Alderfer’s ERG Theory – Assumptions, Merits and Demerits

Posted on May 2 2018 - 11:25pm by simplinotesadmin

Alderfer’s ERG Theory

An extension of the Herzberg theory and Maslow’s need hierarchy theory comes from the work of Clayton Alderfer. He formulated a need category model that was more in line with the existing empirical evidence. Like Maslow and Herzberg, he does feel that there is value in categorizing needs and that there is a basic distinction between lower order needs and higher order needs. Alderfer identified three groups of core needs:

1. Existence   Needs

 Existence   needs  include  all needs  related  to physiological and safety aspects of an  individual.   Thus,   existence   needs  group   physiological and  safety  needs   of Maslow  into one category  as  these  have  similar   impact   on the  behavior   of the  individual.

2. Relatedness    Needs

Relatedness    needs  include  all those  needs  that  involve  relationship    With other  people  whom  the  individual   cares.   Relatedness    needs  cover  Maslow’s   social needs  and that  part  of esteem  l needs   which  is  derived  from  the  relationship with other people.

3. Growth Needs

Growth needs involve the individual making creative efforts to achieve full potential in the existing environment. These include Maslow’s self actualization need as well as that part of the esteem need which is internal to the individual like feeling of being unique, feeling of personal growth etc.


1. By and large, lower order needs must be satisfied to move on to higher order needs(satisfaction-progression process).

2. In case of the frustration of higher order needs the person can go back to lower order needs(frustration-regression process).

3. The greater the satisfaction of higher order needs the more satisfying they become.

4. All the needs can operate simultaneously.

5. All these needs can be influenced by educational, social and cultural determinants.


1. ERG theory takes the strong points of the earlier content theories but it is less restrictive and limiting as compared to the others.

2. The ERG theory is more consistent with our knowledge of individual differences among people. Variables such as education, family background, and cultural environment can alter the importance or driving force that a group of needs hold for a particular individual .


1. The ERG theory failed to propose straightforward guiding principle. The model suggests that individuals will be driven to involve in a behavior which will gratify one of the three sets of needs assumed by the model.


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