Organisational Behaviour As The Analysis Of People

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McShane & Travaglione (2007), teach that organisational behaviour is the analysis of what people do, think and feel, in and around organisations. Organisations have been described by the same authors as "… groups of people who work independently towards some purpose" (p. 5).

Wood, J.M., Zeffane, R., Fromholtz, M. & Fitzgerald, J.A. (2006) claim that organisational behaviour has strong ties to other social and behavioural sciences including psychology, sociology, economics and politics. Wood et. al. suggest that:

Organisational behaviour is not a static discipline… the study of organisational behaviour is improving our understanding of old and new concepts alike; such issues as stress, emotional intelligence and instinctive drive (p. 5).

A study of Organisational Behaviour can include such topics as group structure, behaviour of leaders and the power they can use, communication between individuals, the structure of groups, the development of attitudes and perceptions, the processes of change, job design, conflict management, and work stressors (ACAP, 2009)


Robbins, Millett, Waters-Marsh (2004) describe Maslow's hypotheses as stating that within every human being there exists a hierarchy of five basic needs. Maslow's theory states that as each need becomes substantially satisfied, the next need then becomes the dominant motivator for that person (p 164).

McShane and Travaglione (2007) explain "needs" as "…deficiencies that energise or trigger behaviours to satisfy those needs…the stronger your needs, the more motivated you are to satisfy them. Conversely, a satisfied need does not motivate" (p. 138).

Maslow's five needs can be basically summarised in order from the most basic to the highest as:-

Physiological: Maslow's hypothesis states that every human has a basic need to satisfy hunger, thirst, shelter, sex and other basic bodily needs, such as air, water, nourishment and sleep.

Safety: Once the physiological needs are met, every human then seeks security and protection from physical and emotional harm. This need for security will be manifested in a person's desire to live in a safe area, have adequate medical insurance, enjoy relative job security and to have sufficient financial reserves to meet ordinary living expenses.

Social: Further strong needs which arise can be identified as centering on a person's need for affection, belongingness, acceptance and friendship; to give and to receive love.

Esteem: High on the scale of Maslow's hierarchy of needs are the human desires for autonomy, self-respect, reputation and achievement; and external esteem factors such as status, recognition and attention.

Self-actualisation: The highest need according to Maslow is the drive to become what one is capable of becoming. Self-actualisation includes personal growth, achieving one's potential and self-fulfillment. Self-actualised people have great need to reach out for justice, truth, wisdom and meaning in life. (Robbins et al, 2004).

According to the Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" theory, as each need becomes satisfied the next need becomes more dominant. For example, if Maslow's theory is correct, if a person feels threatened with harm in any form, their higher needs will not receive so much attention.

Maslow further separated the five needs he identified, into lower-order needs and higher-order needs. Maslow suggests that the lower-order needs relate to those things involving our physiology and safety, whilst the higher-order needs relate to social, esteem and self-actualisation issues (Robbins et al, 2004).

According to Maslow's theory, an individual will be motivated to move up the steps of the hierarchy as each successive need is met. For example, once a person's physiological needs are being substantially met, that person will tend to be no longer motivated to purely meet those needs, but rather will strive to fulfill their inner drive for safety, security and protection from physical and emotional harm. Further, according to Maslow's theory, once these two lower-order needs are substantially met, an individual will then become motivated to fulfill their inner longing for friendship, acceptance, affection and a sense of belongingness, and so on up the "steps of the hierarchy". For this theory to be a workable motivational model, managers need to be able to identify what is the most pressing need in the life of each individual in the organisation. In other words, according to Maslow, if a manager wishes to motivate anyone, they will need to understand what particular level of the hierarchy steps that person occupies at any given time, and focus on satisfying that individual's needs at or above that level.


If Maslow's theory was consistent, then there appears to be a great opportunity to motivate individuals in the workplace in numerous ways. For example, a workplace might provide for:

Physiological needs: By creating time for lunch breaks, rest breaks, and providing wages sufficient to secure essentials such as food, shelter and clothing.

Safety needs: By providing all employees with safe working conditions, retirement benefits and job security.

Social needs: By creating a sense of community and belonging through creating team based projects and organising and encouraging social events.

Esteem needs: By recognising achievements so that employees feel appreciated and valued. Offering job titles can also convey recognition through "position" or rank within the workplace.

Self-actualisation: By providing employees with the challenge and the opportunity to reach their full career potential (Business Knowledge Centre, 2007).

According to Robbins et al (2004):

…Maslow's need theory has received wide recognition, particularly among practicing managers. This can be attributed to the theories intuitive logic and ease of understanding. Unfortunately however, research does not necessarily validate [Maslow's] theory. Maslow provided no empirical substantiation, and several studies that sought to validate [his] theory have found no support for it (p.165)


It would appear that whilst Maslow's hierarchy makes intuitive sense, there appears to be little evidence to support his theory as fact. Not all individuals are motivated in the formal way that Maslow suggests. It is suggested that there is little evidence that implies that people are indeed motivated to fulfill only a single need at a time as they apparently move up Maslow's ladder of "needs" hierarchy. It has been concluded that whilst Maslow's theory lacks scientific support, his theory only remains popular because of its intuitive appeal, and the fact that the theory is well known and is often the first theory of motivation a person may become exposed to (Business Knowledge Centre, 2007).


Herzberg's "motivation-hygiene theory," (sometimes also known as the two factor theory), appears to rank among the simpler of motivational theories available to business management today. According to Bassett-Jones & Lloyd (2005), "Herzberg and his collaborators published "The Motivation to Work" in 1959, proposing two factors influencing motivation at work - hygiene factors that de-motivate when they are inappropriate, and motivators that sustain effort" (p 5).

Robbins et. al. suggest that Herzberg's belief was that people have a relationship to work which is basic and that an individual's attitude toward work appears to often determine their success or failure within the work place. In order to test his theory, Herzberg investigated the question, 'What do people want from their jobs?' Using a survey incorporating a dozen or more separate factors, he asked people to describe, in detail, situations where they felt especially good or bad about their employment. He then tabulated and categorized the results (2004).

Herzberg concluded that the replies individuals gave when they were feeling good about their employment were different to those replies supplied when people were feeling bad about their jobs. The results of Herzberg's surveys reveal that those who felt satisfied with their employment attributed their feelings to intrinsic factors like recognition, the opportunity to take responsibility, personal achievement and the prospect of job advancement. In the main, those who identified with these factors credited these feelings to themselves (Robbins et. al. 2004).

On the other hand Herzberg found that those who were dissatisfied with their employment tended to blame extrinsic factors such as frustration with company policy or administration, workplace supervision, rates of remuneration and working conditions (Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005).

What Herzberg's data does suggest however, is that contrary to popular belief, removing those things which people find dissatisfying about their employment does not necessarily make for more satisfied employees. In other words, the opposite of 'Satisfaction' is 'No Satisfaction' and the opposite of 'Dissatisfaction' is 'No Dissatisfaction'. What this means, Herzberg concluded, is that those factors which generate job satisfaction are distinct and separate from those factors which might determine a person's dissatisfaction with their employment. It is also suggested therefore that managers who attempt to eliminate those factors which create dissatisfaction do not necessarily create an environment where people feel motivated to work. Simply placating the workforce by "hygienically" removing adverse factors is not, in itself, sufficient to raise levels of individual or collective motivation (Robbins 2004).

Interestingly, Herzberg's studies tend to reveal a dual continuum that shows that when things are running smooth in a person's life and they are satisfied with their employment, they tend to take the credit themselves for that situation. On the other hand, people tend to blame their dissatisfaction on their external environment, i.e. extrinsic factors. However, when such factors as work supervision, rates of pay, company policies, physical working conditions, relations with others, and job security are "cleaned up" (i.e. the 'hygiene' factor) or made more adequate, people can still tend to be neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Herzberg suggested that the things employees find intrinsically rewarding are promotional opportunities, opportunities for personal growth, recognition, responsibility and achievement (Robbins 2004).


Obviously "cleaning up" a work place or management factors which people find de-motivating or unsatisfying will be seen as a positive thing. Removing negative factors in the work place environment must go some way toward providing a more satisfying and perhaps even safer and more secure employment environment. Others have built on Herzberg's findings, and have identified core job characteristics that have the capacity to produce, under the right conditions, employees that are more motivated and satisfied (ACAP, 2009b).


Herzberg's theory assumes a tangible, perhaps even measurable relationship between overall satisfaction and personal productivity. As such, Herzberg's research methodology concentrated on the subject's satisfaction levels more than on their productivity output. Therefore to make Herzberg's "hygiene theory" relevant, one must assume a strong correlation between a person's satisfaction and their general productivity. It is now however, generally accepted that "the two factor" theory does not adequately take into account situational variables which may be present in each individual's life. Each situational variable has the capacity to contaminate the conclusions a manager might come to, should they rely on Herzberg's motivational theory in their desire to correctly motivate their employees (Robbins et. al, 2004).


The two motivational theories discussed in this paper appear to contain significant areas of deficiency. Though both theories have been around for an extended period of time and are therefore well known by management teams everywhere, unfortunately neither theory holds up well under close examination. Maslow's theory is useful in identifying various areas where a workplace might provide many positive areas and opportunities for personal advancement; however those factors alone appear not to be sufficient in many cases to motivate individuals toward higher and more efficient productivity. Herzberg's theory is likewise useful in being able to identify areas of potential improvement in any environment where "un-hygienic" situations might create feelings of negativity and de-motivation in either individuals or groups. However, just as Moslow's theory does not necessarily point to uncontaminated gradations from step one to step five in each or any individual, Herzberg's theory also falls short in the modern workplace in that the relationship between personal satisfaction and healthy motivation in the workplace is not always evident (Robbins 2004).