McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory – An Analysis

McClelland's human motivation theory


David McClelland in his book ‘The Achieving Society’ published in 1961 tried to identify the motivational factors behind every individual in an organized setup. According to his Human Motivation Theory, human behavior is influenced by three needs: achievement, affiliation, and power.

Through ‘achievement’ employees seek to excel in their performance in relation to preset standards. Through ‘affiliation’ members in an organization look forward to establishing inter-personal relationship to become sociable. By acquiring ‘power’ individuals try and control others’ behavior. Human beings are driven by these three needs in varying degrees to develop a unique attitude.

Need-Based Human Motivation

Achievement - People with high ‘achievement’ needs are inspired by challenging and highly competitive tasks. They are always on the lookout for opportunities that demand high degree of participation and involvement. ‘Achievement’ oriented individuals are interested in having a feedback of their activities in an organizational hierarchy. Achievers always seek pleasure when they perform better than average. They take initiative in solving problems in their own capacity. According to McClelland ‘achievers’ are similar to gamblers as they set extraordinary target for themselves. According to this theory ‘achievers’ are innovative by nature and do not hesitate to take risks in achieving their targets.

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