The ERG Theory of Clayton P. Alderfer is a model that appeared in 1969
in a Psychological Review article entitled "An Empirical Test of a New Theory
of Human Need". In a reaction to the famous
Hierarchy of Needs by Maslow,
Alderfer distinguishes three categories of human needs that influence worker's
behavior; existence, relatedness and growth.
ERG categories of human needs
These ERG Theory categories are:
- Existence Needs: physiological and safety needs (such as hunger,
thirst and sex). The first two levels of Maslow.
- Relatedness Needs: social and external esteem (involvement with
family, friends, co-workers and employers). The third and fourth levels
- Growth Needs: internal esteem and self actualization (the desire
to be creative, productive and to complete meaningful tasks). Maslow's fourth
and fifth levels.
ERG Theory and Maslow
Contrarily to the idea by Maslow that access to the higher levels of his
pyramid required satisfaction in the lower level needs, the ERG areas of Alderfer
are simultaneous needs.
ERG Theory recognizes that the importance of the three categories may vary
for each individual. Managers must recognize that an employee has multiple
needs, that must be satisfied simultaneously. According to the ERG theory,
if you focus exclusively on one need at a time, this will not effectively
The frustration-regression principle
In addition, the ERG theory acknowledges that if a higher level need remains
unfulfilled, the person may regress towards lower level needs, which appear
easier to satisfy. This is known as: the frustration-regression principle.
This principle impacts workplace motivation. For example, if growth opportunities
are not offered to the employees , they may regress towards relatedness needs,
and socialize more with co-workers.
If management can recognize these conditions early, steps can be taken
to satisfy the frustrated needs until the subordinate is able to pursue growth
Book: Clayton P.
Alderfer - Existence, Relatedness, and Growth; Human Needs in Organizational
ERG Theory Special Interest Group
Special Interest Group (32 members)
Advance yourself in business administration and management
Accelerate your management career
Compare Theory of Human Needs | Existence - Relatedness - Growth Theory | ERG Theory (Alderfer) with: Hierarchy of
Theory of Needs |
Herzberg Two Factor Theory
| 4 Dimensions
of Relational Work |
| Expectancy Theory
| Path-Goal Theory
| Theory X Theory Y
| Cultural Dimensions |
Hawthorne Effect |
Model Kano | Coaching
Return to Management Hub: Communication & Skills | Ethics & Responsibility | Human
Resources | Leadership
More Management Methods, Models and Theory