SYMLOG vs. other modelsv
SYMLOG Trainingv
About Usv
Order Nowv

Overview of McClelland's Social Motives

David McClelland identifies three key needs which inform social dynamics between individuals, groups, and additionally at the level of entire nation-state societies:

  1. Need for Achievement (N ach)
    focus on goals, improving performance, task, measurable and tangible results; also associated with self-discipline, schedule-keeping, responsibility, success oriented, lack of group orientation;
  2. Need for Affiliation (N aff)
    focus on human companionship, interpersonal relations, concern for others;
  3. Need for Power (N pow)
    desire to control resources, others, the environment.

How McClelland's Social Motives Relate to SYMLOG Field Theory

Plot of Social Motives in SYMLOG Space

Heuristic Plot in SYMLOG Space of
Social Motives
(Click image to enlarge)

McClelland's study of needs is more closely related to the SYMLOG Individual and Organizational Values space than many other models addressing social interaction, because the latter tend to focus on behaviors. Thus a parallel may be found between the conflicting demands of the three key needs and the conflicts among the various SYMLOG Individual and Organizational Values. For instance, if the need for achievement is given primary attention, the need for affiliation will likely receive less emphasis.

The parallel between the two theories however is limited. Unlike the SYMLOG bipolar dimensions, McClelland's key needs are unidirectional. When these needs are mapped in the SYMLOG space, they account for activity only in the UPF octant. Need for power is akin to the Upward vector in the SYMLOG space, need for affiliation is akin to the Positive vector, and need for achievement to the Forward vector. Values and behavior that comprise the remaining seven octants of the SYMLOG three-dimensional model are not addressed.

Selected References

  • McClelland, D. (1961). The achieving society. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.

Contact Us
Privacy Policy
SYMLOG vs. other models
  • SYMLOG and KAI
  • SYMLOG and McClelland-Social Motives
  • SYMLOG and Blake and Mouton Leadership Grid
  • SYMLOG and DiSC
  • SYMLOG and Belbin
  • SYMLOG and Situational Leadership
  • Self Assessments
  • Leadership Development
  • Teamwork Development
  • Organizational Development
  • Publications
About Us
  • Principals
  • History