Unformatted text preview: role interpretation, and the like) increase information costs for managers and thus
increase the odds of a Theory X approach as well. We are currently developing this argument.
4 Bobic and Davis A Kind Word for Theory X 1999). Aron (1977) feared that the hierarchy’s amoral structure would lead to a disregard for
ethical and political considerations other than the self, a fear Maslow shared (Rowan 1999).
Most critics also point to the fundamentally Western and speciﬁcally American bias
found in Maslow’s concept of self-actualization. Pearson (1999) argued that Maslow’s concept of self-actualization was based on a uniquely American concept of the individual. Mook
(1987) argued that this concept of the individual as the highest good contradicted many cultural constructs in non-Western societies. Related to this is the undercurrent of elitism in
Maslow’s writings (Buss 1979). Shaw and Colimore (1988) argued that Maslow’s discussion of self-actualized individuals was actually a validation of social and political elites and
implied a certain social Darwinism. As a result of these criticisms, some scholars wonder if
the hierarchy is itself an invalid concept (Schott and Maslow 1992).
Empirical Problems Empirical criticisms are just as numerous as the attacks on the theoretical basis. The most
common criticisms of Maslow’s hierarchy are that it has never been validated empirically
(Wahba and Bridwell 1976),5 that it is hard to reproduce (Heylighen 1992), and that efforts
to use or validate the construct often rely on redeﬁnition or restructuring of Maslow’s categories. Despite the creation of a valid index of self-actualization (Shostram 1965) and a
demonstration of the scalability of Maslow’s needs hierarchy (Porat 1977), the performance of Maslow’s hierarchy in empirical settings is not impressive.
Mook (1987), for example, studied prisoners in Nazi death camps. Contrary to Maslow’s
expectations, these people, when deprived of basic physical and safety needs, still demonstrated a pursuit of higher needs through compassion for fellow prisoners and altruism. Heylighen (1992) summarized a substantial body of literatu...
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