Taylor, Frederick Winslow (1911), The Principles of Scientific Management, New York, NY, USA and London, UK: Harper & Brothers
Abraham Maslow introduces a hierarchy of needs, which popularizing the concept of needs being more than just those things that people could not live without.
Maslow, Abraham. (1954) Motivation and personality. Harper and Row New York, New York.
James, Bernard. "Can Needs Define Educational Goals?" Adult Education 6 (1956), 95-100.
Corrigan, R. E., & Kaufman, R. (1966). Why System Engineering. Palo Alto, CA: Fearon Publishers.
Gilbert, T. (1967). Praxeonomy: A systematic approach to identifying training needs. Management of Personnel Quarterly; 6, 3; pg. 20
Bertalanffy, L. von, (1969). General System Theory. New York: George Braziller.
Mager, R. & Pipe, P. (1970). Analyzing Performance Problems, or You Really Oughta Wanna. Belmont, CA: Lake Publishing Co.
Lessinger, L. M. (1970). Every Kid A Winner. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Kaufman, R. A. (1972). Educational System Planning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc. (Also Planificacion de Systemas Educativos [translation of Educational System Planning]). Mexico City: Editorial Trillas, S.A., 1973).
Bradshaw J. (1972) Â“A taxonomy of social need.Â” in McLachlan G (ed.) Problems and progress in medical care. Seventh series NPHT/Open University Press.
Harless, J. H. (1975). An ounce of analysis is worth a pound of objectives. Newnan, Georgia: Harless Performance Guild.
Branson, R. K., et al. (1975:Aug.). Interservice procedures for instructional systems development (Phases I, II, III, IV, V, and Executive Summary. U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Pamphlet 350. Fort Monroe, VA.
English, F. W. & Kaufman, R. (1975). Needs assessment: Focus for curriculum development. Washington, DC: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
The first (and only) National Needs Assessment Conference was held in Oakland, California. The conference was sponsored by the National Institute of Education and the International Society of Educational Planners. Described in: Witkin, R.B. (1976). Needs Assessment: State of the Art. Educational Planning. 3(2), 1-5.
Kaufman, R. (1976). Identifying & Solving Problems: A system approach. San Diego, CA: University Associates Publishers. Kaufman, R., & English, F. W. (1976). Needs Assessment: A Guide for Educational Managers. Arlington, VA: American Association of School Administrators.
Kaufman, R. (1976). System approaches to education. In S. E. Goodman (Ed.), Handbook on contemporary education, 107 113. New York: R. R. Bowker Co. (Xerox Educational Corporation).
Kaufman, R. (1976). Organizational improvement: A review of models and an attempted synthesis. Group and Organization Studies, 1(4), 474-495.
Burton, J. K. & Merrill, P. F. (1977). Needs assessment: Goals, needs and priorities. In L. J. Briggs (Ed.) Introduction to Instructional Design. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Monette, Maurice L. "The Concept of Educational Need: An Analysis of Selected Literature." Adult Education 27 (1977), 116-27.
Kaufman, R. (1977). Needs assessment: Internal and external. Journal of Instructional Development, 1(1), 5-8. (Also reprinted in Revista de Tecnologia Educativa, No. 1, Vol. 3, 1977).
Gilbert, T. (1978) Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kaufman, R., & English, F. W. (1979). Needs assessment: Concept and Application. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Kaufman, R. (1979). Identifying and Solving PRob
Maurice L. Monette (1979). â€¨Need Assessment: a Critique of Philosophical Assumptions. Adult Education Quarterly 29; 83
Kaufman, R. (1981). Determining and diagnosing organizational needs. Group and Organizational Studies, 6(3), 312-322.
Zemke, R., & Kramlinger, T. (1982). Figuring Things Out: A trainer's guide to needs and task analysis. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Kaufman, R. and Stone, B. (1983). Planning for Organizational Success: A practical guide. New York:Wiley.
Lareau, L. (1983). Needs Assessment of the Elderly: Conclusions and Methodological Approaches. The Gerontologist. 23 (5): 518-526.
Kaufman, R. (1983). Needs assessment. In F. W. English (Ed.), Fundamental Curriculum Decisions. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervisory and Curriculum Development.
Ulschak, F. (1983). Human Resource Development: The theory and practice of needs assessment. Reston, VA: Reston Publishing.
Sen, A. (1985). Commodities and Capabilities. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Corrigan, R. E., & Corrigan, Betty O. (1985). SAFE: System approach for effectiveness. New Orleans, LA: R. E. Corrigan Associates.
Rossett, A. (1987). Training needs assessment. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publishing Co.
Johnson, D., Meiller, L., Miller, L. & Summers, G. (1987), Needs assessment: Theory and methods. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.
Thomson, G. (1987). Needs. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Kaufman, R. (1988). Planning educational systems: A results based approach. Lancaster, PA & Basil, Switzerland: Technomic Publishing Co
Robinson, D. G. Robinson, J. C. (1989). Training for impact: How to link training to business needs and measure the results. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ostroff, C. & Ford, J.K (1989) Assessing Training Needs: Critical Levels of Analysis. In I. L. Goldstein, (Ed.),Training and Development in Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Gilbert, T. F., & Gilbert, M. B. (1989, Jan.). Performance engineering: Making human productivity a science. Performance & Instruction.
Rummler, G. A. & Brache, A. P. (1990) Improving performance: How to manage the white space on the organization chart. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Darraugh, B. (1991). It takes (six-step model for needs assessment). Training & Development Journal, v45, n3, p21(3)
Kaufman, R. (1992). Strategic planning plus. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing.
Banathy, B. H. (1992). A systems view of education: Concepts and principles for effective practice. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Kaufman, R., Rojas, A., & Mayer, H. (1993). Needs assessment: A user's guide. Englewood Cliffs, NJ., Educational Technology
Witkin, B. R. (1994). Needs Assessment Since 1981: The State of the Practice. Evaluation Practice, 15 (1), 17-27.
Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld, J. W. (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A practical guide.Sage Publications; Thousand Oaks, CA.
Watkins, R. & Kaufman, R. (1996: Nov.). An Update on Relating Needs Assessment and Needs Analysis. Performance Improvement, 35 (10), 10-13.
Triner, D.,Greenberry, A. and Watkins, R. (1996). Training Needs Assessment: A Contradiction in Terms. Educational Technology, 36(6), 51-55.
Endacott, R. (1997). Clarifying the concept of need: a comparison of two approaches to concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25, 471-476.
Watkins, R., Leigh, D. And Kaufman, R. (1998). Needs Assessment: A digest, review, and comparison of needs assessment literature. Performance Improvement Journal, 37(7), 40-53.
Kaufman, R. (1998). Strategic thinking: A guide to identifying and solving problems, Revised Ed. Washington, D.C. & Arlington, VA: The International Society for Performance Improvement.
Harless, J. (1998). The Eden Conspiracy: Educating for Accomplished Citizenship. Wheaton, IL: Guild V Publications.
Kaufman, R., Oakley-Brown, H., Watkins, R., and Leigh, D. (2003). Strategic planning for success: Aligning people, performance, and payoffs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Â
Watkins, R., and Wedman, J. (2003). A process for aligning performance improvement resources and strategies. Performance Improvement Journal, 42(7), 9-17.
Hamilton, L. A. (2003). The Political Philosophy of Needs. Cambridge.
Reader, S. (ed.) (2005), The Philosophy of Need, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kaufman, R. (2006). 30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life: A Decision-Making Guide for Those Who Refuse to be Mediocre. Amherst, MA: HRD Press.
Kaufman, R. (2006). Change, Choices, and Consequences: A Guide to Mega Thinking and Planning. Amherst, MA. HRD Press Inc.
Watkins, R. (2007). Performance By Design: The systematic selection, design, and development of performance technologies that produce useful results. Amherst, Ma:HRD Press and Silver Spring, Md:International Society for Performance Improvement.
Kaufman, R, & Guerra-Lopez, I. (2008) The Assessment Book: Applied Strategic Thinking and Performance Improvement Through Self-assessments. Amherst, MA. HRD Press Inc.
Watkins, R. and Leigh, D. (Eds.) (2009). The Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace - Volume 2: Selecting and Implementing Performance Interventions. San Francisco: Wiley-Jossey/Bass and Silver Spring, MD: ISPI.
Altschuld, J. W. (2010). The Needs Assessment KIT. (ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. [5 volume series]
Altschuld, J. W. (2010). The Needs Assessment KIT. (ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. [5 volume series]
Moore, S. (2010). Ethics by Design: Strategic Thinking and Planning for Exemplary Performance, Responsible Results, and Societal Accountability. Amherst, MA. HRD Press.
Watkins, R., West-Meiers, M., & Visser, Y. (2012). A guide to assessing needs: Tools for collectinginformation, making decisions, and achieving development results.Â Washington, DC: World Bank.
Available for free online at NeedsAssessment.org or through the World Bank.
Altschuld, J.W. (2014) Bridging the Gap between Asset/Capacity Building and Needs Assessment: Concepts and Practical Applications. Sage Publications; Thousand Oaks, CA.
Altschuld, J.W. and Watkins, R. EdS (2014). Special Issue: Needs Assessment: Trends and a View Toward the Future. New Directions in Evaluation (an Amer. Eval. Assoc. publication). This special issue of the journal includes eight original articles on needs assessment.
Equality, Equity and Policy: Concepts of Need and Social Justice
Need is an important concept in public health. It is used in the planning and management of health services including health improvement, resource allocation, and equity. However, need is a multi-faceted concept with no one universal definition.
Bradshaw (1972) sets out 4 types of need.
Table 1: Bradshaw’s 4 types of social need
Type of need
Need that is defined by experts. Normative needs are not absolute and there may be different standards laid down by different experts.
Vaccinations, a decision by a surgeon that a patient needs an operation
Need perceived by an individual. Felt needs are limited by individual perceptions and knowledge of services.
Having a headache, feeling knee pain
Expressed need (Demanded need)
Felt needs turned into action. Help seeking.
Going to the dentist for a toothache
Needs identified by comparing the services received by one group of individuals with those received by another comparable group.
A rural village may identify a need for a well or a school if the neighbouring village has one
The need for healthcare should be distinguished from the need for health. The need for health is broader and can include problems for which there is no known treatment.
Mathew (1971) stated that a need for healthcare exists when an individual has an illness or disability for which there is effective and acceptable treatment or care.
In the UK, the NHS often defines need as a “capacity to benefit”. It depends on the potential of preventive or treatment services to remedy health problems (Stevens et al, undated). However, capacity to benefit is not fixed, but subject to current knowledge, the current research agenda, and the cultural and ethical determinants of contemporary society (Stevens, 1991).
Health economists have distinguished need from supply and demand. In the model below need is defined as capacity to benefit; demand is defined as what individuals ask for; and supply is defined as what is provided (i.e. the services that are available). Just as need is influenced by the current research agenda and contemporary culture, demand is influenced by factors such as the social and educational background of an individual, the media and the medical profession. Supply is influenced by historical patterns and public and political pressure.
Figure 1: Need, demand and supply: influences and overlaps
Source: Stevens A, Raftery J, Mant J. An introduction to HCNA.
Need, demand and supply overlap, creating seven different fields (eight if you include an external field - where services are neither needed, demanded, nor supplied).
Field 1: Services are needed but not demanded or supplied
Field 2: Services are demanded but not needed or supplied
Field 3: Services are supplied but not demanded or needed
Field 4: Services are needed and demanded but not supplied
Field 5: Services are supplied and demanded but not needed
Field 6: Services are needed and supplied but not demanded
Field 7: Services are needed, demanded and supplied
Stevens (1991) gives examples of some of the health care interventions that fall into the various fields. An example of field 3 where services are supplied but neither needed nor demanded is routine Caesarean sections on women with a history of a previous Caesarean section. An example of field 5 where services are supplied and demanded, but not needed, is prescription of antibiotics for uncomplicated viral upper respiratory tract infection.
For health needs assessment See module 1c: Health Care Evaluation and Health Needs Assessment
Health systems are concerned not only with maximising health, but also with the fair distribution of health. However, there is no consensus on what is ‘fair’, the decision is a moral rather than objective one. Below are some of the most common theories of social justice:
Utilitarianism: strives to achieve ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’. Benefits must be redistributed from the rich to the poor until there is an equal allocation of benefits to all members of society. Utilitarianism is based on the idea that all people have the same wants and capacity to enjoy benefits. An additional benefit given to a poor person will provide more happiness than if the same additional benefit was given to a rich person. Therefore, in order to maximise happiness in society, benefits must be redistributed (Wonderling et al, 2005).
Egalitarian: Everyone should have an equal opportunity to obtain benefits. No person should be worse off than others except as a consequence of free and informed choices.
Libertarian: Individuals have rights that the state (or other) must not violate. Above all individuals have a right to freedom, the state should not interfere.
Rawlsianism: Because there is a trade-off between efficiency and equity (see section 3: Balancing equity and efficiency) an unequal distribution of benefits in society is regarded as acceptable. However, benefits in society should be allocated so that the benefits of the poorest person are maximised. Rawlsianism is based on the idea that no one knows where they will end up on the social ladder (the so-called ‘veil of ignorance’), therefore society should aim to maximise the benefits of the poorest person (also known as ‘maximin’) (Wonderling et al, 2005).
- Bradshaw J. (1972) “A taxonomy of social need.” in McLachlan G (ed.) Problems and progress in medical care. Seventh series NPHT/Open University Press.
- Matthew GK. (1971) “Measuring need and evaluating services”. in McLachlan G (ed.) Portfolio for health: the role and programme of the DHSS in health services research Sixth series London: Oxford University Press, for the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust: 27-46.
- Stevens A, Raftery J, Mant J. “An introduction to HCNA”. http://www.hcna.bham.ac.uk/introduction.shtml
- Stevens A (1991) “Needs assessment needs assessment…”. Health trends 23: 20-3
- Wonderling D, Gruen R, Black N (2005) Introduction to Health Economics. Understanding Public Health Series. Open University Press: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
© Rebecca Steinbach 2009, Rachel Kwiatkowska 2016