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Classify the basic needs of employees

Need-Based Theories of Motivation


  1. Explain how employees are motivated according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
  2. Explain how the ERG (existence, relatedness, growth) theory addresses the limitations of Maslow’s hierarchy.
  3. Describe the differences among factors contributing to employee motivation and how these differ from factors contributing to dissatisfaction.
  4. Describe need for achievement, power, and affiliation, and identify how these acquired needs affect work behavior.

The earliest studies of motivation involved an examination of individual needs. Specifically, early researchers thought that employees try hard and demonstrate goal-driven behavior in order to satisfy needs. For example, an employee who is always walking around the office talking to people may have a need for companionship, and his behavior may be a way of satisfying this need. At the time, researchers developed theories to understand what people need. Four theories may be placed under this category: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, ERG theory, Herzberg’s two-factor theory, and McClelland’s acquired-needs theory.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow is among the most prominent psychologists of the twentieth century. His hierarchy of needs is an image familiar to most business students and managers. The theory is based on a simple premise: Human beings have needs that are hierarchically ranked.Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review50, 370–396; Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper. There are some needs that are basic to all human beings, and in their absence nothing else matters. As we satisfy these basic needs, we start looking to satisfy higher order needs. In other words, once a lower level need is satisfied, it no longer serves as a motivator.

Figure 5.3 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs