Anyone who has sat through a psychology course has seen Abraham H. Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a pyramid capped by the highest human need of all, the need for, what Maslow famously termed, self-actualization. Since his death in 1970, Maslow's voluminous writings have made him one of the most influential thinkers in counseling psychology. He is a revered father figure to the human potential movement. But few know him as a brilliantly insightful analyst of how to lead people and make organizations more productive. Maslow on Management should change that.
In 1962, Maslow spent the summer at an electronics factory that was one of the first to try giving workers a say in organizing production. He watched and kept a journal, later published under the intimidating title Eupsychian Management. The book, which had been long out of print, has been republished with extensive commentaries as Maslow on Management.
Some of Maslow on Management is, as Warren Bennis writes in the foreword, "hilariously innocent." Reflecting on the power of well-managed workplaces to unleash creativity, Maslow suggests that the U.S. economy would benefit "if we kept all the factories running at full blast and simply gave things away." Yet his deeper point--that good management leads to good psychological health--is startlingly advanced for 1962, when the business world was still widely thought of as nurturing nothing more than soulless conformity. He was surprisingly prescient, too, in warning that participatory management taken to excess becomes sloppy and weak. While encouraging open communication, an effective leader "should have the power and the ability to keep his mouth shut," Maslow writes. He advises that gentle, permissive management is fine if workers share democratic values, but if not, "break their backs immediately."
Full of rambling, half-finished thoughts and provocative speculations, Maslow on Management is no nine-step plan for building winning work teams. But anyone seriously interested in understanding management will find the book useful as a fascinating reflection of a brilliant mind thinking deeply about the nature and purpose of work