Abraham Maslow, a practicing psychologist, developed one of the most widely recognized need theories, a theory of motivation based upon a consideration of human needs . His theory of human needs had three assumptions:
- Human needs are never completely satisfied.
- Human behavior is purposeful and is motivated by the need for satisfaction.
- Needs can be classified according to a hierarchical structure of importance, from the lowest to highest.
Maslow broke down the needs hierarchy into five specific areas:
- Physiological needs. Maslow grouped all physical needs necessary for maintaining basic human well‐being, such as food and drink, into this category. After the need is satisfied, however, it is no longer is a motivator.
- Safety needs. These needs include the need for basic security, stability, protection, and freedom from fear. A normal state exists for an individual to have all these needs generally satisfied. Otherwise, they become primary motivators.
- Belonging and love needs. After the physical and safety needs are satisfied and are no longer motivators, the need for belonging and love emerges as a primary motivator. The individual strives to establish meaningful relationships with significant others.
- Esteem needs. An individual must develop self‐confidence and wants to achieve status, reputation, fame, and glory.
- Self‐actualization needs. Assuming that all the previous needs in the hierarchy are satisfied, an individual feels a need to find himself.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory helped managers visualize employee motivation.
Douglas McGregor was heavily influenced by both the Hawthorne studies and Maslow. He believed that two basic kinds of managers exist. One type, the Theory X manager, has a negative view of employees and assumes that they are lazy, untrustworthy, and incapable of assuming responsibility. On the other hand, the Theory Y manager assumes that employees are not only trustworthy and capable of assuming responsibility, but also have high levels of motivation.
An important aspect of McGregor’s idea was his belief that managers who hold either set of assumptions can create self‐fulfilling prophecies — that through their behavior, these managers create situations where subordinates act in ways that confirm the manager’s original expectations.
As a group, these theorists discovered that people worked for inner satisfaction and not materialistic rewards, shifting the focus to the role of individuals in an organization’s performance.