The two-factor theory (also known as Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory and dual-factor theory) states that there are certain factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction, while a separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction. It was developed by Frederick Herzberg, a psychologist, who theorized that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction act independently of each other.
Two-factor theory fundamentals: Attitudes and their connection with industrial mental health are related to Maslow's theory of motivation. His findings have had a considerable theoretical, as well as a practical, influence on attitudes toward administration. According to Herzberg, individuals are not content with the satisfaction of lower-order needs at work, for example, those associated with minimum salary levels or safe and pleasant working conditions. Rather, individuals look for the gratification of higher-level psychological needs having to do with achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, and the nature of the work itself. So far, this appears to parallel Maslow's theory of a need hierarchy. However, Herzberg added a new dimension to this theory by proposing a two-factor model of motivation, based on the notion that the presence of one set of job characteristics or incentives lead to worker satisfaction at work, while another and separate set of job characteristics lead to dissatisfaction at work. Thus, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not on a continuum with one increasing as the other diminishes, but are independent phenomena. This theory suggests that to improve job attitudes and productivity, administrators must recognize and attend to both sets of characteristics and not assume that an increase in satisfaction leads to decrease in unpleasurable dissatisfaction.
The two-factor, or motivation-hygiene theory, developed from data collected by Herzberg from interviews with a large number of engineers and accountants in the Pittsburgh area. From analyzing these interviews, he found that job characteristics related to what an individual does — that is, to the nature of the work he performs — apparently have the capacity to gratify such needs as achievement, competency, status, personal worth, and self-realization, thus making him happy and satisfied. However, the absence of such gratifying job characteristics does not appear to lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Instead, dissatisfaction results from unfavorable assessments of such job-related factors as company policies, supervision, technical problems, salary, interpersonal relations on the job, and working conditions. Thus, if management wishes to increase satisfaction on the job, it should be concerned with the nature of the work itself — the opportunities it presents for gaining status, assuming responsibility, and for achieving self-realization. If, on the other hand, management wishes to reduce dissatisfaction, then it must focus on the job environment — policies, procedures, supervision, and working conditions. If management is equally concerned with both, (as is usually the case), then managers must give attention to both sets of job factors.
The theory was based around interviews with 203 American accountants and engineers in Pittsburgh, chosen because of their professions' growing importance in the business world. The subjects were asked to relate times when they felt exceptionally good or bad about their present job or any previous job, and to provide reasons, and a description of the sequence of events giving rise to that positive or negative feeling.
Here is the description of this interview analysis:
Briefly, we asked our respondents to describe periods in their lives when they were exceedingly happy and unhappy with their jobs. Each respondent gave as many "sequences of events" as he could that met certain criteria—including a marked change in feeling, a beginning and an end, and contained some substantive description other than feelings and interpretations...
The proposed hypothesis appears verified. The factors on the right that led to satisfaction (achievement, intrinsic interest in the work, responsibility, and advancement) are mostly unipolar; that is, they contribute very little to job dissatisfaction. Conversely, the dis-satisfiers (company policy and administrative practices, supervision, interpersonal relationships, working conditions, and salary) contribute very little to job satisfaction.
Two-factor theory distinguishes between:
- Motivators (e.g. challenging work, recognition, responsibility) that give positive satisfaction, arising from intrinsic conditions of the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, or personal growth, and
- Hygiene factors (e.g. status, job security, salary, fringe benefits, work conditions) that do not give positive satisfaction, though dissatisfaction results from their absence. These are extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary.
Essentially, hygiene factors are needed to ensure an employee is not dissatisfied. Motivation factors are needed to motivate an employee to higher performance. Herzberg also further classified our actions and how and why we do them, for example, if you perform a work related action because you have to then that is classed as movement, but if you perform a work related action because you want to then that is classed as motivation.
Unlike Maslow, who offered little data to support his ideas, Herzberg and others have presented considerable empirical evidence to confirm the motivation-hygiene theory, although their work has been criticized on methodological grounds.
Validity and criticisms 
In 1968 Herzberg stated that his two-factor theory study had already been replicated 16 times in a wide variety of populations including some in Communist countries, and corroborated with studies using different procedures that agreed with his original findings regarding intrinsic employee motivation making it one of the most widely replicated studies on job attitudes.
While the Motivator-Hygiene concept is still well regarded, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are generally[who?] no longer considered to exist on separate scales. The separation of satisfaction and dissatisfaction has been shown to be an artifact of the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) used by Herzberg to record events. Furthermore, it has been noted the theory does not allow for individual differences, such as particular personality traits, which would affect individuals' unique responses to motivating or hygiene factors.
A number of behavioral scientists[who?] have pointed to inadequacies in the need hierarchy and motivation-hygiene theories. The most basic is the criticism that both of these theories contain the relatively explicit assumption that happy and satisfied workers produce more, even though this might not be the case. For example, if playing a better game of golf is the means chosen to satisfy one's need for recognition, then one will find ways to play and think about golf more often, perhaps resulting in an accompanying lower output on the job. Another problem is that these and other statistical theories are concerned with explaining "average" behavior, despite considerable differences between individuals that may impact one's motivational factors. For instance, in their pursuit of status a person might take a balanced view and strive to pursue several behavioral paths in an effort to achieve a combination of personal status objectives.
In other words, an individual's expectation or estimated probability that a given behavior will bring a valued outcome determines their choice of means and the effort they will devote to these means. In effect, this diagram of expectancy depicts an employee asking themselves the question posed by one investigator, "How much payoff is there for me toward attaining a personal goal while expending so much effort toward the achievement of an assigned organizational objective?" The expectancy theory by Victor Vroom also provides a framework for motivation based on expectations.
This approach to the study and understanding of motivation would appear to have certain conceptual advantages over other theories: First, unlike Maslow's and Herzberg's theories, it is capable of handling individual differences. Second, its focus is toward the present and the future, in contrast to drive theory, which emphasizes past learning. Third, it specifically correlates behavior to a goal and thus eliminates the problem of assumed relationships, such as between motivation and performance. Fourth, it relates motivation to ability: Performance = Motivation*Ability.
That said, a study by the Gallup Organization, as detailed in the book First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, appears to provide strong support for Herzberg's division of satisfaction and dissatisfaction onto two separate scales. In this book, the authors discuss how the study identified twelve questions that provide a framework for determining high-performing individuals and organizations. These twelve questions align squarely with Herzberg's motivation factors, while hygiene factors were determined to have little effect on motivating high performance.
- Herzberg, Frederick; Mausner, Bernard; Snyderman, Barbara B. (1959). The Motivation to Work (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley. ISBN 0471373893.
- Herzberg, Frederick (1966). Work and the Nature of Man. Cleveland: World Publishing. OCLC 243610.
- Herzberg, Frederick (January-February 1964). "The Motivation-Hygiene Concept and Problems of Manpower". Personnel Administrator (27): pp. 3–7.
- Hackman, J. Richard; Oldham, Greg R. (August 1976). "Motivation Through the Design of Work: Test of a Theory". Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 16 (2): pp. 250–279. doi:10.1016/0030-5073(76)90016-7. OCLC 4925746330.
- Herzberg, Frederick (January-February 1968). "One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?". Harvard Business Review 46 (1): pp. 53–62. OCLC 219963337.
- King, Nathan (1970). "Clarification and Evaluation of the Two-Factor Theory of Job Satisfaction". Psychological Bulletin 74 (1): pp. 18–31. doi:10.1037/h0029444. OCLC 4643874729.
- Georgopolous, Basil S.; Mahoney, Gerald M.; Jones, Jr., Nyle W. (December 1957). "A Path-Goal Approach to Productivity". Journal of Applied Psychology 41 (6): pp. 345–353. doi:10.1037/h0048473. OCLC 4643146464.
Further reading 
- Hyun, Sungmin (2009). Re-examination of Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory of Motivation in the Korean Army Foodservice Operation (MS thesis). Iowa State University. http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/10510/.
- Khalifa, Mohamed Hossam El-Din; Truong, Quang (2010). "The Relationship between Employee Perceptions of Equity and Job Satisfaction in the Egyptian Private Universities". Eurasian Journal of Business and Economics 3 (5): pp. 135–150.