How do I apply motivation theories in essay-based exam questions?

The IB is all about critical thinking. You will never score top marks unless you see beyond a problem. Learning theories by hard will lead you nowhere.

It is very common to see essay questions, both in Paper 1 and 2, based on the topic of Human ResourcesHow should you approach them?

a) Read the case study and analyse the relationship between the employer and the employee.

The employer believes that the employee cannot do complex tasks? (TAYLOR) Does the employee receive a salary, good conditions, vacations? (HERZBERG), Does the employee give as much as he or she gets in turn? (ADAMS).

b) You have to draw on the syllabus to evidence your arguments. These are examples of situations you could find:

TAYLOR’s Scientific Management 
(sounds rough today, yet the theory traces back to 1911)
- The employer views the employees as brainless machines
- Complex activities are broken down into simple tasks
- Employees are matched to the activities that they can best perform, and they are constantly monitored
- Employers believe that only financial rewards will motivate their employees

HERZBERG’s Two-Factor Theory
- Hygiene factors are not motivators themselves, but if they are absent, they create dissatisfaction. E.g. health insurance
- Motivators are factors that motivate when they are present, yet their absence does not create dissatisfaction. E.g. recognition of achievements, responsibility, challenging work…

ADAMS’ Equity Theory
- The workplace should follow a "give and take" basis
- There has to be a balance between what the employee gives (effort, time, knowledge…) and what he or she received in return (money, recognition…)
- An inequity will lead to a conflict. Inequities can be real or perceived. E.g. if an employee puts much more effort than his colleague and they both earn the same.

c) Once you have found the motivation theory that applies to the case, you have to resolve the conflict. Some examples of how to approach this are shown below:

TAYLOR’s Scientific Management
- Give more freedom to employees, trust them more
- Assign them more complex tasks so that they feel valued
- Reward creativity and imagination
- Provide non-financial motivators as well

HERZBERG’s Two-Factor Theory
- Make sure the Hygiene Factors are present
- Try your best to provide Motivators too
- Give a try to Non-Financial Rewards: job enrichment, rotation, teamwork…

ADAMS’ Equity Theory
- Establish good communication channels between employer and employee
- Make sure there is a common ground, so that they are both aware of each other's expectations
- Make sure there is continuous feedback so that the employee can express the way he or she feels

Carla C. IB Spanish tutor, IB Business Studies tutor, IB English Lang...

2 years ago

Answered by Carla, an IB Business Studies tutor with MyTutor

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist


£36 /hr

Liam B.

Degree: Global Politics (Masters) - Durham University

Subjects offered:Business Studies, Politics+ 4 more

Business Studies
Government and Politics
-Personal Statements-

“Education University of Durham (2016 – 2017) MSc. Global Politics Key Skills gaining:  Flexibility: demonstrated through responsiveness and collaboration in group projects.  Self-Awareness: through a higher level of academic expecta...”

£20 /hr

Nandini G.

Degree: Business & Management with Industrial Experience (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered:Business Studies

Business Studies

“19, Business and Management student at Exeter, with a passion for teaching! Willing to help students do their best!”

MyTutor guarantee

£20 /hr

Modupeola A.

Degree: Accounting and Finance (Bachelors) - Edinburgh University

Subjects offered:Business Studies, English Literature+ 4 more

Business Studies
English Literature
-Personal Statements-

“I am a part-time tutor studying Accounting and Finance at the University of Edinburgh. I look forward to working with you to achieve your target grades. ”

About the author

£22 /hr

Carla C.

Degree: International Management (Bachelors) - Warwick University

Subjects offered:Business Studies, Spanish+ 1 more

Business Studies
English Language

“Enthusiastic tutor from Barcelona studying at the University of Warwick, I will help you make your IB EXCELENTE!”

You may also like...

Posts by Carla

How do I apply motivation theories in essay-based exam questions?

¿Cómo conjugar un verbo en español? (How to conjugate a verb in Spanish?)

Other IB Business Studies questions

What are two main methods of business analysis

What is fiscal policy?

What is PED - price elasticity of demand?

What is an externality?

View IB Business Studies tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss