Motivation and Job Satisfaction Concepts Connection in Saudi Arabia

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Employees’ motivation and job satisfaction are some of the factors that determine the success of an organization (Harrell, 1958, p.85). Motivation and job satisfaction are especially important in the press industry. Employees in a press company have to be highly motivated for them to be involved in the required task of searching for information, reporting, and in some cases being involved in life-threatening situations. Another aspect in this field is that employees have to be able to find job satisfaction in their work for them to be productive.. In this section, the concepts of motivation, job satisfaction, motivation theories, the relationship between motivation and job satisfaction will be reviewed. The researcher will also review other studies and scholarly publications on motivation and job satisfaction in Saudi Arabia.

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Concept of Motivation

Employee motivation is an important aspect of management. Although motivation is widely talked about in management, it is not well understood and is often practiced poorly (Locke & Latham, 2004, p. 307). As an abstract concept, motivation involves various strategies and may give different outcomes at different times. Although it is agreed that motivation is important, there is no agreement on the best way to motivate individuals. A motivation strategy that works for a certain individual or group of individuals does not necessarily work on other individuals. Motivating workers is mostly a challenging task (Vecchio, 1991, p. 108; Statt, 1994, p.68). One of the many reasons that make workers’ motivation challenging is the fact that different individuals respond differently to motivation actions. Despiresponsesrent response to motivation, many scholars agree that the best way to motivate employees is to create a positive working environment (Buera & Glueck, 1979; Locke & Latham, 2004, p. 273; Kadushin & Kulys, 1995, p. 973). It is also widely accepted among researchers on workers that highly workers’ motivation leads to high productivity (Buera & Glueck, 1979, p. 79; Cook & Hunsaker, 2001, p. 103). Halepota (2005, p. 37) asserts that although some level of workers’ motivation can be achieved through appropriate steps, it is very difficult to motivate all workers as different individuals respond differently to motivation actions. Although he agrees that motivation is challenging to achieve, He recommends it to authority (Bobic & Davis, 2003, p. 413; Fincham & Rhodes, 1999, p. 276).

He explains that although the use of authority can influence behavior, motivation is a better alternative as it influences behavior in a less threatening manner. Arnold (1988, p. 892) explains that what is required in motivating workers is quality of action rather than the number of steps (Arnold et al., 2005, p.137; Kadushin & Kulys, 1995, p. 981). Locke and Latham (2004, p. 367) give a deeper explanation of motivation by saying that it is achieved through external and internal factors that act as an incentive to the desired result. They explain that motivation influences the direction, duration, and intensity of action. In the workplace context, they explain, workers’ motivation influences the way they use their skills and abilities and affect productivity.

The concept of motivation can be well understood by evaluating the origin of the term ‘motivation’. Kreitner and Kinicki (2007, p. 371) explain that the term motivation has its origin in the Latin word ‘motive’. This word has the meaning ‘to move’. Borrowing from the Latin word, motivation can be understood as a “psychological process that arouses and directs goal-directed behavior” (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2007 p. 207). Robbins (1998), as cited in Ramlall (2004, p.53) defines workers’ motivation as their willingness to make effort towards organizational goals as they strive towards their individual goals. Despite the different ways in which various scholars view motivation, there are common aspects on which they agree. According to Mitchell (1982), there are four common aspects of motivation. He posits that motivation is mostly described and individual, intentional, multifaceted and that it determines behavior (Mitchell, 1982, p. 81; Berl & Williamson, 1987, p. 57; Porter, Bigley & Steers, 2003, 307). Borrowing from these four common aspects, Mitchell defines motivation as “the degree to which an individual is willing to engage in a specified behavior” (Mitchell, 1982, p. 82).

The various definitions given to the term ‘motivation’ send light into the meaning of the concept (Berl et al., 1984, p.91). Steers et al. (2004) posit that the various definitions have three common aspects. Kinicki et al. (2002) say that motivation is concerned with factors that boost and direct positive behaviors over time. Existing theories of employees’ motivation try, in one way or the other, to explain how the factors relate with each other to determine organizational behavior.

Motivation Theories

Motivation is a widely studied subject. Various theories of motivation try to explain how individuals are motivated and aspects that lead to motivation (Sim, 1990, p.158). Although there are various theories of motivation, the theories can be grouped into two major categories. The first category is content theories. These theories are mainly concerned with human needs and how individuals satisfy these needs. The theories try to explain the nature of the needs and the aspect that motivate individuals. A common motivation theory under this category is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Wilson & Madsen, 2008, p. 51). The second category of motivation theories is process theories. These theories are mainly concerned with aspects that initiate direct and sustain behavior. Instead of focusing on the goals of certain workplace behavior, the theories are concerned with the actual process of motivation (Bettencourt & Brown, 1997, p. 217). According to Mullins (2007), Vroom’s expectancy theory is one good example of process theory. Kreitner and Kinicki (2007) assert that process theories are more dynamic as compared to content theories. Theories of motivation are important in explaining organizational behavior. The theories attempt to distinguish factors that can either positively or negatively, affect workplace behavior (Wilkinson et al., 1986). According to the researchers, motivation theories are mainly concerned with how workers react to other individuals around them and other stimuli in a workplace environment. Gibson et al. (2003) assert that both categories of theories of motivation are very important to managers as they play an important role in determining organizational behavior.

Although the theories of motivation provide great insight into the subject, there are various criticisms to theories while they are not wholly conclusive (Gibson & Klein, 1970). In some cases, alternative findings that contradict some of the theories are found. Despite the reservations, the theories of motivation provide an important foundation for understanding the subject (Mullins, 2007).

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Concept of Job Satisfaction

It is commonly agreed that job satisfaction has a high influence on individual behavior and productivity in the workplace (Weaver, 1980, p. 117). The concept, however, is complex and cannot be easily explained. According to McCormick and Imogen (1987, 89), job satisfaction has several facets that include, nature of work, remunerations, company, or opportunities for development (Saal & Knight, 1988, p. 76; Fox, Dwyer & Ganster, 1993, p. 672). The authors define the concept as various attitudes of workers and their response to their jobs (Wisniewski, 1990, p. 71; Brown & McIntosh, 2003, p. 78). To show the close relationships between workers’ attitude and job satisfaction, Robbins and Judge (2008) explain that people mainly refer to job satisfaction when they speak about employee attitude (Robbins & Judge, 2009; Gazioglu & Tansel, 2006, p. 1476). Mullins (2007) adds to this concept by saying that job satisfaction is more of an internal state of attitude. Locke and Latham (2004, p. 367) define job satisfaction as a “pleasurable emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job as achieving or facilitating the achievement of one’s job value” (Milbourn and Dunn, 1976, p. 35; Fernandes, Awamleh, 2006, p. 87). Evans (1998) says that job satisfaction is achieved when individuals’ needs are fulfilled.

On the other hand, Salancik and Pfeffer (1977) understand job satisfaction to refer to correspondence between an individual’s needs and characteristics of the job.

Job satisfaction is concerned with how an individual feels about his or her job. According to Armstrong (2006), a favorable attitude toward one’s jobs implies that such an individual has job satisfaction while a negative attitude implies job dissatisfaction. Many factors determine job satisfaction. According to Moyle et al. (2003), personality has a great influence on job satisfaction. Moyle et al. (2003) say that jobs are multifaceted; an individual could be pleased with one aspect while he dislikes another aspect of the same job.

The connection between Motivation and Job Satisfaction

There is a close relationship between workers’ motivation and their job satisfaction. According to Kreitner and Kinicki (2007), this relationship is very important in determining the success of managerial roles. In a meta-analysis involving nine studies and 1739 workers, Kreitner & Kinicki (2007) found a positive relationship between these two important management aspects. The findings showed a positive relationship between supervision and workers’ motivation. The researchers thus advise managers to consider their behaviors as they influence workers’ job satisfaction. They advise that, by taking positive steps, managers can progressively enhance employee motivation.

Mullins (2007) agrees that there is a relationship between motivation and job satisfaction but says that the link between them is not clear. He says that job satisfaction can be linked qualitatively or quantitatively to an individual’s feelings of achievement. He posits that job satisfaction plays a significant role in determining workers’ motivation and performance (Westbrook, 1982, p. 196). A direct relationship between motivation and job satisfaction can be observed from content theories of motivation. Herzberg’s (1959) theory considers the effect of ‘hygiene’ and ‘motivators’ and job satisfaction. By considering the complexity of work motivation, process theories of motivation show the deeper relationship between motivation and satisfaction and their influence on performance (Edwards et al. 2008, p.447; Okapara, 2006, p. 78).

Tietjen and Myers (1998) say that the basic differentiating aspect of Herzberg’s theory is the intrinsic level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the factors. Deducing for Herzberg’s theories, motivators can be understood as the factors that contribute to long-term satisfaction (Clark, Oswald & Warr, 1996, p. 35). According to Edwards et al. (2008), motivators are the aspect that leads to a positive attitude toward one’s job and helps employees achieve self-actualization. Self-actualization is the ultimate object in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is implied that good performance is determined by the presence of these motivators. Herzberg however insists that dissatisfaction is not necessarily caused by the absence of motivators. In the same way, although the absence of motivators may cause dissatisfaction, their presence does not necessarily promote job satisfaction.

Motivation factors may have different outcomes in different contexts. Thiedke (2004) observed that although a positive working environment, good interpersonal relationships, and favorable remuneration are motivators, they could as well lead to dissatisfaction (Arnolds & Boshoff, 2002, p.104; Fatt, 2002, p.39). He concludes that real motivation does not result from external factors but feelings of achievement, recognition, responsibility, and other such factors.

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Borrowing from these arguments over motivation and job satisfaction, the researcher will study the relationship and impact of the two in Saudi Research and Publishing Company (SRPC) employees.

Motivation and Job Satisfaction in Saudi Arabia

Workers’ motivation and job satisfaction are important factors in the growth of any economy. An important study on the nature of job satisfaction and motivation in Saudi Arabia is that conducted by Maghrabi and Hayajneh (1993). Using a survey of 120 managers from various organizations in the country, the researchers obtained interesting outcomes. The study demonstrated a large variance between motivation and satisfaction in males and females (Maghrabi & Hayajneh, 1993; Griffin & Moorhead, 2007, p.876). It was clear that males felt more satisfied with their jobs than females. The study also showed that Bedouin managers were highly motivated and had high job satisfaction as compared to non-Bedouin managers. Bedouin managers also demonstrated higher loyalty to their companies relative to non-Bedouin managers. Contrary to expectation, the study showed that managers had very little influence on the motivation of other employees (Bhuina, Al Shammari & Al Jefri, 2001, p. 97). Instead, the study showed general motivation and job satisfaction in the country were influenced by the country’s economy.

Improving performance in organizations is one of the major challenges encountered by Saudi Arabia’s managers. This is because of work practice and cultural issues that hurt employee performance. One common observation in Saudi Arabia’s workplaces is that individuals are motivated more by position and status than other factors. The trend where employees are motivated by position and status is a major challenge in maintaining skilled employees in an organization. According to Bryman and Bell (2007), most Saudis are brought up in luxury and consequently are not interested in maintaining low ranks (Idris, 2007). Idris also says that the culture of an organization is a contributing factor to motivation and job satisfaction in Saudi Arabia.

Culture and religion have an influence on motivation and job satisfaction in Saudi Arabia (Bjerke & Al Meer, 1993, p. 306; Martin, 2001, p. 89). Yasin and Stahl (1990) assert that most Arab managers are motivated more by affiliation than power. They relate this trend to culture family relationships and, in a larger aspect, to religion (Hasan, 2003, p. 54). Comparing American expatriate managers and Saudi Arabia managers using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, At-Twaijri (1989) observed great differences. While American expatriates were much concerned with self-actualization, Saudi Arabian managers were observed to be more concerned with social needs. This observation was a confirmation of an earlier study that had shown that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs depended on culture (Wahba & Bridwell, 1973, p. 79; Nunro, Schumaker & Carr, 1997, p. 78). Ali and Al-Shakhis (1989) reported that Saudi managers obtained job satisfaction from their jobs, workgroups, and supervisory roles.

Comparing job satisfaction motivation need in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, Al Noeim (2002) noted insightful differences. In the study that involved 154 managers from the United Kingdom and 406 from Saudi Arabia, Al Noeim found that motivation needs such as the need for affiliation, achievement, dominance, and autonomy did not have a significant influence on job satisfaction of the managers (Bilgic, 1998, p. 127; Brewer & Wilson, 1995, p. 143). However, the study showed a great difference in motivation and job satisfaction when demographic variables were factored in. Job satisfaction and loyalty in Saudi Arabia are relatively low as compared to other regions. According to Bayt (2008), Saudi Arabia can be ranked second lowest in job satisfaction and loyalty in the gulf region.

Motivation and Job Satisfaction in Private Sector

Motivation and job satisfaction differ significantly in private and private sectors in various countries. According to Jurkiewicz et al. (1998), some studies show differences while others show similarities. For instance, Mitchell (1982) found no difference in motivation and job satisfaction between public and private sectors in the United States (in which countries?). Bogg and Cooper (1995) could not find a significant difference in motivation but found employees’ job satisfaction to be slightly higher in the private sector.

Various researchers find a significant difference in motivation between private and public sectors (Wright, 2001; Rainey and Bozeman, 2000; Roelen, Koopmans & Groothoff, 2008, p. 157). Cherniss and Kane (1987) found motivation and job satisfaction to be higher in the private sector than in the public sector. The level of remuneration is found to be one of the major motivators in the private sector (Khojasteh, 1993; Jurkiewicz, et al., 1998, Blunt and Spring, 1991). Other researchers find the experience as another factor that leads to job satisfaction in the private sector (Rainey, 1979; Solomon, 1986, Rhinehart et al. 1969). Testing Herzberg’s theory, Maidani (1991), found that employees in both sectors emphasized intrinsic motivators. In addition, investigating job satisfaction in Florida Maidani found that extrinsic motivators were lower in the private sector as compared to the public sector. Researching the same subject in United States Khojasteh (1993) found that intrinsic motivators equally motivated managers from both sectors (Falcone, 1991, p. 132; Robertson, Smith & Cooper, 1992, p. 216). In a study in Belgium, Buelens and Broeck (2007) on the other hand found extrinsic motivators to have less effect on employees in the public sector than they had on employees in the private sector. The outcome of the studies on motivation and job satisfaction in private and public sectors vary across the country

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Measurement of Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction can be measured in various ways. According to Ribeaux and Poppleton, (1978), behavioral intentions, feelings, and beliefs can be used to measure attitudes. Although many methods can be used to measure job satisfaction, the use of questionnaires is the most common approach. Questionnaires are preferred to other methods since they are relatively cheap and require less time (Spector, 1997; Lincoln & Kalleberg, 1985, p. 56). According to McKenna (1994), the use of rating scales is common in evaluating job satisfaction. Likert Scaling and differential test are the common and most preferred scaling techniques (Rollinson, 2005, p. 97; Kopelman, Prottas & Davis, 2008, p. 76). The use of rating scales to evaluate job satisfaction leads to various advantages and disadvantages. Some of the merits include short required time, ability to phrase questions in common language, ability to predetermine the range of response, and that the method can lead to an analysis of problems at hand and lead to solutions. Disadvantages of the method include the fact that some respondents may give misleading information, data collected can be influenced by how the questions are structured, and outcomes can be influenced by attitudes other than facts (McKenna, 1994; Schneider & Alderfer, 1973, p. 67).


Employees’ motivation and job satisfaction are poorly evaluated in Saudi Arabia. Despite this, available literature from the region shows that motivating employees is a major challenge to Saudi managers. There is limited research on job motivation and satisfaction in the press industry especially in Suadi Arabia, so the literature reviews focussed on the subject from a broader perspective and in the context of Saudi Arabia. The literature reviews provide a strong foundation for the study on motivation and job satisfaction in Saudi Arabia.

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BusinessEssay. "Motivation and Job Satisfaction Concepts Connection in Saudi Arabia." December 3, 2021.