David McClelland’s Achievement Motivation, Manifest Need Theory

square red 1. McClelland’s Manifest Need Theory of Motivation.

Some people have an intense desire to achieve while others are not so keen about achievement. David C. McClelland had studied this phenomenon for over twenty years at Harvard University and proposed his Achievement Motivation Theory (Also called Manifest Need Theory). According to him, there are certain needs that are learned and socially acquired as the individual interacts with the environment. McClelland classified such needs into three broad categories. These are (a) Need for power, (b) Need for affiliation, and (c) Need for achievement.

David McClelland

square red (a) Need For Power.

This need is indicated by a person's desire to control and influence the behavior of others. A person with desire for power likes to compete with others when the situation is favorable for such domination. Such persons prefer jobs that provide them an opportunity to acquire leadership with power. There are two aspects of power accordingly to McClelland. These are: positive and negative. Positive use of a power is necessary when a manager desires to achieve results through the efforts of others. The negative use of power is possible when a person uses power for personal aggrandizement. Such use of power may prove to be harmful to the Organisation.

square red (b) Need For Affiliation.

Here, the person has a need/desire for affection and wants to establish friendly relationships. A person with high need for affiliation seeks to establish and maintain friendships and dose emotional relationships with others. He wants to be liked by others and develops a sense of belonging by joining informal groups in the Organisation. Such persons (managers) prefer tasks that require frequent interaction with subordinates/co-workers.

square red (c) Need For Achievement.

Here, the person desires to succeed in competitive situations. He desires to prove his superiority over others. Such person sets reasonably difficult but potentially achievable goals for himself. He accepts moderate degree of risk. He is more concerned with personal achievement than with the rewards of success. Moreover, he feels that he can achieve the goal with his efforts and abilities. He also desires to have concrete feedback (social or attitudinal) on his performance. Such person has high level of energy and capacity to work hard. He naturally prefers jobs which tax his abilities and skills fully. This again is for achieving the objectives set. According to McClelland, the need for achievement is the most important need which can be used effectively for the economic progress of a nation.

Persons with achievement needs tend to be motivated by difficult, challenging and competitive work situations and not by routine and non-competitive situations. They habitually spend their time thinking about doing things better. They are not motivated by money but in their future achievements. Such employees are better achievers and naturally get promotions faster. An Organisation also grows faster and move towards prosperity with the support of such achievement seekers employees.

square red 2. Importance of Achievement Motivation Thoery.

McClelland's theory is important as he argues that the achievement motive can be taught. It can be achieved by learning. A manager can raise achievement need level of his subordinates by creating a healthy work atmosphere, provision of reasonable freedom to subordinates, provision of more responsibilities and by making tasks more interesting and challenging. Even reward and appreciation of high performance of subordinates is useful for raising their achievement need level. This is how motivation of employees is possible by developing the desire for higher achievement in their mind. Such achievement motivation is necessary and useful for the success of an enterprise.

McClelland's theory of motivation is quite extensive. He developed achievement motive for motivation. His assertion that achievement motive can be developed among the employees is important. This is possible through well-conceived and deliberate learning process. This he (McClelland) proved in an experiment carried out in a large U.S. Corporation.

According to McClelland, every person has an achievement motive to some extent. However, some are constantly more achievement-oriented than others. Most people will put more efforts into their work if they are challenged to do better. However, the achievement-motivated person is likely to outstrip all others in his zeal to improve performance when he is challenged. He makes more efforts and accomplishes more. This background can be used for motivation of employees. In fact, McClelland's achievement motivation theory is based on this experience which he gained while working with Harvard University.

Achievement motivation is very essential for the success of an entrepreneur or enterprise. Every employee should have some objective which he desires to achieve. Such desire for achievement acts as a motivating factor. According to McClelland, the need for achievement is the most important need. It can be used as motivating factor for economic progress of a nation and even for the success of an enterprise or entrepreneur. An entrepreneur or a manager has to put forward some objective before every employee and encourage the employee to achieve the same. To create the desire for achievement of objective is a way to motivate employee. In this way, achievement motivation is useful for the success of an enterprise/entrepreneur.


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