Herzberg's theory of motivation and Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Joseph E. Gawel,
The Catholic University of America
Among various behavioral theories long generally believed and embraced by American business are those of Frederick Herzberg and Abraham Maslow. Herzberg, a psychologist, proposed a theory about job factors that motivate employees. Maslow, a behavioral scientist and contemporary of Herzberg's, developed a theory about the rank and satisfaction of various human needs and how people pursue these needs. These theories are widely cited in the business literature.
In the education profession, however, researchers in the '80s raised questions about the applicability of Maslow's and Herzberg's theories to elementary and secondary school teachers: Do educators, in fact, fit the profiles of the average business employee? That is, do teachers (1) respond to the same motivators that Herzberg associated with employees in profit-making businesses and (2) have the same needs patterns as those uncovered by Maslow in his studies of business employees?
This digest first provides brief outlines of the Herzberg and Maslow theories. It then summarizes a study by members of the Tennessee Career Ladder Program (TCLP). This study found evidence that the teachers in the program do not match the behavior of people employed in business. Specifically, the findings disagree with Herzberg in relation the importance of money as a motivator and, with Maslow in regard to the position of esteem in a person's hierarchy of needs.
Herzberg's theory of motivators and hygiene factors
Herzberg (1959) constructed a two-dimensional paradigm of factors affecting people's attitudes about work. He concluded that such factors as company policy, supervision, interpersonal relations, working conditions, and salary are hygiene factors rather than motivators. According to the theory, the absence of hygiene factors can create job dissatisfaction, but their presence does not motivate or create satisfaction.
In contrast, he determined from the data that the motivators were elements that enriched a person's job; he found five factors in particular that were strong determiners of job satisfaction: achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, and advancement. These motivators (satisfiers) were associated with long-term positive effects in job performance while the hygiene factors (dissatisfiers) consistently produced only short-term changes in job attitudes and performance, which quickly fell back to its previous level.
In summary, satisfiers describe a person's relationship with what she or he does, many related to the tasks being performed. Dissatisfiers, on the other hand, have to do with a person's relationship to the context or environment in which she or he performs the job. The satisfiers relate to what a person does while the dissatisfiers relate to the situation in which the person does what he or she does.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs
In 1954, Maslow first published Motivation and Personality, which introduced his theory about how people satisfy various personal needs in the context of their work. He postulated, based on his observations as a humanistic psychologist, that there is a general pattern of needs recognition and satisfaction that people follow in generally the same sequence. He also theorized that a person could not recognize or pursue the next higher need in the hierarchy until her or his currently recognized need was substantially or completely satisfied, a concept called prepotency. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is shown in Table 1. It is often illustrated as a pyramid with the survival need at the broad-based bottom and the...