Front Page Titles (by Subject) Freedom, Motivation, and Government Programs - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4
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Freedom, Motivation, and Government Programs - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Freedom, Motivation, and Government Programs
“Managing Motivation to Expand Human Freedom.” American Psychologist 33 (1978): 201–210.
Many fear that a knowledge of human motivation might serve to exploit others by manipulating them to do something they would not otherwise want to do. But McClelland observes that any psychologist “who has spent a lot of time trying to help motivate people is much more impressed by how difficult it is to produce any behavioral changes at all, let alone manipulate people without their consent.” “Increasing knowledge of motivation does not increase the possibility of manipulation, because that knowledge has to be shared by the person to be influenced, in order for change to take place. And giving away your technical information makes it possible for the person to refuse to do what you think he or she should do. Precise technical knowledge permits change, prevents manipulation, and therefore promotes human betterment.”
Much of the reason for the failure of the large government social programs to remedy social ills arises from the strong “power orientation” of some individuals. Their need to do something moves them to establish large, impressive programs to deal with any social problem that falls within their purview. Doing something impressive may be more important than doing something effective. McClelland observes: “They don't want to ‘do better’; they want to ‘have impact’.... We have had power oriented people setting impossible goals that they have attempted to reach by powerful though inappropriated means.”
The author describes his personal experience with two technical assistance programs in India. One was based on the premise that “most people want to help themselves and will take the initiative to improve their lot if they are just given the knowledge, experience, and tools with which to do so.” This program was largely a failure. The other more specific program was based on a substantial body of previous research and was designed to facilitiate achievement motivation among small businessmen in the hope it would improve their entrepreneurial capabilities. This program was far more successful and led to increasing levels of employment. Such modest remedies for social improvement, however, are “difficult to follow because the power brokers in politics and the media want big problems with big effects immediately.”