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Abraham Maslow
The Hierarchy of Human Needs (1908-1970)

Key Work

Theory of the "hierarchy of human needs". 

Abraham Maslow was one of the first scholars to be associated with the humanistic approach to management (- as opposed to task-based management). Maslow categorized human needs into a hierarchy, ascending from the lowest to the highest. Maslow's model remains a valuable management concept. The five levels within the hierarchy can be broken down as follows. A person generally must satisfy the lower level before working on the higher levels

  1. Survival or physiological needs. Comprising all the basic animal requirements such as food, water, shelter, warmth, and sleep.
  2. Security or safety needs. In physical, social and financial terms; they are translated into free from physical harm, having job security or earning a living wage.
  3. Social needs. Most humans are essentially social beings and they seek membership of social groups to belong to.
  4. Ego-status needs. Most Humans seek respect (self-image or self-esteem) need is satisfied by power, prestige, knowledge, and self-confidence.
  5. Self-actualization needs. This translates into self-realization, self-expression and self-fulfillment. The desire to maximize a person's skills and talents.

Related work/concepts include Humanistic psychology, Human Potential Movement, Organismic theory, Positive Disintegration, Post-materialism, and Organizational behavior


  • Received his B.A. (1930), his M.A. (1932), and his Ph.D. (1934) in psychology from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • He met and studied with Harry Harlow, who was known for his controversial experiments on rhesus monkeys and attachment behavior.
  • A year after graduation, Maslow returned to New York to work with E. L. Thorndike at Columbia University.
  • Maslow taught  full time at Brooklyn College. During this time he met many leading European psychologists, including Alfred Adler and Erich Fromm.
  • In 1951, Maslow became the chairman of the psychology department at Brandeis University, where he began his theoretical work. There, he met Kurt Goldstein, who introduced him to the idea of self-actualization. Later, Maslow developed self-actualization into an area for research and application.
  • Died  in 1970, aged 62, after years of ill health.

Related Books/References:

  • Abraham Maslow, Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper and Row
  • Abraham Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. Viking Press
  • Abraham Maslow, Eupsychian Management(1965, republished as Maslow on Management, 1998)
  • Abraham Maslow, Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance New York: Harper & Row, 1966.
  • Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being (2nd Edition: 1968) -Excerpts (1955-1957)
  • Maslow on Self-Actualizing People -excerpts from Maslow on Management (1998)
  • Abraham Maslow Reconsidered: Maslow reconsidered: A review of research on the need hierarchy theory
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 15, 212-240
  • Mook, D.G. (1987). Motivation: Motivation: The Organization of Action. London: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd (ISBN 0-393-95474-9)
  • The Right to be Human by Edward Hoffmanby Edward Hoffman
  • The Founders of Humanistic Psychologyby Roy Jose DeCarvalho

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