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Motivating Organizational Members

Alderfer's ERG Theory of Motivation

The Definition and Role of Motivation
Motivating Your Members
Motivating Guide
Motivational Theories


Alderfer's ERG Theory of Motivation


. Clayton Alderfer reworked Maslow's Need Hierarchy to align it more closely with empirical research. Alderfer's theory is called the ERG theory -- Existence, Relatedness, and Growth.
  • Existence refers to our concern with basic material existence requirements; what Maslow called physiological and safety needs.
  • Relatedness refers to the desire we have for maintaining interpersonal relationships; similar to Maslow's social/love need, and the external component of his esteem need.
  • Growth refers to an intrinsic desire for personal development; the intrinsic component of Maslow's esteem need, and self-actualization
. Alderfer's ERG theory differs from Maslow's Need Hierarchy insofar as ERG theory demonstrates that more than one need may be operative at the same time. ERG theory does not assume a rigid hierarchy where a lower need must be substantially satisfied before one can move on.

Alderfer also deals with frustration-regression. That is, if a higher-order need is frustrated, an individual then seeks to increase the satisfaction of a lower-order need.

This is consistent with Douglas MacGregor's observations in explaining his Theory X/Theory Y dichotomy: the inability to satisfy a need for social interaction might increase the desire for more money or better working conditions. ERG theory also accounts for differences in need preferences between cultures better than Maslow's Need Hierarchy.

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