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Work Motivation Theories in Practice: An Experiential Exercise
Management students often learn about the role of motivation in influencing employee performance. However, the theories of motivation may seem abstract, and students may struggle when attempting to apply these theories to real-world situations. To help students move beyond memorization, the author designed an exercise to help students apply motivational theories to a realistic situation. Working in groups, students problem solve how to address an employee motivational issue by applying an assigned motivational theory. In doing so, they mentally rehearse how various managerial behaviors might influence employee motivation. The exercise requires little preparation and can be facilitated in face-to-face and online learning environments. While developed for an undergraduate course in leadership, the exercise would also be appropriate for a graduate course in leadership or an organizational behavior course at the graduate and undergraduate level.