19 July 2014
Need Theories: Comparing Maslow, Alderfer, and McClelland
Most theories of motivation revolve around the idea an employee’s needs influence their motivation. Needs are physiological or psychological scarcities that stimulate behavior therefore are necessary to live a healthy, productive lives both in personal and work lives. “If work is meaningless, then life comes close to being meaningless”(Maslow, Stephens Heil 39). These needs, whether weak or strong and are greatly influenced by environmental factors, thus causing human needs to vary over time and place. The general idea behind need theories of motivation is that unmet needs motivate people to placate them. On the ...view middle of the document...
At this point, staff members begin to seek a level of self-esteem from the competence level and seek recognition from their peers and management. At the top of the hierarchal pyramid is the self-actualization need. At this point, maximization of one’s full potential is achieved. This point cannot be reached until all other needs have been met. Podmoroff states, “Maslow’s work is often considered the foundation for which other motivation theories grew and many of these theorists support a downward cycle of employee motivation when particular need are not met”(26).
Clayton Alderfer developed the ERG Model, as an enhancement to Maslow’s model, focusing specifically on work related needs. His theory has three needs, existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs, as opposed to the 5 for Maslow. The existence need can be related to the needs required to maintain a humane life. The relatedness needs focuses on social interactions and interpersonal relationships. Lastly, the growth need is the desire to be creative, self-confident, and productive, and engaged to the full abilities and obtain enhanced capabilities or skills. “ERG theory does not assume needs are related to each other in a stair-step hierarchy as does Maslow. Alderfer believes that more than one need may be activated at a time. Finally, ERG theory contains a frustration-regression component. That is, frustration of higher-order needs can influence the desire for lower-order needs” (Kreitner ch. 8).
David McClelland identified three needs, need for achievement, need for affiliation, and need for power, individuals have at differing levels. He argued that all of us experience these needs but at capricious points. “A person’s motivation and effectiveness in certain job functions are influenced by these three needs”(McClelland - Theory of Needs). Those who have a high need for achievement share three common characteristics: a preference for tasks of moderate difficulty, situations in which their performance is due to their own efforts, and a desire for more performance feedback on their successes and failures. Those with a high need for affiliation have a strong desire for approval and reassurance from others, a tendency to conform to the wishes of others when pressured by people whose friendships they value, and a sincere interest in the feelings of others. Finally, those with a high need for power seek to influence and direct others, exercise control over others, and maintain leader-follower relations.
Upon further comparisons, Alderfer does not disagree with Maslow's hierarchy of needs completely. He suggests that as more concrete needs are satisfied, less concrete need become more important. Instead of the five needs Maslow believes should be satisfied, Alderfer says there are only three important needs, and McClelland says there three differing needs than the others. Whereas Maslow's theory argues that individuals move up the hierarchy as a result of the...