Alderfer’s modified need hierarchy model

Alderfer modified Maslow’s theory and developed a new perspective called the ERG Theory. Alderfer chose to name the theory ERG to represent Existence, Relatedness and Growth. According to Alderfer, the existence, relatedness and growth categories of the ERG Theory were more appropriate than the levels of Maslow’s hierarchy to describe human behavior. “Alderfer suggests these needs are more continuum than hierarchical levels. More than one need may be activated at the same time” (Mullins, 2010).

Existence: Refers to our concern with basic material existence motivators. Physiological and safety needs (such as hunger, thirst and safe condition).“Once the existence needs are satisfied, Alderfer believed that humans can move on to the next level of his hierarchy, relatedness needs” (Philip, 2005(52708.pdf).

Relatedness: Refers to the motivation we have for maintaining interpersonal relationships. Social and external esteem needs (such as involvement with family, friends, co-workers and employers). Alderfer fit Maslow's interpersonal love and esteem needs into the Relatedness category.

Growth: Refers to an intrinsic desire for personal development. Internal esteem and self-actualization need (such as the desire to be creative, productive and to complete meaningful tasks).


Alderfer, Clayton P., An Empirical Test of a New Theory of Human Needs; Organizational Behaviour and Human Performance, volume 4, issue 2, pp. 142–175, May 1969