Theories of Employee Motivation

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Hierarchy of Needs Theory was proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943 (Mullins, 2006; Wilson, 2004). This theory states that every human being has a hierarchy of five kinds of needs which are physiological needs, safety, social needs, esteem and self-actualization; physiological needs refer to needs for survival, such as needs to get rid of hunger and thirst; safety means security and protection from physical and emotional harm; social needs mainly include affection, belonging, acceptance and friendship; esteem consists of human beings’ internal esteem factors, for example, self-respect, autonomy and achievement, and external esteem factors, such as status, recognition and attention; self-actualization refers to growth and self-fulfilment (Robbins and Judge, 2007). Maslow believes that a lower level need must be satisfied before a higher one is expected (Robbins and Judge, 2007). That is the reason why it is called a hierarchy of needs. Maslow also states that the needs are all the same for all human beings (Robbins and Judge, 2007).

McClelland’s Theory of Needs was developed by David McClelland and published in The Achieving Society in 1961 (Ramlall, 2004, p. 54). It suggests that individuals are motivated based on three needs which are achievement, power and affiliation (Robbins and Judge, 2007). The need for achievement refers to the need to excel and succeed; the need for power means the need to control and coach other people and make them behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise; the need for affiliation refers to the desire to spend time in establishing and maintaining close interpersonal relationships with others (Buelens et al., 2006; Wood et al., 1994).

Herzberg’s two-factor Theory was put forward by Frederik Herzberg in 1966 (Wang, 2001; Wilson, 2004; Wood et al.,1994). This theory divides the factors which are related to work motivation into two clusters; motivator factors and hygiene factors; Herzberg claims that motivator factors...
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