Needs Theory Assignment Essay

Needs Theory on How A Company Can Strengthen the Achievement Needs of Its Management Team

Needs Theory is a concept of employee motivation that was developed by David McClelland. The theory argues that people get motivation from three needs: the need for power, affiliation, and achievement. According to the learned needs theory, needs can be weakened or strengthened. However, current researchers in business management appear to criticize scientific theories. Particularly, Daniel Pink, while giving a TED talk on “The Puzzle of Motivation,” states, “There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does” (“The Puzzle of Motivation | Dan Pink,” 05:17). He believes that the traditional system of reward and punishment is not tenable in the 21st century and recommends an extrinsic approach. A company can reinforce the accomplishment requirements of its management team by allowing autonomy to the team.

Pink argued that needs can be strengthened by three extrinsic motivators. He chose to talk about autonomy as one of the major motivators and defined it as “The urge to direct our own lives,” (12:43). According to Pink, autonomy allows employees to work independently through their initiative, unlike the scientific theories that require employees to follow the company rules to the letter. If a company wants to strengthen the management’s team achievement needs, then it has to give the team the freedom of self-direction. Consequently, the managers will be able to take their own initiatives, leading to more business solutions and innovative ideas. Pink gives an example of Google Inc. which has realized much success after giving autonomy to developers. Similarly, the attainment needs of any management team can be reinforced by allowing self-direction. While rewards and punishment have been used to strengthen needs in the past, that approach is not applicable in the modern world. In the modern world, needs ought to be strengthened through an extrinsic approach.


The Puzzle of Motivation | Dan Pink [YouTube Video]. (2009). Retrieved from

Needs Theory
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