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Maslow's Hierachy Theory Essay

1383 words - 6 pages

Critically evaluate Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as way of understanding employee motivation in contemporary Chinese business
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a famous psychological theory developed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. This theory says that there is a hierarchy of human needs which reflects their motivations. He divided human needs into five hierarchies: physical needs, security needs, social needs, self-esteem and self-actualization needs. He stated that human motivations approximately change through these five levels. As a result, it has been considered as a useful tool in management in western countries because motivation is an important factor of human behaviors. Motivation plays an ...view middle of the document...

Another good illustration is TESCO. According to The Times 100(2012),TESCO motivate employees by meeting their needs in various aspects such as satisfying payment, comfortable environment and bonus. In such a way, workers are happy with their jobs and the company also becomes more united.
However, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs still has some defects and has been criticized to be limited. The three defects of Maslow’s theory are its narrow theoretical scope, low validity and overlook of the effects of external factors on people’s motivation. Firstly, because the research was carried out only in America, and the theory is based on American data, the theory is useful to the USA but is not true of all nations such as China. Gambrel and Cianci(2003) also state that Maslow’s theory cannot explain the motivational behaviour of employees in China because its collectivist culture. Secondly, according to Wahba and Bridwell(1976), there was little evidence to prove the ranking of these needs and whether there is a hierarchy of these needs. Cherry(2012) also stated that Maslow did not give a scientific definition of self-actualization and his targets were in a limited field. For example, the sample includes people he knew and famous people who he thought are self-actualized. In other words, the validity of the theory is doubtful. Thirdly, Maslow did not take social factors into consideration when he drew the conclusion. For example, Brockmann et al. (2008) reported the decreasing happiness of the Chinese society between 1990 and 2000 although people were benefiting from Chinese quick economic growth. This reflects that Maslow’s five levels of needs are not everything to human motivation. And this theory’s not being true for other nations indicates that there are some other factors influencing human’s motivation such as political factors and other social factors.
Two of these social factors are culture and values. Different cultures create different values which show people what is more important to them. Harvard (2010) mentions that the order of different hierarchies of employees’ needs in Maslow’s model has been changed by local culture and values. It is also mentioned by Jaw et al. that Chinese culture has a great impact on work values. One illustration of this is Chinese Confucianism which educates people that kind-heartedness and country is more important than themselves. In other words, it encourages people to put self-sacrifice ahead of physical needs and believe that collective interest is at a higher level than personal interest. This is quite similar to Nevis’ Chinese hierarchy of needs. According to Nevis (1983), belongingness is the most basic need in China, even more important than physical needs, which is quite different from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Schwartz (1992) also recognizes values as a fundamental factor of motivation. So in the Chinese business world, companies sometimes emphasize more on the successes of a team or a department than...

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