Dr. Frederick Herzberg was born in Lynn Massachusetts on 18th April 1923.His parents were Jewish immigrants by the name Lewis Herzberg and Gertrude all from Lithuania. Since his parents were Jewish immigrants, this meant that their family was just a middle level income earning family. He spent most of his childhood in New York City. His parents worked as public servants in New York City and were very religious. At 16 he excelled well in his examination and got a chance to join the prestigious city college of New York for his undergraduate program. He later graduated from the University of Pittsburg. His parents seemed not to be moved by political matters but education was what they highly valued.He however did not finish his studies in CCNY as he joined the army. Where at just 22 he was already a patrol sergeant in World War II. He was among the first rescuers to offer assistance in the Dachau concentration camp. He was allocated the duty of providing health care for the spared Holocaust spared inmates (Chyung, 2010). Due to his high level of expertise he was awarded the Combat infantryman’s Badge and a Bronze star.
In 1944 Herzberg married Shirley Bedell from Holden Massachusetts. In 1948 they had a son and named him Mark. In 1961, Shirley at 40 years old graduated from medical school at the Western Reserve University. Being the first female student who was not traditional to graduate from the University she definitely opened the opportunity for other nontraditional students to take advantage of. She later became an eminent pediatrician in Salt Lake City. Sadly though she passed on in 1997 (Feder, 2008).Mark on the other hand is currently a Psychiatric nurse based in New Jersey .Frederick did not ignore his studies, in 1946 he later graduated from the city college of New York. He later went to the University of Pittsburgh for his masters where he studied science and public health. His determination and ambition also motivated him into completing a Ph.D. on electric shock therapy.
In 1950 he started his research on organizations by working in the University of Utah where the president of the University the late James. C. Fletcher had given him the opportunity to be a lecturer in the institution. He became the professor of management in the college of Business .The department was headed by Dr. George odiorne who was also an eminent author and lecturer of management. The university considered the reputation of Dr.Herzberg to be that of a very eminent figure they considered themselves lucky to have recruited such a renowned person. Even before he moved to Utah he was already a famous professor of management in the Case Western Reserve University (Herzberg, 2009). He had developed the Department of industrial mental health during his period as a lecturer in the institution.
He was code named the inventor of the motivation hygiene theory or the father of job enrichment. He became a legend and an icon among other philosophers and political figures such as Douglas McGregor, Peter Dracker, and Abraham Maslow. In management, scholarly and academic circles the mention of Herzberg was enough to create air waves. Since his name could indicate his knowledge and awareness on contributions and concepts. The international press in 1995 announced that his own book named work and nature of man was among the top ten important books that heavily influenced the management theory in the 20th century (Underwood, 2011).
The University of Utah honored him with the prestigious service award in 1994. In his name a visiting lecture series were established. His late wife also made vital contributions on issues of funding the series. Another achievement was when he was made the professor of management in the Cummins engine in 1995. After retiring he remarkably gave all his documentations and annals to the Marriott library which was still in the University of Utah. The students viewed him as a mentor and enjoyed his unorthodox technique of teaching (Feder, 2008). Fred used autobiography to translate individual experiences into the motivation that offered the perception of human nature.
Astonishingly Frederick was familiar with very many languages such as Italian, French, German and the Yiddish vernacular. His awesome knowledge on languages enabled him to travel worldwide with his family to learn about the Holocaust refugees. He was also well informed about the history of both Christianity and the Jewish religions. This was because at one time he had a family that was Irish Catholic that was staying in New York. He will always be remembered because of the impact he made in the workplace and on humanity. His writings were also published internationally, extensively and nationally (Herzberg, 2007).
His book the motivation to work was what made him very famous out of his many books. Based on survey, research and personal experiences he developed theories in the workplace that would motivate workers. Herzberg did an extensive survey on about two hundred Pittsburgh accountants and engineers which is up to date a sought out reference on matters of motivational study. The data he collected was presumed to be very sophisticated. He was assisted by his research colleagues such as Barbara Bloch and Bernard Mausner. The research used a revolutionary approach based on few assumptions and open questioning to acquire and analyze data known as the critical incidents .The whole theory was known as the motivator hygiene theory (Chyung, 2010).
He used the methodology for the first time when studying in the University of Pittsburgh with another famous scholar known as John Flanagan. Flanagan fascinatingly enough used the method in the World War II to select army corps. Frederick’s unique method of open interviewing gave more expressive results than the normal method of extent based questions. Incidentally these multiple choice type of questionnaire is still very common even today. The style of survey is very popular among people who have a publicity aim or a specific agenda. Frederick had been in the army so he knew that the critical incident survey method was very effective (Underwood, 2011). In simple terms the experience or background history that Herzberg had as a soldier helped him in his theory formulation and the survey method.
Herzberg was able to study the theories of sophisticated work and power. This was as a result of his intensive preparation by keenly scrutinizing and comparing results obtained in all the studies carried out. In total the research studies were about 155 concerning job attitudes done from 1920 to 1954. He was able to finish the project as a result of deep analysis, high level of preparation and use of the critical incident. He later expanded his motivation hygiene theory in his later books. Such as the managerial choice published in 1982 and the Herzberg on motivation published in 1983 .His background experience and history as an employee in the industry week magazine and the universities helped him formulate a theory that was modern on employee and employer relationship .That dealt with mutual alignment and understanding within the psychological contract (Feder, 2008).
The motivator hygiene theory simply generated the idea that hygiene issues might not motivate but if they are not present they may lower the motivation of workers. The factors involve job security, comfortable chairs, clean toilets and appropriate and fair salaries. On the other hand motivational factors may not actually lower motivation but can definitely increase motivation. The factors may involve promotion or job recognition. This was similar to his job enrichment idea that was a method of motivating workers by offering them a variety of responsibilities in their occupation. Frederick also pointed out that an enriched job must contain communication, feedback, encouragement and meaningful tasks (Herzberg, 2007). He also detected that even though money was one method of motivating workers they also needed to be appreciated. Allowing employees to have control over their work meant that they would have a natural ambition to succeed.
There are many criticisms as well positive critics surrounding the two factor theory. In 1968 Frederick defended his theory by indicating how successful it was in many populations and even in the communist nations. Intensive research and study gave similar results with other studies on intrinsic employee motivation thus making the theory by Herzberg to be one of the most famous studies on job attitudes. The most well respected theory however still remains to be the motivator hygiene concept (Underwood, 2011).
The critical incident technique however has faced negative criticism which was a method Frederick used occasionally to record data and information .Where philosophers claim that the technique does not accept individual differences like specific personality traits. The traits would definitely have an impact on a person’s response to hygiene factors or motivation. Behavioral scientists had their say too where they disapproved the suggestion by the theory that satisfied and happy workers were more productive. They claimed that that was not always the case. Another hitch with the theory was that it concentrated on explaining the average behavior .Instead of concentrating on individual differences that may affect an individual’s motivational factors (Chyung, 2010).
In conclusion Frederick Herzberg through his eminent experience in the field of behavioral science, family background, his own personal history and work experience. He was able to formulate theories on increasing performance and job satisfaction .Which basically meant that all dissatisfactions in the work place had to be eliminated. Matters of wages and the working environment had to be treated seriously to ensure maximum productivity by workers. Recognizing the achievement of workers was another detail Herzberg pointed out in order to show workers that their effort was being recognized. The job enrichment approach involved the employer requesting the worker to offer his or her input (Underwood, 2011). This approach might not work for everyone so it is advisable that the employer offers employees enrichment techniques that are bound to be beneficial to both the employer and the employee.
Frederick Herzberg was presumed to be one of greatest and most original thinkers in the motivational and management theory and the pioneer of the job enrichment. His work is still a marvel to many. Sadly though he died on 18 January, 2000 at Salt Lake City but still no one will forget that his article on ‘ how you motivate your workers ‘ was the most requested from the Harvard business review. The article had sold about 1.2 million copies by 1987. He was definitely among the most influential and most powerful management consultants of the postwar era (Feder, 2008) .The implementation of his theories transformed the tedium and drudge of the workplace and created another workplace where participation and self-esteem was evident.
Chyung, S.Y. (2010). Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.
Feder, B.J. (2008). “F.I. Herzberg, 76, Professor and Management Consultant”, Amsterdam: Academic press.
Herzberg, F.I. (2007). “One more time: How do you motivate employees?” Chicago: University of Chicago press.
Herzberg, F. (2009). The Motivation to Work, New York: John Wiley and Sons press.
Underwood, G.(2011). The Managerial Choice: To be efficient and to be human. New York: Business Expert press.
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