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Critically Evaluate Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as Way of Understanding Employee Motivation in Contemporary Chinese Business

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Critically evaluate Maslow's hierarchy of needs as way of understanding employee motivation in contemporary Chinese business

In the past, employees were just regarded as a tool to improve the productivity. Then Hawthorne Studies conducted by Elton Mayo indicated that not only can salary motivate the employee but also the attitudes of employee, which changed this point of view above (Lindner, 1998). Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory, which divided the needs of people into five levels, can help employers to motivate employees by different needs. However the order of needs is not completely similar in different countries, which may influence the judgment of employers to motivate employees. Additionally, its narrow theoretical scope only allows it to be applied in western counties not entirely for collective socialist countries such as China (Gambrel, 2003).

In spite of this, Maslow's hierarchy of needs still has heuristic value which can be a general formulation for the managers to motivate the employees. According to the hierarchy of needs, employers can learn the needs of employees in line with the specific circumstances in contemporary to motivate employees. Along with the increase in knowledge of employees, salary is not the most significant factor to motivate them. Sadri (2011) pointed out that employees care more about growth of needs such as responsibility, respect, prestige and the important reason for employees resigning is lack of recognition of supervision. Facing this situation, Cangemi (2009) supposed that if employers still use the old management style, the labour conflict will happen frequently. Under the circumstance, employers can give more respect and recognition to incite the motivation. In order to satisfy the needs of self-esteem, company can provide business cards with the employee's name, reserve parking space and give rewards for wining competition (Sadri, 2011).It is important to make each employees to attain attention from the company. For the needs of self-actualization, companies can utilize other strategies. For instance, encouraging extra studies which are related to their job can not only motivate them but also bring new skills and add values (Sadri, 2011). All in all, according to the enlightenment of the Maslow's hierarchy of needs, using the different needs of employees to formulate the company's plan can maximize the employee motivation.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a criterion which motivates the employees to a certain degrees. Nevertheless, there are some defects so that cannot accurately explain what really motivate employees. On the one hand, it is correct that Maslow admit people have different needs and managers can meet different levels of the employees needs to stimulate their enthusiasm (Villarica, 2011). On the other hand, Maslow also argued that people who only satisfied the first level of need than will pursue a higher level of demand (Lindner, 1998), which is not necessary to meet the needs of employees' layer upon layer. For example, even if one person is impecunious, he also can get the love and belonging from friends and relatives. Furthermore people mostly focus on social needs and esteem needs especially in collectivist country like China. For this reason, his ordering of these needs was not right on target. In another aspect, Maslow argued that the highest level of people's need is self-actualization. However, in fact only a few people can reach the stage of self-actualization. If people can reach this stage, he will be different from the majority and cannot be more socialized (Rouse, 2004). Conspicuously, the drawback of this theory impacts the validity of application.

In addition to the aforementioned evidence, Maslow's hierarchy of needs is too simplistic without consideration of cultural diversity to apply in collective countries such as China. Different cultures have different values and attitudes, for this reason, it is necessary to fully understand the values and attitudes in China so that it can find a more appropriate way to motivate the Chinese. Alas (2008) pointed out that the attitudes of the employees which are influenced and strengthened by values are the significant factor to the success of the company. It further implies the importance of values and attitudes. However, in different cultures such as China and USA have obvious different values. According to the research from Suh et al (1998), it indicated that China is the most collective

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