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The maslow revival: maslow's hierarchy of needs as a motivational theory

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journal contribution
posted on 08.06.2017, 00:36 by Loh, Dawn, Wrathall, Jeff, Schapper, Jan
This aim of this study was to utilize Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory to understand state-enterprise employees' motivational needs in the PRC (People's Republic of China). The focus in the study addresses the validity of Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory when applied cross-culturally as well as the criticism that it is "culture bound". A qualitative inquiry of group interviews, semi-structured interviews and observation revealed that the PRC hierarchy of needs is differentiated from the original model advocated by Maslow even though it adheres to the three principles guiding Maslow's hierarchy of needs: the deficit, prepotent and progressive principles. A strong focus on the belonging needs for these PRC state employees reflects an instrumental relationship with their managers. The research found that the managers not only provide the subsidies at a physiological level, but are also involved in assessing their work performance implicitly. Thus, this relationship actually determined the safety, self-esteem and self-actualisation needs of the employees. The implications for these findings are that belonging needs category occurs after physiological needs in the Maslow hierarchy. Gauging from the analysis, Maslow's theory is deemed to be a useful motivational concept in this research. Caution, however must be exercised as the intrinsic nature of the theory is weak due to only partial support for its three principles and the too simple consideration towards the complex nature of motivational needs. Nevertheless, its ability to develop an explanation for PRC motivational needs established its position as a cross-cultural theory.


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Working paper series (Monash University. Department of Management).

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