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Organizational Theory

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Autor:   •  September 3, 2010  •  2,372 Words (10 Pages)  •  754 Views

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Question #1

"Despite the economic progress brought about in part by scientific management, critics were calling attention to the 'seamy side of progress' which included severe labor management conflict, apathy, boredom, and wasted human resources to examine the discrepancy between how an organization was supposed to work versus how the workers actually behaved. In addition, factors like World War I, developments in psychology and later the depression, all bought into question, some of the basic assumptions of Scientific Management." (Internet) This is where the Human Relations School steps in. Its primary focus is the importance of attitudes and feelings of workers, while informal roles and norms influence performance. "At the most general level, human relations theory views humans as social creatures who have a need and desire for communication and interaction." (Internet) Numerous studies have been conducted over the years trying to come up with the most efficient form of workplace management. The most famous of these studies were those performed by the Hawthorne works (a.k.a. Hawthorne Studies) which should how work groups provide mutual support and effective resistance

to management techniques in order to increase production. This study concluded that workers did not seem to respond to the classical motivation approaches that were suggested by Frederic Taylor , but rather workers were interested in rewards and punishment within their own work groups. These studies, which were conducted in the 1920's, started as a straight forward attempt to determine the relationship between the work environment and productivity. The results of the study led researchers to feel that they were dealing with socio-psychological factors that were not explained by classical theory which in turn, stressed the formal organization and formal leadership. The Hawthorne Studies helped to show that an organization is more than a formal arrangement of functions but at the same time performs the role of a social system. This position was taken by Elton Mayo , who made his own analysis of the Hawthorne experiments. He claimed that the problem of industrial societies acted as an imbalance between social and technical skills. "His analysis of the problems of industrial civilization and assessment of the human factor as nonlogical and emotional led him to view industry as a strategic integrating institution that could prevent social breakdown." (Jaffe, 73) This would give management the responsibility of implementing communication and interaction with numerous employees. To Mayo, this was not only the key to organizational success, but also the goal to achieving social stability. He also viewed informal group processes as the promoting tool for social integration, as well as stopping absenteeism, turnover, and discontent among employees.

Another important person at this time was Chester Barnard, who combined practical experience in management and corporate affairs with a complex and sophisticated theory of organization and human behavior. His focus projected from an emphasis on the organization to an analysis of the nature of an individual. He placed priority on tension between the organization and the individual noting that "...organizations are constructed for particular purposes, but they employ individuals who may have widely divergent objectives and desires." (Jaffe, 74) Barnard noted that cooperation was needed for the organization to work effectively and efficiently. He discussed in his book, The Functions of the Executive, the relationship between incentives and contributions, and the need to join these together to meet an equilibrium of some sort. He claimed that this system would satisfy individuals and obtain contributions from them while at the same time making everyone happy. To do this, he used distribution hoping to gain cooperative activity from the employees. The executive needs to note that distribution can be good in one situation but bad later on in another. This is were his theory of persuasion comes into play, hoping to change minds, "...and promote in-calculation of motives. Together, the methods of incentives and the method of persuasion form the central functions of the executive." (Jaffe, 76) According to Barnard, the only way to gain cooperation from the employees is to find out what they want from the company. The executives can help to solve the situation by stating the goals of the company clearly, finding out where the informal networks are, tapping into the networks, explaining the goals through the networks, and finally, by backing off. Still throughout his studies, Barnard struggled with the tension between accommodating the human factor, and deciding that social control within the organization is the goal to achieve.

Another important person to discuss at this time is Douglas McGregor, one of the great popularizers of Human Relations approach with his Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X management assumes that most people prefer to be directed, are not interested in assuming responsibility, but prefer to be directed while also wanting to ensure safety. Such people seem to be motivated by money, benefits, and the fear of punishment. Management therefore attempts to structure, control and, closely supervise their employees. This kind of external control is most appropriate when dealing with employees who respond like this. "...McGregor's observations regarding the reaction of humans to Theory X styles of management, and the unique human capacity for developing new and different needs, led him to propose a 'different theory of the task of managing people based on more adequate assumptions about human nature and human motivation." (Jaffee, 80) However, McGregor developed an alternative to Theory Y. This theory proclaimed that people were not lazy and unreliable by nature. This theory assumes the notion that people can be self directed and creative at work when properly motivated. He claims that it is essential for management to create an environment and culture where employees can display this directiveness and creativity. Overall, he believes that properly motivated people can achieve their own goals by best directing their own efforts toward accomplishing the organization's goals.

Both the rise of the human relations theory and strategy, accompanied by and Chester Barnards' model of organization, place the human factor at the center of their studies. I think these studies add much to our knowledge of human behavior in organizations and creat pressure for management to change their ways of managing human resources. The Human Relations Movement seemed to push managers toward gaining support from lower levels in the organization while solving problems within

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