Want to Know About Theories of Motivation

Thories of Motivation

by Shamsul
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The Acquired Needs Theory by David McClelland (1961) 

Theories of Motivation

According to McClelland (1961), an individual has a natural tendency to satisfy three needs: achievement, power, and affiliation. As a result, when he strongly feels one of these needs, the impact will be to push that person pushing behavior to be satisfied. Nevertheless, the founder of this theory emphasizes over the need for accomplishment that he considers (along with that of power) as a higher need and recommends measuring it in the individual using a thematic apperception test (TAT) (McClelland & Boyatzis, 1982). McClelland has established that an individual’s motivation is proportional to the power of the individual’s desire to either achieve something as per the model of excellence or overcome competitors. Notably, the needs analysis of McClelland indicates that his higher needs match Herzberg’s motivators, and the former’s (so-called lower) need for affiliation is identified with the second’s hygiene factors. Conversely, the theory of motivation by accomplishment has the merit of having tried to originate the individuals’ needs. Indeed, for McClelland, needs are stored in the preconscious, in the so-called daydreaming region. 


The three dominant needs identified by McClelland are:

✔️ The need for achievement. Those whose overpowering motivator is the need for success tend to set and achieve challenging goals. These people are great at calculating risks and achieving set goals. Additionally, they prefer receiving continuous feedback over their development and success. Working alone is their other preference. This refers to having a glance over the performance and challenging goals of the employees. There are two types of employees, one with a higher achievement level and one who prefers avoiding low-risk situations. These employees are willing to work on a project with a moderate probability of success compared to those with low levels of achievement. Employees with higher motivational needs will improve from the feedback from managers and supervisors (Mc Clelland, 1975).

✔️ The need for affiliation. Those individuals’ dominant motivators in need for affiliation are regarded as the willingness of a person to be associated with a group. For such people, the aspect of collaboration is a lot more important than that of competition. They are not very much towards taking challenges that come out with higher level risks and are encircled with uncertainty. Additionally, these people are willing to get appreciated and, most of the time, agree with what others are willing to do. Those employees prefer associating with groups and are comfortable with many people around them. They have a high need for affiliation. Since they feel accepted by society, they perform better in their jobs which involve high interaction with clients, as is the case of banks (Mc Clelland, 1975).

✔️ The need for power. People who need power is the dominant motivator who want to control or influence others. They love competition and wins. In addition, they appreciate having status and being recognized. In a bank, this relates to controlling and influencing other people and is exercised mainly by supervisors or top-level managers (Mc Clelland, 1975).

Source: David McClelland (1961)

Robbins et al. (2009) criticized Mc Clelland’s theory by stating that it imposes a less practical impact than other theories, as the author argued that the three needs are subconscious, which means that an individual may be high on these needs without being aware. Hence, measuring this may not be very easy.

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