The Need-hierarchy and Theories of Authority

David D. Van Fleet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The need-heirarchy concept and three theories of authority (Formal, Situationist, and Acceptance) are reviewed, and an integrated framework for discussing their interrelationships and importance to organization theory and human relations is developed. The formal theory may be useful in discussions of profit-seeking, formal organizations, but in explaining individual behavior it uses only the lower order needs and expressive behavior. The situationist approach is applicable to a wider range of organizations and uses higher level needs in explaining individual behavior, but does not fully account for the impact of the individual upon his environment. The Acceptance Theory can be used in discussing any form of organization and, in addition, recognizes the full impact of the individual in those organizations using the full range of needs as well as both coping and expressive behavior. The Acceptance Theory is, then, the more general, more inclusive, and more applicable basis for a theory of authority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-580
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1973

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'The Need-hierarchy and Theories of Authority'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this