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Two Factor Theory

Herzberg's Motivation Theory

Technical Details

Name(s): Two Factor Theory, also known as, Herzberg's Motivation Theory, Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory, Motivation-Hygiene Theory, and The Dual Structure Theory
Author: Professor Frederick Irving Herzberg
Classification: Hedonic or Pleasure Motivational Theories
Year: 1959


  • The theory is supported with considerable empirical data and is included in other research that is supportive of the original hypothesis.
  • Recognizes the fact that motivation comes from within the individual as opposed to any external factors.
  • The Two Factor Theory Provides practical solutions for organizations.


  • Research methodology is criticized.
  • Doesn't consider individual personalities with regards to motivating or hygiene factors.
  • Doesn't provide a motivational value for each motivator.


The Two Factor Theory has had a considerable amount of practical and as well as theoretical influences. In fact, from a practical perspective, the influence of Herzberg's motivation theory can be seen at every organizational level as well as within every department. From a theoretical perspective, Herzberg's motivation theory can be perceived as having similarities to Maslow's Theory of Need with the exception that for Herzberg's theory, the needs aren't placed in a progressive continuum, rather they are divided into two independent factors. In fact, Herzberg would argue that the opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction since different stimuli are involved in generating each of those emotional states, reinforcing the fact that they are not on the same continuum. As a result, these states must be measured on different scales.


Herzberg's motivation theory emerged from a collection of data gathered by the interview of 203 accountants and engineers within the Pittsburgh area. The interview process consisted of asking the respondents to describe a work situation where they felt very happy as well as very unhappy. These descriptions were to include as many details as possible, including their feelings, the interpretation of the situation as well as the events that are suggestive of a change.

The analysis of the responses confirmed the proposed hypothesis, where some factors where contributors to job satisfaction, while others were not. In addition, some factors were noted to be a source of dissatisfaction when absent. These were categorized as "Motivators" and "Hygiene" factors, the latter also being referred to as Maintenance Factors.

Motivators: They actually motivate an individual. They find their root within the job itself.

Hygiene Factors: They don't have any motivational value when present, but do have a de-motivational value if not present. These factors are extrinsic to the work itself.

Examples of Hygiene Factors and Motivators affecting Job Satisfaction [1]

Hygiene Factors Motivators
Company Policy and Administration Achievement
Supervision Recognition
Interpersonal Relations Growth Possibilities
Salary Career Advancement
Status Level of Responsibility
Job Security The Job Itself
Personal Life
Working conditions

Herzberg suggests that organizations can utilize three distinct methods to increase the motivational factors:

  1. Job Enlargement
  2. Job Rotation
  3. Job Enrichment

The Application of the Two Factor Theory is definitely well established within organizational settings. In fact, every leader has the responsibility to ensure that their employee's hygiene factors are attended to and that proper motivators are implemented to increase job satisfaction.

The most common mistake committed by leaders is to attend to the hygiene factor while expecting employee motivation!

One application for Herzberg's theory of motivation that isn't well known is its importance in managing quality. A great paper by Heinz Weihrich [2] shows the link between the Two Factor Theory of motivation and quality. He equates the reliability or "R" factor of a product as being the hygiene factor and therefore customers have grown to expect products they purchase to be reliable. The "S" factor, the motivator, refers to the product features.

Thus, today's organizations should definitely ensure that their products are reliable, as expected by their customers and a product that lacks reliability will certainly lead to unhappy customers. What will "sell" are the features that are included or a specified component of the product. In general, these will need to meet or even exceed customer's expectations.


The Two Factor Theory or Herzberg's Theory of Motivation is still to this day, holding to the test of time. However, through its existence there have been many critiques. In 1968, Herzberg indicated that there were 16 other studies from various parts of the world that use different population samples that are supportive of his original findings.

Among the criticism of the theory, the list below is representative of the most cited ones:

  1. The Two Factor Theory assumes that happy employees produce more.
  2. What motivates one individual might be a de-motivator for another individual.
  3. Doesn't account for individual personality traits that could provide a different response to a motivator or hygiene factor.

Future of theory

The theory lacks in the understanding of the inter-relations between some of the motivators. For example, one might receive adequate job recognition, but he or she may not be satisfied with the level of responsibility. As a result, I would question the internal motivational value of job recognition for the individual. Utilizing the same, research focused on the inter-relations between the hygiene factors and the motivators. Even within the hygiene or motivator categories, one dependent upon his or her professional level might be more or less sensitive to one or the other of the factors. [3]

Thus, incorporating the expectancy theory of Motivation from Victor Vroom or similar within Herzberg's Theory of Motivation very well could result in a more complementary model. It may be that this would lead to the ability of future managers to predict the motivational value of their decisions.

Share your thoughts

Sharing your motivating thoughts or your motivational tips will benefit every leader. Motivation is what give them the energy to constantly seek to improve their self-motivation as well as motivating other. Consequently increase our leadership influence.

What Other Leaders Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other leaders to this page...

organizational behavior 
Do you agree or disagree with the basic assumptions of Herzberg’s dual-structure theory? Why?

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