Generalized cognitive models of the motivation process, as reviewed by Steers and Porter (1995), can be characterized by three basic common denominators. Motivation is primarily concerned with:
what energizes particular behaviors;
what directs or channels these behaviors;
how these behaviors are sustained or altered.
The first component concentrates on those needs, drives, or expectations within individuals or work settings that trigger certain behaviors, whereas the second component emphasizes the goals and visions of the individuals and groups toward which the energized behaviors are directed. The last component of any motivational model has to deal with feedback, focusing on those forces within individuals or their work environments that can either reinforce and intensify the energy and direction of desired behaviors or shift them to another course of action, thereby redirecting their efforts.
Although a wide range of motivational models has been put forth, most are psychological in nature, focusing on the willingness of a professional to undertake action in order to satisfy some need. An unsatisfied need creates tension, which stimulates a drive within the individual to identify particular goals that, if attained, will satisfy the need and lead to a reduction of tension. In some sense, motivated employees are in a state of tension, and they undertake activities and behave in ways to relieve this tension: the greater the tension, ...