Mcclelland's Theory of Needs

Topics: Motivation, Need for achievement, David McClelland Pages: 6 (1993 words) Published: June 20, 2012
1.Introduction to McClelland’s Theory of Needs

Many of the differences in employee motivation, management styles and organizational structures of companies throughout the world can be of people in different national cultures. However, this report will be only focused detail on the employee motivation. Motivation plays a crucial role in driving the organization towards target or goal or even mission and vision. Even though, there are various version of motivation theories but in the report will highlight theory of Needs by McClelland.

Motivation is the internal process leading to behaviour to satisfy needs. The primary reason people do what they do is to meet their needs or wants. Like Maslow, Alderfer, and Herzberg, manifest needs theorist believe people are motivated by their needs. In McClelland’s Theory of Needs, in acquired-needs theory, McClelland proposed that individuals ‘specific needs acquired over time and shaped by one’s life experiences. Most of these needs can be classified as achievement, affiliation and powers which are will be explained further on this report.

According to Business Knowledge Centre (NBA), McClelland used the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) as a tool to measure the individual needs of different people. The TAT is a test of imagination that presents the subject with a series of ambiguous pictures, and the subject is asked to develop a spontaneous story for each picture. The assumption is that the subject will project his or her own needs into story. The psychologists have developed fairly reliable scoring techniques for the TAT. Then, the test concludes the individual’s score for each the needs of achievement, affiliation, and power which means that the score can be used to suggest the types of jobs for which the person might be well suited.

McClelland’s Theory of Needs is a personality-based approach to motivate and does not have a classification for lower-level needs. The affiliation needs are the same as social and relatedness needs, meanwhile power and achievement are related to esteem and self-actualization and growth.

2.McClelland’s Theory of Needs

2.1.Need for Achievement (n-ach)

The need for achievement (N-Ach) could be referred to individuals who has desire to accomplish mission, skills, controls or high standards. Previously, the term was introduced by Henry Murray and was popularized by David McClelland. Henry described the term as “intense, prolonged and repeated efforts to accomplish something difficult. To work with singleness purpose towards high and distant goal and have determination to win” (

The need for achievement varies from a person to another. It is related to the difficulty of tasks people willing to take. If a person chooses to take an easy task to minimize the risk of failure or to avoid embarrassment, such person is having low n-ach. Those choosing moderately difficult task is having high n-ach, feeling that they are challenging but reachable.

To clearly understand individuals having high n-ach, we need to know their characteristics which are: i.Has a strong need to set and accomplish challenging goals. ii.Takes calculated risks to accomplish their goals.

iii.Likes to receive regular feedback on their progress and achievements. iv.Often likes to work alone or with the high achievers as well.

The n-ach person is 'achievement motivated' and therefore seeks achievement, attainment of realistic but challenging goals, and advancement in the job. They thrive on overcoming difficult problems or situation, thus it is important to keep them engaged in this way. There is a strong need for feedback as to achievement and progress, and a need for a sense of accomplishment (Alan Chapman, 2009). The feedback on what is right and what is wrong would be important to them for improvement. People motivated by achievement work very effectively either alone or with other high achievers.
The need for achievement is...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Mcclelland's Theory Essay
  • Essay about Mcclelland's Human Motivation Theory
  • Needs and Motivation Theories Essay
  • Needs Theories Essay
  • Maslow's Need Hieararchy Theory Essay
  • Theories Research Paper
  • McClelland S Need Alderfer S ERG Theory Essay
  • The Hierarchy of Needs Theory by Abraham Maslow Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free