Creation and Initial Validation of the Motivation Beliefs Inventory: Measuring Leaders’ Beliefs about Employee Motivation Using Four Motivation Theories

David C. Facer Jr., Fred Galloway, Noriyuki Inoue, Drea Zigarmi


This article describes the development and validation of the Motivation Beliefs Inventory (MBI), a new instrument for measuring leaders’ motivation beliefs. For decades, organizational scholars and a small number of motivation researchers have urged leaders to examine their beliefs related to employee motivation. Answering this challenge was difficult, however, given the lack of instruments designed to measure motivation beliefs at all, much less beliefs from a range of prevalent theories.

Using principal components and parallel analyses, the 20-item Motivation Beliefs Inventory (MBI) was created to measure motivation beliefs along four theoretical lines: reinforcement theory; expectancy-valence theory; achievement motivation theory; and self-determination theory. The instrument was validated in two studies involving large samples of businesspeople (n=1322 and 712). Validity and reliability analyses revealed the instrument demonstrates acceptable psychometric properties. Four subscales, each representing a single theory, were confirmed and demonstrated alpha coefficients as follows: reinforcement theory, .77; expectancy-valence theory, .71; achievement motivation theory, .82; self-determination theory, .77. The entire Motivation Beliefs Inventory produced a strong alpha coefficient of .77.

The creation of a new instrument like the MBI opens fresh possibilities for both practitioners and scholars. While workplace practitioners now have the ability to measure a leader’s beliefs about motivation, researchers can use the instrument to test for differences in these beliefs among leaders in different occupations, companies, industries, and countries. Given the link between leader beliefs and behavior, the article concludes with a discussion about belief strength, and the challenges and opportunities of empirically investigating leaders’ beliefs about what motivates employees.

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Journal of Business Administration Research

ISSN 1927-9507 (Print)      ISSN 1927-9515  (Online)

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