Basic approaches that have evolved over time to improve productivity

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Explanation of the Model (2 of 2)

In discussing the preponderance of one category of need over another, we have been careful to speak in such terms as "if one level of needs has been somewhat gratified, then other needs emerge as dominant."

This was done because we did not want to give the impression that one level of needs has to be completely satisfied before the next level emerges as the most important.

In reality, most people in western society tend to be partially satisfied at each level and partially unsatisfied, with greater satisfaction tending to occur at the physiological and safety levels than at the social, esteem, and self-actualization levels.

For example, people in an emerging society, where much of the behavior engaged in tends to be directed toward satisfying physiological and safety needs, still operate to some extent at other levels. Therefore, Maslow's hierarchy of needs is not intended to be an all-or-none framework, but rather one that may be useful in predicting behavior on a high or a low probability basis.

Figure 6 attempts to portray how people in an emerging nation may be categorized.

maslow: hierarchy of needs (6)Many people in western society today might be characterized by very strong social or affiliation needs, relatively strong esteem and safety needs, with self actualization and physiological needs somewhat less important, as shown in Figure 7 (available in the PDF version.)

Some people, however, can be characterized as having satisfied to a large extent the physiological, safety, and social needs, and their behavior tends to be dominated by esteem and self-actualizing activities, as shown in Figure 8 (available in the PDF version.)

This will tend to become more characteristic if standards of living and levels of education continue to rise.

These are intended only as examples. For different individuals, varying configurations may be appropriate. In reality, they would fluctuate tremendously from one individual, group or society to another and from one period of time to another.

Levels of existence

Clare W. Graves 1 has developed a theory that seems to be compatible with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Graves contended that human beings exist at different 'levels of existence.' "At any given level, an individual exhibits the behavior and values characteristic of people at that level, a person who is centralized at a lower level cannot even understand people at another level."

According to Grave's, "Most people have been confined to lower (subsistence) levels of existence where they were motivated by needs shared with other animals. Now, Western man appears ready to move up to a higher (being) level of existence, a distinctly human level. When this happens there will likely be a dramatic transformation of human institutions."

We don't know about any dramatic transformation, it appears the struggle for survival, to attain the basic physiological needs, is still all too evident, even in Western society.

A model to understand our needs?

We have offered here a model for understanding our own, and therefore by implication the needs of others. If we can understand the model, relate to our own needs, as we go through life and at particular key moments and stages, we perhaps can better understand the needs of those around us.

In order to develop this understanding further we need to examine what other researchers have to say about some of the motives and incentives that tend to satisfy the needs we have discussed.

1 Clare W. Graves 'Human nature prepares for a momentous leap' The Futurist, April 1974.