David McClelland's theory, thesis

Science 2023

Table of contents:

David McClelland's theory, thesis
David McClelland's theory, thesis

David McClelland once said that we all have three types of motivation regardless of age, gender, race or culture. The dominant type of motivation stems from life experience and cultural context. This theory is often studied in schools and departments that specialize in teaching the basics of management or organization of processes.

The need for achievement

According to David McClelland's theory, the need for achievement refers to a person's desire to achieve significant success, mastering skills, striving for high standards. The term itself was first used by Henry Murray and is associated with a number of actions that a person performs in a given situation. These include intense, sustained, and repeated efforts to accomplish something difficult. The concept of need for achievement was subsequently popularized by psychologist David McClelland.

Striving for more

Trait orthe need that has been described above is characterized by a steady and consistent concern for setting and achieving high standards in any field of activity. This need depends on the internal drive to act (intrinsic motivation) and the pressure created by the expectations of others (extrinsic motivation). As measured by the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), the need for achievement motivates a person to excel in competition and in things that are important to him. According to the views of David McClelland, a person's motivation is very much tied to this desire.

McLelland's theory

The need for achievement is related to the difficulty of the tasks that people solve every day. Those with a low level of this parameter may choose very simple tasks to minimize the risk of failure, or, conversely, very complex ones in order to shift all responsibility onto imaginary difficulties (self-sabotage). Those who have this parameter at a high level, as a rule, choose moderately difficult tasks, feeling that they are really difficult, but quite solvable. So says David McClelland's theory of motivation.

Recruitment and possible difficulties

Usually, among the employees of a company or organization, it is difficult to find those who have a high need for achievement and at the same time do not make any efforts to realize this very need. According to the same theory of needs by David McClelland, these people are usually immediately visible, as they stand out from the rest with their initiative and enthusiasm.If these people do not get their need for recognition met, they may become dissatisfied and frustrated with their job or position. This can lead to many problems at work, up to a total drop in initiative and, as a result, work capacity. David McClelland's acquired needs theory is useful in that it helps employers avoid such problems.

The need for achievement

It is more expensive to hurt the pride of ambitious employees. This can get your boss in a lot of trouble. Thanks to David McClelland's book, it became clear that the need for achievement can manifest itself in different ways. A person will either do small easy tasks that they know they can do and get recognized for doing so, or they will take on extremely difficult tasks because they need to raise the bar every time. It has been found that employees motivated by the need for achievement tend to be more risk-averse. According to David McClelland they also love to experiment with new technologies. These people tend to be very diligent in their work. That's why they demand maximum recognition from the outside when they complete their tasks.

Advice to employers

If such people do not receive recognition, then they usually go two ways. Such an employee can continue to work and take on more responsibility, be creative and try to impress and get recognition, and thenhis need will be satisfied sooner or later. Or he will simply quit to find a job where he will be truly appreciated. Therefore, employers, managers, colleagues and employees must respect and motivate all employees who need to achieve, because they are first-class employees. This, according to David McClelland's Human Motivation, will result in a productive, happy and well-run team.

The path to success

Discovery of need

McClelland and his colleagues' research on achievement motivation has a special bearing on the art of leadership and management. David McClelland was interested in the possibility of intentionally evoking motivation to find out how people express their preferences for particular outcomes, which is a common problem in the phenomenon of motivation. In the course of these studies, the need for achievements was discovered.

The procedure in McClelland's original research was to arouse in the audience a concern about the accomplishments of each of its representatives. During this experiment, the psychologist discovered, by analyzing the test results, that each of the subjects had a completely different level of this need. Using results based on the Thematic Aperception Test, McClelland demonstrated that individuals in society can be divided into two types: those with a high need for achievement and those with a low need for achievement.

Further research

Since then, David McClelland and hisassociates expanded their needs analysis work to include in their research the individual abilities and requirements of different age and occupational groups, as well as nationalities. These studies have shown that the level of need for achievement increases with the growth of professional level. Entrepreneurs and top managers demonstrate the highest level. Other studies on the characteristics of high-profile individuals have shown that achievement at work is an end in itself. Monetary rewards serve only as an indicator of this achievement. In addition, these studies have shown that people with high emotional intelligence have a high need for achievement, while people with low emotional intelligence have an underestimated need for achievement. The latter will take risks only when their personal contribution will have a bearing on the final result of the activity. David McClelland is the author of the theory of motivation, and in this matter he can be trusted.

The need to belong

It's time to move on to the second point of the theory. The need to belong is a term popularized by David McClelland that describes a person's desire to feel belonging and belonging to a social group.

The need for belonging

McClelland's ideas were greatly influenced by the pioneering work of Henry Murray, who for the first time in history identified basic human psychological needs and motivational processes. It was Murray who laid out the taxonomy of needs, among which wereachievement, power and belonging, and placed them in the context of an integrated motivational model. People with a high need for belonging require warm interpersonal relationships and approval from those with whom they have regular contact. Having a strong connection with others makes a person feel like they are part of something important, which creates a strong impact on the entire team. People who place a lot of emphasis on a sense of belonging tend to be supportive of team members but may be less effective in leadership positions. A person who takes part in a group - whether it is a movement or a project - creates an atmosphere of solidarity and brotherhood in the team.

Satisfied need for belonging

The need for power

The need for power is a term that was popularized by renowned psychologist David McClelland in 1961. As stated earlier, McClelland was inspired by Murray's research and continued to develop the latter's theory, focusing on its application to the human population. McClelland's book The Attainable Society says that the will to power helps explain individuals' urges to take responsibility. According to his work, there are two kinds of power: social and personal.


McClelland defines the need for power as the desire to control other people to achieve their own goals and to realize certain ideas (for example, the idea of ​​"the common good"), and describes people who demandfrom the rest, not recognition and not a sense of belonging, but only loy alty and obedience. In his later research, McClelland refined his theory to include two different types of power motivation: the need for socialized power, expressed in so-called planned thinking - self-doubt and concern for others, and the need for personal power, expressed in thirst for struggle and sole control over others.

Will to power

Differences from the rest

Compared to people who value belonging or achievement, people with high Will to Power scores tend to be more argumentative, more assertive in group discussions, and more likely to feel frustrated when they feel powerless or not in control of the situation. They are more likely to seek or maintain a position in which they have the ability to control the actions of others.

Path to power

Global context

McClelland's research has shown that 86% of the population is dominated by one, two, or all three types of motivation. His subsequent research, published in the 1977 Harvard Business Review article "Power is the Great Motivator," showed that those in leadership positions had a high need for power and a low need for affiliation. His research has also shown that people with a high need for achievement will perform best if they are given projects in which they can succeed.on their own. Although people with a strong need for achievement can be successful lower-level managers, they are usually cut off from reaching top managerial positions. The psychologist also found that people with a high need for affiliation may not be the best top managers, but they still make great progress as ordinary employees. In short, David McClelland's theory showed how individual differences in motivation affect the production and activities of any work collective.

Popular topic