Communication and Human Development

An Islamic Perspective on the Expectancy Valence Theory

The most commonly used classification of motivation theories among organizational behavior scholars is the content and process theories (Altman, Valenzi, and Hodgetts 1985). While content theories address what motivates employees, process theories speculate about how to motivate them (Bedeian 1980). When Muslim scholars have discussed motivation theories, they have explained the Islamic perspective on the content approach. For example, Sharafeldin (1988) compared content theories with the socialist approach of motivation. He emphasized the extrinsic motives of Islamic values and concluded that these values are alternative motivators for Muslims to achieve better performance. Ahmad (1988,3) also reviewed content theories and argued that the ritual aspect of the human personality is an intrinsic motive other than the “materialistic-orientation”o f the content theories. In addition, Shareef (1988, 11) noted that while certain Islamic actions will fulfill the self actualization needs, “economic incentives are motivators only in life-threatening situations.”

Despite this focus on the content approach of motivation theories, Muslim scholars have given less attention to how to motivate employees. They also have not provided sufficient conceptualization for an Islamic process by which Muslim employees make their motivational choices within an Islamic context. This paper addresses this gap in Islamic organizational behavioral literature by a) presenting an Islamic model of motivation process drawn from the Quran; b) discussing the model’s dynamics in relation to both social learning theory and Vroom’s expectancy theory; and c) introducing an Islamic expectancy and exploring its instrumentalities and implications.

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