Vroom Expectations Theory: Formula and Examples

Vroom Expectations Theory: Formula and Examples - Vroom's expectation theory makes a great contribution to the world of work and organizations as it includes the importance of considering the needs and expectations of workers when structuring an…

Vroom's expectation theory makes a great contribution to the world of work and organizations as it includes the importance of considering the needs and expectations of workers when structuring and organizing work activity.

In the following article we will explain what Vroom's theory of expectations consists of , his contributions in the field of human resources and we will give some examples of the application of this theory in the field of organizations.

Summary of Vroom's Expectations Theory


The theory of Victor Vroom expectations explains how people act motivated by the expectations we have of the results we will get to performing certain action. Human beings, as thinking beings and with continuous growth needs (personal / family, work and social), act motivated by certain goals that we establish to achieve our life projects. For this reason, the actions we take will be conditioned by the anticipated perception (or expectation) of the result that will derive from a certain conduct.

In this way, the behaviors that will encourage us the most will be those that allow us to achieve our personal goals. On the contrary, those that do not contribute anything to our personal development will be quickly discarded or, in case of being forced to carry them out, will cause us over time a strong internal discomfort by investing our energy in actions that do not suppose us any type of food or internal nutrition.

Contributions of Vroom's expectation theory


The contributions of Vroom's theory of expectations have been made mainly in the area of Social and Organizational Psychology, specifically in the area of Human Resources.

This approach has served as the basis for the planning and structuring of the work, contributing as a novelty the consideration of how the behavior of the workers is motivated by the perception and expectation they have about the result they are going to obtain from their labor action. In this way, to favor certain behaviors (performance, efficiency, etc.) or eliminate others (absenteeism, non-compliance with rules, delay in entry, etc.) the organization must take into account the aspects that will favor motivation or lack of motivation of the worker to carry them out, considering the preferences and personal interests of each of them.

According to this theory, to ensure good work performance, it is necessary to take care of three types of relationships that occur in every work process. Since failure to comply with any of them will lose the motivating force towards the worker, thus negatively impacting their performance and efficiency. These three aspects are:

  1. Effort-performance relationship : the effort of the worker must be directly related to the performance obtained from their behavior. In the opposite case (no matter how hard he tries, he cannot obtain the expected results), the worker will not feel motivated to carry out said action.
  2. Performance-reinforcement ratio : in this case, it is about reinforcing the best performances more, that is, the higher the performance, the greater the reward (greater in quantity or quality, especially greater in relation to the value that the workers give it ).
  3. Reinforcement-value relationship : this type of relationship refers to the importance that the reward given to the worker has to have a positive value for him in order to motivate his behavior.


Vroom's expectation theory formula


Víctor Vroom establishes a formula to determine the degree of motivation of workers towards a certain action:

Motivation = Expectation * Instrumentality * Valencia

These three factors are the key elements that will condition the motivation towards the task of the workforce, being:

  • Expectation : perception that the worker has about the result he is going to obtain from his behavior. It has a value between 0 and 1.
  • Instrumentality : the worker's perception that their particular action (as a constitutive element of the company) will be decisive in achieving the expected result. This value also ranges from 0 to 1.
  • Valencia : the value that the worker gives to the result obtained by the task performed. This aspect presents values between -1 and 1.


Examples of Vroom's Expectation Theory


Based on the formula established by Vroom to determine the degree of motivation of workers towards tasks and based on the values of the different elements involved, we are going to comment on some examples of the application of this theory in the workplace:

To encourage and motivate certain behaviors


  1. Find out the needs and interests of workers to establish, based on them, the rewards of the different results. The expectation of these results will motivate the action of the workers. In this way, the rewards can range from: a salary increase or some additional economic benefit for those most in need financially or for those who value money positively; individual or public recognition; job promotion or improvement; particular job advantages; etc.
  2. Specify the effects that each labor action has on the final result, trying to ensure that all workers are important elements in achieving the final result. The perception by the worker of the importance of their individual contribution will largely condition their motivation to carry it out.
  3. Establish rewards that, as we just discussed, are important to workers.


When the organization takes these parameters into account, the motivating force will be high since the values of the three elements will be positive. For example: Motivation (0.72) = expectation (0.9) * instrumentality (0.8) * valence (1).

To discourage and eliminate certain behaviors


This usually occurs in cases where workers engage in inappropriate or disruptive behaviors. In these cases, the interesting thing is that both the expectations of the workers, the instrumentalization and the valence present low or negative values so that the motivating force of the combination of these elements supposes a very low value that discourages the performance of the behavior in question.

For example, in the case in which a worker arrives late to work, sanctions can be established (financial, calls for attention, loss of employment and / or temporary salary, etc.) the perception of which, together with the taking of Awareness that this result depends on their specific action, together with the negative that this result supposes, will discourage the worker to carry out said behavior.

With regard to performance, if low performance is penalized or not rewarded additionally, the expectations of the results, the awareness of the consequences of their concrete action and the negative of the result will demotivate the workforce towards low productivity.

It should be noted that this theory, like all those aimed at managing the human resources of labor organizations, must be used responsibly and with an attitude of general improvement of each and every one of those involved. Otherwise, in the wrong hands, great labor abuse and negligence can be committed. It is therefore about encouraging individual conscience so that the benefit that these theories can bring us is for the benefit of the achievement of global social improvements.

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