Level 2

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90847: Investigate the application of motivation theory in a business

Updated November 2016. This document has been updated in its entirety to address new issues that have arisen from moderation.


Students are required to investigate how employees are motivated in a specific business. When they meet with owners, HR managers or employees (a range of sources is required for Excellence), students investigate the extent to which the business measures and rewards performance, offers flexible working arrangements, invests in training, etc.

Once information has been gathered, students then:

  • describe relevant motivation practices they find within the business based on their investigation.
  • explain how or why examples they found relate to theory or theories studied. The practices students discuss need to relate to those they investigated.

Motivation theorists

The Teaching and Learning Guide for this standard specifies the relevant business knowledge and suggests theorists. Different theorists may be used, including those whose body of work is more contemporary, providing the theory is relevant to the actual practices in the chosen business.

Awarding grades

Discussion of motivation theories alone does not provide evidence of ‘application’. Assessors should take care to identify ‘data dumps’ of theory, rather than explanations of relevant examples of theory. It is important to ascertain the depth to which the student has analysed the relationship between the motivation practices and theory, as this provides evidence for the level of grade awarded.

At Achieved students state and then offer proof of the relationship between the motivation practice and motivation theories.

The full explanation required for Merit would offer more in-depth proof of the relationships by citing how or why certain practices occur from the perspective of the business.

For Excellence, students also justify the link between the theory/practice by explaining how and why practices occur and discussing the relevance of motivation practices in context. Non-financial rewards could be very relevant in a state school, because salaries are set nationally. A ski resort employer would be less likely to focus on job enrichment because employees might have an inherent enjoyment of their roles.

An aspect of related business knowledge is “evaluation of motivation techniques for business success”. It is expected that students at Excellence would be able to justify practices and the application of theory in terms of achieving the business goals.

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