ameliorate the ill effects of industrialization on the community, and the individual's socio-emotional needs. Mayo posited that reasonable and progressive decision making must vest in groups that possess both technical and social understanding, accommodating the participation and co-operation of the working communities (Mayo - 1949). For the technological management, personal qualities of leadership are important. Personality characteristics and factors of emotional adjustment are as important as factors of experience, training and intellectual capacity (McGregor – 1960). Herzberg and his associates also acknowledged the importance of social skills, personal traits and the interpersonal relations (Herzberg et al - 1959). These should be adequately supported technically at each step of the promotion ladder (Rutter et al - 1990).

           The recognition of the importance of social skills for personal development and management has generated a welter of educational efforts that have not been able to make real changes in the skills of social interaction. Classroom learning is effective only within an organizational climate conducive to growth (McGregor – 1960). The determinants of motivation for self-actualizing people are inner-individual and not social (Maslow – 1954).


Expectancy/Valence Theory

            The expectancy/instrumentality theory is based on the fundamental advanced by Lewin, that the human behaviour (B) is a function of the variables, the personality factors (P), and the environment (Env), that can be expressed as B = f (P,Env). Performance is a function of the variables, ability, motivation, and several other factors like availability of suitable manpower and other resources, generally epitomized as the environment factors. Then, similar to suggested by Reitz (McFarland – 1994) the performance can be represented as Performance = f (M,A,Env) where (M) is motivation, (A) is ability and (Env) is environment. Since the motivation and ability are variables more akin to the individual than the environment, in line with the Lewin’s expression above, the parameters (M) and (A) can be expressed as a function representing personal behaviour stimulated by ability and motivation, where the motivated personality Pm = (M,A). Then Performance = f (Pm,Env).

            Atkinson represents the variable (M) as personal disposition or ‘achievement motivation’ measured by the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) with respect to the achievement-oriented performance (Atkinson – 1964, Steers and Porter - 1975). TAT is a measurement of the strength of person’s motivation by means of construction of imaginative stories by the participating subjects reflecting on a series of pictures, usually of social and work situations.

            In the cognitive theory of expectancy/valence, motives are conceived as dispositions to strive for general and often internalized goals. The theory posits basically that the force to perform is a product of the variables, the perceived strength of the expectancy of the successful performance and the perceived value or attractiveness of the anticipated outcomes. An important characteristic is the perceived or anticipated values rather than realities. The concept of expectancy is subdivided into two stages. First the level of effort related performance known as (EP) expectancy. Second the outcomes resulting from the performance, termed the (PO) expectancy. The values of strength of expectancy are measured in a scale of 0 to 1. And the attractiveness or value of the valence of the outcome in the scale of -1 to +1, in which -1 signifies total undesirability of outcome, 0 relates to neutral and +1 means highly desirable. According to basic principle of expectancy theory, the motivational force to perform = (EP) expectancy  x  (PO) expectancy  x  valence of outcome. The valence is known in various other terms like attractiveness, value, incentive and utility.

            The force is symbolically expressed taking into account the algebraic sum of all the outcomes as:


            Force =                                                                                         ( 1 )


            The Atkinson model presents that the strength of motivation to achieve (Ts) is a multiplicative function of the motive to achieve success (Ms), strength of the expectancy or probability of success (Ps), and the perceived incentive value of the success (Is). Hence, the Atkinson’s strength of motivation to achieve (Atkinson – 1964):


 Ts = Ms x Ps x Is                                                                                        ( 2 )


            Vroom has expressed the expectancy theory in terms of the algebraic sum of the product of the valence (V) of each outcome and the strength of the expectancy (E) of each outcome, and termed the factor of expectancy of outcome resulting from the performance, the instrumentality. Hence this model is also known as the expectancy/instrumentality theory (Vroom – 1964, Vroom in Steers and Porter – 1975).


 Hence, the force to perform act: Fi = fi                                 (3)


            Where, Eij = the strength of the expectancy (0Eij1) that the act (i) will produce the outcome ( j), and,


the Vj =                                                              (4 ) 


where Ijk = instrumentality (-1Ijk1) of outcome (J ) for the attainment of (K ).


            Vroom conceded that the generalized motivation theory is not a focus on the work, behaviour and motivation of engineers (Vroom – 1964).


                The expectancy/instrumentality theory can be graphically illustrated as in Fig.3. The examples of performance level outcome are like satisfactory accomplishment of a task or an examination, where as the next outcome is an event like a salary increase or a promotion or getting a job ascribed to the performance outcome.



Fig.3. Schematics of Expectancy/Instrumentality Theory


Drive, Need and Motivation

            A drive is a strong stimulus which impels action. Certain special types of drive which might be called the primary or innate drives seem to form the basis of greater proportion of motivation These are feelings like pain, thirst, and drowsiness. Drives can also be stimulated by the culture and environment, and these are secondary or acquired drives. Drives like sex, which can be both primary or innate, and secondary or acquired are obscured by social inhibitions. Acquired drives may play the role of social needs (Millard and Dollard – 1945). Hull’s earlier position that drives are rooted in biological or physiological needs is in conformity with the concept of innate drives (Atkinson –1964, Alderfer – 1972). Woodworth in 1918 described drives as a reservoir of energy that impels an organism to behave in certain ways; a host of specific energizers such as hunger, thirst and sex (Steers and Porter – 1975).

            The theories of motivation posit basic needs as the motivators of individuals. Murray (1938) defined a need as a construct; a force in the brain region which organizes perception, appreciation, intellection and action to ameliorate an unsatisfying situation (Atkinson – 1964, Steers and Porter –1975). Needs were viewed as largely learned behaviour – rather than innate tendencies – which were actualized by cues from the external environment, similar to concepts of motivation and drive. The needs may be manifest or latent. A latent need may be strong but inhibited by impediments. All motives are learned for that biological discomforts and pleasure are urges or drives until they are linked to cues that can signify their presence or absence (Steers and Porter – 1975).

            In the early days of psychology 1921, Woodworth described, “in general, a motive is a tendency towards a certain end-result or end-reaction, a tendency which is itself aroused by some stimulus, and which persists for a time because its end-reaction is not at once made.” Woodworth favoured the term motive instead of drive. Later the term motivation is used in reference to the tendency for the direction of selectivity of behaviour  to be governed in some way by its relation to objectively definable consequences, and the tendency of behaviour to persist until the end or goal is attained – that is known as the molar behaviour (Atkinson – 1964). Often the term motivation is used to refer to the unconscious determinants of behaviour as well as other accounts of purposive characteristics of overt behaviour, action, performance or drive. In general a need, desire drive, value or something that causes a person to act can be a motivator. Motivation is the incitement of unconscious and subconscious forces in people that results in desirable behaviours or outcomes (Oglesby cited in Khan - 1993). The motivation addressed in the present discourse is the objective congruent with the above concept of molar behaviour which is cognitive and conative.

            A drive can be a need. Only some of the drives are contingent on the, learned behaviour of the perception, intellection and conation. Needs are all either biological or psychological or conative or cognitive. Needs and motives are associated with the control and release of energy through symbolic values. This behaviour depends on the strength or readiness of the motive, and the situational characteristic or stimuli presented by the situation (Litwin and Stringer, jr. in Steers and Porter – 1975).

            The basic elements of generalized model of motivation are: (a) needs or expectations (b) behaviour (c) goals (d) feedback. Individuals possess in varying strengths a multitude of needs, desires and expectations. The interest, attitudes and needs are key individual characteristics shown to affect the motivational process (Steer and Porter –1975). To motivate, stimulate persistently the most common goals and needs of the job, organization and the employee (Maloney - 1986). Motivation must take into account the unsatisfied goal-directed needs obscured by ongoing activities (Atkinson - 1964).




            The traditional motivation theory presented above is a precursor to the subject motivation of civil engineers. The following sections of the present discourse review the relation between the theory of motivation and the current topic, and the pragmatic perspectives the work and motivational behaviour of engineers and civil engineering organizations.


Preamble of Theory

            Needs theory proposes that people are motivated by the wish to fulfil their needs and desires. Expectancy theory illustrates that the motivation is function of the perceived attractiveness of the outcome of the event towards the effort is directed, and the strength of the expectancy of the successful outcome of the event.

               Like the technology provides solutions based on scientific theories, the ideologies and theories of motivation are embodied and inscribed in the organizational procedures and management culture. The managers or employees usually do not grapple with fundamentals and theories of motivation. The knowledge of and spontaneous access to the fund of motivation is an asset to supplement the management culture and personal development.

           In sociological surveys as of motivation studies the answers to questions are liable to be contaminated with biases attributed to the values, norms, pressures, defences, unverified perceptions, drives and such factors and are measured in a scale like 0 to 1 or 1 to 10. These are not absolute data like the parameters and dimensions in the measurements of engineering materials. In the same context the equations of expectancy theory represent logical processes of decision making behaviour, based on rudimentary probability concepts of dimensionless parameters. The equations in general do not constitute definite conclusive theories. They are plausible, fluid, reciprocal postulations. The surveys are also subject to biases of the researchers when they classify and interpret some self-descriptive data. As transpires from the writings of Maslow, McClelland and others, if a person's behaviour is manipulated by the unconcious perceptions, the reliance on psychological surveys is further weakened (Vroom - 1964).


Motivation for Performance

           The objective of motivation is for effective or satisfactory performance; hence the two are deemed inseparable. Effective performance embodies a wide spectrum of goals and considerations, depending on the type of employing organization and the department. The more common objectives comprise the productivity, time and cost control, quality assurance, organization policies and objectives, personal development, professional values, cost effectiveness, appropriateness, commercial awareness, environmental impacts, customer care, safety and health to name only a few of a long list that appear in different aspects of job including management and supervision. The bottom line of motivation is increases in production, efficiency and quality of work (McQuillen - 1986).

            For effective performance, the importance of attention to the core job content features like, planning, modelling, assumptions, data, techniques of analysis and design, attention to detail, construction methods and, safety and health cannot be overemphesized. Whatever the quality and standards, they are predetermined to suit the economics and the environment. The aids and support for these come from codes of practice, standardized procedures, planning techniques, computer software, previous records, supervision, teamwork and the like. Quality assurance methods like peer review, and checking by team members are part of the efficient performance.


            Motivation can conflict with self-motivation. Motivation is defined as voluntary action achieved through discussion, consultation and persuasion, without coercion (McGregor - 1960, Vroom - 1964). The conflict in the society at large impinges on the agreement on the social goals like sustainable development, self-sufficiency, appropriate technology and the environmental protection. In the west, despite centuries of flood-plain development beset by the frequent flood damage and alarm bells ringing of global warming in Britain and some parts of Europe, the society still can afford to maintain more or less the current level of consumption, living standards and economic growth. In the developing countries the situation is neither so acquiesceable nor tractable. Motivate we must, for efficiency in performance, and resource utilization.   


Working hard does not necessarily constitute effective performance. The performance in a particular situation can be improved with or without increasing the effort, by guidance, help and direction to do things efficiently, to appropriate knowledge, optimize, to select and synthesize appropriate systems. This is a process of motivation and it resembles a principle of the Taylor's scientific management (Taylor – 1964). Performance of hard work must be recognized sympathetically, and can be improved with training, briefing, right cues, guidance and supervision with knowledge.




Self-motivation is a reflection of a satisfactory outcome of modern human resources management philosophy embracing the factors like autonomy, responsibility, and the influence in decision making. The other key agents of self-motivation are the job-satisfaction, opportunity to use valued abilities and skills, co-operation of others, sense of achievement, internalized values and recognition. Self-motivation has to co-exist with self-control and norms. For this culture to be realistically effective the employees must possess the necessary abilities, knowledge, skills, personality traits, information and the other resources. Engineers are egocentric on their achievements and dissatified about perceived weaknesses in their performance. Learning from feedback is motivation with control.


Maslow's Theory


Maslow’s theory of needs as in common with scientific analysis, reduces the basic needs of the employees to discrete elements and rubrics. The employee’s basic need that facilitates the physiological needs in a civilized society is a proper job and the salary goes with it. Albeit exceptions, in general the salary provides for the material needs for the satisfaction of the physiological needs and also supports the sustenance of psychological needs like relations. Security and safety in a peaceful, healthy society is usually a satisfied need of an employee. Of course one should be aware of the job security, conscious of road safety and other common ailments of the society. The construction engineer should be conscious of the occupational safety. Basic needs to an extent are excited by the environment and the markets. The individual is motivated by the cultural norms and values that stimulate his or her drives, desires and needs. The anomie interrupts and threatens the motives. With a satisfactory salary and a proper job, for the self-actualizing person who has a healthy, clear vision of reality, in Maslow’s reasoning the basic needs can be satisfied, limited only by the individual’s potential.


Herzberg’s Hygiene/Dual Factor Theory


            Particularly in the Herzberg's hygiene theory the terms job-satisfiers and motivators are interchangeable. They can be viewed as self-motivators. The motivation has been defined by several authors in terms of direction, channelling or steering behaviour toward commitment and goals, or a process governing choices (Berelson and Steiner - 1964, and Gellerman - 1968 cited in Steers and Porter - 1975, and Vroom - 1962). We must note the co-existence of motivation and the self-motivation. The objective of motivation is for effective performance. At least few of the so-called hygiene factors like the supervision, company policy and administration practices, and to a lesser extent the working conditions and the interpersonal relations, when they are conducive for the purpose, should be motivators. Sometimes the supervision has to provide guidance and knowledge for a creative or a good design or effective performance. In this context the company policy also can be an agent promoting the motivation for effective performance in both the job and personal development. The treatise of motivators by other researchers is in dissonance with the Herzberg's classification (Katz in Steers & Porter - 1975, Vroom - 1964).

            The Herzberg's motivators for a creative design are, a task that is interesting to the engineer, which he can exercise responsibility and independence, and that allows for concrete achievement. These factors in effect represent effective performance. He also mentioned the motivating incentives of increased job content and responsibility by giving workers knowledge and responsibility for operations and improvements. The Herzberg's suggestion that  "asking people what is important for them in their jobs will bring responses that we have classified as motivators" is not wholly invincible. Because, these responses also represent the perceived job-satisfaction, and not necessarily motivators that result in effective performance. Herzberg acknowledged this discrepancy by stating that, "when incentive systems do not permit any of the motivators to operate, any increase in apparent job-satisfaction is misleading" (Herzberg et al - 1959).

Theory of ‘X’ and ‘Y’

            The average civil engineer is self-motivated to capitalize on the tenets of theory Y to the extent the environment and the personal disposition facilitate. Under certain environments and job situations, depending on the experience, some aspects of theory X like the direction, motivation and control are requisite. As the theory Y suggests the managers must diagnose each condition and situation in each employee correctly and act accordingly. In the theory Y this strategy is known as the control by selective adaptation (McGregor – 1960). Theory Y shows some semblance of the philosophy of Corporate culture, where in the theory Y it is represented by integration in which the employee’s goals are achieved by active, responsible participation and directing their efforts toward the success of the enterprise. Important difference is that the Corporate culture embodies concerted process of inculcation and internalization by lectures and seminars rather than a contingent effect of good hygiene and job-satisfaction factors.


Expectancy Theory

Reducing the basic equation (1) of expectancy theory, the motivational force or the force to act 

              F = E x V                                                                                        (5)    


             Where (E) is expectancy, and (V) is valence. The expression suggests that the (F) is dependent on (E) and (V). The variable (M) motive, can also be retained if wished as in Atkinson's expression. If (V) is assumed to be constant temporarily, and then if (F) is increased the expectancy (E) can be increased. The same principle can be extended to the Atkinson’s equation. Especially on the assumptions that the expectancy theory is based, the effort or the performance force cannot be increased infinitely. Succinctly the performance is a function of motivation, ability, effort, environment and the attractiveness of the performance.


            The left hand side of the above equation (5) the force to perform (F ) can be represented as:  F = f(A,M,Ef,Env,Aperf) where (A) is ability, (M) is motivation, (Ef) is effort, the (Env) is environment and the (Aperf) attractiveness of the acts of performance. The force (F ) is also represented by expectancy theory as shown on the right hand side as f(E,V) or in Atkinson’s model f(M,P,I). In other words expectancy (E) is a variable directly proportional to (F) and can be expressed as: E = f(A,M,Ef,Env,Aperf) which demonstrates that expectancy can be increased by increasing the strength of these variables, of course within realistic limits of constraints, and potential strength inherent in each variable. The attractiveness of the acts of performance represents a cocktail of attributes and variables like the level of endurance, tolerance, flexibility, appreciation, satisfaction, rewards, social skills, tenacity, and such attitudes that blend in different proportions in different situations conducive to the perseverance.


The important characteristic is that the variables of these functions are dimensionless parameters represented by pure numbers of a scale defined above. These notations help to signify the variables involved and their relations in the conceptualization process of expectancy theory. The above expression of performance and other similar expressions are not universal algebraic equations. They are fluid representations of the functions of motivation theory, often contrived in rudimentary mathematical forms.


Atkinson's Theory of Achievement Motivation


The strength of desire for achievement is considered as an indicator of an individual's motivation for satisfactory performance. The theory of achievement motivation assumes both a motive to achieve success and motive to avoid failure or inhibition (Atkinson – 1964). It implies that more difficult the job lower the probability of success.


Achievement motivation exhibits association with pride, prestige, and higher price for financial risk taking; and the circumspection to avoid ominous ventures. Maslow pointed the tendency for drive in spite of negative cues of fantasy and obsession. One should also understand and learn to deal with the justified control and discouragement; and the unjustified, inimical exclusion and impoverishment. The level of expectancy and attractiveness or valence is generally determined by experience, and the opinion of the peers and mentors like.


Motivation of Civil Engineers


Civil engineers work for reasons to satisfy the economic and social needs and values, like occupational and social status, intrinsic job satisfaction, income to maintain a satisfying life style, and self-actualization. Needs are not purely personal, subjective needs - in moderation they are often objective desires, aims, and responsibilities, contributing and conforming to the cultural, social, economic and public values and good.

            Educational achievements comprise one of the prerequisite needs for achievement and self-actualizing that the need theory has to acknowledge. The Maslow’s and Alderfer’s need hierarchy is plausible in normal orderly situations. Needs hierarchy reflects the social norm, how the social norms tend to structure the order of needs in the society. The self-actualizing individuals exercise a degree of discretion and are not encultured by the society. A civil engineer in normal situation seeks all basic needs sensibly paying attention to lower needs as they become due and concentrating more on the achievements and responsibilities like that are associated with esteem. When the peaceful order is disrupted by anomie or any other misfortune the social networks are disconnected, the belongingness, esteem and virtually all basic needs are disrupted and limited between the individual and the society.

            In general the civil engineers are motivated by inter-alia the job responsibility, need for affiliation with a professional association, and the obligation to perform effectively to satisfy the employers goal of employment. Some of these feelings and attitudes may be unconscious. This view presupposes that the engineers are entrusted tasks commensurate with their educational abilities, needs and potential. Few employees are apparently ordained to rise in the organization. Few others are driven by the yearning for perceived high expectancy and valence of promotion. For some other civil engineers, partly repressed by the management, interpersonal and the social relations like, the performance is an end by itself (McGregor - 1960, Vroom -1964). The possible job-content outcomes like the job-satisfaction, responsibility, achievement of skill, experience and confidence of performance in a similar job task may be conscious or unconscious. The engineer may not be anticipating a notable outcome like a promotion or a special increase in salary. This situation is due to the lack of motivation for self-development, social skills and success in the organization, and treating the employee purely as an economic resource to get done the work. Besides the technical skills that the most engineers will succeed to gain, the relevant social skills for managerial advancement develop from both the personality factors, and from the organizational policy and administration including interpersonal relations. The interaction in the organization manifests the attitudes, feelings, and needs, and the degree and kind of participation and relationships feasible with regard to the attachment to the organization or affiliation to the institution or integrity to the profession like. The success or failure is contingent on an interacting cycle of the personal and organizational traits. The interacting milieu is sometimes termed as organizational climate, environment, or the culture (Steers and Porter - 1975).

             For some goals the individuals must be motivated upfront. Motivation of an individual devious to the norms of the culture of the profession - that is motivational anomie represents an unsatisfactory hygiene factor. To motivate the objectives and goals must be unequivocally and sympathetically negotiated. 


Personal development basically concerns with the personality involving the features like, character, behaviour, relations and learning. For the civil engineers it signifies personal development to reinforce the social, technical, professional and managerial skills and achievement of the recognized goals in these domains. Erudite communication such as report  writing and journalism is a specific social skill valued in personal development. The trend in current business environment is that the job security is disappearing (Schirmer – 1994). In an uncertain climate, life-long learning is not a vision ruled out for some civil engineers. Obviously there must be a balance of continuing education, professional practice, and advancement. Learning must be optimized to maximize the achievements, the professional and social status and self-actualization. Strategy should be to actualize the potential in talents, and maximize the strengths, skills and abilities most apt and realistic in the global environment. One must grasp the opportunities available in the specific settings in which he finds himself (Alderfer 1972). Learning at work is a most common practice, or learning can be part-time or full-time in an external educational institution. The learning curve effect of learning at work affects the performance. Education and experience supplement each other and cannot substitute entirely one another. Continuing education per se without commensurate professional sustenance signifies virtually nothing in the context of professional advancement, social status or making a healthy individual. Two processes of management development are the manufacturing approach, and the growing as of agriculture (McGregor – 1960). The latter depends on the organizational climate and the opportunities available within it. The former is a more production line approach associated with the direction and control. Each individual must respond to and capitalize on the opportunities available.


In decision making there are several lines of thought that are feasible. The most of personal decision making at work is perceptive and does not involve deliberation of expectancies and valences seriously. Unlike planning in the job contents using the techniques like critical path and neural networks, in personal decision making the people do not resort to strategic delineation of all paths and goals leading to several outcomes. These are conjectured or assumed leaving much of decision making process to the unconscious drives and perceptions. Employees often do not have all the relevant information in mental decision making. The objective of motivation is to transcend the drives of unconscious, unmotivated behaviour and improve the level of effective communication in the workplace. In general the organizations do not operate an erudite culture of education and training for performance, motivation and personal development, like the instruments and strategies of Corporate culture. Engineers and other employees manage and motivate largely by norms, common sense, personality traits often moulded and shaped by the organizational and immediate social culture. Usually, the graduate civil engineers have a training plan implemented by a training officer of the employer. Though there is no reason to be complacent that the graduates under training programmes do not have dissatisfactions or are strategically motivated, the tenet is that such training programmes provide guidance to meet the career requirements. Some organizations have greater latitude than others for motivation and personal development. Personalities change to some extent with education, experience, age and motivation. 


A degree of creativity and innovation is necessary to be a civil engineer and is highly regarded in the profession. Spontaneity, creativity and innovation come in many forms in different situations, and must be valued unequivocally. We must rely on these valued traits to the extent they are contributory to satisfactory performance. 


Letting unconscious needs or motivators to interact with and be instrumental in decision making is unsatisfactory, and in a sense drifts towards the concepts like fate and karma. Though the individuals do not have all the information necessary in decision making we must strive to respond consciously most of the time. Mindfulness to deliberate the attractiveness of outcomes as well as deliberation to maximise expectancy must be a personality trait the individuals must develop.


The nature and conditions of Herzberg’s hygienic dissatisfiers are multifarious. In general the civil engineers do not have the opportunity to turnover or leave the field until they find more suitable employment. Hence they have to adopt coping behaviour of cognitive and behavioural adjustments until such a moment actualizes. Absenteeism is not a common problem with civil engineers. Civil engineers cannot entirely plan their future. In general they respond fortuitous to employment and personal development opportunities offered to them by the employers, markets, media and the society in general.


Both pluralism and individualism influence the motivation. The McGregor's theory X and Y illustrates a potent dual-factor of management philosophy, and the Herzberg's hygiene theory is another dual-factor theory. Among a diversity of employees, arbitrary decisions for work adjustment or to let people make choices of altering their abilities to achieve goals or satisfy their needs, are bound to create perceptions of distortion, irony or caprice, hence feelings of inequity and dissatisfaction. Such demoralizing situations as Maslow's theory and other evidence suggest, will repress the important achievement goals or inhibit the behaviour instrumental to achieving the goals. Rational behaviour conducive to survival if not achievement, is imperative in any environment.


Motivational Factors and Variables

             Job satisfaction, motivation and effective performance are interrelated. Job-satisfaction is a factor of motivation. Ability is a factor of job satisfaction often classified as a variable besides the motivation, contributing to effective performance. The other factors important for effective performance include the availability of skilled, reliable manpower and other resources, information on the requirement and limits of the job, planning and task-oriented co-operation. Ability and appropriation of the knowledge are key factors of motivation for effective performance. In a given situation, in one hand the Herzberg's job-content motivators would contribute to performance, while on the other hand any of the hygiene factors might distraught the motivation and performance.

            The job-satisfaction per se is not a proxy for effective performance. Both the job-content and job-context factors like interesting task, responsibility, higher wages, satisfactory working conditions, employee-oriented supervision, autonomy, acceptance and interaction with fellow workers may provide job satisfaction. None of these guarantees effective performance which has to be assessed by considering the criteria that measure the effective performance. The effect of any one of the factors and variables affecting performance on their own can be negligible without the presence and effect of any other - they are interdependent.

            A person is motivated to perform effectively when the performance in that task is consistent with his or her beliefs and opinion. Similarly, the extent to which the subjects perceive the abilities they possess as important and valuable to carry out the task or the job is a factor affecting the effective performance. Vroom termed this as self concept - where effective performance is consistent with a person's valued abilities (Vroom -1964).

           The citations of evidence suggest that there is little or no direct relation between morale and productivity or effective performance (Schwab & Cummings in Steers & Porter –1975, Brayfield and Crockett in Vroom - 1964). Morale is measured in terms of mental attitude to the holistic working environment, and perceived satisfaction in the job situation (Vroom –1964). Herzberg and associates also imply an equivalent meaning. By definition morale may affect the ambition and expectancy. Morale may indirectly affect the efficiency of performance by psychologically influencing the processes like spontaneity and tenuous wangling of creativity.


Leadership and Managerial Skills


The importance of leadership skills and the efficiency in group decision making is emphasized in the literature (Vroom - 1964, Cartwright in Steers & Porter - 1975). Lectures are a necessary element in motivation of the staff as in the context of Corporate culture. The characteristics and cultures of the organizations and audiences are diverse, and the lectures must be flexible for interactive democratic participation as necessary. Lectures supplement one to one interviews and assessments of personal development, and group discussions for performance enhancement. There are many decisions to be settled by group participation - that represents decentralized democracy. Every message cannot be delegated near to the point of action or lowest level in the organization. Participation and influence in decision making by workers on issues for they are responsible for effective performance, is vital (Vroom - 1964).

              Delegation serves a dual purpose. One is the development and fulfilment of the needs of the subordinate, and the other is, relieving the manager or the leader to engage on more important tasks he should carryout. Delegation lends the concept of ‘management by exception’ (McGregor – 1960). One person's delegation could be another's dissatisfying hygiene factor.


Implications of Communication

             Effective communication is important for effective performance. Talking itself is not effective communication. Briefly, for example the lines and matters of communication embrace inter-alia the, team, bottom-up, contract documents and, the construction design and management regulations. Basically, for effective communication the message must be delivered in time and understood by the receiver (Thomas et al -1998, Rutter et al - 1990). Feedback to the sender and its understanding is important for the accurate completion of the communication process. The clarity of encoding and decoding of the meaning of message is dependent on the factors like, knowledge of the topic - that involves consciousness, the relationship and trust that exist between the sender and receiver, understanding and perception of the information (Thomas et al - 1998). Not only that the engineer must furnish relevant documents and information to the relevant parties; he or she must ensure the effective compliance.

            Not positively responding to a message or direction by a superior will reflect poor performance. Failing to carry out an instruction could have serious or negligible effect on the organization or the employee or the both. The outcome can be any of a combination of these two consequences between the two extremes. Paradoxically, the compliance of an instruction without due communication and feedback in some situations has a chance of resulting in the above dissatisfactory impact. To reconcile misunderstandings, the managers, engineers and other employees must communicate and for that they must have effective communication skills and use those tactfully to motivate. 


A Developing Country Perspective


Particularly in the irrigation settlement projects, the rural farmer contractors are an autonomous, unmotivated, laissez-faire community, yet essential constituent of rural civil engineering. The settler farmer communities are people with traditional agricultural and communication skills, and the potential for sustainable technological maintenance. One of their motivators is and ought to be pride of effective performance that needs to be manifested by public rewards and recognition. Motivation as an instrument of making choices and direction should stimulate the competitive spirit and performance in farming activities. The potential and need, have to be actualized with a concerted effort of internalized motivation that must converge from all the spheres of political, technological and social administration. The commercial sector is already playing a part (Peiris - 1989). There are organized, successful, rural voluntary self-help programmes; the spirit of which has not entered the more lucrative contract culture in the rural society (Batchelor et al - 1992). The sociologists contend with the bottom up approach of modernization or community development using the public participation as an instrument of democracy. For sustainable development some authoritative decisions have to be made by the civil engineers. Quality assurance of any form like the internal accountancy is appreciable. A culture of objectives, goals, scope, prioritisation, trust, motivation, flexibility, appropriate technology, and commitment that make achievement and growth; not infantile bureaucracy.

               The gap between the appreciation of the finer concepts and sensitivities involved in the use of technology by the local communities and the appropriation of education is the missing link of technology transfer. Motivation is a vital component of this link. An element of the Taylor's scientific management concerning scientific knowledge and planning is another necessary component in the successful modernization (Taylor – 1964). Motivation of the developing community workers needs, dialogue, persuasion, education and training pertinent to the appropriate technology needs, understanding and consensus. Adequate consideration of safety and health, and welfare must be an integral part of labour intensive technology. Learning and changing the attitudes and practices of poor performance is a gradual process dependent on the existing organizational culture.


Parable of Corporate Hierarchy


            In reference to the previously cited Martin's corporate hierarchy, the irrigation settlement project organization first enters as a construction organization that facilitates a public utility to the voluntary settled community. Its survival is virtually ensured by the principle of public sector economic welfare. Satisfaction of the service need moves the organization to the security level. A sister organization or a vertically integrated umbrella wing of the organization takes over the operation and management of the project. Land and social administration makes a major activity. The requirements of the application of technological skills change, and the associated social skills become very important. Facilitating environment for gaining conventional engineering skills diminishes. The attention is directed away from technology to social objectives (Martin – 1986). An ominous digression from the Martin’s corporate hierarchy peculiar to irrigation management organization is that, the community who is the customer is a laissez-faire individual – is also a contractor maintaining the infrastructure serving the own community. The realization of potential is entirely dependent on the shared responsibility of effective maintenance and agriculture extension. The community development and the resulting modernization is a function of effective, sustainable performance of infrastructure, productivity, awareness, dissemination and fostering of appropriate technology, environmental improvement, energy efficiency, public health programmes and the like, by the customer community and the management organization. This process of realization of potential is out of focus and the organization serves mainly for the purpose of inward bureaucracy (Moonasingha -  ). Survival of the corporate organization is maintained by routine and periodic public expenditure; the cost of which is extenuated by the fact that the salaries are a fraction that of western counterparts.


Performance embraces controls. Motivation must be for measured, assessed, prioritised, actions, paths and goals; hence for the controlled performance. The culture of the organization shapes the technology of the society (Moonasingha - ). The cycle of decentralization and when the things appear to be getting out of order, the tendency for centralized supportive control is known as the accordion effect (McGregor - 1960).




            The motivation theories are a precursor to the motivation of civil engineers. The basic motivators of needs theory are largely facilitated by a satisfactory job and the salary. In general the civil engineers are self-motivated for both personal and professional achievement and growth. The motivation required from the management is the direction and choice of action, and facilitating a favourable environment that refines the processes of personal decision making as well as improves the performance of the job task and organizational objectives in general. The supervisory and supporting resource environment, interesting work, and personality characteristics are the key variables of performance oriented motivation.

            The concept of expectancy theory posits that the effort of performance is a product of the strength of expectancy and attractiveness of the outcome. Based on this idea, it has been shown that the expectancy of desired outcomes can be improved by relatively increasing the inputs of key variables of performance like ability and motivation that produce the force to perform an act instrumental to the desired outcomes.

            Stimulating the consciousness regarding goals, intended accomplishments and the instrumental performance towards their attainment is a paramount objective of motivation. Motivation is more successful for goals that are common to both the organizational and personnel objectives and needs. Motivation must take into account the diverse ideologies posited in the motivation theory and apply the instruments selectively to the individuals and groups to suit the varying personalities and situations.



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