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

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Because of the great developing and consume potentials in China, more and more multinationals are attracted. Companies who had rich successful experiences in west have difficulties to manage in this unfamiliar emerging market (in Alas, 2008). To define the way of understanding employee in China, needs and motivations of Chinese employees should be considered first. Maslow's hierarchy of needs as one of the most discussed theories which related to people motivations should be included. According to Maslow's model, individuals have the same order of needs all over the world. Some criticisms pointed out that needs would change under different cultures. Furthermore, following the great changes of China, employee motivations between new China and contemporary China changed as well. Due to the reform in China, Chinese people have more chance to communicate with western which gave a important impact on Chinese employees' work values and motivations. This essay will evaluate Maslow's hierarchy of needs as way of understanding employee motivation in contemporary Chinese business.

From Maslow's perspective (in Geren, 2011), human needs are the same worldwide. It indicated that the hierarchy of needs which developing based on U.S. society can be applied all over the world. Whereas the research of Hofsted (2001) reported that people under different cultures have diverse values which have a motivational influence on life choices and behaviors (in Alas, 2008). Compared with the individualism culture in U.S., China exists as a collectivist society due to its long history of traditional culture and the dominant position of imperial power. Individuals in the individualistic society are concerned more about self-success, but for Chinese people, maintain harmony within their social environment is more significant. According to Kirkman and Shapiro (in Alas, 2008), there are some crucial links between cultural values and job attitudes which can be the approach to study employee motivations between U.S. and China deeply. A diagram about the hierarchy of needs of the People's Republic of China by Nevis (in Gambrel and Cianci, 2003) showed that the order of needs of Chinese people and employees are: social belonging, physiological, safety and self-actualization. Employees in China tend to emphasize social needs more over individualistic needs which means the status and identity were concerned more in a society, while employees in more individualistic society such as America stress more on individualistic needs. A famous case was at Lenovo when Chinese and American employees worked as a group, Chinese employee considered the team as the key for company's successful. However, The Americans were trying to identify individual high performers (Gallo, 2008). The hierarchy of needs model seems not appropriate for understanding the employee motivations in China business.

However, an ambitious reform program was launched in China. Instead of a relatively closed system previously, an open, market-driven system had been set up. A series of actions including entering the WTO, opening the western region of China and building up an information network have given dynamic to support the system and take the way to develop. As a result of these



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