From a review of motivation theory, Mitchell identifies four common characteristics which underlie the definition of motivation.
• Motivation is typified as an individual phenomenon. Every person is unique and all the major theories of motivation allow for this uniqueness to be demonstrated in one way or another.
• Motivation is described, usually, as intentional. Motivation is assumed to be under the worker’s control, and behaviours that are influenced by motivation, such as effort expended, are seen as choices of action.
• Motivation is multifaceted. The two factors of greatest importance are:
(i) what gets people activated (arousal); and (ii) the force of an individual to engage in desired behaviour (direction or choice of behaviour).
• The purpose of motivational theories is to predict behaviour. Motivation is not the behaviour itself, and it is not performance. Motivation concerns action, and the internal and external forces which influence a person’s choice of action.
On the basis of these characteristics. Mitchell defines motivation as ‘the degree to which an individual wants and chooses to engage in certain specified behaviours’.