Critically evaluate Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as way of understanding employee motivation in contemporary Chinese business.
The Chinese economy has changed significantly since the reform in 1978.Chinese economy has experienced a rapid development and trends to an open and market-driven system in recent years (Klein and Ozmucur, 2002). A lot of foreign companies want to invest in Chinese companies or start business in China but most of them fail in the end. One of the reasons why they can be successful in the western countries but lose in China can be the way they used to comprehend employee motivation in modern-day Chinese business is wrong. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an extremely famous theory used to analyse employee motivation by many aboard companies. In this theory, individuals’ needs are generally divided into five parts and arranged in this order: physiological, security, belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization. However, the direction of China’s development is completely different from other countries’ in the world since China was established. The differences between the U.S. and China in the social system, stratum and employees’ values indicate that Maslow’s theory cannot be used as a way to understand employee motivation in contemporary Chinese business. This essay will firstly introduce the disparity of the social system between the U.S. and China. Then pay attention to the attitudes of employees in different stratum in America and China. Finally look at the effects of Maslow’s theory in Chinese business and education.
To start with, Maslow’s theory is not appropriate to Chinese business employee motivation largely because of the culture differences between America and China. The two countries differs in work-related attitudes are affected by several societies’ historical heritage as well as in different institutional development. Fatehi (1996) states that most motivation theories are directed and based on psychological patterns developed and tested mainly in the U.S. It means that Maslow’s theory evidently applies to the context in America but the conditions in the U.S. and in China are totally different. The American culture has developed beyond the expectation that emphasize the individual and a decentralized government (Nevis, 1983). This indicates that America is an individualistic society. However, the bygone culture studies discover that the family-oriented collectivism is a key Chinese cultural characteristic (Li et al, 2000). Hofstede (1984) points that in the individualistic society, employees always consider accomplishing their work at first and then building a relationship with their colleagues. This case will be completely divergent in a collectivistic society like China. People in this context give prior thinking about in-group goals which includes undertaking in-group doubtless, keeping interdependence with staff and focusing on the peace environment in-group. In Nevis’ Chinese hierarchy model, the most different pattern from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is that the belonging is the most basic problem which Chinese employee needs first (Nevis, 1983).
Another aspect that indexes that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is not suitable to understand Chinese employee motivation is that the employees’ attitudes and expectation of work change due to different stratums and countries. Nowadays Chinese managers are facing a challenge which is to concentrate on organizational efficiency (Wang, 2007). The employees’ attitudes tremendously influence their behaviour in organizational jobs. Some researchers have found relationships between institutional development, attitudes and values. A comparative study in 15 countries shows high job satisfaction and commitment to the enterprise in established capitalist countries contrasted to former socialist countries (Alas and Rees, 2006). The results in former socialist countries indicate that the way people develop their attitudes may differ according to...
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