Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory of Motivation:

Abraham H. Maslow, was a well-known Psychologist .He published in 1943, the elements of an overall theory of motivation which focuses on the needs as the basis for motivation. His theory is widely recoganised and appreciated.

Maslow’s theory was based on human needs. He felt that within every human being, there exists a hierarchy of five needs. These are:

  1. Basic/Physiological Needs:

These needs are most basic and primary needs. In the organisational context, basic salary helps to satisfy these needs.

Examples:  Hunger, thirst, shelter, sleep and sex etc.

  1. Safety/Security Needs:

The needs that provide security and protection from physical and emotional harm, are called safety/ security needs.

Examples: job security, stability of income, pension plans etc.

  1. Affiliation/Belonging Needs:

Also called social needs, these needs refer to affection, sense of belongingness, acceptance and friendship.

  1. Esteem Needs:

Esteem Needs include  factors such as self-respect, autonomy status, recognition and attention.

Examples: desire to own a costly car, desire to have dinner in a costly restuarant etc.

  1. Self Actualisation Needs:

It is  the highest level of need in the hierarchy. Self Actualisation Needs refer to the drive to  become what one is capable of becoming. These needs include growth, self- fulfillment and achievement of goals.

Example: mission to eradicate poverty in a particular city/village.

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Assumptions of Maslow’s Theory of Motivation

Maslow’s theory is based on the  following assumptions:

  1. Need directs human behaviour:

People’s behaviour is based on their needs. Satisfaction of such  needs influences their behaviour.

  1. Hierarchical order of needs:

People’s needs are in hierarchical order, starting from basic needs  to other higher level needs. Needs are satisfied one after the previous type.

  1. No motivation without additional satisfaction:

A satisfied need can no longer motivate a person; only next higher level need can motivate him.

  1. Sequence of needs:

A person moves to the next  higher level of the hierarchy only when the lower need is satisfied.


Criticism of Maslow’s Theory:

Maslow’s theory is criticised due to some of these propositions :

  1. Classification of needs – Some experts say that all human needs cannot be precisely classified as done by Maslow.
  2. Hierarchy of needs – All the five needs given by him cannot fall under strict categories and satisfied in that order.

But, this theory is still considered relevant because needs, no matter how they are classified, are important to understand the behaviour. It helps managers to realise that need level of employee should be identified to provide motivation to them.

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