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Training Motivation In Organizations: An Analysis Of Individual-Level Antecedents [*].

The importance of training effectiveness has long been recognized as a crucial issue for organizations (Ford et al., 1997; Noe, 1986; Noe and Ford, 1992; Tannenbaum and Yukl, 1992). To the extent that employee training programs are effective, organizations are able to avoid wasteful spending and improve performance and productivity. Thus, a key consideration for virtually all organizations is the expected return provided the organization for its training investment. Because it has been suggested that organizations are likely to increase their reliance upon and utilization of employee training programs in years to come (London, 1989; Noe, 1999), the effectiveness of training interventions in organizations is likely to become even more salient in the future (Blanchard and Thacker, 1999; Noe and Ford, 1992).

One key determinant of training effectiveness is an individual's level of training motivation (Mathieu and Martineau, 1997; Mathieu et at., 1992; Tannenbaum and Yukl, 1992). Training motivation refers to an individual's desire to engage in training activities and fully embrace the training experience. All other things constant, the more motivated the trainee, the more likely he or she is to reap the intended benefits from the training experience (Facteau et al., 1995; Noe and Wilk, 1993).

A number of scholars have called for more research on the antecedent factors of training motivation (e.g., Mathieu et al., 1992; Noe and Wilk, 1993; Tannenbaum and Yukl, 1992). In particular, some researchers have suggested that individual-level influences on training motivation be given greater attention (e.g., Baldwin and Ford, 1988; Colquitt et at., 1998; Noe and Ford, 1992). In addition, Tannenbaum and Yukl (1992) suggested that dynamic individual constructs that can be influenced before, during, and after the training process be further examined in future research. Therefore, we attempt to answer these calls by examining the effects of individual-level antecedent variables (e.g., training self-efficacy, achievement motivation, attitude toward training) on training motivation. To do this, a model depicting the relationships of these antecedents to training motivation is developed and tested using structural equation modeling. Further, the results and implications for managers are discussed.

A Model of Individual-Level Antecedents of Training Motivation

The hypothesized relationships among the variables examined in this study are shown in Figure I. As indicated in Figure I, training motivation is the major outcome variable of interest. The most immediate antecedent of training motivation is attitude toward training. This variable is affected by a number of other variables within the model. Organizational commitment is hypothesized to influence attitude toward training directly and indirectly through flexibility. In addition, organizational commitment is expected to directly influence training motivation. Self-esteem is hypothesized to influence attitude toward training and training self-efficacy, but it is not expected to have any direct effect upon training motivation. Achievement motivation is expected to have a direct effect on training motivation, and an indirect effect through attitude toward training. Finally, training self-efficacy is hypothesized to have a direct effect on training motivation and an indirect effect through attitude toward training a nd achievement motivation. In the next section, the direct and indirect linkages hypothesized in the model are presented.

Hypothesized linkages within the Model

Training Self-Efficacy. Self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986) refers to an individual's self- perceived ability or capacity to achieve certain outcomes. Given the nature of self-efficacy, it is likely that persons high in training self-efficacy would experience higher levels of training motivation than persons low in training self-efficacy, in that persons high in training self-efficacy are likely to see themselves as capable of meeting the challenge to their present skills provided by training opportunities (Noe, 1986; Noe and Wilk, 1993; Tannenbaum et al., 1991). Thus, persons high in training self-efficacy should be more motivated to engage in training activities than those persons who are not. Therefore,

H1a: Training self-efficacy is positively related to training motivation.

In addition, training self-efficacy may affect training motivation through other mediating variables such as achievement motivation (Karl et al., 1993). Achievement motivation has been described as the desire to overcome challenges and to perform in terms of a standard of excellence (Steers and Spencer, 1977). Training self-efficacy may thus influence achievement motivation by determining the areas in which individuals elect to exert effort. That is, achievement motivation is expected to be low when training self-efficacy is likewise low, because an individual is not likely to be motivated to achieve in areas in which he or she perceives himself or herself to be inadequate. Thus,

H1b: Training self-efficacy is positively related to achievement motivation.

Training self-efficacy also may influence individuals' attitudes toward the training process in general. That is, persons high in training self-efficacy may be more likely to perceive training and education in a more positive manner than persons low in training self-efficacy (e.g., Bandura, 1982; Noe and Wilk, 1993). Hence,

H1c: Training self-efficacy is positively related to attitude toward training.

Self-esteem. Closely related to training self-efficacy is self-esteem. However, self-esteem refers more generally to an evaluation of self in terms of affect (i.e., liking), rather than an individual's self-perceived abilities or capacities (Brockner, 1988). Even though they differ, self-esteem and training self-efficacy should be positively correlated. Therefore,

H2a: Self-esteem and training self-efficacy are positively correlated.

Self-esteem also should relate positively to an individual's attitude toward training. That is, persons who view themselves in a more positive versus negative manner should likewise be more positively disposed toward the prospect of training than persons who view themselves negatively (Williams, 1990). Thus,

H2b: Self-esteem is positively related to attitude toward training.

Organizational commitment. Organizational commitment has been described as the relative strength of an individual's identification with and involvement in a particular organization (Porter et al., 1974). Organizational commitment is posited to influence attitude toward training both directly and indirectly through individual flexibility. Highly committed persons, in general, should readily embrace employer-sponsored training efforts and, consequently, hold more positive attitudes toward training than individuals with low commitment (Facteau et al., 1995; Tannenbaum et al., 1991). We predict that in addition to direct effects, the effect(s) of organizational commitment on training motivation are indirectly realized through the mediating effect of attitude toward training. Thus,

H3a: Organizational commitment is positively related to attitude toward training.

Organizational commitment also should be positively related to individual flexibility in the workplace, in that highly committed individuals should value flexibility in the work context and be more adaptable toward meeting the manifest needs of the organization (Zeffane, 1994). Therefore, the positive effect of organizational commitment on attitude toward training also may be realized indirectly through the mediating influence of individual flexibility or adaptability.

H3b: Organizational commitment is positively related to flexibility.

A positive, direct relationship between organizational commitment and training motivation also is expected. Highly committed employees should be more motivated to engage in employer sponsored training programs and to transfer the skills acquired in training back to the job context (Facteau et at., 1995; Tannenbaum et al., 1991).

H3c: Organizational commitment is positively related to training motivation.

Flexibility. An important but neglected variable in training research is flexibility (Barrick and Mount, 1991). Flexible employees tend to be more adaptable to new or unfamiliar experiences (Stone et at., 1984). Thijssen (1992) suggested that flexible individuals take advantage of and seek out opportunities to develop new skills and qualifications. Therefore, individual flexibility should be positively related to attitudes toward training, in that flexible persons should be positively disposed toward the prospect of training.

H4: Flexibility is positively related to attitude toward training.

Achievement Motivation. Achievement motivation refers to an individual's desire to successfully meet challenges and attain personal goals (Steers and Spencer, 1977). Scholars have called for investigation of the achievement motivation construct in training motivation research (Ford and Noe, 1987; Tannenbaum and Yukl, 1992). In terms of the present study, achievement motivation is expected to have an indirect effect on training motivation through its relationship with attitude toward training. That is, persons high in achievement motivation are likely to view training as a challenge to overcome or as an opportunity to advance either one's skills or career. Thus, achievement motivation is likely to affect attitudes formed with respect to training.

H5a: Achievement motivation is positively related to attitude toward training.

The achievement motive of individuals also is expected to have a direct, positive relationship with training motivation (Baumgartel et at., 1984; Colquitt et al., 1993). Thus, it is hypothesized that training may be viewed as a specific means of satisfying the more general achievement motivation, independent of one's attitudinal outlook (i.e., affect) toward the process.

H5b: Achievement motivation is positively related to training motivation.

Attitude Toward Training. Finally, an individual's attitude toward training is expected to be positively linked to his or her level of training motivation (Ford and Noe, 1987; Noe, 1986). An individual's attitude toward training reflects his or her disposition toward the formal process of skill and knowledge acquisition. Attitude toward training also may represent an individual's motivation to attend training as distinct from training motivation (Facteau et al., 1995) or motivation to learn (Tannenbaum and Yukl, 1992). Therefore,

H6: Attitude toward training is positively related to training motivation.



Three of the authors visited the job site to administer an attitude survey. Subjects were brought together at the beginning of each of three shifts and the survey was administered in one setting for each shift during working hours. Subjects were assured confidentiality. Upon their departure, participants were given a second survey to complete on their own time. A self-addressed stamped envelope was supplied. The respondents were paid ten dollars for completing the second survey.


The warehouse in which the study was conducted was planning a major technological change from a totally manual to an automated warehouse system. All data were collected after the training requirements were announced, but prior to the actual training. Each employee was required to be trained on every automated job. By training every worker on everyjob, the warehouse could always function at full capacity regardless of which employees showed up for work as all jobs could be performed by all workers. Therefore, the introduction of training, especially cross training, was novel to this organization.


The respondents in this study were 158 warehousers, who either picked or packed machine parts, and their immediate supervisors. Subjects worked for a Fortune 500 manufacturer of home appliances located in the midwest. Only those who completed both surveys were included in the present study (47% of the original 338 respondents). Respondents had an average age of 44.4 years and an average seniority of 12.2 years. Fifty-eight percent of the sample was male, and 16.5 percent were members of ethnic minority groups.


Organizational Commitment. The organizational commitment scale used in the study consisted of eight questions taken from Porter et al. (1974). The items were measured on a 7-point scale, with lower scores indicating higher levels of organizational commitment. An example item is "I talk up this organization to my friends as a great organization to work for." The internal consistency estimate for this scale was .87.

Training Self-Efficacy. The training self-efficacy scale measured individuals self-perceived confidence in their own skills and abilities. The measure used was from Noe and Wilk (1993) and consisted of 13 items. The scale ranged from 1 to 5 with the anchors of strongly agree and strongly disagree, respectively. An example item is "My past experiences and accomplishments increase my confidence that I will be able to perform successfully in my job." The Cronbach alpha for this scale was .79.

Self-esteem. The self-esteem measure was the Janis-Field Scale (Eagly, 1967). An example item from this scale is "How often do you have the feeling that there is nothing you can do well?" (reverse scored). This scale consisted of 20 questions and possible responses on this scale ranged from 1 to 5. Responses closer to 1 indicated a higher level of self-esteem. These items produced a reliability estimate of .88.

Achievement Motivation. Achievement motivation was measured with a modified version of the 20-item scale from the Jackson PRF Form E (Jackson, 1974). The modification was the use of a 4-point rather than a 2-point scale consisting of the choices of very true, true, false, and very false. Responses closer to 1 indicated higher achievement motivation. An example item from this scale is "I will keep working on a problem after others have given up." The internal reliability of this scale was .77.

Flexibility. The flexibility was measured with a 20-item scale developed by Meresko et al. (1954). An example item is "I rather like the idea of having friends drop in unexpectedly at odd hours." Responses on this scale ranged from 1 to 6. A response closer to 1 indicated more flexibility than a score of 6. The internal consistency estimate for this scale was .81.

Attitude Toward Training. The attitude toward training scale was developed for this study and measured the degree to which an individual valued formal training. The scale consisted of three questions and responses were provided on a 1 to 5 scale. Responses closer to 1 indicated a more positive attitude toward training. Sample items from this scale are "In general, I value education," and "I am fearful of classroom situations." The reliability for this scale was .88.

Training Motivation. The training motivation scale measured the degree to which an individual perceived training as a useful and important opportunity. This scale consisted of 17 questions (e.g., "I am willing to invest effort to improve skills and competencies related to my job") taken from Noe and Wilk (1993) with anchors ranging from 1 to 5. Responses closer to 1 indicated strong motivation for training. These items produced a Cronbach alpha of .80.

Data Analyses

The data were analyzed using LISREL 8 (Joreskog and Sorbom, 1993). Because the scales were measured on different point scales all variables were normalized before creating the covariance matrix used by LISREL. The theoretical model presented in Figure I was tested using a structural equation modeling comparison procedure (Anderson and Gerbing, 1988). In order to assess the structural model, five nested models were estimated. These alternative models provided competing explanations for the variable relationships reflected in the data. Anderson and Gerbing (1988) suggested that five nested models be examined: the theoretical model ([M.sub.t]); a null model ([M.sub.n]), which specifies no relationships among the latent variables; a saturated model ([M.sub.s]), which estimates all possible linkages among the latent variables; an unconstrained model ([M.sub.u]), which overfits the data relative to [M.sub.t] by estimating a greater number of paths; and a constrained model ([M.sub.c]), which underfits the data rela tive to [M.sub.t] by estimating fewer structural parameters. Support for [M.sub.t] is demonstrated when it achieves acceptable goodness-of-fit and when that fit is significantly better than the less complex [M.sub.n] and [M.sub.c] models, but not significantly different from the fit of the more complex [M.sub.n] and [M.sub.s] models.

In order to determine data-to-model fit, we examined the chi-square, NFI, CFI, GEI, and PNFI. The GFI and chi-square provide a measure of the extent to which the covariance matrix estimated by the hypothesized model reproduces the observed covariance matrix (James et al., 1982). The NFI was used because it assesses a model's fit in relation to the worst and best fit attainable (Bentler and Bonett, 1980). The CFI has similar attributes of the NFI but also accounts for population parameters. Finally, PNFI was used to examine parsimony of the model.


The items for each scale were averaged to create single indicators for each latent variable. A covariance matrix of these indicators was used as input for the LISREL program. The factor loadings for each variable were fixed to the square root of the reliability for each measure, and the value of one minus the reliability multiplied by a variable's variance was used to represent residuals. This approach was used to correct for random measurement error. The means, standard deviations, and correlations among the variables used can be seen in Table 1.

Structural Model

Anderson and Gerbing's (1988) suggested approach to testing a model is to examine a series of five nested alternative models ([M.sub.n], [M.sub.c], [M.sub.t] [M.sub.u] and [M.sub.s]). [M.sub.t], the theoretical model, can be found in Figure I. [M.sub.c] and [M.sub.u] for the present study can be found in Figure II. The theoretical development for the additional models is provided below.

Theoretical Development of [M.sub.c] and [M.sub.u]. The constrained alternative model, [M.sub.c], is formed by eliminating paths from the previously specified theoretical model of interest ([M.sub.t]). To create [M.sub.c] two linkages were deleted: training self-efficacy to training motivation and achievement motivation to training motivation. Deleting these two direct paths to training motivation, in effect, stipulates that the effects of all other variables in the model are mediated by attitude toward training. The paths removed to create [M.sub.c] are depicted in Figure II with dashed and dotted lines.

The unconstrained alternative model, [M.sub.u], is formed by including additional theoretically plausible linkages in the model. We added two linkages. First, self-esteem should be positively related to achievement motivation. That is, persons who have high self-esteem should generally be inclined to strive toward overcoming obstacles and achieving personal goals (Brockner et al., 1983). Second, we predict that training self-efficacy will be positively related to flexibility. This expected relationship stems from past research that suggests individuals who view themselves as generally capable should be open to new experiences (Jones, 1986). The dotted lines in Figure II represent the paths added to create the unconstrained model [M.sub.u].

Sequential Chi-Square Difference Tests. To compare the five alternative models, a series of sequential chisquare difference tests (SCDTs) were performed. To do this, each alternative model was estimated using LISREL 8 (Joreskog and Sorbom, 1993). The results for these models are presented in Table 2.

To determine which model to accept, a decision tree presented by Anderson and Gerbing (1988) was followed. The best model as suggested by the decision tree was [M.sub.t] the theoretical model. However, Anderson and Gerbing (1988) also suggested that the competing models be compared on practical as well as statistical evidence. To do this, fit indices can be examined. As shown in Table 2, [M.sub.t] had good overall fit with a strong GFI, CFI, and NFI. In addition, the PNFI of the theoretical model was large, even though it failed to reach conventional levels of acceptance (.50). Therefore, on both practical and statistical grounds, [M.sub.t] most accurately reflects the training motivation of individuals in the present sample.

The completely standardized path coefficients for the theoretical model ([M.sub.t]) can be found in Figure III. The majority of the paths (6 out of 11) were significant and all of the significant paths were in the direction predicted. Thus training self-efficacy, self-esteem and flexibility were found to be positively related to attitude toward training, supporting hypotheses Nib, H2b, and H4. Further, organizational commitment, achievement motivation and attitude toward training were found to be positively related to training motivation, supporting hypotheses H3c, H5b, and H6. In addition, a positive relationship was found between training self-efficacy and self-esteem as predicted (H2a). Only one modification index, the link between organizational commitment and achievement motivation, was above 4. Low modification indices suggest that while some of the paths in the model may not be necessary, no further paths need to be included in the model. Finally, 51% of the variance in training motivation was explain ed by the model.


This study empirically examined a number of individual-level antecedents of training motivation in order to contribute to our knowledge of the factors comprising the training process and extend the state of research with respect to overall training effectiveness. The hypothesized model of training motivation was supported by the LISREL results when compared to the competing models. The overall fit of the model was strong on several indicators. However, several predicted paths were not significant.

Three of the five proposed predictors of attitude towards training (i.e., achievement motivation, training self-efficacy, and organizational commitment) were not significant. Thus, it appears, at least for the present sample, that achievement motivation does not affect attitude toward training (H5a). This may be due to the fact that individuals did not view the training they were about to receive as a means of satisfying their personal needs and goals. Instead, the training may have been viewed as a means of survival in the ever-changing environment in which they worked. In addition, for the present sample, organizational commitment did not affect attitude toward training (H3a). Thus, the effect of organizational commitment on training motivation may be direct versus indirect, as is suggested by previous research (e.g., Tannen-baum et al., 1991). However, the other two indicators (i.e., flexibility and self-esteem) had a significant, direct, and positive effect on attitude toward training as predicted (H2b, H4). These findings confirm similar findings reported in previous research (e.g., Baldwin and Ford, 1988). Given that these two characteristics are trait-like, management might be well served by incorporating a search for these two qualities in the selection process, especially if the jobs in question will require a great deal of training.

Three of the four predicted paths in Figure III that led to training motivation were positive and significant (achievement motivation (H5b), organizational commitment (H3c) and attitude toward training (H6)). However, training self-efficacy did not have a significant effect on training motivation (H1a). This finding may be due to the fact that many of the respondents had never participated in a standardized training program since the staff at the plant had been performing the job the same way for over 20 years.

A positive and significant relationship between organizational commitment and training motivation was found, suggesting that organizational commitment has direct effects on training motivation (H3c). However, the indirect paths for organizational commitment (i.e., to flexibility (H3b) and attitude toward training (H3a)) were not significant. Perhaps, commitment to the union rather than commitment to the organization would have produced stronger indirect effects on training motivation given the composition of the sample.

Implications for Practice

This research has several implications for managers. First, from a training perspective, the individual-level influences on training motivation examined and supported in this study might well be used to identify and select individuals for entry into specialized training programs. For example, persons high on the characteristics of training self-efficacy, achievement motivation, flexibility, and self-esteem should exhibit high levels of training motivation and glean greater benefits from training and career development programs. Hence, the organization's time and effort might be best spent toward ensuring that persons entering such programs are likely to receive and embrace the full benefits of them. Likewise, persons high on such characteristics also would be desirable as potential new organization members and should provide the organization an attractive return on its investment for training dollars spent.

Second, from a process perspective of training, training self-efficacy might well serve as a mechanism through which training motivation could be subject to the external influence of trainers (Tannenbaum and Yukl, 1992). One's general state of motivation is at least partly a function of his or her self-perceived capacities to effectively execute action toward successful task performance (Bandura, 1986). Thus, trainers have the potential to influence the formation of trainees' efficacy perceptions via information and feedback provided concerning abilities and/or task strategies (Gist and Mitchell, 1992). A process view also suggests that training motivation is a dynamic construct, one that is subject to variation within the training context. Hence, trainers could influence trainees' self-efficacy perceptions during the training process via the types of attributions suggested for unsuccessful outcomes (Steiner et al., 1991). For example, attributing failure to an unstable instead of a stable cause may encourag e improvement of the trainees' self-efficacy. By using such techniques, training motivation could be maintained or increased in the face of unsuccessful training attempts and thus facilitate further effort toward the learning and mastery of new skills being trained.

Additionally, trainers might utilize the verbal persuasion strategies suggested by Bandura (1986) and Gist and Mitchell (1992) to boost trainees' self-efficacy perceptions and resultant training motivation. Such persuasive techniques might be particularly useful when individuals' training self-efficacy perceptions are inaccurately low. Verbal persuasion might be used in such instances to correct the inaccurate perceptions, thus enabling or releasing greater potential training motivation and performance. Another manner in which inaccurately low training self-efficacy might be addressed is through the use of subgoals. The attainment of successively more challenging subgoals would likely stimulate greater effort in mastering new skills being trained through its gradual increase on perceived self-capability (i.e., training self-efficacy) (Carlson and Kacmar, 1994). Finally, models also often influence training self-efficacy perceptions. In combination with the other techniques listed above, the effective use of modeling can further enhance trainee training self-efficacy perceptions and, accordingly, affect greater potential levels of trainee motivation and performance.

(*.) The authors would like to thank Larry J. Williams and Anson Seers for their helpful comments.


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Author:Carlson, Dawn S.; Bozeman, Dennis P.; Kacmar, K. Michele; Wright, Patrick M.; McMahan, Gary C.
Publication:Journal of Managerial Issues
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2000
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