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Abraham Maslow Theory of Hierarchy of Need: Is it Applicable in Malaysian Army

Culture and How to Implement in Malaysian Army?

1. Introduction

Abraham Maslow developed a theory of personality that has influenced a number of different
fields, including the military. This widespread influence due in part to the high degree of
practicality of Maslow’s theory. This theory accurately describes the reality of many of the
personal experiences. Many people find that they can understand what Maslow says. They can
recognize some features of their experience or correct and identifiable behavior but they are
never put into words. Maslow is a humanistic psychologist. Humanists do not believe that
humans are pushed and pulled by mechanical forces, one of stimuli and reinforcements
(behaviorism) or conscious instinctive impulses (psychoanalysis). Humanists focus on potential.
They believe that human beings are trying to level up abilities. Humans seek the limits of
creativity, the highest reaches of consciousness and wisdom. It has been labeled “fully functional
person”, “healthy personality”, or as Maslow calls this level, “person-self-actualization.”

Every human being through several transitions from childhood to golden age. Adult rankings are
among the most important transitions as the foundation for the construction of family and career
organizations. According to Landy and Conte (2004), work is very important for mature humans.
Employment not only promises wages or salaries as a reward but gives satisfaction and
happiness to an individual and may also vice versa 1 . However, the current globalization has
injected a new phenomenon in which workers face problems of work pressure and motivation
fluctuations. This situation if left unaffected will affect the organization and the workers
themselves. Psychological problems of employment can affect all employees including members
of the army.

Landy, F. J., dan Conte, J. M. (2004). Work in 21st Century, An Introduction to Individual and Organizational Psychology. New
York: McGraw Hill.

The military field is often seen as a career full of challenges and requires a high and consistent
mental and physical resilience. Hence, military career was found to be at a higher level than any
other career. Threats that may occur regardless of time of demand for high security. In addition,
the psychological war that is now taking over the evolution of world war shows the importance
of psychological well-being and health. Work pressure occurs when workers are faced with job
demands and unsuitable skills and knowledge levels and challenge them to handle the problem2.
Motivation also plays a role in the formation of personality and attitude. Landy and Conte (2004)
state that there is a consistent and strong relationship between motivation and personality

While job satisfaction is often regarded as a factor in the success of an organization and an
individual in his or her career. In the field of military, work pressure is due to work demands
such as military special operations within a certain period of time. Work pressure is one of the
dangers to the health of military personnel. In addition, members who face stress and emotional
problems tend to incorrectly make mistakes and improper assessments that may result in
destruction or failure in military missions3.

In Malaysia, the existence of various financial incentives and welfare facilities against military
personnel is often regarded as a driving force for excellent service. Additionally, consistent
improvements in motivation and job satisfaction are the cornerstone of successful human
resource management. This was emphasized by the Naval Commander in his message and
reported in Malaysia Week in 2007. He pointed out that despite the steady statehood and
capability of naval defense in terms of defense technology, its members remained the most
important asset in the RMN. In general, this article examines whether Maslow’s theoretical suit
is applicable to the Malaysian army and how it can be applied among Malaysian military

2 Leka, S., Griffiths, A. dan Cox, T (2004), Work organization and stress, systematic problem approaches for employers,
managers and trade union representatives
3 Pflanz S, Sonnek S. (2002) Work stress in the military: prevalence, causes and relationship to emotional health. Military

Medicine 167: 877-882.

2. Background of Malaysian Armies

After Malaya became independent in 1957 the country’s defense was still under the British
Government until its withdrawal in 1970. As a result of the British Government’s decision to
withdraw its troops from the region, the Malaysian Government has taken certain steps to
restructure the Ministry of Defense. Ministry of Defense is compiled into an integrated ministry
(integrated ministry) with a Public System and Military Subsystem. After 1976, its infrastructure
development has grown so rapidly to buy new defense equipment and build new building.

The Malaysian Army is a national defense fortress that is responsible for ensuring Malaysia
avoids all external threats from land, sea and air while assisting public authorities in addressing
internal threats. In order to ensure that the responsibility is always ensured primarily from land
threats, the Malaysian Army or more synonymous with the Army’s name alone as one of the
branches in the Malaysian Army must always be in a standby condition of all time. The
Malaysian Army, which adheres to the motto of the “Main Army of the State of Sovereignty”,
will continue to ensure the security and security of the country is assured, in particular, to ensure
the country’s political, economic and social continuity to bring Malaysia towards a developed
and secure nation. As an organization that has existed since the last 76 years (1933 - 2009),
Malaysian Army has undergone various developments in terms of human development,
organizational structure, and even defense equipment and equipment in line with the concepts
outlined. Malaysian Army is always aware of the current development in terms of current
equipment and technology, therefore Malaysian Army development is unnecessary in tandem
with the advancement of current technology.

Military forces are often associated with a disciplined, rugged and obedient organization of
orders. General military values such as the spirit of solidarity, co-operation, high discipline,
trained and competent in the performance of tasks in any situation, favor the good views of
military careers. As one of the main fortresses to the country’s defense, the Malaysian Army is
able to build confidence in the people against its ability to defend the sovereignty of the
homeland. The high level of discipline owned by the troops of the country makes them “trustees”

to determine the future of the country4. With that discipline also, the loyalty of the military to the
state and the government is never faded or divided. The loyalty of the military has made the
sovereignty that has been nurtured since decades ago to be steadfast even though the generation
of soldiers resigned either to retire, to death and so on. From that point on, the role of the military
is not only involving national security and security, but also reaching out to wider issues of
humanity and global issues. Therefore, Motivation, ability, competence and attitude are the basic
components of excellence as military personnel.

4 Ruslan Abdullah (1995). Penggunaan Dadah di Kalangan Anggota Tentera PerajuritPerajurit Muda Tentera Darat Di Pusat
Latihan Asas Tentera Darat. Bangi: Jabatan Psikologi, UKM.

3. Abraham Maslow Theory of Hierarchy of Need

a. Definition

Abraham Maslow (1970) is a humanistic figure who links motivation through needs
analysis. Need is the will of man to perfect the state of deprivation, disturbance and
imbalance in him. Purposes can be classified to physiological and psychological
purposes. According to Maslow (1970), humans have seven ranks of needs that need to
be met. At the most basic level, there are necessities of life or physiological purposes.
Once this need is met, then the need for salvation, compassion, self-esteem and perfection
can be cultivated. The highest or top ranking for human needs is the rating of the need for

Maslow views human motivation as a hierarchy of the five needs, which stretch from the
most basic needs of the physiological needs to the highest need is self-actualization. The
individuals will be motivated to meet the needs of what is proponent, or the most
powerful (powerful) for them at a certain moment. The precision of a need depends on
the last situation and the individual’s last experience. Start with physical needs the most
basic, every need must be at least partially fulfilled before individual desire to satisfy the
needs at the following levels6.

Abraham Maslow explains the five levels of basic human needs are as follows:

i. Basic needs or physiological needs, is the most important needs such as the need
for food. The dominance of this physiological need is relatively higher compared
to other needs and thus other needs arise.
ii. Safety needs or needs for safety, is a need that includes security, steadiness,
dependence, freedom from fear, anxiety and confusion; the need for structure,
order, law, limits of power on self, protector and so on.

5 Saedah Siraj, Zainon Ishak dan Tunku Mohani Tunku Mokhtar (1996). “Motivasi dalam pendidikan”. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan
Publications & Distributor Sdn. Bhd.
6 Stoner, J. A. F. & Freeman, R. E. 2009. Management. 5th ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall.

iii. Love needs or needs sense of belonging and love, is a need that arises after the
physiological needs and safety needs have been met. This means people in their
lives will need a sense of affection and love for each other and to gather with
iv. Esteem needs or need for self-esteem. Everyone in the community has a need or
wants a steady self-assessment, has a strong foundation that is usually of high
quality of self-respect or self-esteem and respect from others. This requirement is
divided into two ratings:
a. The desire for strength, achievement, affection, excellence, and ability,
self-reliance, freedom and independence.
b. Desire for good name or prestige and self-esteem, prestige, status, fame
and glory, domination, recognition, attention and dignity.
v. Self-actualization needs or the need for self-realization, ie the tendency to
manifest itself in accordance with its ability7.

7 Maslow, A. H. (1988). On the shoulders of giants. The Educational Forum, 52, 202-209, doi: 10.1080/00131728809335486 [From Abraham H. Maslow, Religions, Values and

Peak Experiences, Chapters 7 and 8.]

3.2 Diagram

Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory

Maslow’s Theory of Needs is the theory of need hierarchy loading basic human needs.
Humans are positioned as weak and growing creatures, have the potential for an
achievement and are influenced by the environment to grow tall, straight and beautiful.
Maslow’s theory of needs has five levels of basic needs. To achieve higher basic needs,
humans do not need to meet the previous levels. Maslow’s basic needs are physiological
needs, security needs, love needs, affection and ownership, esteem needs, and self-
actualization needs. The hierarchy of Maslow needs is arranged to form a triangle where
the base has a larger area and conical upwards. The bottom tier is the most basic need and
continues at the second tier third and beyond to the highest level at the top of the

The hypothesis is that in all humans is the level of need:

a) Physiological, needs food, drink, shelter and recover from pain

b) Security and safety, the need to obtain security and safety against physical and
emotional harm or from adverse events and environments.
c) A sense of belonging, social and compassion, the need for friendship, grouping,
interaction and compassion.
d) Awards, Needs for self-esteem and appreciation of the internal and external
e) Self-actualization, is the need to fulfill oneself through maximizing ability, skill
and potential

4. The Implication of Abraham Maslow Theory Towards Army Cultural

a. Positive Implication

In enhancing the productivity of military workforce, it can be sought through motivation

by looking at the dominant needs of workers, both physiological needs and other needs,
such as safety and security needs, social needs, rewards and self-actualization needs. The
more motivated work motivation, labor productivity is higher so it will benefit both
parties, both companies and workers. Work system repairs may also increase

Maslow’s theory can help us to understand human’s behavior and choose the right
motivational strategy for the individual to be motivated. Different motivations also has a
different goals for the individual. Reward or return in form of money may be important
and valuable to someone, but may not be for others. It should be understood as the
difference between the armies and his needs, therefore a manager or supervisor must be
able to understand the meaning of rewards for good performance.

For example, Schrader (1972) applied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to construction

workers8. He wanted to identify the level of need that could increase worker motivation
and productivity. Conclusion Schrader states the lower level of demand that physiological
needs and sense of security no longer motivate employees of construction companies.
This is based on the fact that the salaries of construction workers are high enough to meet
their physiological and safety needs. Schrader also believes that a comfortable worker
environment will help construction workers improve relationships among workers. This
is to meet his social needs. In order to motivate construction workers, Schrader proposed
that management needs to focus on the highest level of need from Maslow’s needs level.
This is to fill the highest needs. Schrader also proposed a discussion between employees
on practical development methods. He believes that the key to success in construction

8 Schrader. C. R, 1972, “Motivation of construction craftsmen.” Journal of Construction Engineering Division, vol. 98, issue. 2,
pg. 257-273

companies is the use of participation in the decision-making process. Schrader also
proposes that the need for respect (esteem needs) and self-actualization needs in
construction workers can be done with praise, listening, and engagement.

Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, self-actualization is the goal of learning of

self-development. Individual perception is central to experience, and learning can
illustrate the experience. Maslow (1959) in Wilson & Susan (2008) explains that
humanism is the whole view of human psychology and learning. Maslow argues that the
humanist view is based on a different method of acquired experience, which can be
referred to as a holistic view. It is based on the total number of human experiences,
including not only facts but inner experiences as the result of imagination, fantasy, and
thought. To have knowledge, humanists not only use logic and factual observation, but
also empathy and intuition. The humanist encourages the learner to develop his personal
goals. The humanist view illustrates more than important thoughts and views man as a
free individual who has control over his destiny.

They believe that learning contributes to psychological health. Several has use the views
of Abraham Maslow and Carl Roger’s to combine the list of motivational goals generated
in effective learning 9 : self-actualization, the discovery of fate or work, knowledge or
proficiency in a set of values, the realization of life as glory, proficiency of peak
experience, pride of achievement, satisfaction or psychological need, refreshment for
awareness of beauty and beauty of life, control of heart movement, underwriting with
important issues in life, and learning to choose discriminatory.

9 Merriam, S., and Caffarella, R. Learning in Adulthood (2nd Ed.). San Francisco: JosseyBass, 1999.

b. Negative Implication

The thoughts of Abraham Maslow have contributed greatly to various areas of life such
as management of business, humanism and learning. All of which are related to man. But
theorists are not. There are always changes, challenges and arguments that will modify
theories, refute the theory and even eliminate theories. has been mentioned above, there
are at least three challenges that will test the theory of Abraham Maslow.

There are some scholars who criticize Maslow’s theory by asserting that the various
human needs are actually not tiered or hierarchical, but a series10. This is more strictly
that, “people who have enjoyed the most stable physical security, still need to eat,
clothing, housing, still need to be recognized, still want to grow and be recognized”.
Therefore Maslow’s theory should not be seen that the fulfillment of these needs is
gradual but all of that if someone is already at the stage of social needs then it means the
needs of physiological needs and safety and security needs have been met and vice versa
that allows physiological needs to join the esteem needs and so on and all of them
correspond to the conditions in which the person is located and on the move11.

The use of technology that may be shifting the role of employees for expression and
creative becomes less. The fourth is a spiritual approach to human beings or workers.
This is also a challenge in itself because many decisions are based on a spiritual
approach. Nevertheless, human needs cannot be categorized into five levels of need.
There is no need for ‘caste’ needs. Man consists of body and soul. There is a physical
need; there is a spiritual need. The body needs air, food, water, rest and it is necessary to
keep the body functioning properly. Lack of nutrients can lead to weak body. Try not
getting enough nutrition, it will not be long your body is weak, face can be pale, body
limp, and body cannot do every day work can even be sick.

In the realm of human life, people often get their every need not gradually as Maslow
puts it, because sometimes it can be obtained by jumping. And when someone enters and

10 Fahmi Irham. 2013. Perilaku Industri. Hal, 111-112

11 Jarvis Matt. 2000. Teori – Teori Psikologi, diterjemahkan dari Theoretical Approaches in Psychology. Hal, 98-98

resides in an organization it is not done on the basis of self-actualization attitude, but
rather because the desire to have a sense of security.

5. Strategies on Implementation of Abraham Maslow Theory in Malaysian Armies

a. Strategy 1: Meeting physiological needs

Meeting physiological needs is the first step to build army motivation in work
physiological needs is related to the welfare of the army. Increased welfare should be a
priority in every policy making in every military institution. Welfare can be a determinant
of the motivation of armies in carrying out their duties as the responsible information
service to the user. Provision of compensation is one form of fulfillment of physiological
needs of armies. Compensation is one of the important functions in human resource
management, especially in relation to the increasing work motivation of the employees.
The compensation is divided into two; there is direct compensation and indirect
compensation 12 . Direct compensation consists of salary, transportation allowance,
holiday allowance, overtime pay, and other direct benefits. While indirect compensation
consists of promotion of positions, insurance, job allowances, and mutations. Attention to
the welfare of armies through compensation will have an impact on the performance and
convenience of the army in performing his duties, as a key figure in determining the
forward retreat of the military wheel.

12 Cascio (1993). Managing Human Resources: Productivity, Quality of Life Profits.4th edition McGraw Hill.

b. Strategy 2: Should Be Sure To Feel Safe, Comfortable And Get The

In the work of armies should be sure to feel safe, comfortable, and get the assurance of
every work done. To fulfill that armies have to get certainty about the promotion process,
collecting credit numbers, as well as security protection in work. This is in line with
opinion that employees are usually very concerned about their workplace environment
for personal comfort and to support their work 13 . They tend to prefer a safe and
comfortable physical. Safe and comfortable working environment will also affect the
pattern of relationship between armys with one another inside and outside the work
environment. Where, according to Robbins, for most employees, the workplace is also a
place for socialization, so it is important for them to have a coworker who supports and
can work well together. Meeting the need for security, comfort and certainty to make
armies work optimally, so that the process of meeting the needs of user information can
run optimally. Because almost every individual in his level of need wants tranquility,
supervision, and continuous employment opportunities.

c. Strategy 3: Appreciation

Gaining respect for every human being is a proud achievement. Many people who work
for years just to win an award to be proven to the public that he can Not a few people
who retreat from work or work without motivation, just because they do not get the
attention of the boss or reward as long as he became an employee. The reward factor
should be a pillar for building work motivation so that the organization’s objectives can
be carried out collectively from superiors to the bottom of the structure. Non-material
awards can be provided in the form of scholarships for study assignments, involving in
training and workshops to improve the competence of army resources. As well as
awarding non-material awards can also be the provision of opportunities for armies to
achieve achievement and rank that meet the determination to gain structural positions

13 Luthans, F., & Jensen, S. M. 2002. Hope: A new positive strength for human resource development. Human Resource
Development Review, 1: 304-322.

echelon IV, III, II inside military field. The impact of rewarding will make the army
strive to prove his existence by bringing forth prestigious achievements.

d. Strategy 4: The Need For Power

The need for power is part of the business of armies to influence others in order to realize
personal goals that are still on the goals of the organization. The need for strength is the
desire to have influence, be influential, and control other individuals. High needy
individuals like to be responsible, strive to influence other individuals, happy to be placed
in a competitive and status-oriented situation, and tend to be more concerned with
authority and gain influence over other individuals than effective performance. The
power to be achieved will be legitimized with the accomplished achievement. When a
army occupies a position the other army will give support even if the organization’s
atmosphere will be very competitive.

6. Recommendation

In determining the needs of man Abraham Maslow strongly pressed on the fulfillment of a very
internal needs in humans. Visible to the placement of physiological factors in a very basic
position that must be met. While the needs of the external nature associated with the outside
world of the human being was placed in the last position. Maslow emphasizes the need that
makes the individual more static. On the need for security, the recognition of others, and rewards
are the necessity of waiting for feedback from others to fulfill. New to the need for self-
actualization the individual is left to move dynamically to connect with the outside world.

This social need is needed by workers because with such working hours is needed a supportive
work environment to be able to work optimally. Especially for the shift work at night, very
needed a very supportive work environment. It includes social relations among workers. In
addition to the relationships among workers, workers also feel the support of the family is
needed in improving work performance in the workplace. It can be seen from the level of social
life that has a level.

The motivations that exist in each person are not the same, varying from one to the other.
Therefore, knowledge of understanding and the nature of motivation, and the ability of the
techniques to create the situation so as to generate motivation / encouragement for them to act or
behave in accordance with what is desired by other individuals / organizations.

7. Conclusion

Abraham Maslow’s thought provides us with a comprehensive guide in assessing needs that can
motivate people more specifically in an organization. The hierarchy theory needs to emphasize
the fulfillment of basic human needs physically, and then continue to the needs of the external
nature associated with the outside world vertically and horizontally within the frame of the
organization hierarchy. By contrast, human-looking theory at the point of view of desire to self-
actualize with the impetus for high achievers, the inherent power, and the adhesive affiliations in
the chain of organizations shows the burial of personal satisfaction in moving dynamically and
competing strict. In principle Maslow’s thinking is very structured in decomposing human needs.


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