Saturday, April 17, 2010




Direct-selling is a marketing approach in which the sales of consumer products or services are directly provided to consumers, generally in their homes or the homes of others, away from fixed retail locations (Direct Selling Association US, 2003). Direct-selling originated in the United States. Nutrilite, founded by Lee S. Mytinger and William S. Casselberry in 1945, first used the marketing method of direct-selling in the United States. Today, the direct-selling approach is a global industry and is becoming even more so. Direct-selling companies give direct sellers the opportunity to enjoy a flexible part-time job that fits around their family time or a part-time job that supplements their other income. The direct-selling industry is large and growing (Barrett, 2003).

Direct-selling organizations in the United States grew in sales volume from US$15 billion in 1993 to US$28.7 billion in 2002, according to the trade association representing US direct-selling organizations. The number of salespeople participating in direct-selling in the United States grew from 5.7 million in 1993 to 13 million in 2002 (Direct Selling Association US, 2003). Similarly, sales volume by direct-selling organizations in Taiwan grew from US$6.5 million in 1992 to US$1.3 billion in 2002. The number of salespeople participating in direct-selling in Taiwan grew from 95,000 in 1992 to 3.2 million in 2002 (World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, 2003).

Most new recruits are introduced into direct-selling organizations by an experienced direct seller who has recruited them. These new recruits are selected with no requirements concerning their qualifications and backgrounds, such as educational level, social status, or other differences. Therefore, direct-selling companies have to provide substantia] training for their new recruits. Direct sellers should be given adequate education and training to enable them to conduct their sales activities. Both new and established direct sellers must have the backing of their direct-selling companies to provide training and advice whenever the sellers need it. Since most new recruits have no idea how to run a business, direct-selling companies have to assume the responsibility to educate them (Yager, 1993).

Traditional direct-selling organizations invest considerable time and effort on continuing education programs and sales meetings for the purpose of their direct sellers’ training. These direct sellers are expected to invite new people to business opportunity meetings, to visit homes at mutually convenient times, to explain and demonstrate the use of products, and to be available to their network members and consumers for any clarifications or complaints that may subsequently arise (Jones, 2002). Direct-selling organizations spend a great deal on resources to enhance their direct sellers’ ability to increase their sales and enlarge the sales and marketing networks, but the outcome of the education and training activities and retention of direct sellers are still less than what is expected by the companies (Roy, 2003).

The direct-selling industry experiences a high rate of turnover, which brings about a waste of organizational resources (Brodie, 1995). Those individuals already involved in direct-selling are responsible for the recruiting and training of new direct sellers. Then, the direct-selling company becomes involved in training activities by holding large rallies, sales meeting, training seminars, and the like, for the purpose of follow-up training. Those types of training meetings are held in a continual process throughout the year. The direct-selling company has to assume the responsibility of running such activities related to developing direct sellers (Pearce, 1998).
The Amway Corporation, founded in the United States by Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel in 1959, operates in approximately 80 other countries and territories around the world, with over 3.6 million independent direct sellers, called “distributors” in the Amway Corporation, participating in Amway’s direct-selling business (Amway Corporation, 2003). Amway Taiwan, established in 1982 with only 10 employees, currently has more than 200 staff members with more than 200,000 active distributors. Today, Amway Taiwan is the biggest company in the direct-selling industry in Taiwan (Amway Taiwan, 2003).

In Amway Taiwan, distributors arid new people are invited to attend a business opportunity meeting held in one senior distributor’s house or go to the training centers to take training programs every week. The purpose of the business opportunity meeting is let distributors bring new people to a home meeting space where they can see the sales and marketing plan shown by a higher-level distributor. In the business opportunity meeting, any distributor can give lectures and demonstrate the sales and marketing plan to the audience. Those people who go to the training center can obtain more advanced knowledge of Amway’s products, sales, and marketing technique to enlarge the new distributors’ client base and marketing network (Amway Taiwan, 2003).

The greatest and most important asset of a business is its people. The workforce is changing, and those changes will affect motivation and work. In a competitive and increasingly global market, the direct-selling industry may need to consider such issues as providing effective education and training to their salespeople, motivating them to participate in such learning activities, and making sure the learning activities are what they need. Then, salespeople will be equipped with adequate competency and be willing to take risks for their companies (Ivancevich, 2001).
The Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow, 1954), one theory of motivation, states that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs must be satisfied before higher needs can be addressed. In ascending order, these needs are identified as physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization (Austin, 2002). This study attempted to explore the motivation for participation in continuing education and training programs in Amway Taiwan using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Statement of the Problem
The purpose of the study was to use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to examine motivational factors influencing Amway Taiwan distributors’ decisions to participate in continuing education programs and to identify future training needs. Specifically, the study examined the extent to which Maslow’s motivational factors determine distributors’ decisions to participate in continuing education. Also, based on the demographics, the study examined the differences that existed among distributors’ perceptions toward the motivational factors. Finally, the study investigated relationships between motivational factors and the distributors’ perceived career success.

Research Questions
In accordance with the purpose of the study, and based on the statement of the problem, the following questions guided the course of this study:
1. To what extent are Amway Taiwan distributors motivated by physiological needs to participate in continuing education programs?

2. To what extent are Amway Taiwan distributors motivated by safety needs to participate in continuing education programs?

3. To what extent are Amway Taiwan distributors motivated by social needs to participate in continuing education programs?

4. To what extent are Amway Taiwan distributors motivated by esteem needs to participate in continuing education programs?

5. To what extent are Amway Taiwan distributors motivated by self-actualization needs to participate in continuing education programs?

6. What differences exist in the perceived motivation of the five levels of needs among Amway Taiwan distributors based upon the following demographic variables:
a. Gender,
b. Age,
c. Marital status,
d. Educational status, and
e. Years of experience in the direct-selling industry?

7. What are the relationships that exist between the perceived influences of motivational factors of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and their contributions to career success for the distributors in Amway Taiwan?

8. To what extent do the perceived influences of motivational factors of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and their contributions predict career success for the distributors in Amway Taiwan?

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails