ERG Theory of Motivation - Clayton P. Alderfer
In 1969, Clayton Alderfer's revision of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, called the ERG Theory appeared in Psychological Review in an article titled "An Empirical Test of a New Theory of Human Need." Alderfer's contribution to organizational behavior was dubbed the ERG theory (Existence, Relatedness, and Growth), and was created to align Maslow's motivation theory more closely with empirical research.
Similarities to Maslow's Needs Hierarchy
Like Maslow's model, the ERG motivation is hierarchical, and creates a pyramid or triangle appearance. Existence needs motivate at a more fundamental level than relatedness needs, which, in turn supercedes growth needs.
Differences from Maslow's Needs Hierarchy
Beyond simply reducing the distinction between overlapping needs, the ERG theory improves upon the following shortcomings of Maslow's Needs Hierarchy:
Unlike with Maslow's theory, managers need to understand that each employee operates with the need to satisfy several motivators simultaneously. Based upon the ERG theory, leadership which focuses on exclusively one need at a time will not motivate their people effectively.
Furthermore, the frustration-regression principle has additional impact on motivation in the workplace. As an example, if employees are not provided opportunities to grow, an employee might regress to fulfilling relatedness needs, socializing with co-workers more. Or, the inability of the environment or situation to satisfy a need for social interaction might increase the desire for more money or better working conditions. If Leadership recognizes these conditions soon enough in the process, they can take steps to satisfy those needs which are frustrated until such time that the worker can again pursue growth.
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