Application of Maslow's Hierachy in Needs

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Is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs a Valid Model of Motivation?
Melanie Colvin
Fangfang Rutland
May 8th, 2008

Table of Contents

I. Executive summary
II. Introduction
III. Maslow and Maslow's theory
a. Biographical sketch
b. Basic structure of Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory c. Inspiration for “Hierarchy of Needs” theory
IV. Application of Maslow's theory
a. Maslow's theory in business
1. Workplace management
2. Marketing
b. Maslow's theory in psychotherapy
c. Maslow's theory in the healthcare industry
d. Maslow's theory in social science
V. Theories derived from Maslow
a. Motivation-Hygiene Theory
b. Wilber
VI. Empirical studies on Maslow's theory
a. Supportive findings
1. Porter
2. Alderfer
3. Reiss & Havercamp
4. Ghiselli & Johnson
5. Guttman Scale Test
b. Non-supportive findings
VII. Maslow's theory across cultures
VIII. Summary and Conclusion

Executive Summary
This is paper attempts to answer the question “Is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs a Valid model of Motivation?”. We begin by reviewing Maslow’s life and the basic structure of his Hierarchy of Needs Theory. Then continue by explaining what inspired his theory. The use of this theory is examined as applied in business, Psychotherapy, the healthcare industry, and social science. Similar theories are reviewed including Frederick Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory and Ken Wilbur’s theory as interpreted by Rowan. Then we take a look at Empirical testing of Maslow’s work to try to determine if his model is valid. A study by Hall and Nougian did not support Maslow’s theory. However, there are some studies that show support or partial support. A literature review includes reviews of studies done by Porter, Alderfer, Reiss and Havercamp, and Ghiselli and Johnson as well as the Guttman scale test. Although some argue that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is restricted by national and cultural boundaries, we look at its use across cultures. Finally we reach our conclusion that Maslow’s hierarchy is a valid model of motivation, though some modification might be warranted. It is a simple but powerful concept that can help us understand, develop and utilize human potential. Introduction

Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory is more than half a century old since its first publication of Personality and Motivation in 1954. Many theoretical and practical applications were developed on the basis of Maslow's theory (Brenner, Carmack, & Weinstein, 1971. Rowan, 1999. Sirgy, 1986. Shermer, 2004. Seeley, 1992). The scope and scale of the use of Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory transcends a wide range of areas. However, despite of its popularity, the validity and utility of this theory have raised many controversies over the years. On one hand, Maslow's theory is very intuitive (Heylighen, 1992), easy to understand and apply. Being one of the most enduring theories of behavioral science, Maslow's “Hierarchy of Needs” holds high face validity. On the other hand, many questioned the validity and applicability of the theory (Wahba & Bridwell, 1976. McCarth & Perreault, 1984). Some claimed that Maslow's theory has been used without adequate scientific evidence (Soper, Milford & Rosenthal, 1995). There are studies that show support or partial support of the theory (Lawler & Porter, 1967. Ghiselli & Johnson, 1970. Manning & Curtis, 1988. Benson & Dundis, 2003. Barling 1976. Hall & Nougaim, 1968. Porat, 1977. Reiss & Havercamp 2005), while some found no evidence to support the theory (Hall & Nougaim, 1968. Lawler & Suttle, 1972).

The purpose of our paper is to revisit Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory, review its critiques and evaluate its applications. Our paper is to examine whether Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory is a valid theory of...
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