Maslow on the applicability of his theory to the world of work

In management and in industrial and organizational psychology, Maslow’s theory of needs and motivation is considered to be true at least in its core, and it is believed that it can be applied to the behavior of people in the world of work. Maslow himself was more critical here:

“My work on motivations came from the clinic, from a study of neurotic people. The carry-over of this theory to the industrial situation has some support from industrial studies, but certainly I would like to see a lot more studies of this kind before feeling finally convinced that this carry-over from the study of neurosis to the study of labor in factories is legitimate. The same thing is true of my studies of self-actualizating people – there is only this one study of mine available. There were many things wrong with the sampling, so many in fact that it must be considered to be, in the classical sense anyway, a bad or poor or inadequate experiment. I am quite willing to concede this – as a matter of fact, I am eager to concede it – because I’m a little worried about this stuff which I consider to be tentative being swallowed whole by all sorts of enthusiastic people, who really should be a little more tentative in the way that I am” (Maslow,1965: 55).

Of course, one could argue that Maslow did not correctly assess how generalizable his theory is. I mean, we should take Maslow’s scepticism as a model.

Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970), American professor of psychology who created Maslow’s hierarchy of needs*

I no longer teach Maslow’s need theory in my HRM classes, although it is an crucial part of the history of behavioral and motivation theory. The reason for this is that students usually only remember Maslow’s pyramid of needs in their exams regarding behavioral theories, while other and better proven theories (e.g. the expectancy theories or the theory of social learning) recede into the background. This may have something to do with the fact that the representation of Maslow’s theory in graphic form is much easier to remember than representations of other theories. The simple representation could also be a cause of its popularity in management theory: It is very easy to make a PowerPoint slide with the pyramide of needs, and it is also easy to teach the basic idea. It is not that easy with the expectancy theory or the social learning theory. (Apart from that, the theory can be used to justify nearly any practical recommendation, for instance for the design of wage sysems, cf. Nienhüser 1998).

Maslow himself would have been reluctant to give recommendations for designing the world of work.


  • Maslow, A.H. 1965: Eupsychian management. Homewood, IL: Irwin.
  • Nienhüser, W. 1998: Die Nutzung personal- und organisationswissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse in Unternehmen. Eine Analyse der Bestimmungsgründe und Formen auf der Grundlage theoretischer und empirischer Befunde. In: Zeitschrift für Personalforschung, 1998, 12. Jg., H. 1, S. 21-49. PDF zum download), danke an Rainer Hampp-Verlag; die im PDF fehlende Abbildung von Seite 28 finden Sie hier.

* Source of the picture: I don’t have the copyright for the picture, let me know if this is a probem. Source:

“We Provoked Business Students to Unionize” – a good example for critical teaching

If you want to know, what good critical teaching is, you should read this article. Body and mind, feeling and thinking are being connected in the classroom (

Abstract. “Many industrial relations (IR) scholars experience some angst at their (mis)placement in business schools. While our Abstract Many industrial relations (IR) scholars experience some angst at their (mis)placement in business schools. While our expertise broadens the curriculum, the topics central to IR and union?management matters often are met with student resistance, particularly in North America. At our wits? end, we decided to employ a deception simulation. We devised an award winning exercise that broke business students? psychological contract with their professor and gave them an opportunity to organize collectively to redress this injustice. Students observed first-hand the triggers of union organizing as well as their responses to inequity. Anonymous student feedback showed an overwhelmingly positive reception to the exercise. Ethical standards developed to scrutinize deception are used to review our own exercise according to our profession?s standards. Deception is rarely used in teaching and is often associated with malevolent, callous or selfish ends. We challenge this viewpoint. Its power is in generating relevant controversies and evoking emotions that help memory consolidation.” (Taras/Steel 2007: 179)

See also: at

Teaching alternative forms of work and organization – Audebrand/Camus/Michaux (2017): A Mosquito in the Classroom

[reblogged from Kritische Organisationsforschung]

To learn and to teach something about alternative forms of work and organization is one of the urgent tasks of critical management and organization studies. However, one of the most striking problems in teaching alternatives is the lack of imagination, that is the idea that these are real and possible alternatives. As Gibson-Graham (2006: XV) write about their own experiences: „In the face of a new discourse of the diverse economy, participants in our projects can easily recognize the activities and enterprises it names, but they cannot readily identify with the alternative subject positions it avails. Most of them get up in the morning wanting a job – and if not wanting one, feeling they need one – rather than an alternative economy”.

One idea to cope with this problem seems to reframe it or to tackle it in a roundabout way. Luc Audebrand and colleagues introduce cooperatives into the classroom via the topic and reflection of paradoxes in organizations. They argue that “despite the absence of the cooperative business model in mainstream management textbooks and curricula, this model can offer a high pedagogical value for management education in that it can foster paradoxical thinking” (Audebrand et al. 2017: 216).

Said this, we can think about several other topics which makes it possible to introduce alternatives. Just think about power, participation, democracy or sustainability and maybe then alternatives are just around the corner or at least are worth to talk about it in the classroom.


Audebrand, Luc K., Annie Camus, und Valérie Michaud. 2017. A Mosquito in the Classroom: Using the Cooperative Business Model to Foster Paradoxical Thinking in Management Education. Journal of Management Education 41 (2): 216–248. doi: 10.1177/1052562916682552. []

Gibson-Graham, J. K. 2006. The end of capitalism (as we knew it). A feminist critique of political economy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Call for papers: “Teaching Social Economics during the Global Financial Crisis”

Call for papers: “Teaching Social Economics during the Global Financial Crisis”

International Journal of Social Economics

 The Associate editor of the International Journal of Social Economics, Professor John Marangos, invites papers for a special issue with the theme “Teaching Social Economics during the Global Financial Crisis”.

The current literature on the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) focuses mostly on the causes of the crisis and the economic and social impact on the international economy without adequate attention being paid to the impact and the challenges of the GFC on the teaching of social economics. Economics by definition is “social economics” and as such papers of all paradigms of economics will be considered for possible publication as long as the main theme deals with teaching of economics.

The papers should examine and explicitly deal with teaching issues of socio-economic theory and practice during the GFC. Researchers should aim to demonstrate innovative ways in incorporating in their teaching the GCF and the impact of those innovative ways to student learning. The papers should examine and question the prevailing consensus in teaching economics and as such illustrate alternative teaching strategies incorporating the crisis for the benefit of student learning. The teaching methodology adopted should preferably be social, holistic, historical, dynamic and comparative in nature.

The special issue will include one Graduate Student Research Paper. The Associate editor invites graduate students to submit research papers.  Proof of graduate student status should be provided with the submission. While the students’ papers will go through the regular review process and be held to the same standards for acceptance as other submissions, the panel of reviewers will serve a mentoring role to advise the student to strengthen the paper. The best student paper will be published.

The International Journal of Social Economics operates a double-blind peer review process with a minimum of two referees per paper

  • International Journal of Social Economics is indexed in Scopus and has a CiteScore of 0.56 (Scopus source). The journal is also listed in the Web of Science Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI). As well as providing a mark of quality for the journal, inclusion in the ESCI and Scopus allow papers published in the journal to be searchable, discoverable and citable via the Web of Science.
  • Managerial Finance is ranked by key journals rankings lists, such as The Association of Business Schools’ (ABS) Academic Journal Guide 2015 (the Guide), and the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC)
  • The journal has enjoyed a 28% increase in article downloads in 2016, reaching 235,594 downloads. This indicates the journal is receiving much wider exposure and interest.

Those interested should submit an extended abstract of 300 words by 1 of November 2017 as a word attachment. Approved papers should be submitted by 1 of May 2018.

For queries and abstract submissions contact:

John Marangos, Professor,
Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies,
University of Macedonia, Greece.

Didaktische Materialien zur Europäischen Schuldenkrise

Die Gesellschaft für sozioökonomische Bildung und Wissenschaft (GSÖBW) weist auf folgende Lehr- bzw. Lernmaterialien hin, die Till van Treeck im Auftrag der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung verfasst hat:

“Die freien Bildungsmaterialien zur Schuldenkrise vermitteln Grundlagen im Bereich makroökonomischer Konzepte. Über Hintergrundtexte können Standpunkte im größeren Kontext betrachtet und ökonomischen Schulen zugeordnet werden. Daneben gibt es eine Vielzahl an Datenmaterial und Arbeitsblättern. Die vorliegenden didaktischen Materialien begleiten das Dossier “Europäische Schuldenkrise” und verfolgen dabei folgende Ziele:

  • Anhand von Hintergrundtexten sollen Grundlagen im Bereich makroökonomischer Konzepte gelegt werden. Diese sollen helfen, die in den Videos und in den 17 schriftlichen Debatten des Dossiers formulierten Standpunkte im größeren Kontext zu betrachten und konkurrierenden ökonomischen Denkschulen zuzuordnen. Im Mittelpunkt steht dabei der Ideenstreit zwischen den Denkschulen der Neoklassik (Angebotsorientierung) und des Keynesianismus (Nachfrageorientierung).
  • Es wird relevantes Datenmaterial zum besseren Verständnis der wirtschaftlichen Problemlagen im Euroraum aufbereitet. Die Lernenden können so ein Verständnis dafür gewinnen, wie technische ökonomische Kennziffern (z.B. Wirtschaftswachstum, Haushaltsdefizite, Staatsverschuldung, Exportüberschüsse und -defizite) im Zusammenhang interpretiert werden können.
  • Mit Hilfe von Arbeitsblättern können Lernende die Inhalte der Hintergrundtexte und Debatten in Eigenarbeit wiederholen und durchdringen. Lehrende können auf zusätzliche Lösungsblätter zurückgreifen.” (Quelle:

Wem gehören die großen Unternehmen?

Wem gehören die großen Unternehmen? Restrukturierung des Eigentums während der Finanzkrise in Deutschland und den USA

Beitrag von Werner Nienhüser, David Peetz, Georgina Murray in WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2016, Seiten 584–594


Das Eigentum an großen Unternehmen konstituiert gesellschaftliche Macht. Der Beitrag stellt deshalb die Frage: Wem gehören die 200 umsatzstärksten in der Realwirtschaft tätigen Unternehmen in Deutschland und in den USA? Hat sich durch die Finanzkrise etwas an den Eigentümerstrukturen verändert, etwa die Konzentration des Eigentums? Unsere Befunde für die Zeiträume 2006/2007 und 2009/2010 zeigen, dass in beiden Ländern Finanzinvestoren wie BlackRock einen erheblichen Anteil an den Aktien großer Nicht-Finanzunternehmen besitzen. BlackRock verwaltet in Deutschland 5 % und in den USA 13 % der Aktien der 200 größten Unternehmen. Nimmt man den zweitgrößten Vermögensverwalter (Capital Group) hinzu, dann kontrollieren diese beiden Unternehmen in Deutschland 11 % und in den USA 23 % der Aktienanteile. In beiden Ländern hat die Konzentration des Aktienbesitzes zugenommen. Der hohe Anteil der Aktien, den das Finanzkapital besitzt, hat sich trotz oder wegen der Krise kaum verändert.

Filme und TV-Serien über Arbeit

[modifiziert übernommen von Kritische Organisationsforschung]

In seinem instruktiven Beitrag „>Arbeit< diskursanalytisch in den Blick nehmen. Das Promotionskolleg ‚Die Arbeit und ihre Subjekte – Mediale Diskursivierungen von Arbeit seit 1960′“ in der Zeitschrift für Diskursforschung verweist Rolf Parr (Universität Duisburg-Essen) auf eine Reihe von Filmen und Serien seit den 1970er Jahren, welche Arbeit in unterschiedlicher Weise ‚in den Blick nehmen‘.

Der Einsatz von Filmen über Arbeitsverhältnisse und Arbeitskämpfe in der Lehre eröffnet sowohl einen Blick auf historische Veränderungen und Kontinuitäten von Arbeit, auf globale Arbeitsverhältnisse und die politische Ökonomie der Organisation von Arbeit als auch deren kritische Reflexion durch das Medium Film. All dies kann helfen, heutige Selbstverständlichkeiten bezogen auf die Zumutungen der Arbeitswelt zu hinterfragen.

Hier die genannten Titel in alphabetischer Reihenfolge (danke an Rolf Parr für die Erlaubnis, diese Liste hier wiederzugeben):

  • „Acht Stunden sind kein Tag“ (R.W. Fassbinder, BRD 1972-1973)
  • „Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik“ (H. Farocki, BRD 1995)
  • „Brassed off“ (M. Herman, GB/USA 1996)
  • „Freigestellt. Die Zukunft der Arbeit in Zeiten des Überflusses.“ (C. Stigel, BRD 2012)
  • „Frohes Schaffen. Ein Film zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral“ (K. Faigle, BRD 2012)
  • „Hände weg vom Interessenausgleich“ (Arbeit und Film (AUF), BRD 1978)
  • „Hat er Arbeit?“ (K. Wessels, BRD 2001)
  • „Jede Menge Kohle“ (A. Winckelmann, BRD 1981)
  • „Lichter“ (H.C. Schmid, BRD 2003)
  • „Mit Schlips und Kragen“ (Arbeit und Film (AUF), BRD 1981)
  • „Out of Darkness: The Mine Worker’s Story“ (B. Kopple/B. Davies, USA 1990)
  • „Prinzessinnenbad“ (B. Blümner, BRD 2007)
  • „Riff-Raff“ (K. Loach, GB 1991)
  • „Roger & Me“ (M. Moore, USA 1989)
  • „Rosetta“ (J.-P. und L Dardenne, BE/F 1998)
  • „The Wire“ (USA 2002-2008)
  • „Union Maids“ (J. Klein/J. Reichert/M. Mogulescu, USA 1976)
  • „Wohin? Angestellte und Arbeiter im Kampf um die Sicherung ihrer Arbeitsplätze“ (Arbeit und Film (AUF), BRD 1979)
  • „Work hard, Play hard“ (C. Losmann, BRD 2012)
  • „Yella“ (C. Petzold, BRD 2007)
  • „Working Stiffs“ (Fernsehserie, USA 1979)