Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Theory (VIE-model)

Victor Vroom, a Canadian professor developed the expectancy theory in the year 1964. Fredrick Herzberg and Abraham Maslow also studied the relationship between human needs and the efforts they make.

Vroom Expectancy Theory

Victor Vroom identifies the efforts people put in, their performances, and the end result. Vroom’s theory focuses on motivation in the workplace. The expectancy theory assumes that human behavior is a result of a conscious choice made from amongst alternatives to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. He suggested that employee performance is based on various individual factors like personality, knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience. He explained how performance, motivation, and effort are linked to an employee’s motivation. He employs variables like Valence, Instrumentality, and Expectancy to determine motivation. Therefore called the VIE model.

Algebraic expression of Victor Vroom’s theory:

Motivation (force) =∑ Valence x Expectancy

Assumptions of Victor Vrooms Theory

Victor Vroom’s theory assumes that even though employees have a different set of goals from that of the organization, they can be motivated if they believe that-

  • There exists a positive correlation between performance and efforts.
  • The benefits or rewards will satiate their certain needs.
  • Good performance will lead to great rewards.
  • The urge or the desire is strong enough to satisfy them proving their efforts worthwhile.

Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Model

Victor Vroom Expectancy Model


Expectancy is a belief that increased performance is a result of increased effort. It is a hope or a faith that greater efforts lead to greater performance. It is based on the belief that employees possess different levels of confidence and different expectations with respect to their capability of doing something. The management must discern and recognize the factors that motivate an employee to perform his best, like the required training, supervision, and resources the employees need. It is also important that the employees possess the required skills and that the management provides appropriate support levels.

Expectancy is different from instrumentality which means that expectancy is referred to the efforts to the first level outcome, whereas instrumentality refers to the outcomes at both the first and the second levels. Hence, expectancy is regarded as the probability that a certain action results in a certain first level outcome.

Factors Affecting Expectancy

  • Availability of the right kind of resources like time, raw materials, etc.
  • The skills and knowledge of the employees.
  • Support from the top management to get jobs done in terms of right information and support from the supervisors.


Instrumentality is another factor that defines employee motivation. Instrumentality is the degree to which the outcome of the first level results in the outcome of the second level. It is a perception of an employee regarding whether he will get what he desires, although he has been promised by his manager. A manager can trigger an instrumentality by promising rewards like promotion and bonuses. Management must make sure that the reward promises are fulfilled and that the employees are aware of it. Transparency in the reward process is crucial for instrumentality.

Example- Suppose an employee yearns for a promotion and believes that a better performance will result in achieving the desired goal; the first level outcome here can be poor, average, and good, while the second level outcome is the promotion. Therefore, a high performance at the first level outcome acquires positive valence to possess an expected relationship with promotion at the second level; motivating an employee to perform effectively while promoting him as a reward for his performance.

Factors Affecting Instrumentality

  • Clarity in understanding the relationship between outcomes and performance.
  • Trusting people while they decide the outcomes of the employees.
  • Transparency of the process in deciding so.


Valence can be defined as the emotional expectations people have with regard to the outcome and the amount of significance the employee gives to the expected outcome. The extent of the depth of an employee for intrinsic (satisfaction) and extrinsic (promotion, money, benefits, time-offs) rewards. The employee must focus on establishing the outcome to attain a positive valence. The end result achieved by each employee is different.

Example- If money is a motivator for an employee, there are chances of him not welcoming offers like an additional time off.

Factors Affecting Valence

  • Rewarding employees.
  • Ensuring fair rewards.
  • Giving employees a choice over rewards.


Strengths of  Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

  • Vroom’s theory stimulates the motivational process which improves performance; boosting the performance through incentives and rewards.
  • If the management has a hold on the theory of expectancy, they can further employ the concepts to integrate effective teams and attain business goals.
  • Aids in clear understanding of what exactly the employees need to give their best performance.
  • If the theory is employed well, it results in the participation of employees happily and willingly in projects related to work, seeking meaningful rewards.

Weaknesses of Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

  • The theory is impractical without the active participation of the management.
  • The expectancy theory considers emotional factors as a stand-alone event. It doesn’t consider the long-term patterns of employee behavior.
  • Employees may not value the kind of rewards offered by the management; hence if the rewards are not chosen with substantial perceived value, employees lose the motivation to perform.
  • This is a rational theory, which assumes that employees mostly perform because they are self-motivated for reward, omitting the possibility of an employee being motivated due to other factors. This can result in an employer missing out on great motivational tools.

Individual Factors

Victor Vroom suggested that behavior is a conscious choice made from various alternatives. Individual factors play a major role in achieving organizational goals. For example, an employee’s personality, his skills, and knowledge and the kind of expectations he has from his own abilities, all-together make an employee behave in a certain way. Performance, motivation, and individual effort are often interconnected. Vroom suggests that a positive correlation between performance and effort are essential to motivate employees.


Perception is an important factor of the expectancy theory. An organization may assume that it is offering everything the employees’ need to motivate them substantially, like training programs, extra offs, more salary, and career opportunities, while the truth is that not all employees are motivated enough by this and each employee has a different perception.


Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory deals with management and motivation. The theory concludes that employee behavior is a result of conscious choices made by the employees from among the various alternatives, while the purpose is to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. Vroom suggested that an employee’s performance is directly proportional to individual factors like knowledge, skills, experience, ability, and personality.

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