Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory

One of the most important theories, it emerged in the early 1960s, by Abraham Maslow, a psychology professor at Brandeis University in New York. Maslow’s (1943) Theory of Hierarchy of Needs examines human motivation in terms of levels of met or unmet needs. His principles include that only an unsatisfied need can influence behavior, that a person will minimally satisfy each level of need before feeling the need at the next level, and that if need satisfaction is not maintained at any level it will become a priority again.

Maslow developed these needs in a hierarchical pattern and divided it into two parts: lower order needs that consist of physiological and safety needs, these are satisfied externally (by pay, union contracts, and tenure) (Robbins, 1996). Higher order needs are social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs; these are satisfied internally within the person (Robbins 1996). Maslow argued that lower level needs had to be satisfied before the next higher-level need in order to motivate employees. Maslow’s model consists mainly of a hypothesized five needs, hierarchy exists within every human being, and they are:

The Physiological Needs: These are the most bodily basic needs as (food, clothing, shelter, and comfort); these physiological needs might serve as channels for all sorts of other needs as well (Adair, 1990). When someone becomes in need for food and water, then the desire to eat and drink become dominant and all other needs tends to be swept away, when the physiological needs are relatively well satisfied, a new set of needs emerges centered upon the safety of the organism (Adair 1990). The Safety Needs: These include the need to feel secure and protected from any physical or emotional harm, individuals are afraid for their existence.

The safety need may be in the form of many procedures or regulations such as security of tenure, pension, and insurance schemes or the improvement of safety conditions at work, also the problem for the known rather than the unknown. The Social Needs: When the physiological and safety needs are met, the needs for love and friendship and belongingness emerge as the dominant center of motivation (Adair, 1990). He primarily relates these needs to the acceptance of the individual, once the social needs are met, the esteem needs emerge.

The most stable and therefore most healthy self-esteem is based on deserved respect from others rather than an external fame or celebrity and unwarranted adulation (Adair, 1990). The Self-Actualization Needs: The highest need category as the individual is concerned primarily of becoming all that he is possible to become, reaching potential, independence, creativity, and self-expression. Maslow also contends that achievement of these goals is not as important as attempting them. He also discussed two additional needs: cognitive and aesthetic.

Cognitive needs are the needs to know and understand as the desire to learn, where as aesthetic needs is the desire to move towards beauty and away from ugliness. These two needs are not included in Maslow’s hierarchical arrangement or any other discussion of his concepts (Adair, 1990). Theory X & Theory Y by McGregor Douglas McGregor worked as a social psychologist and studied human nature and human behavior, after working as a management consultant. McGregor developed two distinct theories explaining the way managers’ deal with employees and their assumptions towards the nature of human being.

Theory X: Represents the traditional view of direction and control, it consists of: Human being inherently dislikes work, and whenever possible tries to avoid. Because of their hate to work, most of them must be controlled, coerced, and directed and even threatened with punishment in order to achieve organizational goals adequately. Human being wants security above all, always avoids responsibility and have little ambition. Theory Y: The integration of individual and organizational goal, it consists of: The human beings view work as natural as play or rest.

Punishment is no longer the only mean to achieve organizational objectives; man will exercise self-control and self-direction in order to achieve the objectives he/she committed to. Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement. The average human being learns to accept and seek responsibility. Due to the conditions of modern industrial life, intellectual potentialities of the average human being are partially utilized. The capacity to exercise a relatively high degree of innovation and creativity in the solution of organizational problems is widely distributed in the population.

In this theory, McGregor had overcome Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs, but he explained it into a language, which industrial and commercial managers could understand. He integrated the theory with the more traditional concerns of management by suggesting that the needs of the individuals and the needs of the organization were not naturally mismatched (Adair, 1990). Because of this theory, McGregor suggested a participative decision making environment, friendly social relations at work and challenging job, all these would enhance employees’ job motivation (Adair, 1990).

Herzberg’s Motivation Hygiene Theory Frederick Herzberg was a professor of Psychology, whom conducted a research to determine the factors of individuals’ success or failure at work, he performed studies to determine which factors in an employee’s work environment caused satisfaction or dissatisfaction. He published his findings in the 1959 book The Motivation to Work. The studies included interviews in which employees where asked what pleased and displeased them about their work.

Herzberg found that the factors causing job satisfaction (and presumably motivation) were different from that causing job dissatisfaction. He developed the motivation-hygiene theory to explain these results. He called the satisfiers motivators and the dissatisfies hygiene factors, using the term “hygiene” in the sense that they are considered maintenance factors that are necessary to avoid dissatisfaction but that by themselves do not provide satisfaction (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959). The following presents the top six factors causing dissatisfaction listed in the order of higher to lower importance.

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