Current paper is devoted to the analysis of the article “Motivation: That’s Maslow, isn’t it?” by T. Watson (1996). The author implements the method of ethnographic experiment in relation to a number of course members and management teachers. This approach is contrasted with traditional Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The author outlines some basic problems in the sphere of higher education. Management education should help to realise the existing potential among managers of different levels and contribute to higher overall efficiency.
During the experiment, the author demonstrates that motivation is not adequately understood. It is treated as academic abstraction rather than the necessary function that should be fulfilled by the manager (Watson, 1996, p. 453). In general, it seems that management students do not consider motivation theories as useful tools in the process of dealing with modern problems. Students do not see practical implications of these theories and consider them as academic abstractions that do not represent the current business environment.
At the same time, the author indicates that some other management theories are regarded as useful and potentially helpful. However, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is well remembered by students while other (more realistic and practically-oriented) theories are not. Thus, the paradox is identified. Management students pay the greatest attention to those areas that they regard as unrealistic and not helpful. Different students proposed different explanations to this situation with corresponding recommendations. It should be stressed that critical thinking is always considered as typical for Europeans in the sphere of social sciences (Thompson, and McHugh, 1995). Thus, some deviation from traditional European thinking may be observed. It may lead to negative consequences in the long run.
Thus, the method of ethnographic experiment has helped to identify the problem and outline the potential solutions. The role of adequate management education is clarified as well.