Blue Flower

Part 2: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the Organisation

This is the second article in a series of three articles on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The other articles are:

  1. Maslow and the Person;
  2. Maslow and the Nation;

In this article I will look into the Hierarchy of Needs for an organization. A business starts with an entrepreneur with a good idea. Production is started. Business is going great, it begins to grow. Tasks are created, merged, split and shared. At one point there is a group of people with similar interests within the company. Together they form the organization.


An organization is a focused pooling of knowledge, skills and commitment of several people who use resources and activities to meet the needs of others for products or services. Within an organisation processes take place where people collaborate towards a certain goal. There is a division of labour between those who participate in the process, and the various activities within a process need to be coordinated.

So an organisation consists of people. And like one person can pursue different needs to get to self-actualisation, so will a group of people pursue different needs and finally pursue self-actualisation. Would this organisation of people not pursue the same needs a single person pursues?

The entrepreneur starts his or her company. The first time it will be touch and go but then business is going so well it cannot be done by one person anymore. The income of the company is high enough to hire a second person to get the work done. As the business grows, more personnel is hired. Whenever there is enough money coming in the company is expanded. Subsistence is what motivates the entrepreneur in his or her choices.

Next the entrepreneur will pursue financial security. Money will be reserved for a rainy day. The company generates enough revenue to meet its current and future obligations.

As with the person in the previous part of this series the first two categories determine survival of the organisation. When these needs are fulfilled the company can start to work on reaching the other three. The next need is the need for community. Within this community of businesses knowledge is exchanged. Knowledge about the market the businesses operate in and the government the businesses have to deal with.

When the social needs are ensured the need for appreciation and recognition is pursued. Not only the need for appreciation and recognition of fellow businesses, but also of its customers, its employees and its financiers. High prices or a production process with negative sides like pollution or with safety issues are detrimental to appreciation. In the end you want to be an organisation where your employees like to work, with which other companies like to do business with and where your customers like to buy.

Finally,theneed for self-actualisation. What should a business strive for to achieve everything that is possible? Should the company strive for becoming the ultimate business? The company dictating prices to its buyers, uses up the environment, dictate its will? Leaving aside that this is a bit too "1984", others will step in who will compete with you. Not maximizing revenue should be the final goal, but delivering a positive contribution to society.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. Corporate Social Responsibility is not something that has to be a money drain. It can be an aid in recruitment and retention, particularly in the market for graduate students. It can be an aid while managing your risks. Building a reputation can take years, but can be destroyed in a few hours through incidents like corruption or environmental scandals. Furthermore it helps to distinguish your company from compatible organizations within the market. It can play a role in building customer loyalty based on distinctive ethical values.

Next time I will write about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in again another setting: Maslow and the Nation.