Psychological Need-Based Models of Motivation

Generalized cognitive models of the motivation process, as reviewed by Steers and Porter (1995), can be characterized by three basic common denominators. Motivation is primarily concerned with:

◆ how these behaviors are sustained or altered. The first component concentrates on those needs, drives, or expectations within individuals or work settings that trigger certain behaviors, whereas the second component emphasizes the goals and visions of the individuals and groups toward which the energized behaviors are directed.

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The last component of any motivational model has to deal with feedback, focusing on those forces within individuals or their work environments that can either reinforce and intensify the energy and direction of desired behaviors or shift them to another course of action, thereby redirecting their efforts.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs Arguably one of the most venerable models of motivation, Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of needs theory claims that within every individual there exists a hierarchy of five classes of needs:

  1. Physiological: These involve bodily needs such as hunger, shelter.
  2. Safety: These include one’s needs for security and protection from physical and and emotional harm. 3. Social: These include one’s needs for affection and a sense of belonging and acceptance.
  3. Self-esteem: These include one’s internal needs for self-respect, autonomy, and achievement, as well as one’s external needs for status and recognition.
  4. Self-actualization: This involves the need for self-fulfillment, to grow and achieve one’s full potential. Based on the hierarchical nature of this model, as each class of needs becomes more satisfied, the next class of needs in the hierarchy becomes more dominant. Maslow separated the five classes of needs into lower (physiological and safety) and higher (social, self-esteem, and self-actualization) orders.

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He then suggested that lower-order needs are satisfied externally through wages, bonuses, job security, and the like, while higher-order needs are satisfied internally through the individual’s own sense of personal growth and development. Since satisfied needs no longer motivate, individuals tend to move up the hierarchy as their lower-order needs are met. (One can of course move down the hierarchy as lower needs, such as job security, become threatened.) The managerial implications of this motivational model are rather straightforward.

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RD&E settings should be organized and led to satisfy the higherorder needs of their technical professionals.

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To be strongly motivated, technologists need to feel that their jobs are both important and meaningful and that their contributions are truly valued by their organizations, their professions, and even by society. Nevertheless, many organizations still have trouble providing job experiences that consistently give their professional employees the opportunities for the growth and achievement they desire.

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