ERG Theory


The ERG principles can be applied by managers to a wide variety of situations. Suggestions are provided on how to successfully implement some of the theory’s propositions and raise awareness of the multiple needs of employees.

Technique Overview

ERG Theory

ERG Theory Definition

The ERG theory, proposed by Clayton Alderfer in 1969, seeks to rank human needs in a hierarchy. ERG stands for three need levels: Existence, Relatedness and Growth. Although based on the famous work of Maslow, it "differs from Maslow's theory in three ways: (1) it allows different levels to be pursued simultaneously; (2) it allows the order of needs to be different for different people; and (3) when the highest level of needs remain unfulfilled, a person may regress to a lower level of needs that are relatively easier to satisfy" (Chang & Yuan, 2007).

ERG Theory Description *

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Business Evidence

Strengths, weaknesses and examples of ERG Theory *

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Business Application

Implementation, success factors and measures of ERG Theory *

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Professional Tools

ERG Theory videos and downloads *

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Further Reading

ERG Theory web and print resources *

ERG Theory references (4 of up to 20) *

  • Alderfer, C, P. (1969) An empirical test of a new theory of human needs. Organizational behaviour and human performance. Vol. 14 (2) pp.142-175.
  • Alderfer, C, P. (1972) Existence, Relatedness, and Growth: Human Needs in Organizational Settings, Free Press, New York.
  • Alderfer, C. P., & Guzzo, R.A. (1979) Life Experience and Adults' Enduring Strength of Desires in Organizations, Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 347-361.
  • Arnolds, C.A. & Boshoff, C. (2002) Compensation, Esteem Valence and Job Performance: An Empirical Assessment of Alderfer's ERG Theory, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 13(4), 697-719.

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