Human Needs

Human Needs The concept of need is controversial—at least in some academic circles. Some theorists argue that the idea is too vague and ethereal. Others say that people’s needs are so variable and influenced by their surroundings that the concept offers little help in explaining behavior. Goal-setting theory  suggests that managers do better to emphasize specific performance goals than to worry about employees’ psychic needs. Economists like Jensen and Meckling (1994) argue that people’s willingness to trade off one thing for another (time for money or sleep for entertainment) disproves the idea of need.

Despite this academic skepticism, needs are a central element in everyday psychology. Parents worry about the needs of their children, politicians promise to meet the needs of constituents, and managers make an effort to understand the needs of workers. That’s how Wegmans, a grocery chain that perennially ranks high on Fortune magazine’s list of best places to work (number two in 2017), states its philosophy: “We set our goal to be the very best at serving the needs of our customers. Every action we take should be made with this in mind. We also believe that we can achieve our goal only if we fulfill the needs of our own people”

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