One of the main criticisms of Abraham Maslow’s “eupsychian” approach to management is that it was developed for American workplaces. Are needs theories of motivation appropriate in other parts of the world such as Asia?
This essay is a discussion as to whether Abraham Maslow’s eupsychian approach to management and needs theories of motivation is applicable to Asian work environment. I will briefly discuss the differences between an American and Asian workplace and then give an example of how the theory is applicable to an Asian workplace despite it being developed for an American one.
Abraham Maslow was born Abraham Harold Maslow on 1st April, 1908 in the city of Brooklyn in New York. He was the oldest of his parents’ seven children who were uneducated Jewish immigrants from Russia. As his parents had hopes for their after leaving Russia, they focused very much on his academics. As such, he did not have many friends and sought companionship with in his books (Boeree 1997). Against his parents’ wishes, he pursued an education in psychology at the University of Wisconsin instead of law and married his first cousin Bertha Goodman (Hindle 2008).
Together, they had two daughters. Upon graduation, Maslow worked in the psychology industry before becoming a professor in his field at the Brandeis University in Massachusetts. During the 1950s, he became a leader in the Humanistic School of Psychology; an external force that he hoped would break through the divide between Freudian psychology and behaviourism (The Economist 2008). Maslow was in poor health in his later years and spent the last few years of his life in semi-retirement in California where he finally died of a heart attack on 8 June 1970 as a result of his poor health.
During his time of study, Maslow came up with two theories. First, it was the theory of “Eupsychia”. Eupsychia was a neologism, meaning it was a new term, coined by Maslow himself. The word is derived from the Greek word eu meaning good and psyche meaning soul. This would translate into the meaning “society of good people” or “society of good souls” (Maslow 1961).
The term Eupsychia refers to “the culture that would be generated by one thousand self-actualising people on some sheltered island where they would not be interfered with… the word Eupsychia can also be taken in another way. It can mean moving toward psychological health” (Maslow 1965; Goble 2004).
The second theory would be Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs as shown in the following diagram.
The lower part of the pyramid consists of primary needs, and gradually develops into “higher” needs which are reflected as the pyramid goes up. The most basic is physiological needs which consist of the basics to live such as air, food and water. If a person is deprived of all needs, these would be the strongest needs that he would need to satisfy.
The second tier would be made up of safety, affection, security and belonging. When all physiological needs are satisfied, second in line would be security needs. When the need for safety is attained, the next degree of emotional needs will appear. These feelings are achieved by humans to prevail over loneliness. This includes the actions of both giving and receiving love.
Once the three basic tiers are achieved, the need for esteem becomes a main factor. This includes esteem given to others and esteem received from others. Humans in general need the feeling of being respected and have some degree of importance. This will boost their morale level and in turn will benefit their work performance.
Maslow concludes that a firm foundation for a value system is furnished by open acceptance of one’s own self, hence the highest tier of self-actualisation (Dean, Fornaciari, McGee 2003). It is found that as the lower needs are satisfied, healthy people then progressed onto “higher” needs so that they are primary motivated by their needs to enable their...