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Maslow’s Theory of Motivation: Merits and Criticisms

Merits of Maslow’s Theory of Motivation:

Maslow theory has been widely appreciated due to following reasons:

(i) Maslow’s theory of motivation helps the managers in understanding how to motivate the employers.

(ii) Maslow’s theory of motivation theory is very simple, common and easily understandable.

(iii) It accounts for both inter-personal and intra-personal variations in human behaviour.

(iv) Maslow’s theory of motivation theory is dynamic because it presents motivation as a changing force; changing from one level of needs to the other.

Criticisms of Maslow’s Theory of Motivation:

Despite the appreciation for this theory, it has been criticised by many on the following grounds:

1. Researchers have proved that there is lack of hierarchical structure of needs as suggested by Maslow, though every individual has some ordering for his need satisfaction.

Some people may be deprived of their lower level needs but may still strive for self actualisation needs. The example of MAHATMA GANDHI is one of the most important. There are always some people to whom, the need for self-esteem is more prominent than social needs.

2. Another problem is that there is a lack of direct cause and effect relationship between need and behaviour. One particular need may cause a different type of behaviour in different persons. On the other hand, as a particular individual behaviour may be due to the result of different needs. Thus, need hierarchy is not as simple as it appears to be.

3. Need and satisfaction of needs is a psychological feeling. Sometimes even the person may not be aware of his own needs. How can the managers come to know about these needs?

4. Some people say that hierarchy of need simply does not exist. At all levels needs are present at given time. An individual motivated by self actualization needs cannot afford to forget his food. But this criticism is solved by Maslow by saying that needs are interdependent and overlapping.

5. Another problem with Maslow’s theory of motivation is the operationalisation of some of his concepts which make it difficult for the researchers to test his theory. For instance, how does one measure self-actualisation?

Despite its drawbacks, Maslow’s theory offers managers a good handle on understanding the motives or needs of individuals and how to motivate organisational members.

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