Abraham Harold Maslow
Humanistic Psychology in Business

The hierarchy of psychological needs

Speaking about psychology, probably you know the hierarchy of needs, a theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper: a Theory of Human Motivation.

This theory is often depicted as a five level pyramid. The first four layers are what he called "deficiency needs": survival needs, safety and security, love and belonging, and esteem.

Deficiency needs must be met first. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are satisfied. Once an individual has moved upwards to the next level, needs in the lower level will no longer be prioritized.

The top level is called "Self-Actualization". What is this ?
To understand this concept (I prefer to call it the transcendental level), better to see what its discoverer himself said about it:
"A musician must make music, and artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization... It refers to man's desire for self-fulfillment namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming".

The third force: Humanistic Psychology

This concept is the basis of the Third Force Psychology (also called Humanistic Psychology") in opposition to the other two: the behaviorist and Freudian movements. Maslow is more focus on the human capability to develop creativity, compassion, ethics, love, spirituality and their impact on the society improvement or transcendence. On this way we find other famous names as Erich Fromm, Peter Drucker or more recently Wayne W. Dyer.

Application to Business

But the main contribution of A.H.M is to have proposed a way to develop this Third Force Psychology through the vehicle of Business Management. He understood that individual psychotherapy, education or research could only have a limited impact on the society transformation. Maslow speaking about self-actualizing People to Duty, Work, Mission:
" This is the simplest way of saying that proper management of the work lives of human beings, of the way in which they earn their living, can improve them and improve the world and in this sense be a Utopian or revolutionary technique".

More on Humanistic Psychology

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