Erg Theory of Motivation

By | August 5, 2021

Erg Theory of Motivation

Erg Theory of Motivation

To bring Maslow’s need hierarchy theory of motivation in synchronization with empirical research, Clayton Alderfer redefined it in his own terms. His rework is called as ERG theory of motivation. He recategorized Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into three simpler and broader classes of needs:

Existence needs- These include need for basic material necessities. In short, it includes an individual’s physiological and physical safety needs.
Relatedness needs- These include the aspiration individual’s have for maintaining significant interpersonal relationships (be it with family, peers or superiors), getting public fame and recognition. Maslow’s social needs and external component of esteem needs fall under this class of need.
Growth needs- These include need for self-development and personal growth and advancement. Maslow’s self-actualization needs and intrinsic component of esteem needs fall under this category of need.

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory and Alderfer’s ERG Theory are two different theories.

According to ERG Theory, more than one requirement may be active at any same time.
ERG Theory also demonstrates that when a higher-level need is suppressed, the urge to satisfy a lower-level need increases.
According to Maslow, a person remains at a certain level of need until that need is met.
If a higher-level need worsens, an individual may resort to increasing the satisfaction of a lower-level need, according to ERG theory.
This is known as the ERG theory’s frustration-regression element. For example, when a person’s growth requirement worsens, he may be motivated to meet his relatedness needs, and if he has trouble meeting his relatedness needs, he may be motivated by his existence needs.
As a result of the frustration/aggravation, a regression to a lower-level demand may occur.

While Maslow’s need hierarchy theory is rigid because it assumes that needs follow a specific and orderly hierarchy and that an individual cannot progress to a higher-level need unless a lower-level need is met, ERG Theory of Motivation is very flexible because he saw needs as a range/variety rather than a hierarchy. According to Alderfer, a person can work on his or her growth needs even if his or her existence or relatedness needs are unmet.
As a result, he clarifies the dilemma of the “starving artist,” who can battle for progress even while he is hungry.

The ERG Theory’s Consequences
Managers must recognize that employees have multiple needs that must be met at the same time.
According to the ERG hypothesis, if a manager focuses entirely on one need at a time, the employee will not be motivated effectively.
ERG Theory’s frustration-regression component also has an impact on job motivation. For example, if an employee in an organization is not given opportunities for growth and promotion, he may revert to a relatedness need such as socializing needs, and if the environment or circumstances do not allow, he may resort to the need for money to meet those socializing requirements. The sooner the management realizes and recognizes this, the more immediate efforts they will take to provide those unmet demands until the employee is able to pursue growth again.

What is the ERG Theory of Motivation?

The best way to visualize ERG Theory is in the context of the Hierarchy of Needs as shown below.

ERG Theory of Motivation

As can be seen from the diagram, ERG theory is an acronym for Existence, Relatedness, and Growth.

These are the three basic needs that employees will try to satisfy. In the model, as one need is filled, this will provide motivation for the employee to want to fulfill another need. All three needs must be satisfied simultaneously in order for an individual to feel motivated.

Let’s take a look at each of these terms one by one.

Existence is a term that refers to the

As humans, our basic survival needs are referred to as existence.

Food and water, shelter, excellent health, and a sense of security all fall within this category.
These requirements might be summed up as our basic physiological and safety requirements.
It’s tough to focus on other, higher goals if you can’t meet your basic survival needs.

Relatedness relates to our desire to connect with other people, or to the relationships we have.
We all have a desire for excellent relationships and interactions with other humans, however this need is certainly not as great as our basic survival needs.
Most people need to engage with others in order to feel happy and fulfilled, and those interactions must be positive in character.


Our need for personal development, creativity, and meaningful employment is referred to as growth. Growth allows us to see what our potential is in our current circumstances.


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