Critically Evaluate Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as Way of Understanding Employee Motivation in Contemporary Chinese Business.

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Effectively employee motivation enables a firm to continuously adapt to external change for long-term success. Maslow’ theory has formed part of the foundation of theory of motivation. According to Maslow (1943), there are mainly five human needs from low to high. He also states that after one level of need has been satisfied, the major needs of individuals will progress to the next level. While some studies suggest that Maslow’s theory is not universally accepted, others studies believe that it applies to all business mode, especially in China. However, since China changed from planning economy to market economy in 1970s, Chinese’s business used massive managerial experience of Europe and the U.S. Although there has been criticism of the application of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in different cultures, it is evident that it can be applied to contemporary Chinese business as a way of understanding in employee motivation. In this essay, it will be discussed how it is applied to Chinese business in three aspects: Chinese companies motivation measures, individuals needs in China and individualism in Chinese workplaces.

The first argument in support of Maslow’ theory being feasible in China is the motivation measures used in Chinese business. In contemporary Chinese business the majority of enterprises motivate employee through fixing their need of belonging and self-esteem. Sadri and Clarke (2011) illustrate the application of hierarchy of needs theory in business that executives are can motivate their employees by providing rewards that able to satisfy their needs. Critics of this view say that as Maslow’s motivation theory came out in the last century, it is not applied in today’s business. Naidu States that Maslow’ theory may render out of date and out of touch (Naidu, 1996). However, although the changing of business world is unpredictable, there has been proof that the influence of Maslow’ theory still deeply exist. Sadri (2011) argues that managers are able to motivate their employees that satisfy the need that is prevalent at any point in time. Wilcox (1995) also claims that one of the most important factors that determine people’s commitment to their companies is job satisfaction. Take China Telecom as an example. They concentrate on the communication between Management and Employees. Manager of the company established communicated with employees through a platform, such as seminars and online learning systems, listening to them and providing timely feedback (China Telecom, 2010).This illustrates that Chinese manager mainly cares about employee’s needs and satisfaction. Through constant communion manager can receives the level of needs for each employee and provides opportunity for them to gain what they need. Furthermore, this series of measures used to motivate employees is a reflection of Maslow’s theory.

The second major argument in support is that Chinese employees need more self-achievement than whole company success. In other words, although Chinese employee is more collectivism in daily life, it is the individual aspect that the most important motivation factor. Those against this state that individual in China are concerned with preserving harmony within their social group (Gambrel, 2003). Hofstede (1995) also states that team achievement is a prevalent motivator in a Southeast Asian culture. Nevertheless, it has been proven that new generation of Chinese employees focuses more on higher level of personal successful. To support this view, Jaw (2007) points out that the modern Chinese employees emphasize more on high level of individual need such as belonging and self-esteem and to have a more meaningful life. Moreover, Cangemi (2009), failure to meet employees’ survival needs, including physiological, safety and belonging, would make these workers uncooperative and put the company in danger. This indicates that it is extremely important for companies’ to take employee’ needs advances into account....
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