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Maslow and Herzberg both came up with motivation theories which have been widely used in explaining human psychology over the years. These theories however differ and a proper understanding is required in order to determine the ideology in each. While Maslow concentrated on personal motivation factors, Herzberg makes use of job related factors to explain motivation. There are also some concepts in Herzberg’s hygiene/motivation theory that interrelate with Maslow’s motivation theory. This article will address the theories, comparing and contrasting them in order to achieve a better understanding of the two.

Maslow’s Theory According to Maslow, individuals derive motivation from the presence of unsatisfied needs (Maslow, 1954). There is always a certain kind of drive to attain a particular need that one has not obtained in life and which can only be done through working harder. Satisfaction of needs follows a certain hierarchy which Maslow developed. It follows that once a person satisfies the needs in the lower hierarchy, he or she now aims at satisfying the needs in the next higher level (Maslow, 1954). The hierarchy can be presented as follows.


Psychological needs include basic needs such as air, water, clothing, housing, food and sleep among others. Should these needs not be satisfied, motivation will arise such that a person will seek to satisfy them for example through getting education so as to get a job. Once the psychological needs are satisfied, a person now seeks safety and security so that he or she can be assured of protection from harm. People start seeking safe backgrounds, job security, insurance services and financial reserves for future use among other things. Higher level needs start becoming more important once the lower needs have been satisfied.

Individuals start to seek social interaction in order to satisfy social needs. This is called the need for belonging and it is at this stage that people start to look for friends and love (Maslow, 1954). They may desire to start a family and attend social gatherings such as churches among others so as to have a social life. The next step in the hierarchy is the satisfaction of esteem needs. People desire to be recognized, feel important or gain social status. Self-respect and esteem fall in this stage. People develop a desire for respect and the need to show their achievement.

Self actualization is the final item in the hierarchy. It is a point at which a person quests to reach his or her full potential. People who are self-actualized desire wisdom, truth, meaning and justice (Maslow, 1954). Maslow notes that not many people reach this stage. Herzberg hygiene/motivation theory Herzberg developed a two-step approach with which employee satisfaction could be understood so as to offer the necessary motivation. According to Herzberg (1959), there is a negative and a positive side of work which can be classified into hygiene factors and motivation factors respectively.

Hygiene factors are those that cause dissatisfaction in the workforce and which the management should try to avoid (Herzberg, 1959). Wages and salaries are described as a major hygiene factor since poor pay can easily discourage employees limiting their productivity due to dissatisfaction. Others include working conditions, inter-personal relationships at the workplace, supervision, company policy and job security among others. If these factors are not favorable, employees become dissatisfied and motivation is likely to be absent such that productivity is low.

Motivator factors create satisfaction and are mostly enhanced by personal growth needs. Managers should aim at enhancing these factors as they may lead to better productivity within the organization (Herzberg, 1959). Factors such as promotion or advancement opportunity; increased responsibility; personal growth and achievement; status and recognition among others are among the motivational factors. When these are provided at the workplace, employees are likely to work harder thus leading to increased productivity.

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