ERG Theory & Multicultural Workplace
ERG Theory is an improvised version of Abraham Maslow’s (1908-1970) famous model of Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow’s, 2008), created by Clayton Alderfer after prolonged research, which adds more flexibility in determining the needs of an individual, which it does by reorienting the elements from Maslow’s model into three segments like
Existence (E) – It involves physiological and safety needs.
Relatedness (R) – It contains social and external esteem needs.
Growth (G) – Self-actualization and internal esteem needs. (ERG, 2007).
Clayton’s model allows to set the order of needs according to the existing need structure of an employee, besides providing the scope to pursue different needs simultaneously. Accordingly, company can motivate any individual on any of the E, R or G needs – while looking after an individual’s E need (say, where an employee needs a safety measure), the company can look after the same individual’s R needs (like awarding her for her achievement) and G needs (inducting the individual in the think tank of the department).
Founded by Martin Fishbein in the 1970-s, this theory suggests that people “mould themselves to the world in accordance with their expectations/beliefs and evaluations”. This theory is very useful to explain social behaviors, achievement motivation and work motivation. (Expectancy, 2004)
This theory suggests that behavior or behavioral intentions or attitudes evolve out of expectancy and evaluation, where the expectancy is an idea about a situation or object and evaluation is one’s estimation about the impact of that idea/situation/object on any plane.
If the entire team of a workplace can adopt a vision in the light of the Expectancy Value Theory, where they would ‘expect’ that they are devoted to the collective goal. Once armed with this vision, the following areas of communication would definitely take a new turn as the outcome of reorientation of one’s approach to the world.
Intrapersonal communication: Here the evaluation system would work on a positive plane, like “I’m attached to an important organ of the society and thus I have more responsibility to meet its expectations”
Communication with clients: There will be more patience and interest in communication with the clients;
Team Communication: There would be less conflict of ego or other minor areas of personal interests, as the greater cause will influence all members to align their approach towards the perceived goal (achieving high standards of service)
The primary requirement of any training in this regard is to ensure that the managers can apply cultural competency. The needs in various sectors cannot be the same, and thus the training modules should be in accordance with the need of the workplace where it would be applied.
Example 1: Kwong’s Model. Training towards developing multicultural acumen, can always be customized from the general models as cited by the researcher Miu Ha Kwong, which has three parts like below:
A fundamental framework: This module should work towards developing the cultural sensitivity and awareness among the subjects. This part should emphasis on attitudinal and cultural development of the subjects, where personal development would include bicultural experiences and subjects’ proximity to other cultures, besides other developmental processes. This part should be guided by communication theories.
Essential Components: The second part should contain the essential components of culturally competent practice, besides delving deep into the elements required for such practice.
Assessment and Reorientation: The third part would deal with evaluation to increase the efficacy of application under the framework set by the company. It is here the subjects would review their ability and would try to refine it further.
Example 2: Grigg’s Model. Thomas S. Griggs from Visions Inc., an inveterate trainer, proposes a two-day training module by. Griggs takes the issue from the perspective of establishing learning environment and multicultural language and skills, where he briefs the training program with five points as mentioned below:
An adult learning model: This would incorporate cognitive, affective and behavioral aspects;
Introducing a common conceptual framework and language: This would be done to understand the complexities of work under situations that contain race/color, gender, class, age, religion, sexual orientation, ability, etc.
Providing opportunity to the participants to explore their own cultural identity, assumptions etc: This would facilitate all to highlight their own cultures before others.
Providing Guidelines for creating good atmosphere: This would enhance common understanding.
Applications Work sessions: This would meet specific objectives of the Diversity Committee and Senior Leadership (Griggs, 2005).
The quality of a modern day manager is measured by his/her ability to successfully guide, govern, handle and exploit a multicultural ambience or workplace to the maximum benefit for his/her company. For that matter, a methodical training is essential, where the managers should learn theories of communication and human behavior and should take lessons from case studies, besides applying the methods of unifying the employees or potential business prospects with the processes of his/her cherished goal or outcome. Therefore, imparting such training programs for their managers would be the right way for the companies who want attain success and maintain competitive advantage amid all situations.
ERG Theory (2007) Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, Inc. [online] available from http://www.netmba.com/mgmt/ob/motivation/erg/ [accessed 19 June 2008]
Expectancy Value Theory (2008) [online] available from http://www.tcw.utwente.nl/theorieenoverzicht/Theory%20clusters/Public%20Rela tions%2C%20Advertising%2C%20Marketing%20and%20Consumer%20Behavio r/Expectancy_Value_Theory.doc/ [accessed 20 June 2008]