What Is David McClelland’s Theory of Achievement Motivation?


Theory of Achievement Motivation



David McClelland’s Theory of Achievement Motivation:

                  In the late 1940s David McCelland & his associates developed the theory of achievement motivation, which was regarded as one of the best economic theories of entrepreneurial development. They concentrated mainly on following three aspects;

  1. Need for achievement.
  2. Need for power.
  3. Need for affiliation.


  1. Need for achievement- A strong need for achievement ‘n Ach’ is found within certain individuals groups & communities. McClelland emphasized that the need for achievement or achievement orientation si the most important factor for explaining economic behavior. People having this need more likely to succeed as entrepreneurs. They strive incessantly for success in getting their way. They are also much self-confident that they do not believe in mere luck. They look upon money as the index of their achievement but basically they are not money oriented. Therefore, McClelland wrote ,”Need for achievement is a desire to do well, not so much for the sake of social recognition of prestige, but for the sake of an inner feeling of personal accomplishment.’
  2. Need for power- This pertains to a desire by a person to be influential in a group. People with need for power ‘n Pow’ believe in position of authority.

They seek leadership in politics, business, education or arts & feel satisfied having a great number of followers. All successful managers seem to have high need for power. They derive satisfaction to influence & direct authority.

  1. Need for affiliation- The persons with high need for affiliation are sensitive to social relationship. They are keen on warm & interpersonal relationship. They are associated with popularity, social support & friendship than with decision making. They love others & wish to be loved by others. This is not predominant among managers but this ‘n Aff’ greatly helps them in influencing their suibordinates.


           Thus theory of achievement motivation provides a deep introspection to the human behavior in general & entrepreneurial behavior in particular. It also glorifies the necessity of the Achievement Motivation Training (AMT) as an important tool for achievement of needs. Keeping in view the above needs, ‘n Ach’, ‘n Pow’, and ‘n Aff’, David McCleeland has pointed out that these factors, especially ‘n Ach’ are responsible for entrepreneurial development.



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