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The starting point of Abraham Maslow's hierarchy theory is that most people are motivated by the desire to satisfy specific groups of needs while McGregor formulated this Theory X and Theory Y describing the key assumptions about human nature. This essay will give the reader an over view of what Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor theory is and the comparison between each theory.
Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1. 1908 - June 8. 1970) was a professor of psychology at Brandeis University who founded humanistic psychology and created Maslow hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" and his subsequent book, Motivation and Personality. He studied human motivation from the 1940's until his death in 1920. Motivation is the term used to describe processes both instinctive and rational by which people seek to satisfy basic drives, perceive needs and personal goals which trigger human behavior. Douglas McGregor (1906 - 1964) is one of the forefathers of management theory and one of the top business thinkers of all time. He was a social psychologist who became the President of Antioch College. He later became a professor of management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His book The Human Side of Enterprise (1960) had a profound influence on the management field, largely due to his Theory X and Theory Y. Douglas McGregor studies leadership which is a dynamic process in a group whereby one individual influences others to contribute voluntarily to the achievement of group tasks in a given situation.
Abraham Maslow hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other needs. He based his theory of human needs on creative people who used all their talents, potential, and capabilities, unlike other researchers in the early days of psychology who mainly observed mentally unhealthy people. Abraham Maslow (1970) felt that human needs were arranged in a hierarchical order in the form of a pyramid to show that the basic needs must be met before the higher order needs. His hierarchy of needs explains motivation and behavior as a result of different fundamental needs that drives individuals. He said that people must be motivated to undertake action. He assumed that all humans have an inner core based on the sum of an individual's feelings, emotions, desires, needs and wants. He classified this sum into five groups calling it the Hierarchy of Needs. These needs are physiological needs, safety needs, and belongingness of love needs, esteem needs and the need to self-actualize.
Physiological needs include the most basic needs that are vital to survival, such as the need for water, air, food and sleep. Maslow believed that these needs are the most basic and instinctive needs in the hierarchy because all needs become secondary until these physiological needs are met. Safety needs is the need for safety and security. Security needs are important for survival, but they are not as demanding as the physiological needs. Examples of security needs include a desire for steady employment, health insurance, safe neighborhoods and shelter from the environment. Belongingness of love includes needs for belonging, love and affection. Maslow considered these needs to be less basic than physiological and security needs. Relationships such as friendships, romantic attachments and families help fulfill this need for companionship and acceptance, as doe's involvement in social, community or religious groups. After the first three needs have been satisfied, esteem needs becomes increasingly important. These include the need for things that reflect on self-esteem, personal worth, social recognition and accomplishment. Self actualizing is the highest level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. People are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others and interested in fulfilling their potential.
Maslow emphasized that people are forever striving to meet certain goals. Since the lower needs are more immediate, then they become the source and direction of a person's goal if they are not satisfied. However, when the lower needs are satisfied then a higher need in the hierarchy will be pursued. If the lower need is unsatisfied this will dominate unsatisfied higher needs and these must be met before climbing up the hierarchy. It is to be noted that almost no one stays in one particular hierarchy for an extended period. Humans constantly strive to move up; however, various forces outside their control try to push them down. Those on top get set back for a short period of time; say the death of a loved-one. Those at the bottom get pushed up; say they come across a small prize, example winning the lotto. Maslow encourages leaders to help people obtain the skills and knowledge they need to push them up the hierarchy on a more permanent basis. People who have their basic needs fulfill become much better workers because they are able to concentrate on fulfilling the visions put forth to them, rather than consistently struggling to make ends meet.
In Maslow's (1971) later years, he become more interested in the higher order and tried to further distinguish them. Maslow theorized that the ultimate goal of life is self-actualization, which is almost never fully attained but rather is something people try to always strive for. He later theorized that this level does not stop; it goes on to self-transcendence, which carries people to the spiritual level. Maslow self-transcendence level recognizes the human need for ethics, creativity, compassion and spirituality. Without this spiritual or transgenic sense, we are simply animals or machines. Maslow's theory has often been criticized because there can be found exceptions to it, such as military, police, firefighters, etc. who will risk their safety for the well-being of others or parents who will sacrifice their basic needs for their children. However there are very few theories that are not flawed.
Douglas McGregor, the American psychologists studies leadership styles. After his study he place managers into two groups, Theory X and Theory Y based on Abraham Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. He said that managers operate from their personal view of how employees functions. He therefore related Theory X managers to lower order needs in the hierarchy and Theory Y managers to higher order needs.
Douglas McGregor theorized that Theory X managers assume that people are intrinsically lazy, take no responsibility, are incapable of self-discipline and only want security. He further states that this set of people must be controlled and threatened before they will work, therefore only the autocratic leadership style will work. There is a saying that people only work when their employers have a big stick over their backs. Well, this describes Theory X managers.
He goes further to theorize that Theory Y managers assume that people like their work and will work. They are intrinsically motivated, meaning they feel a level of internal satisfaction when they perform their work duties. They have self-control and do seek responsibility. They do not wait for duties to be assigned to them, they take the initiative. They can be consulted because they are emotionally mature, positively motivated towards their work, and see their own position in the management hierarchy. Also, the managers will find that the participative approach to solving problems and making decision leads to far better results than authoritarian orders from above.
Douglas McGregor theorized that managers can use either theories, Theory X or Theory Y to motivate employees whether they are intrinsically lazy or intrinsically motivated. However, managers who apply Theory Y would gain better results than managers who apply Theory X because Theory X appeals to higher level needs. Although Theory Y leadership style assumed that people are intrinsically motivated, this leadership is not always the better leadership style. The leadership style depends on the manager's preference for the style, their past experience, their inner drives, organizational context, the environment and the job at hand.
Douglas McGregor Theory X and theory Y are still referred to commonly in the field of management and motivation, and even though more recent studies have questioned the rigidity of the model, McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y remains a valid basic principle from which to develop positive management style and techniques. McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y remain central to organizational development, and to improving organizational culture. McGregor's theory is a salutary and simple reminder of the natural rules for managing people, which under the pressure of day-to-day business are all too easily forgotten.
Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs identifies five levels of needs which persons aspire to attain with the right motivation. Douglas McGregor's Theory X speaks to persons who are at levels one and two of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, while, Theory Y speaks to persons who have advanced to levels three, four and five in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow says that employees need to be motivated to improve performance at work. Hence, managers have to be good leaders to get satisfying results from employee. Douglas McGregor agrees with Maslow. In his two theories he looks at persons personalities towards work here again managers need to be good leaders if they want to get satisfying results from employees. Therefore, if Theory X works for a particular manager then he can use it, and if Theory y works for another manager then he also can use it. Different managers use different styles to obtain maximum results