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The economic recession has been hard on many. While most of the reporting and statistics focus on able-bodied workers that are unemployed, another sector often goes unnoticed. For many laid off during the downturn, getting re-employed means taking jobs with pay and responsibilities much lower than what they previously held. A case study of four such individuals highlights the difficulties of getting back into the workforce.


  1. Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the cases of Greg Corkett and Mike Sebastian. Maslow contends that movement through the hierarchy is always upward (i.e., satisfied needs no longer motivate). Both Messrs. Corkett and Sebastian achieved a measure of success in their careers. Arguably, they were both engaged by higher-order needs. Where (in the hierarchy) are they now? Does Hierarchy of Needs account for this? What about ERG Theory?
  2. If acquired needs are developed over time, as McClelland contends, they do not go away overnight even with the loss of a job. Examine statements made by Messrs. Corkett and Sebastian and discuss how they adjusted these job-based needs.
  3. Put yourself in the position of any of these four workers. Using Expectancy Theory, explain how you might be motivated despite holding a job with lesser status/pay and more menial tasks.
  4. How does Self-Efficacy Theory apply to Greg Corkett, both in terms of what he is doing now and what he hopes to be doing in the future?

SOURCE: P. Davidson, “Economy Has Sent Executives to Jobs Down Corporate Ladder,” USA Today (Retrievable online at

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