Thursday, 11 August 2011

ERG Theory / Alderfer MotivationTheory

Clayton Alderfer proposed the ERG theory in a condensed version of Maslow’s hierarchy of need to address some of the limitations of Maslow's hierarchy. This is very similar to Maslow but maybe a bit more rational.

ERG is abbreviation of Existence, Relatedness, and Growth.

ERG theory is hierarchical. - Existence needs are at first level and have priority over relatedness needs which are at second level. Relatedness needs have priority over growth.

However, ERG theory does not assume a rigid hierarchy where a lower need must be substantially satisfied before one can move on. He suggested that more than one need may be activated, sought to be satisfied by the individual, at the same time than a hierarchy.

 Alderfer  three categories of needs are ordered hierarchically as

Existence (physical well-being)

It refers the concern with basic material existence requirements. Those needs to sustain life , such as food and water, as well as such work-related forms as pay, fringe benefits and physical working conditions.  (Maslow’s physiological and safety needs).

In a work context this need is satisfied by money earned in a job for the purchase of food, shelter, clothing, etc.

 Relatedness (satisfactory relations with others)

It  refers to the desire we have for maintaining interpersonal relationships, such as relationship with families, friendship groups, work groups and professional groups. The need to feel a sense of belonging, affiliation, and friendship .( Maslow’s interpersonal security, social need, and the external component of esteem need).

In a work context and given the amount of time most people spend at work this need is normally satisfied to some extent by their relationships with colleagues and managers.

 Growth (development of competence and realization of potential)

It  refers to an intrinsic desire for personal development and  development of one's potential. Impel a person to make creative or productive effects on himself and his environment. It impel creativity and innovation, along with the desire to have a productive impact on surroundings. (the intrinsic component of Maslow’s esteem need, and self-actualization).

These needs are all about by personal development. In a work context a person's job, career, or profession can provide a significant satisfaction of growth needs.

Alderfer's Hierarchy of Motivational Needs

Level of Need
Impel a man towards creativity and innovation, along with the desire to have a productive impact on himself , environment and surroundings.
Satisfied through using capabilities in engaging problems; creates a greater sense of wholeness and fullness as a human being
Promotion, recognition, Authority, learning something new
Involve relationships with significant others
Satisfied by mutually sharing thoughts and feelings; acceptance, confirmation, under- standing, and influence are elements
Relationship with families, friendship groups, work groups and professional groups.
Includes all of the various forms of material and psychological desires
When divided among people one person's gain is another's loss if resources are limited
food and water, as well as such work-related forms as pay, fringe benefits and physical working conditions.

A Reorganization of Maslow's and Alderfer's Hierarchies

Self-Actualization (development of competencies [knowledge, attitudes, and skills] and character)
Transcendence (assisting in the development of others' competencies and character; relationships to the unknown, unknowable)
Personal identification with group, significant others (Belongingness)
Value of person by group (Esteem)
Physiological, biological (including basic emotional needs)
Connectedness, security

Frustration-Regression principle

Alderfer also deals with frustration-regression. That is, if a higher-order need is frustrated, an individual then seeks to increase the satisfaction of a lower-order need. ERG theory counters Maslow’s theory by noting that when a higher- order need level is frustrated the individual’s desire to increase a lower- level need takes place. Inability to satisfy a need for social interaction, for instance, might increase the desire for more money or better working conditions. So frustration can lead to a regression to a lower need.

For example if a person is continually frustrated in their attempts to satisfy growth needs (e.g. gain promotion), relatedness needs may assume greater importance (e.g. social relations at work), this lower level need becoming the focus of the individuals efforts. Alderfer's research support the idea that lower level needs does not  decrease in strength as they become more satisfied, as opposed to Maslow.

Differences from Maslow's Hierarchy

In addition to the reduction in the number of levels, the ERG theory differs from Maslow's in the following three ways:

an individual would stay at a certain need level until that need was satisfied.

·         Maslow's hierarchy of need have 5 levels while ERG theory have three levels.

·         Unlike Maslow's hierarchy which says , an individual would stay at a certain need level until that need was satisfied, the ERG theory allows for different levels of needs to be pursued simultaneously.

·         The ERG theory allows the order of the needs be different for different people.

·         The ERG theory acknowledges that if a higher level need remains unfulfilled, the person may regress to lower level needs that appear easier to satisfy,  known as the frustration-regression principle.

Implications for Management

·         In the work situation we might apply ERG to seek alternative satisfiers / motivators for staff when a primary need cannot be satisfied. If a person’s needs at a particular level are blocked, then attention should be focused on the satisfaction of needs at other levels. A Subordinates growth needs may be blocked because the job doesn’t allow sufficient opportunity for personal development, If the ERG theory holds, then unlike with Maslow's theory, managers must recognize that an employee has multiple needs to satisfy simultaneously.  then  by applying ERG the manager should attempt to provide greater opportunities for the subordinate to satisfy existence and relatedness needs, which are still genuine motivators for the individual.

ERG theory argues, like Maslow, that satisfied lower- order needs lead to the desire to satisfy higher-order needs; but multiple needs can be operating as motivators at the same time, and frustration in attempting to satisfy a higher- level need can result in regression to a lower- level need.


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