Hierarchy Theory of Motivation formulated by Maslow!

This theory is given by Abraham Maslow, a well known psychologist. This theory is based on human needs. Needs are those desires, wants or urges of individuals which influence their behaviour. Feeling of a need motivates an individual to take steps for its fulfillment.

Types of Needs:

Maslow has explained his theory as a hierarchy of following five needs:


1. Physiological Needs:

These are the basic needs which a person is required to satisfy first of all in order to survive in life. These include need for food, shelter, water, clothing’s and other necessities of life. As these needs are concerned with the sheer survival, they are at the base in the hierarchy of needs.

2. Safety and Security Needs:

These needs arise after the satisfaction of physiological needs.


These are concerned with following:

(a) Physical security i.e. protection against fire, accidents, crime and other types of physical dangers

(b) Economic security i.e. professional satisfaction be it business or service.

(c) Social security i.e. provision for old age, retirement, major illness, partial or total disability etc.


3. Affiliation Needs/ Belonging Needs:

These are related to the natural desire to socialize or interact with others. In other words, these are needs for belongingness, friendship, love, affection, attention and social acceptance. Such needs come at the third place In the hierarchy of needs. Once the people get their physiological and safety needs satisfied, the affiliation needs become more active.

4. Esteem Needs:

These needs are of two types:


(i) The need for a positive self-image and self respect and

(ii) The need for recognition and respect from others. These needs, when fulfilled, enhance self confidence and prestige of employees.

5. Self-actualization Needs:

These needs are the highest level need in the hierarchy of needs. These needs arise after the satisfaction of all previous needs i.e. physiological needs, safety and security needs, affiliation needs and esteem needs. These are needs of growing according to one’s potential. These relate to the desire for personal achievement as and to become what one thinks oneself to be capable of.



Maslow’s theory is based on following assumptions:

(a) Based on Human Behaviour:

Needs are the basis of human behaviour. Thus, employees’ behaviour is influenced by the satisfaction of such needs.

(b) Needs are in Hierarchical Order:


The needs of the people are in a hierarchical order, starting from basic needs to the self actualization needs.

(c) Next Higher Level Need Motivates:

Usually, the next higher level need motivates an individual and not a satisfied need.

(d) Shifting to Next Higher Level after Satisfaction of Lower Need:


An individual shifts to the next higher level of the hierarchy only when his lower needs are satisfied. {In reality however, this particular assumption may not be true at all}.

Merits of Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory:

1. The theory is concised and informative.

2. The theory has gained wide acceptance in the organisational structure,

3. The theory emphasises that the manager must be sensitive to the needs of subordinates.