McClelland’s Need Theory


McClelland’s need theory focuses on personality and learned needs.  He categorized motives into three manifest needs: need for achievement, need for affiliation, and need for power.

1.Need for Achievement: The need for achievement refers to seeking excellence in performance and difficult, challenging goals.  Research indicates that people with a high need for achievement outperform those with a moderate or low need for achievement.


2. Need for Power: The need for power is concerned with making an impact on others, influencing others, changing people or events, and making a difference in life.  McClelland further distinguished between socialized power (used for the benefit of many) and personalized power (used for personal gain).


3. Need for Affiliation: The need for affiliation emphasizes the establishment and nurturing of intimate relationships with other people.  In contrast, individuals with a high need for autonomy, as outlined in Murray’s manifest needs theory, value independence and freedom from constraints.  Students will be able to identify the differences between individuals by using an example of telecommuting and by discussing which individual would be more comfortable with this change in organizational interaction.

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