Sunday, December 8, 2013

ERG Theory

In the last byte, we looked at who McGregor’s' Theory X and Theory Y was built on the work of Maslow - Hierarchy of Need. In today's byte, we look at ERG Theory and attempt to understand it.

The ERG Theory was proposed by Clayton Alderfer, by reorganizing Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory. He classified Maslow's Physiological and Physical Safety needs in an "existence" needs category. Moving further, the interpersonal safety, love and interpersonal esteem needs were classified into "Relatedness" need. Maslow's self-actualization and self-esteem needs were classified into "growth" needs category.  This reclassification of Maslow's Need Hierarchy theory as Existence, Relatedness and Growth gets this theory its name - ERG Theory. We could look at the mapping of Maslow's hierarchy to ERG theory as shown below.

While the Maslow's theory explains the progression of how a person moves towards higher order needs, it doesn’t explain scenarios where one is frustrated due to one's inability to meet the higher order needs in the hierarchy. This could be explained by the ERG theory of Alderfer. The Regression hypothesis states that people regress to the next lower order needs and intensify their desire to gratify these needs. Thus this theory explains both the progressive need gratification and regression when faced with frustration.

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