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Leadership and Human Behavior (part2)

The previous chapter discussed three theories of human behavior and motivation: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Herzberg's Hygiene and Motivational Factors, and McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y. The next two theories, Alderfer's Existence/Relatedness/Growth theory and Vroom's Expectancy theory are similar in nature, but are slightly more complex in nature.

Alderfer's Existence/Relatedness/Growth (ERG)

Clayton Alderfer's (1969) Existence/Relatedness/Growth (ERG) Theory of Needs postulates that there are three major groups of needs:

Notice that Alderfer's ERG theory is built upon Maslow's theory, however it does differ. First, he collapses it from five needs to three. And unlike Maslow, he does not see these needs as being a hierarchy, but rather a continuum:

Alderfer's ERG Theory

Alderfer's ERG theory states that more than one need may be influential at the same time. If the gratification of a higher-level need is frustrated, the desire to satisfy a lower-level need will increase. He identifies this phenomenon as the frustration and shy aggression dimension. Its relevance on the job is that even when the upper-level needs are frustrated, the job must provide the basic physiological needs that one would then be focused upon. If a person reaches this point and something happens to threaten the job, then the person's basic needs are significantly threatened. If there are no factors present to relieve the pressure, the person may become desperate and panicky.

While there has not been a lot of research on Alderfer's theory, most contemporary theories and related studies tend to give it stronger support than Maslow's theory.

Vroom's Expectancy Theory

Vroom's Expectancy Theory (1964) states that an individual will act in a certain way based on the expectation (belief) that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual. Several people, to include Porter and Lawler (1968), have modified this motivational model. Vroom's Expectancy Theory is often written as a formula:

Valence x Expectancy x Instrumentality = Motivation

This formula is illustrated in the following model:

Vroom's Expectancy Theory

The product of valence, expectancy, and instrumentality is motivation. It can be thought of as the strength of the drive towards a goal. For example, if an employee wants to move up through the ranks, then promotion has a high valence for that employee. If the employee believes that high performance will result in good reviews, then the employee has a high expectancy. However, if the employee believes the company will not promote from within, then the employee has low instrumentality, and the employee will not be motivated to perform better.

The thought manifests as the word;

The word manifests as the deed;

The deed develops into habit;

And habit hardens into character;

So watch the thought and its ways with care,

And let is spring from love

Born out of concern for all beingsā€¦

As the shadow follows the body,

As we think, so we become.

- From the Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha

Next Steps

Go to the next chapter: Motivation

Go to the main Leadership Page

Return to Part I of Leadership and Human Behavior (Maslow, Herzberg, and McGregor)


Alderfer, C. (1969). An Empirical Test of a New Theory of Human Needs. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, vol. 4, pp. 142-175.

Porter, L., Lawler, E. (1968). Managerial Attitudes and Performance. Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey Press.

Vroom, V. (1964). Work and Motivation. New York: Jon Wiley & Sons.