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    Motivation in Apollo 13 Essay (1462 words)

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    In contemporary organizations, motivation is a very hot issue. Not only in a large corporation but also in a team or a group, how to motivate teammates has already become the most important theme. As Westwood (1992) said, motivation can be defined as “an internal state… giving rise to a desire or pressure to act”. However, in the field of management, there are a large numbers of motivation theories. Therefore, this essay will investigate three types of motivation theories from a film-Apollo 13 (1995). It will provide some useful insights into how it might feel to work or manage in an organization.

    Analysis The first section of the film shows us Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory. At the beginning of the film, one of the astronauts Ken felt he hadn’t controlled the machine expertly when he practiced with his partner what might increase the risk of safety. Therefore, in order to decline the risk when him drives the spacecraft in the outer space, him pushed himself to spend more time on practicing. Like Judge et al. ’s (2002) meta-analysis, which demonstrated an average correlation of 0. 26 between conscientiousness and job satisfaction.

    In the analysis, the teammates pay more attention on the details or individual’s high in conscientiousness. In this issue, because of the high risk in outer space, it motivated Ken to promote his own skills of controlling. Therefore, they were still in the second level of Maslow’s theory. More positive practices could increase the survival probability in the solar system. Only after they completed the safety level, they will seek for the higher demand. To sum up, in this part, Ken motivated himself according to Maslow’s theory. Increasing the level of safety impel him do more exercises on flowing the space shuttle.

    The next section of the film embodies the goal-setting theory what could also motivate the group members. In the film, the doctor who works for NASA said Ken might get the measles in the space. Therefore, the organization changed him into another person Jack what give Ken a huge attack. However, when NASA need him to imitate a plan what might save the astronauts who were in trouble in the outer space. He set a clear goal to motivate himself completed the mission.

    According to this section, to the extent, Ken might be a person who has the sense of responsibility. Staw et al. 1986) argued that individual disposition may have a profound influence over how the working world is perceived, and this is also to affect the type of jobs that are sought to a large extent. In another word, that means the person knows what is important to individual. They had a specific target. Therefore, this goal will motivate the group members to achieve the success. Moreover, it is also another feature about self-actualization needs. Furnham (1997) speculated that extraverts might be highly motivated by intrinsic factors such as recognition and positive feedback.

    Overall, a clear goal could motivate the group members to achieve success faster than usual. It will also give them a stage to be self-actualization. The last section of the film is that the leader of the NASA Gene, he is always very confident and decisive. He transfers the positive energy to his subordinates. It illustrates the affects from managers. As Amabile(1998) said, they provide an ideal lever for performance management and control practices to foster firm performance in knowledge-intensive firms.

    Practitioners thus may want to think particularly carefully through the pros and cons before implementing changes to their organization control system. Therefore, as a leader he must set himself as an example to his subordinates. He should encourage people to complete their own job. In another word, managers should know the individuals’ needs, and define the outcomes available from the group. Finally, he should also ensure that each individual has the ability and support needed to attain outcomes. Make a short summarize, leaders are like a soul of a team or an organization.

    He could encourage the subordinates to achieve their own goals. He could also give the other team members confidence on their job. In the film, Gene acted as a leader perfectly. When the NASA was in a big trouble, he didn’t swap his teammates. On the contrary, he knew everything of his mates, and push them to conquer the issue save the astronauts lives. Discussion and Conclusion According to the three sections from the movie what I have mentioned in the first half of the essay. It is obviously that motivation is an indispensable part of management. In an organization or a group, motivation could cause the work efficiently.

    Especially when the group members feel that they will be in danger if they do not complete the case well. Therefore, due to be safe, they will motivate themselves to work very hard. This feature is very clear in the first section when Ken felt he hadn’t controlled the spaceship expertly, he was on his own initiative that practiced more and more times before they fly to the outer space. In this part, the group members’ need is only safe. On the other word, they are not aware of other things. However, after they achieved this goal. They will seek for the further destination. It is Maslow’s Hierarchy needs theory that I had demonstrated before.

    In addition, the second section shows us another motivation theory-goal-setting theory. In this theory, group members they do not only concern about safe. Moreover, most of these people think some easy jobs cannot bring happiness. They need some appropriate jobs what are full of challenge to realize themself value. In this movie, though Ken didn’t want to be in the terrible situation, he was pushed to be in the trouble. However, he still burdened the pressure. And he set a goal for himself-imitating a plan what can save the astronauts’ life. From this part, the group members they look forward further about their job.

    Safety and some other needs cannot motivate them to accept and complete the work. Therefore, for these people, most of them are seeking for something new and full of challenge. To a large extent, it is similar to the most advanced level of Maslow’s Hierarchy theory. In this level, group members are seeking for self-actualization needs. They do not care about the safety, social and esteem needs any more. Only self-actualization needs could motivate them to finish their own job. Finally, the leader plays as a significant role in organizations or groups. A positive lead could motivate the subordinates.

    For example, in this movie, NASA has an extraordinary leader Gene. When the space shuttle was exploded in the outer space, he was not flustered. He was very confident and gave his subordinates courage to work out the problem. From this case, it is explicitly that an eligible manager could improve the work passion. Therefore, the effect of leaders’ emotions on their teams’ performance depends on the teams’ general level of epistemic motivation-that is, the extent to which team members desire to develop and maintain a rich and accurate understanding of situations (Kruglanski, 1989).

    To sum up, in the current organizations and corporations, the managers are also irreplaceable and they will lead the teammates achieve the goal. Implications for Managers Via the movie, it is a representative example for motivation. In an organization, there are many sorts of teammates. Therefore, how to integrate all these people together for one goal is the basic issue for all managers. As a successful leader, he should distinguish from the different types of the subordinates. Then, he can use different policies to motivate the teammates.

    It will be more efficiency to achieve the team goal. Additionally, team leaders are always the soul of a team. He should burden more responsibilities than the others members. Especially when the team is in trouble. In the trouble, most of people will feel more stress than usual. They might also be swapped by some external factors. Therefore, leaders should give the subordinates courage and clam them down to a large extent. As a conclusion, some appropriate controls from leaders are definitely necessary in an organization.


    Amabile, T. M. (1998), How to kill creativity, Harvard Business Review, 76, September-October, pp. 77–87.

    Furnham, A. (1997), The Psychology of Behaviour at Work, 1st ed., Psychology Press, London.

    Judge, T.A., Heller, D. & Mount, M.K. (2002), “Five-factor model of personality and job satisfaction: a meta-analysis”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 87, pp. 530-41.

    Kruglanski, A. W. (1989), Lay epistemics and human knowledge: Cognitive and motivational bases. New York: Plenum.

    Staw, B.M., Bell, N.E. & Clausen, J.A. (1986), “The dispositional approach to job attitudes: a lifetime longitudinal test”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 31, pp. 56-77.

    Westwood, R. (1992), Organizational Behaviour: South East Asian Perspective, Longman, Hong Kong. pp222.

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