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“Theory of Motivation”


Table of Content

S.No Topic
I. Theory of Motivation
II. The basic assumption
III. Changes to the original five-stage model
IV. Critics of the Theory


  1. Theory of Motivation

       1.Traditional TheoryAssume only Economic Factors to motivate.

  1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need Theory

Abraham Maslow, a famous social scientist and a psychologist, developed a theory of motivation which is based on the hierarchy of needs.

According to Abraham Maslow, human needs are of five kinds

  1. Physiological needs
  2. Safety needs
  3. Social needs
  4. Esteem needs and
  5. Self-actualization needs

II.The basic assumption

The Basic assumption underlying this theory is that the behaviour of the individual is strongly driven by the urgency of the need i.e. the individual would try to satisfy his strongest need first and once it has been achieved it would no longer motivate him hence he would move higher to meet his other needs.

Maslow’s need hierarchy theory emphasizes three basic ingredients

(i) A man is a social animal and he always desires for more and more. His needs are of many types.

(ii) There is a hierarchy of these needs i.e., these needs are arranged in a series of preference. After the lower level needs are satisfied, the needs of the higher level take their place. A man whose stomach is full becomes conscious of the other needs.

(iii) A satisfied need can never work as a motivator. Only those needs which are not satisfied act as a motivator for influencing the human behavior.

According to him there are five kinds of needs viz., physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization as explained below:-


1. Physiological Needs-

Physiological needs (e.g. food, shelter, clothing, water, air, sleep etc.) refer to those needs which are so essential. The survival of human beings would be in danger if these needs are not satisfied. These needs are biological in nature and keep the body fit. There is a famous saying that a man can live on bread alone if there is no butter.

2. Safety Needs:

After the physiological needs are satisfied to a reasonable degree, the safety needs take the place e.g., security of job, pension for old age, insurance plan, compensation for lay off or retrenchment. In choosing a job, security needs play an important role.

3. Social Needs:

Social needs include need for love, affection, friendship, acceptance by group etc. A man is a social being and he has a need ‘to love’ and ‘to be loved’. Workers form informal groups for having a meaningful relationship with others. Management should not object to such groups except when they are detrimental to the organisation.

 4. Esteem Needs:

These needs are concerned with one’s self esteem such as self-respect, self-confidence, status, recognition, approval, appreciation etc. The satisfaction of these needs produces a feeling of self-confidence among the employees. The employees should be praised for good work done since it amounts to recognition of their work.

5. Self-Actualization Needs:

These needs include need for self-development, self-actualization, self-advancement, desire to take an increased responsibilities etc. Not many employees try to satisfy these needs but an employee who wants to develop, will feel restlessness till he satisfies this need.


III.Changes to the original five-stage model

Changes to the original five-stage model are highlighted and include a seven-stage model and an eight-stage model; both developed during the 1960s and 1970s.

  1. Biological and physiological needs– air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sleep, etc.
  2. Safety needs– protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
  3. Love and belongingness needs– friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).
  4. Esteem needs– which Maslow classified into two categories:
    (I) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and
    (ii) the desire for reputation or respect from others (e.g., status, prestige).
  5. Cognitive needs– knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability.
  6. Aesthetic needs– appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.
  7. Self-actualization needs– realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. A desire “to become everything one is capable of becoming”
  8. Transcendence needs– A person is motivated by values which transcend beyond the personal self (e.g., mystical experiences and certain experiences with nature, aesthetic experiences, sexual experiences, service to others, the pursuit of science, religious faith, etc.).

IV.Critics of the Theory:

  1. Human needs don’t conform to a hierarchy.
  2. Concept of self-actualization is vogue, loose, inadequate.
  3. Can’t be used by managers in practical situations to make workers productive.
  4. No correlation between satisfaction of one set of needs and activation of others.


Time to Practice:-


Q- “Need hierarchy is rigid and limited”. Critically analyses the Maslow’s need hierarchy. [200 Words]

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