Theories Required for Success in Criminal Justice


It is no secret that today a wide range of ideas and concepts allows one to succeed and prosper in supervisory from a criminal justice perspective. Knowledge and understanding of them are necessary for effective and productive activities in the framework of the protection of citizens, prosecution of an accused, or interventions aimed at changing a criminal justice system. Thus, this paper aims to comprehensively analyze the theories in the criminal justice field, their significance, and their impact on supervisory practices.

Needs-Based Motivation Theory

According to the needs-based motivation theory, the motives of people’s actions are mainly not economic factors but various desires that can be partially and indirectly satisfied with the help of money. In this case, motivation is continuous, infinite, and changeable; it is a universal characteristic of almost any organism’s condition. In addition, the reliable basis for constructing the needs-based motivation theory is the classification of intangible purposes and human requirements. Hence, an individual has multiple different necessities, and conditionally, they can be divided into several conditions: physiological, security, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs (Miller et al., 2020). Moreover, the needs of each new level become relevant to a person after the previous requests are satisfied. Therefore, such a theory demonstrates numerous fundamental essentials identified as unchanging and instinctive, motivating people.

Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Relying on the motivation-hygiene theory, it is necessary to emphasize that motivation at work and in the criminal justice field, particularly, is associated with satisfaction and dissatisfaction, which act independently. In fact, “inspiration” is a probable process, and what will motivate one person in a particular situation may not affect them in another case or another individual in similar circumstances. Nonetheless, in order to encourage a team, it is required to observe a hygienic minimum and ensure that each employee is pleased with the level of remuneration for their work and a position in a company and feels safe while at a workplace (Miller et al., 2020). Thus, to increase motivation and job satisfaction, the presence of hygienic factors and some non-monetary motivators is necessary (Alrawahi et al., 2020). Using the necessary foundations of Herzberg’s meaningful theory, it is possible to achieve favorable results in supervision.

Theory X-Theory Y

Theories “X” and “Y” consider human motivation from two opposite sides. Hence, “X” assumes that most people are not interested in responsibility, working either for money or out of fear of specific threats. Regardless, such an interpretation of human nature does not correspond to reality, and supervisory practices established on this approach do not meet modern needs. Consequently, the author created the theory of “Y,” the central postulate of which is that individuals are not lazy and not irresponsible. This idea proves that people can be self-directed and creative at work with the right motivation. In fact, “X” consider that punishment is one of the most acceptable motivational factors; on the contrary, “Y” hypothesizes that self-management and self-esteem are the most important motivator leading to rewards (Touma, 2021). One should highlight that theory “X” and theory “Y” are not mutually exclusive opposites; most humans have the potential to be mature and conscious, and there is a difference between attitudes and behaviors.

Expectancy Theory

The expectancy theory is founded on the condition that the presence of an active need is not the only motivation; people should hope they can satisfy it due to the correct behavior. V.H. Vroom played a significant role in the theory development; he introduced the concept of valence — the assumed degree of relative satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) due to receiving a bonus, or, in other words, how much a “prize” meets the expectations of a rewarded person. The author defined motivation as a complex of several variables (the expected value of remuneration and anticipations that efforts will yield desired results and rewards); the higher the value of each factor, the higher the incentive.

Equity Theory

Equity theory postulates that people subjectively determine the ratio of remuneration obtained to efforts expended, correlating it with the “revenue” of other people performing similar work. If this parallel shows an imbalance and injustice, an individual believes their colleague received more earnings for the same process of fulfilling job responsibilities; in this circumstance, there is psychological stress. As a result, it is necessary to motivate this worker, relieve tension, and correct inequality to restore justice. As a rule, people can regain a sense of fairness by changing the level of effort expended or modifying a reward received. “Disadvantaged” employees will mostly work more actively and strive to get better remuneration for their work. Therefore, employees who think they are overpaid will strive to maintain the intensity of work at the same level or improve it.

Sensitivity Theory

According to the sensitivity theory, people tend to differ in the amount, type, and format of reinforcement needed for productive and effective activities. Moreover, individual differences can be identified, which, in turn, reflect motivational needs (Miller et al., 2020). For example, some people strive to achieve specific goals by getting more money, love, attention, or recognition, which motivates them to work more and better. Thus, managers are encouraged to know and understand the individual needs of subordinates.

Importance of the Theories

The presented theories give the best idea of how and why makes an employee works better and become more efficient. These theories can be actively used by both novice supervisors and professionals to structure knowledge and achieve the best work results (Tangen et al., 2019). Moreover, they provide a tool to motivate employees and help them understand how to manage staff better. Therefore, it is not surprising that in the field of human resource management and organizational behavior, it is essential to focus on employee motivation.

A lack of knowledge about the theories mentioned above may lead to the idea that monetary incentives are the only way to motivate staff. However, approaches help to understand that people have different needs. One needs to be able to figure out what these needs are and learn how to influence employees correctly. Motivation affects not only the effectiveness of the staff but also retention, engagement, and job satisfaction.

In order to achieve the goals of the organization, management needs to ensure the effective actions of personnel. To do this, it is necessary not only to ensure the functional workload of employees and create the necessary conditions for them but also to arouse their desire to energetically perform exactly those actions that bring the organization closer to achieving its goals. In this regard, the management of the organization should perform a very important function – creating conditions for motivating employees and implementing it in practice.

The manager should always remember that even perfectly drawn-up plans and the perfect structure of the organization do not make any sense if someone does not do the actual work of the organization. And the task of the motivation function is to ensure that the members of the organization perform the work in accordance with their delegated responsibilities and in accordance with the plan. Managers have always carried out the function of motivating their employees, whether they realize it themselves or not.

Influence of the Theories

Indeed, mastering these theories from the point of view of experience transfer becomes very valuable and useful because it allows one to understand how to conduct supervisory practices in the region and avoid mistakes in situations that have occurred in the past and present but are quite possible in the future. The study of motivation theories is a very relevant topic for today since the result of any human activity depends on motivation, willingness to work, and achieve success in their endeavors. This is confirmed by the fact that individuals with higher motivation work much harder and more productively. A person is ready to invest more effort and effort when circumstances arise that increase the degree of his motivation and activity, encouraging him to do this or that activity.


Summing up, it should be noted that for success in supervisory practice in the field of criminal justice, it is necessary to turn to needs-based motivation theory, motivation-hygiene theory, theory x-theory y, expectancy theory, equity theory, and sensitivity theory. Each of the approaches is important and necessary in terms of achieving high results and outstanding achievements in work. They allow one to better understand oneself and colleagues by motivating for a good outcome of events, based not only on monetary motivation but also personal elements.


Alrawahi, S., Sellgren, S. F., Altouby, S., Alwahaibi, N., & Brommels, M. (2020). The application of Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation to job satisfaction in clinical laboratories in Omani hospitals. Heliyon, 6(9), e04829.

Miller, L. S., More, H. W., & Braswell, M. C. (2020). Effective police supervision (9th ed.). Taylor & Francis.

Touma, J. (2021). Theories X and Y in combination for effective change during economic crisis. Journal of Human Resource and Sustainability Studies, 9(01), 20.

Tangen, J. L., DiAnne Borders, L., & Fickling, M. J. (2019). The supervision guide: Informed by theory, ready for practice. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 41(2), 240-251.

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LawBirdie. (2023) 'Theories Required for Success in Criminal Justice'. 29 June.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Theories Required for Success in Criminal Justice." June 29, 2023.

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LawBirdie. "Theories Required for Success in Criminal Justice." June 29, 2023.