Read David McClelland Bio and Work Synopsis text version

David C. McClelland: Biographical Statement and Synopsis of His Work

By: Richard E. Boyatzis, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Weatherhead School of Mgt. Case Western Reserve University August 15, 2000 Personal Background:

Born: May 20, 1917 in Mt. Vernon, New York, USA Died: March 27, 1998 in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA Married first: Mary Sharpless, 1938, five children: Catherine, Duncan, Nicholas, Sarah, Jabez; second Marian Adams, 1984, two children: Mira and Usha Completed PhD in psychology, Yale University, 1941 Professor at Wesleyan University, Connecticut 1942-1956; American Friends Service Committee and Instructor, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, 1943-1945 Programme Director, Ford Foundation, 1952-53 Harvard University, 1949-50, 1956-1987, professor and chairman Department of Social Relations from 1962-1967, professor emeritus, 1987-1998

0410-9868-HYMR

David C. McClelland: Biographical Statement and Synopsis of His Work

Founded McBer and Company, 1963 Boston University, professor, 1987-1998 Few scholars have had as much impact as David C. McClelland on the research about and the practice of management. There have been four major themes in his work directly related to management. One was the creation of a theory of human motives and enlightening empirical base, most notably addressing the Needs for Achievement, Affiliation, Power, and the Leadership Motive Profile. A second theme was the definition of motivational change, establishment of empirical support for this theory, and the inspiring application projects at the individual, organizational, community, and national level in every continent except Antarctica. A third theme was the development of tests and operant methods, such as the Thematic Apperception Test, Behavioral Event Interview, and the Test of Thematic Analysis, that used have been in research and applications. A fourth theme was the development of jobcompetency studies, methods, and applications as a way to link human capabilities to performance.

A Theory of Human Motives

Human motivation, in David McClelland's perspective, is "a recurrent concern for a goal state or condition as measured in fantasy which drives, directs and selects the behavior of the individual" (McClelland, 1985). Building on the work of Henry Murray (1938), he focused on three particular motives: the Need for Achievement (N Ach); the Need for Affiliation (N Aff); and the Need for Power (N Pow). Most of his work focused on N Ach from the late 1940's through the 1960's (McClelland et al, 1953; McClelland, 1961; McClelland and Winter, 1969). N Pow emerged as a focal point of research in the late 1960's and through to the 1990's (McClelland et al, 1972; McClelland, 1975, 1985). The Need for Achievement is an unconscious drive to do better toward a standard of excellence. People with strong N Ach assess themselves to measure progress toward goals. They: set goals; strive to take moderate risks; prefer individual activities; prefer recreational activities during which a person can get a score, like golf; prefer occupations with performance data clearly available, like sales positions. The Need for Power is an unconscious drive to have impact on others. People with strong N Pow often assert themselves

2

0410-9868-HYMR

David C. McClelland: Biographical Statement and Synopsis of His Work

by: taking leadership positions; gambling, drinking alcoholic beverages, and committing aggressive acts; have high blood pressure; prefer interpersonally competitive sports, such as football; like to collect prestige possessions; and prefer occupations in which they can help or have impact on others, like teachers, ministers, or managers. The Need for Affiliation is an unconscious drive to be a part of warm, close relationships, like friendships. People with strong N Aff: choose to spend time with close friends or significant others; write letters or telephone friends or family; prefer to work in groups; are sensitive to others' reactions; prefer collaborative activities; and prefer occupations in which they work closely with others, such as elementary school teachers and counselors. McClelland's work and that of his colleagues established the importance of a person's "pattern" of these motives. Everyone has some level of each motive, but the relative dominance varies. The pattern of a person's motive strength that is indicative of occupational performance. For example, high N Ach, low N Aff, and moderate N Pow is characteristic of successful entrepreneurs throughout the world. High N Pow, moderate to low N Aff, moderate N Ach, and high Activity Inhibition (i.e., a measure of self-control) is characteristic of effective leaders, middle-level and executive managers (McClelland and Boyatzis, 1982). In addition to studying motives of individuals, David McClelland initiated a series of studies of motivational trends of societies. He established an empirical link between motivational themes in cultural modes of expression (e.g., hymns, myths, and children's books) and national events (e.g., the rise and fall of an economy, social movements, and wars) (McClelland, 1961, 1972, 1975). McClelland's definitions, data, and applications were cited as the most useful approach to motivation in a study by the former accounting firm, Touche Ross & Company (Miller, 1981).

0410-9868-HYMR

3

David C. McClelland: Biographical Statement and Synopsis of His Work

Changing Motives and Motivational Environments

David's concept of changing motives was simple-- if you know how people with a certain motive think and act, a person change their motives by changing the ways they think and act! After years of experiments in countries throughout the world, several observations can be made: people can change the shape of their motive profile; people will only change if they want to change; change cannot occur without a change in the person's environmental supports; and any of these attempts at motivational change increased a person's sense of efficacy. The earliest efforts by McClelland were to stimulate business and economic development by training small business owners in achievement thinking and behavior. It worked in India and other countries (McClelland and Winter, 1969) and then with minority owned and operated small businesses in the US (Miron and McClelland, 1979). The method was extended to the power motive in efforts to help alcoholics (McClelland et al, 1972) and then executives and middle-level managers in industry (McClelland and Burnham, 1976), even within the context of community development (McClelland et. al., 1975). David summarized his approach in an article published in 1965. Give people feedback about their current thinking patterns (i.e., motives) and behavior. Help them to understand the research on the relationship between motives and successful performance. Encourage them to set goals and plan for experimentation with new thought patterns and new behaviors. Attempt to create supportive systems, what we would now call support groups, learning teams, or self-designing study groups, and then ask them to re-evaluate progress toward their goals periodically.

Tests, Measures, and Operant Methods

The discoveries about motives and motivational change would not have been possible without operant measures. David McClelland had been an advocate of operant methods (i.e., tests where a person must generate thoughts or actions). He contrasted their rich data to the more traditional scores a person gets from "respondent" tests (i.e., tests calling for a true/false, rating or ranking response). A person demonstrates thought, emotion, action, and choices

4

0410-9868-HYMR

David C. McClelland: Biographical Statement and Synopsis of His Work

through operant measures. For example, in the Thematic Apperception Test, a person creates and tells a story about what is happening after looking at a picture for about a minute. The pictures are selected to be somewhat ambiguous and allow the person to project. In the Behavioral Event interview, a person is asked to, "tell about a time, recently, when you felt effective in your job." McClelland developed compelling evidence to show that operant methods, as compared to respondent methods, consistently show: (a) more criterion validity; (b) less test-retest reliability; (c) greater sensitivity (i.e., discriminate mood changes, style differences, and other somewhat subtle, dynamic aspects of human thought and behavior); (d) more uniqueness and are less likely to suffer from multicollinearity; and (e) increased utility in applications to human or organizational development (McClelland, 1985). The key to rigorous research and ethical use of operant methods is the process of coding the raw information. McClelland extended thematic analysis from a highly unreliable, clinical art form to a legitimate research method (Smith et. al., 1992; Boyatzis, 1998). To achieve validity, the coding of the raw information requires consistency of judgment, or inter-rater reliability. It is difficult, if not impossible to achieve reliability without a clear, explicit codebook. The use of codebooks and reliable coding opened the doors to many new measures. These measures, in turn, allowed creative inquiry into a wide range of people's behavior and outcomes.

Job Competencies and Human Resource Development

Operant methods revealed a level of insight in assessment of a person's talent. McClelland et al (1958) conceptualized a broad array of skills as a reflection of a person's capability. Reviving his earlier personality theory (McClelland, 1951), McClelland and his colleagues at McBer and Company expanded the search for competencies in the early 1970's (i.e., skills, self-image, traits, and motives, see Boyatzis, 1982) in many occupations (Spencer and Spencer, 1993). In this approach, the definition of a job competency differs from many behaviorist approaches to the identification of skills in that the job competency definition requires that the person's intent be understood, not merely observation of the person's actions. Therefore, there is an emphasis on characteristics of the "person," rather than just the tasks involved in the job.

0410-9868-HYMR

5

David C. McClelland: Biographical Statement and Synopsis of His Work

Using operant methods to explore the differences in thoughts, feelings, and behavior of superior performers as compared to average or poor performers, competency models were developed and validated against performance in a job. Studies were completed on bank tellers, social workers, police, priests, generals and admirals, executives, sales representatives, scientists, programmers, project managers, and so forth. The competency assessment methods developed a picture of how the superior performer thinks, feels, and acts in his work setting. This contextual and concrete picture provided case studies and models for how to help anyone in a job, or aspiring to one, develop their capability. As professionals in organizations were trained in the techniques of job competency assessment, they developed competency-based training programs, career path systems, developmental assessment programs, coaching and guidance programs, recruiting, selection, and promotion systems. In his last published work, David McClelland extended understanding of the impact of competencies on performance by postulating a "tipping point." In addition to knowing which competencies are needed to be effective in a job, he examined a way to determine how much of each competency was sufficient to attain outstanding performance (McClelland, 1998).

Concluding Thoughts

These are an impressive array of contributions, but these four themes are only part of David C. McClelland's impact on management. He personally trained and developed legions of scholars, consultants, and leaders- stimulating their curiosity, guiding and often provoking them to contribute to the field of and practice of management. He was a founder or influential director of over fourteen for-profit and not-for-profit consulting companies, the most notable of which is McBer and Company, now a part of The Hay Group. Most of all David was, to many of us, a close personal friend, as well as a colleague.

6

0410-9868-HYMR

David C. McClelland: Biographical Statement and Synopsis of His Work

References and Further Reading

Boyatzis, R.E. (1982). The Competent Manager: A Model for Effective Performance. NY: John Wiley & Sons. Boyatzis, R.E. (1998). Transforming Qualitative Information: Thematic Analysis and Code Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. McClelland, D.C. (1951). Personality. NY: William Sloane Associates. McClelland, D.C. (1961). The Achieving Society. NY: Van Nostrand. McClelland, D.C. (1964). The Roots of Consciousness. NY: Van Nostrand. McClelland, D.C. (1965). "Toward a theory of motive acquisition." American Psychologist. 20, pp. 321-333. McClelland, D.C. (1973). "Testing for competence rather than intelligence." American Psychologist. 28, pp. 1-14. McClelland, D.C. (1975). Power: The Inner Experience. NY Irvington. McClelland, D.C. (1979). "Inhibited power motivation and high blood pressure in men." Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 88, pp. 182-190. McClelland, D.C. (1984). Motives, Personality, and Society: Selected Papers. NY: Praeger. McClelland, D.C. (1985). Human Motivation. NY: Cambridge University Press. McClelland, D.C. (1998). Identifying competencies with behavioral event interviews. Psychological Science. 9(5), 331-339. McClelland, D.C., Atkinson, J.W., Clark, R.A., and Lowell, E.L. (1953). The Achievement Motive. NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts. McClelland, D.C., Baldwin, A.L., Bronfenbrenner, and Strodbeck, F.L. (1958). Talent and Society. NY: Van Nostrand. McClelland, D.C. and Winter, D.G. (1969). Motivating Economic Achievement. NY: Free Press. McClelland, D.C., Davis, W.N., Kalin, R., and Wanner, E. (1972). The Drinking Man: Alcohol and Human Motivation. NY: Free Press. McClelland, D.C., Rhinesmith, S., and Kristensen, R. (1975) The effects of power training on community action agencies. Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences.11, pp.92-115.

0410-9868-HYMR

7

David C. McClelland: Biographical Statement and Synopsis of His Work

McClelland, D.C. and Burnham, D.H. (1976). "Power is the great motivator." Harvard Business Review. 54, pp. 100-111. McClelland, D.C. and Boyatzis, R.E. (1980). "Opportunities for counselors from the competency assessment movement." Personnel and Guidance Journal. 58, pp. 368-372. McClelland, D.C. and Boyatzis, R.E. (1982). "The leadership motive pattern and long-term success in management." Journal of Applied Psychology. 67(6). pp. 737-743. Miller, W.B. (1981). Motivation techniques: Does one work best? Management Review. February, pp. 47-52. Miron, D. and McClelland, D.C. (1979). "The impact of Achievement Motivation Training on small business." California Management Review. 21(4). pp. 13-28. Smith, C.P., with Atkinson, J.W., McClelland, D.C., and Veroff, J. (eds.) (1992). Motivation and Personality: Handbook of Thematic Content Analysis. NY: Cambridge University Press. Spencer, L.M., Jr. and Spencer, S. (1993). Competence at Work: Models for Superior Performance. NY: John Wiley & Sons. Stewart, A.J. (ed.) (1982). Motivation and Society: A Volume in Honor of David C. McClelland. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Winter, D.G. and McClelland, D.C. (1978). "Thematic analysis An empirically derived measure of the effects of liberal arts education." Journal of Educational Psychology. 70, pp. 8-16. Winter, D.G., McClelland, D.G., and Stewart, A.J. (1981). A New Case for the Liberal Arts: Assessing Institutional Goals and Student Development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

8

0410-9868-HYMR

Information

David McClelland Bio and Work Synopsis

8 pages

Report File (DMCA)

Our content is added by our users. We aim to remove reported files within 1 working day. Please use this link to notify us:

Report this file as copyright or inappropriate

479265


You might also be interested in

BETA
The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits
David McClelland Bio and Work Synopsis