Clayton Paul Alderfer was a psychologist who was born on 1st September, 1940 in Pennsylvania. He expounded Maslow’s hierarchy of needs by integrating it into the existence, relatedness and growth model. He is also the proponent of frustration regression principle. This paper is a critique of Alderfer’s existence, relatedness and growth (ERG) model and its application today in the world of business.
Alderfer’s ERG model provides a satisfactory insight of how human beings strive to satisfy their needs for existence, relatedness and growth. He postulates that existence needs are fulfilled by the basic material things such as clothing, food and shelter (Alderfer, 1977, p. 132). Alderfer argues physiological and safety needs are lower in order and classifies them as existence needs. His model places Maslow’s esteem and interpersonal relations into the relatedness category. On the other hand, the growth category entails higher order needs such as self actualization needs. He is also responsible for the frustration regression theory, which explains that if needs high in the hierarchy are not satisfied, then an individual puts more effort to achieve the needs that are lower in order. For instance, if needs such as esteem and interpersonal relations are not fulfilled; the person will put more effort to achieve physiological and safety needs. This is simply because the lower level needs are easier to achieve.
These are needs that are mainly concerned with basic survival and are considered as the lowest in order. Alderfer argues that this level of needs must be satisfied before one can think of all the other needs. At this stage, all the efforts are geared towards getting food, clothes and housing. Lack of needs at this level could lead to one becoming very frustrated and out of desperation an individual might employ any means to acquire what he lacks. In extreme cases, an individual may be forced into socially unfit behavior in the effort to achieve the existence needs. For example, one may steal food as a result of going without it for days. This level is very critical and must be satisfied under all means (Miner, 2011, p. 118). Majority of those experiencing this level of needs are the poor people in society. Once this has been achieved, the individual can then think of fulfilling the next level of needs, which is relatedness needs.
Alderfer model also considered relatedness needs that match interpersonal relations needs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He explained that since people are social beings in nature, relatedness needs are extremely important. An individual will always struggle to achieve sociable relationships with the other people. Relatedness needs arise mainly because it is difficult for any one person to exist alone, there must be coexistence in any society. For example, a shopkeeper needs customers to buy his products otherwise the shop may be forced to close down. The ability to...