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

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Before Maslow's hierarchy of needs, managers perform Taylor's management system, which is a kind of management defined as employees' pay is the most important. It is believed that Maslow's theory is more advanced than Taylor's, so Maslow's theory has been widely accepted in management. According to this theory, people's behaviors are driven by motivation, which is variable and presents as a hierarchy (Maslow, 1943). Though it is adapted in management around the world, there still remains an argument whether Maslow's hierarchy of needs could be a way of understanding employee motivation in contemporary Chinese business. Those who support this argument believe that it is a reasonable and efficient management method, and this kind of method could not only help employers achieve higher targets and gain more profits, but also create a joyful work environment for employees. However, the adaption of this theory in western countries does not indicate that it will also succeed in a Chinese management environment. China is different from western countries in culture, custom and values so it might not be suitable for employees in China. This essay will evaluate the validity of Maslow's theory as well as criticisms and supporting opinions on whether it could understand and analyse employee motivation in contemporary Chinese business.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs has been proved to be a scientific theory and it is obvious that it makes management more efficient and creates a win-win situation. Firstly, it makes sense that at the beginning employees emphasize lower order needs and later move upward (Lindner, 1998). According to Maslow's theory, needs like physical ones as well as safety ones are at a lower level whereas self-esteem as well as self-actualization locate at a higher level. Ii is pointed out by Tanner (2009) that the behavior of work is basically for adequate wages in order to guarantee stable life and living environment. In fact, this is the most basic need of employees and for most people, if there is no stable pay, no one would work. With basic needs met, workers would like to be praised through work and to realize themselves. The higher order needs such as working environment, working space, even own achievements might be what drive employees to do their job.

Additionally, as Tanner (2009) states, employees' needs change all the time and it is certain that they will move towards higher order. It is believed that needs are changeable. It cannot be true that one's needs three years ago could be the same as the ones ten years later. Furthermore, in fact, employees need changes, and this is because changes could bring workforce in order to motivate workers. That could be another kind of motivation. There is an example of the failure of not adapting this theory in management. The "egalitarian theory" supported by Maoist China ruled the standard of salary, and limited, even avoided, people satisfying other needs except physical needs. This kind of "egalitarian" limited people's development and killed employees' higher order needs. That decreased, even eliminated,

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