In Industrial-Organizational [I/O] psychology, motivation is referred to how people choose to behave a certain way to obtain a goal in a work related activity. Individuals spend the majority of their day performing work-related activities to fulfill needs in life. Understanding Needs-based motivation theories help psychologists to understand an individuals aspiration behind how and why unmet needs are achieved in all aspects of life. (PSU World Campus, 2016). There are several Needs-based theories. A common Needs-based theory discussed and analyzed is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, The case study: Operation Enduring Freedom, illustrates the process of the core concepts of this theory. Identifying the prepotent need, discovering the steps of fulfillment progression helps give guidance on the solution to fulfill the unmet need. In the following case study, the motivation of Sergeant Smith is observed fulfilling needs utilizing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Additionally, Alderfer's ERG (existence, relatedness, growth) continuum is highly relate-able to the case study, as well. Utilizing these two theories, this case analysis will offer insight into the questions, what happens when needs are not met, does the fulfillment of needs with focus on the self-esteem directly relate to work performance, and is motivation more greatly influenced by extrinsic environmental factors or intrinsic motivational goals? Need-based theories have their strengths and weaknesses, however, the individual desire to voluntarily fulfill an unmet need can be seen not only in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and ERG, but in the core of all the theories.
. CASE DESCRIPTION
In 2012, US Marines located in Afghanistan were heavily involved in Operation Enduring Freedom. The United States developed Operation Enduring Freedom for Coalition Forces that had been fighting against the Taliban from October 2001 until December 2014. Marine Sergeant "Smith" was a team leader in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan at this time. Being a Sergeant team leader consisted of being liable for not only the efficiency of his fellow Marines' welfare, morale, and discipline, but keeping up with the gear as well. Sergeant "Smith" daily responsibilities included keeping all gear on inventory in safe and usable condition. Advising higher headquarters of daily agendas of planned and upcoming operations. He had to effectively communicate and coordinate with the commanders of the support units on the best way for his team to provide intelligence support. It was his duty to ensure his team was well nourished with food and maintain shelter requirements. In addition to maintaining his role and responsibilities as a team leader, Sergeant Smith distinguished himself by developing new techniques to provide support to the infantry. During the course of his deployment, his efforts directly contributed to one of the lowest casualty rates for the supported infantry units in 5 years of combat operations in the Helmand Province. Sergeant Smith efforts were recognized when he received a Naval and Marine Corps Commendation Medal upon return from the deployment.
After reintegration to the continental United States, Sergeant Smith once again was just another sergeant in the battalion. The latitude efforts and responsibility of being a team leader, that the Sergeant grew accustom to in a war like environment were suddenly no longer needed. Instead of being the one to go to all of the meetings to plan training and operations, he was required to follow orders of how and what to do by his Staff Sergeant. In this position he felt he no longer possessed the ability to affect change for his Marines. Consequently, he became disenfranchised with the Marines and began to regress from being the dependable Marine he once was. His behaviors and ethics started to change, he began to come to work intoxicated, from late nights at concerts and hanging out with his new found work friends. Sergeant Smith went from being an example of an extraordinarily decorated Marine leader in the battalion to a cautionary tale for the command, when describing on how not to be a model Marine.
Sergeant Smith felt as if the Marines left him in Afghanistan and decided to get out after 8 years of service and pursue a career in the field of education. Now that he has been out for 4 years, he has quickly risen to be one of the educational team leaders in his company. His job now is to provide training to the battalion that once left him behind. He is in charge of a team of former Marines and Soldiers that provides intelligence training across the Marine Corps and Army and is highly sought after, particularly for training during the pre-deployment cycle of many intelligence units.
The aforementioned case is a classic example of how various unmet needs can take hinder on a person's ability to live up to certain abilities and characteristics that they possess. Sergeant Smith was clearly an exemplary Marine and someone that others could rely and count on. This was evident during his deployment, as Sergeant Smith excelled in various areas of leadership, high morale, work quality, and effectiveness were not only noticed of him, but also his team. While each of his needs were being met, he was able to focus on being great at everything that he did. When Sergeant Smith returned, his assignment no longer offered the opportunities that allowed him to find satisfaction in goal achievement or needs satisfaction. The result of unmet needs for Sergeant Smith effected not only his progression to growth satisfaction, or self actualization, but also affected the his relatedness, or social and esteem needs. In, turn this had a negative affect on how others perceived him, and how he viewed himself.
Let's take into account Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs; according to this theory, unmet needs are defined as the "prepotent needs." The Needs Hierarchy consists of five "needs" categories. The five categories in order from the very basic need, physiological, then safety, then social/love, then esteem, then self actualization. They form a triangle, lower-order(basic) must be met before achieving the higher-order needs (PSU World Campus, 2016). Starting with the very basic need physiological, this must be met before safety,love In Sergeant Smith's case, when he returned from his deployment, he lost the esteem (a high-order need) that he had earned while being a major presence and source of improvement as a team leader. He no longer experienced that same sense of worth and that one single loss of a need created a downward spiral on the hierarchy. Soon, he struggled to fulfill his safety needs and was putting himself into harmful situations. This is where fulfillment progression, as Maslow believed, goes into play. This suggests that when low-order needs are not met, high-order needs cannot be met either and inevitably his career as a Marine had come to a close.
Smith began to find himself again and was able recognize his effective leadership attributes by pursuing a career in the education field. This journey also supports Maslow's idea of prepotent need and fulfillment progression. Smith had find his place in the world again after his career with the Marines. Once his basic psychological prepotent needs were met. Through self-preservation he was able to establish a basic stable environment, which fulfilled the preptent need of safety. After meeting the basic needs, Smith was able to excel in the next two categories of social needs and esteem needs. After feeling he did not have a place in the Marines any longer, he decided to become a student, which gave him a sense of belonging and acceptance. Once he surpassed his duties as a student, he established his place as an educational leader working with the Marines. This is helping him fulfill his last prepotent need of self-actualization. Now Smith can use his experience with self improvement to recognize it in his followers and help them excel in their individual fulfillment progression.
In regards to the ERG theory, Sergeant Smith's growth needs were being blocked so he was regressing back to existence needs by drinking and being in dangerous situations. He was suffering from the frustration-regression idea of fulfillment. These needs do not operate on a strict or concrete line so it does mean that one need has to be met before the next one can be. This case is also a clear example of how one can work their way back up the hierarchy in ERG and once again, reap the same success that stems from meeting and conquering the levels of needs. Sergeant Smith understood what he was missing and he went out and worked for it. He got out of the career that made him reckless and found a career that gives him the satisfaction that he thrives on.
The ERG theory proposes that needs can be met in a back and forth movement, from one category to another. If growth needs are lacking, one might regress back to relatedness, or with no satisfaction in relatedness needs, one might revert back to existence, for satisfaction. This was evident in Sergeant Smith's behavior. The need for a new environment, for Sergeant Smith to seek satisfaction in relatedness, as well as growth needs, became apparent, and motivated by desire to satisfy unmet goals, Sergeant Smith decided to change his surroundings and direction of focus. Now, after what seems to be a lifetime in the military, Sergeant Smith affiliates himself with a new identity, and set of proposed goals. The environment Sergeant Smith found satisfaction in during his time of deployment, although not similar in observable surroundings, is similar to his new environment, in relation to intrinsic motivational factors, and the opportunity for relatedness and growth, as once again, he prospered. The notion that needs or the satisfaction of those needs are not forever changing is not compatible with the ERG theory, growth yields a greater desire for more growth. Sergeant Smith provides a great example of noted regression-frustration, leading to satisfaction-progression, when environment is adjusted.
The case study Operation Enduring Freedom, is a perfect example for Maslows' Theory. Not only does it provide an exceptional picture of Smith being at the top of the triangle meeting all the prepotent needs, and with a change in circumstances falling and struggling to meet the very basic need in the Hierarchy.. It also provides a clear picture of struggling with the basic need and climbing his was back to the top of Maslow's Needs Hierarchy. When Smith began to meet the basic needs again, he was a Sergeant Smith, upon leaving the Marines, lost his relatedness needs and his professional and personal growth needs were no longer being met. His existence needs were being met but he teetered on crossing dangerous lines by placing himself in harmful situations. By initiating change, Sergeant Smith was able to improve motivational drive once again, opening opportunities for needs satisfaction, and determining direction towards achievement. He was able to move into a career where he could fulfill the growth and relatedness needs which were unmet during his period of reintegration at Garrison environment. Self-esteem is highly relatable to performance. This premise, is evident throughout the case study. When viewed as a leader, Sergeant Smith excelled in performance. Once the opportunities for goal satisfaction were removed, especially by decreasing levels of autonomy and worth, Sergeant Smith's performance noted dissatisfaction. In regards to the ERG theory, Sergeant Smith's growth needs were being blocked so he was regressing back to existence needs by drinking and being in dangerous situations. He was suffering from the frustration-regression idea of fulfillment. These needs do not operate on a strict or concrete line so it does mean that one need has to be met before the next one can be. With respect to Sergeant Smith, as focus was determined and his goals established, he was able to utilize his previous knowledge base of military intelligence training, and incorporate his ability to engage others while providing life saving information. When contemplating the extent of effect in relation to environment, one could ponder the question similar to that of nurture verses nature. Sergeant Smith both supports the finding that, given a new environment a stagnant individual can thrive, as well as supporting that with opportunity Sergeant Smiths intrinsic motivators allowed for prosperity. Although one might see Sergeant Smith as a consultant, not an actual active member of the armed forces, his history allows for gained satisfaction in relatedness needs, as well as a new direction in determining growth goals, allowing for prolonged satisfaction by meeting and reestablishing new growth goals. As apparent in this case study, change is often the catalysts to new beginnings and the opportunity for satisfaction and success.
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