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Acquired Need Theory – Definition

Acquired Needs Theory Definition

Acquired needs theory is a theory which is based on the notion that people’s needs are acquired as they live their lives. It states that the needs are acquired through experiences of life. The needs are derived from the reaction to the stimuli in the external environment.

A Little More on What is the Acquired Needs Theory

According to McClellan, there are only three needs, achievement, affiliation, and power. These needs are tested using the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) that uses images. The respondents contemplate on the pictures and then create stories about them. These responses are evaluated and analyzed then the ratings attributed to each of the three needs is identified.

Managers are supposed to be aware of the attributes given to each of the three needs. They provide the basis for their use and effectiveness in a firm. Suppose a manager has high achievement needs. This does not mean that the manager will attempt to develop this same feeling in his subordinates; he may probably concentrate on his own need.

People who have high achievement needs are known as moderate risks takers since they need challenges to get the feeling of accomplishment. They do not attempt high-risk problems because of the high risk of failure. People like these are usually useful in situations that demand creativity and innovation.

Those individuals who have a high sense of association do communicate effectively with others. They usually favor tasks that the development and the maintenance of a relationship. The people who have a high need for power have a developed desire for influencing and controlling situations and people.

People who become excellent managers have a high need for organizational power, and this enables them to prioritize the needs of the organization. They need to control and organize the work of other people, resources and processes. One of the management principles is that the requirement for an association is constant in an organization in which individual power gives the ability to control the organization parts to the upper and middle management.

Some of the necessary elements for the application of McClelland’s theory include:

  •  Achievement need requires moderately challenging jobs. These are not very difficult jobs that have a low probability of success.
  •  For one to achieve professional progression, he needs to engage in situations that have a certain degree of difficulty for him to learn through solving problems.
  • People who have motivation for achievement are individually capable. When a team has motivated members, it also becomes highly active.
  • People who have a high need for affiliation work well when in group situations
  • Those who have a high need for power tend to have control over others. This need is essential in cases such as negotiations and objective oriented projects.

Having a high need for achievement does not mean that one is a good manager since one may be more interested in their achievements than in directing. Therefore a manager does not need a high need for achievement or membership.

References for Acquired Needs Theory

Academic Research on the Acquired Needs Theory


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