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    ORGA.NIZATIO~NAL BEI tAV IOR A1N'D ttU~IA~2~ PERFORMANCE 4, 142-175 (1969)

    A n E m p ir ic a l T e s t o f a N e w T h e o r y o f H u m a n N e e d sCLAYTON P. ALDE~FER1

    Department o] Adminis trat ive Sciences , Yale Univers i ty

    This s tudy was concerned wi th deve loping and tes t ing an a l te rna t ive toM aslow' s theory and to a s imple f rus t ra t ion hyp othes is for the prob lem ofre la t ing need-sa t i s fac t ion to s t rength of des i res . The a l te rna t ive theory i sbased on a th ree-fold conceptualizat ion of hu m an needs: existence, re la ted-ness, and growth (E.R.G.) , I t does not assume lower- level sat isfaction asa prerequisite for the emergence of higher-order needs. It does includeproposit ions re la t ing the impact of higher-order f rustra t ion to the strengthof lower-order needs. Empirical tests of differential predictions amongMaslow's theory, the simple f rustra t ion hypothesis , and E.R.G. theorywere conducted by a questionnaire stud y with 110 em ploye es a t s evera ljob leve ls f rom a bank. The resul ts tended to suppor t E .R.G. theory morethan Maslow's theory or the simple f rustra t ion hypothesis .

    M a s l o w ' s ( 19 4 3, 1 95 4) h i e r a r c h i c a l t h e o r y o f m o t i v a t i o n h a s h a d am a j o r i n f lu e n c e o n t h e t h i n k i n g a n d r e s e a r c h o f m a n y w r i t e rs i n t h e f ie ldo f o r g a n i z a t i o n a l b e h a v i o r . I n A r g y r i s ' (1 9'6 4) w o r k o n t h e c o n f li c t b e -t w e e n t h e i n d i v i d u a l a n d t h e o r g a n i z a t i o n , th e c o n c e p t o f s e l f - a c t u a l i -z a t i o n p l a y e d a c e n t r a l ro le . M c G r e g o r ' s ( 19 6 0) f o r m u l a t i o n o f t h e n o wf a m o u s m a n a g e r i a l s t y l es , t h e o r y X a n d t h e o r y Y , r e l ie d h e a v i l y o n t h ei d ea t h a t h u m a n m o t i v e s w e r e a r r a n g e d i n a h i e r a r c h y o f p r e p o t e n c y .P o r t e r ( 19 6 2, 1 96 3) b a s e d h i s n a t i o n a l s u r v e y o f m a n a g e r i a l j o b a t t i -t u d e s o n M a s l o w ' s c o n c e p t u a l i z at i o n s . B e e r ( 19 6 6) a ls o u t i l i z e d M a s -l o w ' s c o n c e p t s f o r h i s e m p i r i c a l w o r k o n t h e r e la t i o n s h i p a m o n g e m -p l o y e e n ee d s , l e a d e r s h i p , a n d m o t i v a t i o n .

    I n a d d i t i o n , s e v e r a l w r i t e r s h a v e p r o p o s e d m o d i f i c a ti o n s o f M a s l o w ' s( 19 4 3, 1 9 5 4) o r i g i n a l f r a m e w o r k . O n e s u c h m o d i f i c a t io n w a s s u g g e s t e d( t h o u g h n o t e x p l ic i t ly s t a t e d a s s u c h ) b y M a s l o w ( 19 6 2) h i m s e l f w h e nh e w r o t e a b o u t d e fi c ie n c y a n d g r o w t h m o t i v a t i o n s . B a r n e s ( 19 6 0) p r o -

    1The wr i t e r wou ld l ike to tha nk Thom a s M . Lodha l , M a r t in G . Eva ns , B e n ja m inSchneider, J. l~ichard l=[ackman, D oug las T. H all, and Ch ris Argyrls fo r theirthoughtfu l and he lpful comments on an ear l ie r vers ion of th is paper and theGraduate School of Business and Public Administra t ion at Cornell for f inancialsupport for the study. Appreciat ion is a lso expressed to the management, s taff ,and em ploy ees f rom the organization where the stu dy was conducted for theirvery high degree of cooperation.142

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    A NEW THEORY OF HUMA N NEEDS 143posed a two-step hierarchy consisting of physiological needs at the baseand a higher level made up of self-esteem, esteem of others, and belong-ingness. Harrison (1966) also offered a modification consisting of twolevels, similar to that of Barnes. In his model, physiological-economicneeds were at the base. Upon satisfaction of these needs, then a higherlevel of social or ego needs would be sought.

    Clark (1960) produced a review of the literature organized aroundMaslow's original hierarchy. In that paper he pointed out the need fora direct empirical test of Maslow's theory. However, until the recentwork by Hall and Nougaim (1968), that theory has not been testedempirically in literature known to this writer.

    Hall and Nougaim (1968) designed a longitudinal study to test keypropositions in the Maslow theory. Using five annual interviews fromeach of 49 managers in A.T. & T., they developed operational definitionsto test Maslow's predictions by both static and change analyses. Theyreport some difficulty developing operational definitions for the Maslowsystem (1968, pp. 19, 30). Their results provide almost no support for theMaslow theory. Indeed, one aspect of their data which they do not dis-cuss at length was the ~endency for the satisfaction of a need to corre-late with the intensity of the need itself. This finding not only does notsupport Maslow's (1943, p. 393) dictum, % satisfied need is not a moti-vator," it seeems to contradict it. However, the finding might also bereviewed with questions about the adequacy of operational definitionswhen there were recognized difficulties with that part of the study. An-other interpretation would be that the finding is consistent with a two-step hierarchy, since there does appear to be somewhat more of, a tend-ency for higher order need satisfaction to correlate with need intensitythan for lower order need satisfaction to correlate with need intensity.2

    The basic problem to which Maslow's theory addresses itself mightbe stated as, "How does need satisfaction affect the strength of desires?"A very simple solution to this problem might be to say that. for anyneed, frustration results in increased desire, while satisfaction resultsin decreased desire2 ,~

    The writer is indebted to M. G. Evans for calling attention to this point.3For the purposes of the discussion in this paper frustration and satisfactionare used to refer to opposite ends of the same continuum. For other purposes,one might wish to distinguishbetween the two concepts more fully.Rosenzweig (1944, p. 380) has approached the same conceptual problem fromthe point of view of frustration theory. He made a distinction between primaryand secondary frustration. In his view "primary frustration involves the sheerexistence of an active need...Secondary frustration more strictly embraces thedefinition given above, emphasis being placed upon supervenient obstacles orobstructions in the path of the active need." In the present field study, where the

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    1 4 4 CLA Y TO N P . A LD ERF ER

    Th e s im p le f r u s t r a t i o n h y p o th e s i s r e q u i r e s n o s e t o f r e l a t i o n s h ip sa m o n g d i f f e r e n t t y p e s o f n e e d s , a s d o e s M a s l o w ' s h i e r a r c h y . N e i t h e rd o e s i t r e q u i r e a t h e o r y w h i c h t a k e s a s t a n d b y s p e c i f y i n g c a t e g o r i e s o fn e e d s , a s M a s lo w d o e s wh e n h e s u g g e s t s t h e f i v e n e e d c a t e g o r i e s o fp h y s io lo g i c a l , s a f e ty , l o v e , e s t e e m , a n d s e l f - a c tu a l i z a t i o n . W h i l e M a s lo wd i d n o t s a y s o e x p l i c i t l y , h i s t h e o r y m i g h t b e v i e w e d a s a n a l t e r n a t i v et o t h e s i m p l e r n o t i o n t h a t n e e d - s a t i s f a c t i o n r e d u c e s d e s i r e . B y s p e c i f y i n gt h e c o r e p r o b l e m w h i c h M a s l o w ' s t h e o r y a d d r e s s e s , o n e i s a b l e t o s e et h a t t h e r e a r e m a n y p o s s i b l e f r a m e w o r k s t o d e a l w i t h t h e s a m e q u e s t i o n .

    E . R . G . t h e o r y w a s d e v e l o p e d b y t h e w r i t e r b e c a u s e o f h i s i m p r e s s i o nt h a t a m o r e a d e q u a t e u n d e r s t a n d i n g c o u ld b e a c h i e v e d f o r t h e k i n d so f p h e n o m e n a t o w h i c h M a s l o w ' s t h e o r y w a s a d d r e s s e d . A n e a r l y t e s to f t h e t h e o r y s u g g e s t e d t h a t , wh i l e a l l o f i t s p r e d i c t i o n s we r e n o tc o n f i r m e d , i t d i d p r e s e n t a v i a b l e a l t e r n a t i v e t o M a s l o w ' s p o i n t o fv ie w (Al.der fe r, 1966) . A t the t ime o f th i s in i t i a l t e s t o f E .R .G.t h e o r y , t h e r e w e r e n o d i r e c t e m p i r i c a l t e st s o f M a s l o w ' s w o r k k n o w nt o t h e w r i t e r. H o w e v e r , i n t h e m e a n t i m e , H a l l a n d N o u g a i m ( 19 6 8)h a v e r e p o r t e d t h e i r r e s u l t s w h i c h t e n d e d n o t t o s u p p o r t M a s l o w ' s v i e w s .

    C o n a n t (1 94 7, p . 3 6 ) h a s c o m m e n te d , d u r in g hi s r e v i e w o f t h e h i s to r yo f p h y s i c a l s c i e n c e , t h a t c o n t r a d i c to r y f a c t s a r e g e n e r a l l y n o t a s u f f i -c i e n t r e a s o n f o r t h e a b a n d o n m e n t o f a p a r t i c u l a r t h e o r y . A n e w t h e o r yn e e d s t o b e p r e s e n t i n a d d i t i o n t o f a c t s c o n t r a r y t o t h e o l d o n e . I t i sp r o b a b l y a ls o a f a i r s t a t e m e n t t o s a y t h a t n o t h e o r y is e v e r fi na l o rf u l l y c o m p r e h e n s i v e . C e r t a i n l y t h a t i s t r u e o f E . R . G . t h e o r y , b a s e d u p o nth e i n i t i a l r e s u l t s o f e m p i r i c a l