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McClelland’s Psycho Theory

Another motivational model stressing higher-level needs is that or David McClelland who described people in terms of three needs: Power, Achievement, and Affiliation. These are discussed below:

(i)    Need for Power (npow). The need for power is expressed as a desired to influence others. In relation to Maslow’s hierarchy, power would fall somewhere between the needs for esteem and self-actualization. People with a need for power tend to exhibit behaviors such as out-spoken, forceful, willing to engage in confrontation, and a tendency to stand by their original position. They often are persuasive speakers and demand a great deal from others. Management often attracts people with a need for power because of the many opportunities it offers to exercise and increase power. Managers who are motivated by the need for power are not necessarily “power hungry” in the sense in which the expression is often used.

(ii)    Need for Achievement (nAch). The need for achievement would fall between the needs for esteem and self-actualization given by Maslow. This need is satisfied not by the manifestations of success, which confer status, but with the process of carrying work to its successful completion

Individuals with a high need for achievement generally will take moderate risks, like situations in which they can take personal responsibility for finding solutions to problem, and want concrete feedback on their performance. As McClelland points out. “No matter how high a person’s need to achieve may be, he cannot succeed if he has no opportunities, if the organization keeps him away from taking initiative, or does not reward him if he does.” Thus, if management wishes to motivate individuals operating on the achievement level, it should assign them tasks that involve a moderate degree of risk of failure, delegate to them enough authority, allow them to take initiative in completing their tasks, and give them periodic, specific feedback on their performance.

(iii)    Need for Affiliation (nAff). McClelland’s affinitive motive is similar to Maslow’s social need. The person is concerned with forming friendly relations with others, desire for companionship, and desire to help others. People dominated by the affinitive need would be attracted to jobs that allow considerable social interactions. Managers of such individuals should create a climate that does not constrain interpersonal relations. A manager could also facilitate their need satisfaction by spending more time with such individuals and periodically bringing them together as a group.

McClelland’s theory and research have significant implications for managers. If the motives of employees can be accurately measured, management can improve the selection and placement processes. For example, an employee with a high need for achievement may be placed in a position that would enable him to achieve. This would result in higher performance. Need for achievement is the most crucial to a nation’s economic progress as it contributes to entrepreneurial success.

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