Clayton Alderfer has proposed an alternative hierarchy of needs – called the ERG Theory of Motivation. The letters E, R and G stand for Existence, Relatedness and Growth.
The below diagram shows ERG theory
The existence needs in this theory refers to the physiological and security needs of Maslow. Relatedness needs refers to belongingness and esteem needs. Growth needs refers to both self-esteem and self-actualization needs.
Although ERG Theory assumes that motivated behavior follows a hierarchy in somewhat the same fashion as suggested by Maslow, there are two important differences.
Firstly, ERG theory suggests that more than one kind of need might motivate a person at the same time. For example, it allows for the possibility that people can be motivated by a desire for money (existence); friendship (relatedness), and an opportunity to learn new skills (growth) all at the same time.
Secondly, ERG theory has an element of frustrations-regression that is missing from Maslow’s need hierarchy. Maslow maintained that one heed must be satisfied before an individual can progress to needs at a higher level, for example, from security needs to belongingness. This is termed as satisfaction—progression process. Although the ERG theory includes this process, it also suggests that if needs remain unsatisfied at some higher level, the individual will become frustrated, regress to a lower level and will begin to pursue low level needs again. For” example, a worker previously motivated by money (existence needs) is awarded a pay rise to satisfy this needs. Then he attempts to establish more friendship to satisfy relatedness needs. If for some reason an employee finds that it is impossible to become better friends with others in the work place, he may eventually become frustrated and regress to being motivated to earn even more money. This is termed as ‘frustration-regression’ process.
The ERG theory emphasis on the following key points regarding needs:
- Some needs may be more important than others.
- People may change their behavior after any particular set of needs has been satisfied.