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A Critical Evaluation Of Maslow And Erg Theory Business Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 1600 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Motivation can be defined as “the psychological forces within a person that determine the direction of a person’s behavior in an organization, a person’s level of efforts and a person’s level of persistence in the face of obstacles” (Kanfer, 1990). In simple words, the driving force behind an action of individual is called motivation. Over the years management scholars have presented different view regarding motivation, in fact according to George and Jones, over 140 definitions of have been provided, and noted scholars of work motivation have said that trying to define motivation often gives them a sever stomachache (George & Jones, 2008).

In this paper efforts will be made to clarify two theories of motivation. First we are going to explore the well known Maslow’s Theory of Motivation and then we will discuss the theory of motivation.

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs theory:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the most cited theory of motivation. According to Maslow human needs can be grouped into five hierarchical needs that are depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Maslow Hierarchy of Need

Maslow’s divide human needs into five distinct levels including: self-actualization and esteem at the top of the heirarchy, to social, safety, and physiological at the bottom. Maslow call the first two mentioned needs (self-actualization and esteem) as higher order needs and the last three mentioned needs (physiological, safety, and social needs) lower order needs (Robbins & Judge, 2007). Once the lower order needs are satisfied by an individual giving more of the same will have no effect on his motivation. Individual then advance up the hierarchy to another and that need serves as a motivation factor. Consequently, in order to motivate employee and bring about positive change in their behavior, manager must direct concentration to the next higher level need that seeks satisfaction.

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Maslow is of the opinion that these needs can be arranged in a hierarchy in a hierarchy of importance, with the most basic or compelling need physiological needs (need for foods, shelter, clothes etc) at the bottom. In order to move up to the next category the proceedings needs must be satisfied first (George & Jones, 2008). For example safety needs must be satisfied before the social needs.

According to Maslow’s theory, unsatisfied needs are the prime motivators of behavior. Once a level of need is satisfied, it no longer motivates the individual to motivate him, so the organization must then focus on the next level of needs in order to motivate the individual (George & Jones, 2008). Organizations around the world have successfully used the Maslow theory for motivating its workforce by identifying the current needs category of the workers and then designing its pay package that are targeted towards the satisfaction of that end.

Maslow’s hierarchy of need was very popular around the world. Its popularity was due to the fact that organization is able to implement the theory with relative ease (George & Jones, 2008). However, researchers around the world have criticized the Maslow hierarchy of needs due to the following reasons.

Empirical research did not support Maslow’s view. Researchers are of the view that in the real world there is no rigid hierarchy of human needs and it operates in a flexible hierarchy.

Employee in the real world does not satisfy their higher level needs in the work situation alone. Most of the upper level needs are satisfied by employee in other work setting. Therefore manager not only need to know employee behavior at work but also need to have complete understanding of employee’s private and social life.

Employees have different preferences in satisfying their needs, based on the culture to which the employee belongs. For one employee the source of motivation may be physiological needs, while for his pear the motivation may be provided by social needs.

Some rewards satisfy more than one need at time. For example Bonus or high salary paid to a particular employee may satisfy both lower and upper level needs.

According to Maslow, satisfaction is the main motivational outcome of behavior. However job satisfaction is only one pillar of work performance and it may not lead to improved work performance.

Despite the above cited criticisms, and limitations, Maslow theory has had a momentous impact towards management understanding of motivation and in the appropriate designing of the company to meet employee needs (Robbins & Judge, 2007). The theory is a suitable structure for screening the different needs and outlook that employees have and the different motivating factors that might be useful to people at different levels.

ERG Theory

Clayton Alderfer revised Maslow’s hierarchy theory is known as ERG Theory. According to Alderfer human needs can be grouped into three groups called existence, relatedness and growth needs. ERG Theory has been depicted in Figure 2 below:

Figure 2: ERG Theory

As the above Figure shows, Alderfer have divided human needs into three distinct categories called need for existence, need for relatedness and need for growth. These three needs are as follow:

The existence Needs:

Over here material existence requirements are mentioned. This group is the same as what has been called by Maslow physiological and safety needs. In an organizational context the existence needs are satisfied by money earned in a job and spending them to obtain foods, clothing, shelter etc.

Relatedness Needs:

An employee desire to maintain important interpersonal relationships with pears, superiors and subordinates in work context can be termed as relatedness needs. Relatedness for an employee in an organization context includes the need to interact with peers, receive recognition from the organization in the form of praise and awards, and feeling secure around people. Organization satisfies employee relatedness by creating a work environment that supports relationship between various levels and department by promoting hormone and collaboration. Organizations also create the relatedness when it gives rewards, bonus etc to those employees who have achieve their target.

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Growth needs:

These need correlate with Maslow’s fourth and fifth levels of needs. These needs seeks to fulfill an employee desires to by giving them an opportunity to complete the allotted in a creative and productive manners, thereby build and enhance an employee’s self-esteem through personal recognition and achievements (Robbins & Judge, 2007). By empowering employee the freedom to take some risks, the organization not only benefit by availing an opportunity of more profit but also employee management and leadership skills are polished.

Differences to the Maslow Theory of Motivation

Alderfer have refined the Maslow theory and make it more practical by collapsing Maslow five hierarchical needs into three needs and having no hierarchy.

Contrarily to Maslow’s idea, that concentrate on pure hierarchy between the needs, according to Alderfer there is hierarchy between these needs, and these needs are not stepped in any way.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, one level of need will dominate an employee’s motivation more than others (George & Jones, 2008). For example when physiological needs are satisfied security needs will be more dominant. Unlike Maslow’s theory, Alderfer’s theory contain a frustration-regression process that take place within an employee, the failure to satisfy a elevated need causes disturbance and a falling off to the next lower need level.

The frustration-regression concept has profound impact on an organization motivation at the time of changing situation. For example, if growth opportunities are not present, employees will regress to relatedness needs, and socialize more with peers, subordinate, and superiors, which in a change circumstances can create a proliferation ground for gossip, speculation, and resistance.

Implication for Manager:

Empirical research in the area of organizational behavior has proved that ERG theory provides a workable implication for manager regarding the dynamics of human needs. Alderfer ERG theory that employee may have different needs and recognizes that the order of significance of the three categories may vary from employee to employee depending on the unique characteristics experienced by the employee and also how the personality perceives the situation. Therefore a manager should focus on the three needs of an individual employee in order to optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of the motivation. Management and leadership across the organization should recognize that employee have multiple needs that need to be satisfy simultaneously. The theory proposed by Alderfer is not rigid like the theory presented by Maslow, and human needs cluster more neatly around the three groups proposed by ERG theory. Moreover the recognition of the development of satisfaction-progression and frustration-regression provide a suppler and sensible clarification of why and how employee needs can change due to change in employee’s personal circumstances, perceptions concerning the environment, and the leader framing and communication of those situation


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