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Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs refers to a theory of psychology proposed by Maslow in his research on “A Theory of Human Motivation”. Maslow divided the stages of human development into five categories namely: Physiological, Safety, Belonging and Love, Esteem, and Self-Actualization. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is portrayed in a shape of a pyramid with Physiological, the most fundamental human need at the bottom, and Self-Actualization at the top. The lower four needs represent deficiency needs. According to Maslow, the lower and the most basic needs must be met first before the individual can focus on the higher level needs.


Rockwood had fulfilled most of the lower human needs. He was at the level of self-actualization. Maslow uses the quote “What a man can be, he must be” which indicates the need for self-actualization. To achieve the self-actualization needs, an individual must have achieved and mastered all the other needs. Rockwood states that if he does according to what his conscience tells him, he would not be able to face his own children. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a useful tool to explain Capt. Rockwood’s actions.

The zone of acceptance explains the instructions that a subordinate can comply to physically and mentally. According to Bernard, every subordinate has a zone of indifference or a zone of acceptance within which orders are accepted without questioning. The zone of acceptance may be narrow or wide depending on the degree of inducement from the superior, and the sacrifices that ought to be made by the individual. According to Bernard, managers have as much authority as the subordinates allow them to have. Bernard reflects on the extent to which managers can execute the roles of directing.

Rockwood did not receive orders when he thought he should receive. He wanted to be allowed to go and inspect the condition of the Haitian jails. Instead of instructing Rockwood to inspect the jail as he expected, the commander, Gen. David Meade instructed Rockwood to remain calm. Rockwood conscience told him otherwise. He knew, if he did not act right, he may not be able to face the future. Rockwood conscience would not allow him to remain calm in a situation like that. It can be considered that remaining calm was not in the zone of acceptance for Rockwood. This caused him to act against his commander in order to accomplish what he believed was the right thing.

Scientific management, a management theory developed by Fredrick Taylor, looks at management from a scientific point of view. Taylor argues that by optimizing the way task was performed, productivity would be significantly improved. This management theory requires that employees be taught how to do routine task in the best way. This would minimize time wastage and optimize task performance.

Rockwood believed that his work was to protect the weak and unarmed. He had been trained to do that. However, his commander did not allow him to do what he had been trained to do. Taylor’s theory may not apply well in Rockwood case since there is no issue of optimizing productivity.

Max Weber theory of management, the Bureaucratic model, refers to a theory of management where everyone in the organization has roles that he/she must accomplish. The Bureaucratic theory defines everyone’s role in the organization. This cannot apply in Rockwood case. Also, the human relations theory, which seeks to handle workers as social psychological beings, cannot be applied in the case of Rockwood. Theory X and Y and the Principal agent model also not applicable in Rockwood’s case. The actions of Capt. Rockwood were appropriate since he followed his conscience to do what was right. He knew that people were being killed in the Haitian jails. His conscience could not allow him to sit back and do nothing. If he did not take any action, he would have spent the rest of his life knowing that he had a chance to save lives but did nohimg.

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