Maslow

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ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR AND HUMAN PERFORMANCE

15, 212-240 (1976)

Maslow Reconsidered: A Review of Research on the Need Hierarchy Theory
MAHMOUD A . WAHBA AND LAWRENCE G. BRIDWELL

Baruch College, The City University of New York
The uncritical acceptance of Maslow 's need hierarchy theory despite the lack of empirical evidence is discussed and the need for a review of recent empirical evidence is emphasized. A review of ten factor-analytic and three ranking studies testing Maslow 's theory showed only partial support for the concept of need hierarchy. A large number of cross-sectional studies showed no clear evidence for Maslow 's deprivation/domination proposition except with regard to self-actualization. Longitudinal studies testing Maslow 's gratification/activation proposition showed no support, and the limited support received from cross-sectional studies is questionable due to numerous measurement problems. The difficulties with testing the theory are discussed and the conceptual, methodological, and measurement problems of the studies reviewed are detailed. The implications of the findings and future directions for research are outlined.

I. PURPOSE AND BACKGROUND Maslow 's need hierarchy theory (1943, 1954, 1970) presents the student of work motivation with an interesting paradox: The theory is widely accepted, but there is little research evidence to support it. Since Maslow first published his theory 30 years ago, it has become one of the most popular theories of motivation in the management and organizational behavior literature. The theory has influenced the writings of many prominent authors in the field of management and organizational behavior (e.g., Davis, 1946; Viteles, 1953; Leavitt, 1964; McGregor, 1960; Argyris, 1964; Schein, 1965). Furthermore, the theory has provided an a priori conceptual framework to explain diverse research findings (Miner & Dachler, 1973). Such widespread acceptance of the Need Hierarchy Theory is rather



References: Alderfer, C. P. An empirical test of a new theory of human needs. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 1969, 4, 142-175. Alderfer, C. P. Existenee, relatedness, and growth. New York: The Free Press, 1972.

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