Advertisement

Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 741–763 | Cite as

A Personalistic Appraisal of Maslow’s Needs Theory of Motivation: From “Humanistic” Psychology to Integral Humanism

  • Alma Acevedo
Article
  • 2.7k Downloads

Abstract

Abraham Maslow’s needs theory is one of the most influential motivation theories in management and organizational behavior. What are its anthropological and ethical presuppositions? Are they consistent with sound business philosophy and ethics? This paper analyzes and assesses the anthropological and ethical underpinnings of Maslow’s needs theory from a personalistic framework, and concludes that they are flawed. Built on materialistic naturalism, the theory’s “humanistic” claims are subverted by its reductionist, individualistic approach to the human being, which ends up in a needs-based ethics that understands goodness, virtue, and rights in instinctual, subjectivistic, and relativistic terms. Its moral imperative, “Be yourself!,” is either the materialistic fiat of genetic drives or the voluntaristic command of unbridled will. Significant implications for business educators, managers, and organizations are discussed, along with recommendations. Managerial theories and approaches that reduce personality to individuality are inconsistent with proper anthropological and ethical business principles. Adopting those individualistic theories may ultimately undermine organizational effectiveness, and the very essence of business as human activity and of management as human calling. Instead, personalistic anthropology and virtue ethics, rooted in Aristotelian–Thomistic thought, soundly account for properly human nature and the good life. Business educators and practitioners are encouraged to embrace this integral, truly humanistic framework for motivation, and management theory and practice.

Keywords

Abraham Maslow Business or management ethics Humanism or humanistic psychology Individualism Personalism Virtue 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author gratefully acknowledges three anonymous JBE reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this paper.

References

  1. Acevedo, A. (2012). Personalist business ethics and humanistic management: Insights from Jacques Maritain. Journal of Business Ethics, 105(2), 197–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aquinas, St. T. (1920/2008). Summa Theologica (Rev. ed.). Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Trans.). Retrieved May 23, 2015, from http://www.newadvent.org/summa/.
  3. Argandoña, A. (2011). Beyond contracts: Love in firms. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(1), 77–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arnaud, S., & Wasieleski, D. M. (2014). Corporate humanistic responsibility: Social performance through managerial discretion of the HRM. Journal of Business Ethics, 120(3), 313–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bennis, W. (1998). Foreward. In A. H. Maslow (Ed.), Maslow on management (pp. vii–xiii). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Bergman, J. Z., Westerman, J. W., & Daly, J. P. (2010). Narcissism in management education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 9(1), 119–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buber, M. (1937/1958). I and thou. New York: Charles Scribner’s.Google Scholar
  8. Buss, A. R. (1979). A dialectical psychology. New York: Irvington.Google Scholar
  9. Crosby, J. F. (2014). The personalism of John Henry Newman. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. DeCarvalho, R. J. (1991). “Was Maslow an Aristotelian?” Revisited. The Psychological Record, 41(1), 117–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. DeRobertis, E. M. (2013). Humanistic psychology: Alive in the 21st century? Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 53(4), 419–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Donaldson, L. (2002). Damned by our own theories: Contradictions between theories and management education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 1(1), 96–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dye, K., Mills, A. J., & Weatherbee, T. (2005). Maslow: Man interrupted: Reading management theory in context. Management Decision, 43(10), 1375–1395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fitzgerald, R. (1985). Human needs and politics: The ideas of Christian Bay and Herbert Marcuse. Political Psychology, 6(1), 87–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fontrodona, J., & Sison, A. J. G. (2006). The nature of the firm, agency theory and shareholder theory: A critique from philosophical anthropology. Journal of Business Ethics, 66(1), 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frankena, W. K. (1939). The naturalistic fallacy. Mind, 48(192), 464–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Frankl, V. E. (1959/1985). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  18. Frick, W. B. (2000). Remembering Maslow: Reflections on a 1968 interview. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 40(2), 128–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Froh, J. J. (2004). The history of positive psychology: Truth be told. NYS Psychologist, 16(3), 18–20.Google Scholar
  20. Gambrel, P. A., & Cianci, R. (2003). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Does it apply in a collectivist culture. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 8(2), 143–161.Google Scholar
  21. Garrison, A. (2001). Restoring the human in humanistic psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 41(4), 91–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Geiger, H. (1971). Introduction. In A. H. Maslow (Ed.), The farther reaches of human nature (pp. xv–xxi). New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  23. Ghoshal, S. (2005). Bad management theories are destroying good management practices. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(1), 75–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Goud, N. (2008). Abraham Maslow: A personal statement. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 48(4), 448–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grassl, W., & Habisch, A. (2011). Ethics and economics: Towards a new humanistic synthesis for business. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(1), 37–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist.Google Scholar
  27. Guillén, M., Ferrero, I., & Hoffman, W. M. (2015). The neglected ethical and spiritual motivations in the workplace. Journal of Business Ethics, 128(4), 803–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harter, N. (2006). Voegelin’s ladder. Integral Review, 2, 78–89.Google Scholar
  29. Hartman, E. M. (2011). Virtue, profit, and the separation thesis: An Aristotelian view. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(1), 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hitchcock, J. (1982). What is secular humanism? Why humanism became secular and how it is changing our world. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books.Google Scholar
  31. Hoffman, E. (1992). The last interview of Abraham Maslow. Psychology Today, 25(1), 68–89.Google Scholar
  32. Hoffman, E. (2004). Abraham Maslow’s life and unfinished legacy. Japanese Journal of Administrative Science, 17(3), 133–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hoffman, E. (2008a). Abraham Maslow: A biographer’s reflections. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 48(4), 439–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hoffman, E. (2008b). Maslow in retrospect: Editorial board member assessments. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 48(4), 456–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hoffman, E. (2009). Rollo May on Maslow and Rogers “No theory of evil”. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 49(4), 484–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hoffman, E. (2011, September 4). The life and legacy of Abraham Maslow: Why Abraham Maslow still matters. Psychology Today, 44(5). Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-peak-experience/201109/the-life-and-legacy-abraham-maslow.
  37. Hofstede, G. (1984). The cultural relativity of the quality of life concept. Academy of Management Review, 9(3), 389–398.Google Scholar
  38. Hoivik, H., & Melé, D. (2009). Can an SME become a global citizen? Evidence from a case study. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(3), 551–563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hunt, H. T. (2003). Lives in spirit: Precursors and dilemmas of a secular Western mysticism. Albany: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  40. Kermally, S. (2005). Abraham Maslow. Gurus on people management (pp. 25–34). London: Thorogood.Google Scholar
  41. Kohn, A. (1999). A look at Maslow’s “basic propositions”. In H. J. Freiberg (Ed.), Perceiving, behaving, becoming: Lessons learned (pp. 91–104). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.Google Scholar
  42. Koltko-Rivera, M. E. (2006). Rediscovering the later version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Self-transcendence and opportunities for theory, research, and unification. Review of General Psychology, 10(4), 302–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Koontz, H., & Weihrich, H. (2010). Essentials of management (8th ed.). New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  44. Leontiev, D. A. (2008). Maslow yesterday, today and tomorrow. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 48(4), 451–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lowry, R. (1999). Preface. In A. H. Maslow (Ed.), Toward a psychology of being (3rd ed., pp. xxxv–xxxvii). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  46. MacIntyre, A. (1981/2007). After virtue: A study in moral theory (3rd ed.). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame.Google Scholar
  47. Maddock, R. C., & Fulton, R. L. (1996). Marketing to the mind: Right brain strategies for advertising and marketing. Westport, CT: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  48. Marcel, G. (1951). The mystery of the family. In G. Marcel (Ed.), Homo viator: Introduction to a metaphysic of hope (pp. 68–97). London: Gollancz.Google Scholar
  49. Marcel, G. (1962). The sacred in the technological age. Theology Today, 19(1), 27–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Maritain, J. (1943/2001). Natural rights. In W. Sweet (Ed.), Natural law: Reflections on theory and practice (pp. 75–98). South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press.Google Scholar
  51. Maritain, J. (1947/1972). The person and the common good. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame.Google Scholar
  52. Martin, F. (2011). Human development and the pursuit of the common good: Social psychology or Aristotelian virtue ethics? Journal of Business Ethics, 100(1), 89–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Maslow, A. H. (1954/1970). Motivation and personality (2nd ed.). New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  55. Maslow, A. H. (1962/1968). Toward a psychology of being (2nd ed.). New York: Van Nostrand.Google Scholar
  56. Maslow, A. H. (1964/1970). Religions, values, and peak experiences. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  57. Maslow, A. H. (1965/1998). Maslow on management. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  58. Maslow, A. H. (1966/2002). The psychology of science: A reconnaissance (2nd ed.). Chapel Hill, NC: Maurice Bassett.Google Scholar
  59. Maslow, A. H. (1967). The good life of the self-actualizing person. The Humanist, 27(127–129), 139.Google Scholar
  60. Maslow, A. H. (1971/1976). The farther reaches of human nature. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  61. Maslow, A. H. (1979). In R. Lowry & B. G. Maslow (Eds.), The journals of A. H. Maslow (Vol. 1). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  62. Maslow, A. H. (1982). In R. Lowry & B. G. Maslow (Eds.), The journals of A. H. Maslow (Abridged ed.). Lexington, MA: Lewis.Google Scholar
  63. McInerny, R. (1997). Ethica Thomistica: The moral philosophy of Thomas Aquinas (Rev ed.). Washington, DC: Catholic University of America.Google Scholar
  64. Melé, D. (2003). The challenge of humanistic management. Journal of Business Ethics, 44(1), 77–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Melé, D. (2005). Exploring the principle of subsidiarity in organizational forms. Journal of Business Ethics, 60(3), 293–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Melé, D. (2009). Integrating personalism into virtue-based business ethics: The personalist and the common good principles. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(1), 227–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Melé, D. (2012). The firm as a “community of persons”: A pillar of humanistic business ethos. Journal of Business Ethics, 106(1), 89–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Milton, J. (2002). The road to malpsychia: Humanistic psychology and our discontents. San Francisco: Encounter Books.Google Scholar
  69. Mittelman, W. (1991). Maslow’s study of self-actualization: A reinterpretation. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 31(1), 114–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Mosley, D, Sr, Mosley, D, Jr, & Pietri, P. (2011). Supervisory management (8th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western.Google Scholar
  71. Neher, A. (1991). Maslow’s theory of motivation: A critique. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 31(3), 89–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Pearson, E. M., & Podeschi, R. L. (1999). Humanism and individualism: Maslow and his critics. Adult Education Quarterly, 50(1), 41–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Plunkett, W. R., Allen, G. S., & Attner, R. F. (2012). Management (10th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western.Google Scholar
  74. Reader, S. (2006). Does a basic needs approach need capabilities? Journal of Political Philosophy, 14(3), 337–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Robb, J. W. (1969). The hidden philosophical agenda: A commentary on humanistic psychology. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 37(1), 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Rowan, J. (1999). Ascent and descent in Maslow’s theory. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 39(3), 125–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Royal, R. (1990). Human nature and unnatural humanisms. In P. A. Redpath (Ed.), From twilight to dawn: The cultural vision of Jacques Maritain (pp. 167–200). Mishawaka, IN: American Maritain Association.Google Scholar
  78. Rutledge, P. (2011, November 8). Social networks: What Maslow misses. Psychology Today. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/positively-media/201111/social-networks-what-maslow-misses-0.
  79. Sandelands, L. (2009). The business of business is the human person: Lessons from the Catholic social tradition. Journal of Business Ethics, 85(1), 93–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Sandelands, L. E. (2014). Being at work. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  81. Saunders, S., Munro, D., & Bore, M. (1998). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and its relationship with psychological health and materialism. South Pacific Journal of Psychology, 10(2), 15–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Shareff, R. (2007). Want better business theories? Maybe Karl Popper has the answer. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 6(2), 272–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Sison, A. J. G. (2007). Toward a common good theory of the firm: The Tasubinsa case. Journal of Business Ethics, 74(4), 471–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Solomon, R. C. (2003). Victims of circumstances? A defense of virtue ethics in business. Business Ethics Quarterly, 13(1), 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Soper, B., Milford, G. E., & Rosenthal, G. T. (1995). Belief when evidence does not support theory. Psychology & Marketing, 12(5), 415–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Tollefsen, C. O. (1995). The ‘is-ought’ problem, objective ends, and practical reason. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Emory University, Georgia.Google Scholar
  88. Trigg, A. B. (2004). Deriving the Engel curve: Pierre Bourdieu and the social critique of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Review of Social Economy, 62(3), 393–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Udani, Z. A. S., & Lorenzo-Molo, C. F. (2013). When servant becomes leader: The Corazon C. Aquino success story as a beacon for business leaders. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(2), 373–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Valiunas, A. (2011). Abraham Maslow and the all-American self. The New Atlantis, 33(Fall), 93–110.Google Scholar
  91. Van Belle, H. A. (2012). Humanistic psychology. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://www.kingsu.ca/public/download/documents/1968.
  92. Van Dierendonck, D., & Patterson, K. (2015). Compassionate love as a cornerstone of servant leadership: An integration of previous theorizing and research. Journal of Business Ethics, 128(1), 119–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Veatch, H. B. (1962). Rational man: A modern interpretation of Aristotelian ethics. Bloomington: Indiana University.Google Scholar
  94. Vitz, P. C. (1977). Psychology as religion: The cult of self-worship. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.Google Scholar
  95. Vitz, P. C. (1996). Back to human dignity: From modern to postmodern psychology. The Intercollegiate Review, 31(2), 15–23.Google Scholar
  96. Wahba, M. A., & Bridwell, L. G. (1976). Maslow reconsidered: A review of research on the need hierarchy theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 15(2), 212–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Whetstone, J. T. (2001). How virtue fits within business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 33(2), 101–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Whetstone, J. T. (2002). Personalism and moral leadership: The servant leader with a transforming vision. Business Ethics: A European Review, 11(4), 385–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Wild, J. (1948). Introduction to realistic philosophy. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  100. Williams, T. D. (2004). What is Thomistic personalism? Alpha Omega, 7(2), 163–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Williams, T. D., & Bengtsson, J. O. (2013). Personalism. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (2014 ed.). Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/personalism/.
  102. Wishloff, J. (2009). The land of realism and the shipwreck of idea-ism: Thomas Aquinas and Milton Friedman on the social responsibilities of business. Journal of Business Ethics, 85(2), 137–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Zúñiga, G. L. (2001). What is economic personalism? A phenomenological analysis. Journal of Markets & Morality, 4(2), 151–175.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, School of Business AdministrationUniversity of Puerto RicoSan JuanUSA

Personalised recommendations