Home > Free Essays > Psychology > Behavior > Motivation Theories

Motivation Theories Definition Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Nov 2nd, 2018

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and real business firm example

Abraham Maslow was one of the humanistic psychologists who were instrumental in delivering management and educational fields through useful descriptions of human needs. Such needs became known during revolutionary time of hierarchy of needs (Buchanan and Huczynski 2010, p.10). He believed that people couldn’t be healthy and well adjusted unless all of their basic needs were met. The Maslow’s aim was to motivate employee through the provision of basic needs so that they could become functional in the society.

As a result, Maslow identified five types of basic needs and ranked them from the lowest or the most basic need upwards to those less basic. He believed that all the needs were not aroused at once, but rather triggered gradually. He stated that, once the most basic was satisfied, the next need became necessary to satisfy (Stephens and Gary 1998, p.61). The constituencies of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs include self-actualization, safety and physiological needs, esteem and, of course, social needs.

Physiological needs, which are at the lowest level in the hierarchy, are responsible for satisfying the most fundamental biological drivers (Montana and Charnov 2008, p.19). Such needs include food, water, shelter, and air. In most companies, it is necessary to ensure that employees’ psychological or basic needs are met.

For instance, most companies pay employees a living wage to exchange it for food and shelter. However, this is not the only way companies satisfy employee psychological needs. For instance, at Hershey foods and southern California Edison employees normally get coffee or tea break and other resting opportunities. In addition, to ensure that employees are healthy, companies provide exercise facilities for them.

In real life businesses, companies like Hershey foods, and southern California Edison, employees who live healthy get an award of insurance rebates. On the other hand, those who are at high risk of illness have their premium raised. As a result, insurance burden is not only well distributed to encourage people to live healthy lives, but also as an incentive encouraging them to embrace health.

Safety needs arise once the psychological needs have been satisfied. This is about the need to live in an environment that is both, psychologically and physically safe and secure. Organizations have in many ways work to ensure that employee safety exists (Pride Hughes and Kapoor 2011, p.88). For instance, at Hershey foods and southern California Edison shop workers get maximum protection from environmental hazards through wearing hard hats and goggles.

For office workers, attempts to release them from eyestrain and back pains, the companies provide well designed computer monitors, chairs, and desks exist. Currently, most organizations show enormous interest in ensuring protection and employees’ safety. Although the government dictates most of the safety practices, it is worth nothing that employees recognize the motivational benefits associated with safe working environments.

Social needs come into light once the psychological and safety needs are satisfied. These refer to the need of linking and getting acceptance from others (Miller, Vandome and John 2010, p.99). As human beings, we need acceptance from other people surrounding us. Companies such as Hershey foods and southern California Edison provides health club facilities for its employees.

This is alongside keeps its employees healthy, which is essential. Esteem needs come ones the psychological, safety, and social needs are satisfied. This is due to the fact that we do not only need to create social links with others, but instead, we need to gain their approval and respect. Esteem needs refer to desire for achievement of success and recognition by others.

For instance, in companies such as Hershey foods and southern California Edison, senior employees reserved parking spots exists. This acts as a way of recognizing or honoring senior employees. As a result, this promotes esteem of the senior employees within the organization. In addition, Hershey foods and southern California Edison recognizes best practices of their employees by awarding bonuses.

Self-actualization needs arise once all lower order level needs are met. This is so because employees will aim at becoming whatever they are capable of being. Once they attain self-actualization level, they are able to perform at their best and become valuable assets to the organization.

As a result, most companies pave the way to employees to attain self-actualization by meeting the lower needs. For instance, at Hershey foods, and southern California Edison, most of the lower needs of employees have favorable conditions for their achievement to pave the way for employee attaining self-actualization and ensure maximum production.

Pros and Cons

One of the main pros associated with the theory is that it provides a perfect guideline regarding the needs that employees are motivated to achieve. As a result, most companies have implemented this theory through practice thus enabling employees to be successful (Orcena 1995, p.87).

This has made the theory popular among most organizational practitioners. On the other hand, the main con associated with the theory is that, it states that there are five needs, activated in a certain order. This is not true because, to some people some of the issue regarded by Maslow as psychological needs may not be so to them. Some individuals may decide to satisfy social needs even before safety needs based on their conditions.

Motivation: ERG Theory (Clayton Alderfer) and Real Life Business Example

Alderfer presented the ERG theory in 1969 with an attempt to improve the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs through allowing flexibility of movement between needs (Milliken 1998, p.63). The theory was due to the reduced number of needs levels and allowance for needs variation depending on individuals. In addition, he gave an allowance for the simultaneous pursuing of needs. He divided the needs into three categories. Such categories included; existence, relatedness, and growth needs.

Existence needs involve combination of psychological and safety needs. Under existence needs, some of the needs identified include, food, shelter, and clothing (Koont 1990, p.101). Relatedness needs include social and external esteem needs, such as coworkers, friends, and family involvement.

Growth needs refer to the internal esteem and the self-actualization needs. These are the most abstract needs because they do not involve physical aspects. Such needs include the desire to be productive or creative. Maslow interpreted his theory stating that it was aimed at satisfying needs, and as a result, ensured employee motivation. Alderfer stated that all categories of needs are paramount, as they are satisfied.

According to Alderfer, there is no hierarchy of needs. He states that all needs are equally valuable and once they are satisfied, employees become motivated to work or become creative (Robinson 2003, p.155).

As a result, the aspect of need frustration becomes eliminated because concentration of needs at some level acts as a motivator at some point in time. He stated that, when an individual gets a motivation to satisfy high-level needs, but faces difficulties, then an individual is free to satisfy low level needs first (Robbins, 2009, p.200).

Based on this theory, employees at Hershey foods and southern California Edison have an opportunity to move in and out of the various levels. This depends on the extent to which needs of employees should be met. As a result, most of the management students claim that this theory is logical and similar to most of the worldviews. At Hershey food, and southern California Edison, employees are capable of placing emphasis on a single category of needs that one considers necessary at that moment.

According to Alderfer, he recommended needs to be met simultaneously, without a certain order. For instance, a starving artist may emphasize abundantly in art creation, which represents growth needs than on existence need such as shelter and clothing (Jones, George and Hill 2000, p.5).

In addition, an employee who aims at increasing responsibility through promotion may work towards satisfying all needs by increasing pay hence representing existence needs. In addition, he will work towards the development of a large social network by promoting relatedness.

As a result, he will ensure an increase in self-esteem hence promoting growth of needs. According to this theory, frustration arises due to regression through the needs levels. This arises in most case where most of the lower needs levels are not met (Wallace and Szilagyi 1982, p.109). There are some exceptions for frustration regression. First exception arises due to failure to fulfill most of the existence needs. The second exemption arises due to much fulfillment of growth needs leading to much growth needs.

Pros and Cons

The most common pro associated with this theory is that, unlike in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the individuals has an opportunity to satisfy needs depending on their choice. The fact that needs are not organized in a hierarchy enables an individual to satisfy what he thinks are necessary thus avoiding frustration (McKenna 2000, p.57).

On the other hand, the main con associated with this theory is that, needs should be satisfied systematically to avoid prioritization of issues that may not be much essential in life. In addition, the use of this theory may not promote the progress since things do not happen systematically.

My Own Opinion on the Theories

It is worth nothing that motivation is one of the essential elements in organizations. This is an element affected by an individual’s background and attitudes and related external factors (Hill and Jones 2007, p.7). As stated in the theories, most of the researchers focus on limited variables in its applications.

In my opinion, although Abraham Maslow hierarchy of needs is appealing there are recent emerging theories that focus on appropriate contexts. In addition, it is worth nothing that it is not enough to state that employee are motivated through satisfaction of needs. Instead, it is essential for the manager of an organization to understand the diversity of employees operating.

To ensure that employees are motivated, it is necessary to understand them critically so that a manager does not only work on satisfaction of needs in a systematic manner (Hill and Jones 2004, p.76). In my option regarding Alderfer theory of needs, it is a brilliant idea that needs do not have to be satisfied in a systematic manner. However, it is essential to satisfy needs that are most essential in life other than satisfying those that one can do well in their absence.

Reference List

Buchanan, D.A & Huczynski, A. A. 2010. Organizational Behavior seventh edition. Pearson: New York.

Hill, C.W. L. & Jones, G. R. 2004. Cases in strategic management. Houghton Mifflin Co: New York.

Hill, C.W.L. & Jones, G. R. 2007. Strategic Management: An Integrated Approach. Cengage Learning: New York.

Jones, G.R., George, J.M. & Hill C.W.L. 2000. Contemporary management. Irwin/McGraw-Hill: Pennsylvania.

Koont, Z. 1990. Essentials of Management. Tata McGraw-Hill Education: San Francisco.

McKenna, E.F. 2000. Business psychology and organisational behavior. Psychology Press: London.

Miller, F.P., Vandome, A.F. & John, M. 2010. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. VDM Verlag: New York.

Milliken, M.E. 1998. Understanding human behavior: a guide for health care providers. Cengage Learning: New York.

Montana, P. J. & Charnov, B.H. 2008. Management. Barron’s Educational Series Publishers: New York.

Orcena, J.E. 1995. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: gender differences in motivation. Ohio State University: Ohio.

Pride, W.M., Hughes, R.J. & Kapoor, J.R. 2011. Business. Cengage Learning: San Francisco.

Robbins, S. P. 2009. Organisational behaviour: global and Southern African perspectives. Pearson: Johannesburg.

Robinson, J. 2003. Organizational Behaviour. Pearson: New York.

Stephens, D.C. & Gary, H. 1998. Maslow on management. John Wiley: London.

Wallace, M.J. & Szilagyi, A.D. 1982. Managing behavior in organizations. Scott, Foresman Publishers: Scott.

This definition essay on Motivation Theories was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Definition Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2018, November 2). Motivation Theories. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/motivation-theories-3/

Work Cited

"Motivation Theories." IvyPanda, 2 Nov. 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/motivation-theories-3/.

1. IvyPanda. "Motivation Theories." November 2, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/motivation-theories-3/.


IvyPanda. "Motivation Theories." November 2, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/motivation-theories-3/.


IvyPanda. 2018. "Motivation Theories." November 2, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/motivation-theories-3/.


IvyPanda. (2018) 'Motivation Theories'. 2 November.

More related papers