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Chapter 3

Chapter 3-Public Administration and Organization Theory--The Humanistic Approach.docx

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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2250
Tim Mau

Organizational Humanism 2/19/2013 6:17:00 PM Intro  Organizational humanism bore the imprint of social psychologists  Organizational humanists focused on what actually happened on the factory floor vs. what should happen  They found that in addition to the formal system of authority through which management controlled workers, there was an informal system of worker control that was in some cases more powerful than the formal system o This informal system was characterized by the network of friendships, workplace banter + informal sanctions that occur in every work setting  Meant that Taylors emphasis on scientific principles to set the work pace + on financial incentives to improve productivity was somewhat misplaced o Still had some value but it was becoming clear that another route to increased productivity lay w/ the informal system Mary Parker Follett  Didn’t study organizations systematically in the ordinary sense but used every opportunity to discuss organizational questions w/ everyone from senior execs to factory workers  Her basic philosophy stemmed from the fact that she rejected the conventional use of raw power in organizations o Felt it was either futile or totally counterproductive  Instead, she focused on 2 related concepts: o Circular response: no one unilaterally acts on someone else; rather, people interact w/ one another in ways that influence both parties  Caused her to reject the idea of power as a one-way street o Integration: need to combine diverse elements into a useful whole  Follett realized that conflict would inevitably develop in any organization b/c of the existence of circular response + the informal organization  She also realized that the process of change that generates conflict also provides the opportunity for the further changes necessary to resolve that conflict o Each situation contains the seeds of new differences but also contain the seeds of new solutions  Follett emphasized the significance of executives exercising leadership rather than wielding power  She felt the way to motivate employees was through a rational appeal to a person’s higher instincts rather than a reliance on fear or threats Roethlisberger and Dickson and the Hawthorne Experiments  Beginnings of human relations school are traced to an experiment conducted w/ workers at the Hawthorne Works o Test the impact of different levels of lighting on employee productivity o Conducted by Harvard psychologist Roethlisberger + Western Electric management employee Dickson  They assumed that improving physical working conditions by increasing levels of lighting would increase productivity o Problem was that productivity tended to move up and down erratically independent of the light which led to an abandoning of the hypothesis  This experiment was followed by a series of experiments that tested the impact of many other changes in physical conditions in the workplace o Results were still ambiguous  Caused experimenters to think about the fact that the workers were moved to a special place + singled out for a great deal of consideration from researchers o Led experimenters to focus on the Hawthorne or sympathetic observer effect—the idea that workers given special attention will experience an increase in morale, which will lead to greater productivity  Findings have been criticized widely over the years w/ critics pointing to the poor design of the research while others argued that the research findings don’t support the conclusions usually drawn from them Chester Barnard and the Importance of Cooperation  Was a career business executive  Idea that an organization is a cooperative system held together by a good communication system + by the continuing desire of individual members to see the organization thrive  Members of the organization make contributions to it but only when they receive adequate inducements to encourage them to continue to do so  There is an important balance between inducements + contributions o If inducements exceed contributions, business failure will result b/c the organization is too free w/ its resources o If inducements are inadequate workers will cease making contributions + business failure will result  Essence of good management is maintaining a balance between these 2  He felt that inducements such as loyalty, good working conditions + pride in both the work + organization were the most effective but monetary ones would also work  He felt that workers were rather docile, uninspired creatures who depended on leadership to accomplish anything  Was the responsibility of the executive to establish good communication systems that would in turn instill the appropriate company spirit in employees Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs  Maslow argued that the idea of monetary rewards as an incentive for good work was too simplistic o Said that people are motivated by a hierarchy of 5 categories of needs ranging from the physiological to self-actualization  Believed a person would first be motivated by a desire to satisfy the most basic physiological needs, but as these are satisfied, the person will strive to meet the next level of needs + so on up the hierarchy  5 levels of hierarchy of needs are as follows: o Physiological—food, shelter, clothing, sex + sleep o Safety—security, stability, freedom from fear o Belongingness + love—friendship, love, membership in some community o Esteem—achievement, competence, independence, prestige, status o Self-actualization—self-fulfillment, attaining ultimate goals in life  Believed that there was no best way to motivate employees. Instead, management must be sensitive to the fact that workers have a variety of needs beyond simple need for money  Thinking about employee needs posed serious problems for managers who were accustomed to thinking in simple piecework terms  Contemporary scholars have taken issue w/ it o Some of the concepts are poorly defined + operationalizing the theory for purpose of scientific testing has been challenging Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y  Built on Maslow’s ideas + related them to the attitudes of individual managers  Noted that some managers simply do not trust or respect their employees o Felt that this reflected a group of assumptions about human nature, which he called Theory X  Depicts people as seeking to do as little work as possible + who must be threatened + closely supervised to ensure that they will do the necessary work  Other managers hold a more optimistic view of their subordinates known as Theory Y o Claims that work is a natural activity + that employees will be quite productive if given the opportunity to reach their potential, there is no need for controls or close supervision  He believed that employees react differently depending on how they are treated o If managers convey the impression that they believe their employees are Theory X types of workers, they will likely meet those expectations Criticisms of Organizational Humanism  Most significant criticisms are based on the idea that the presumed community of interest between workers + management does not exist o Thus the entire concept of human relations is a method to manipulate employees to behave in the interest of the management  In management’s interest to extract as much work as possible from employees, known as profit motive o It is the employee’s interest to restrict their output to what they can do in physical comfort + they are aware that there is a finite amount of work to be done + that if they do it all they may be laid off  Critics believe that the human relations approach to management is simply another technique for managerial control o Manipulating human factors in organizational life  Also criticized by the opposite end, believing they were too employee oriented o Tipped the balance too far in the opposite direction of scientific management Participatory Management 2/19/2013 6:17:00 PM Intro  Became accepted that there was an innate tension + conflict in the workplace o Could revolve around general issues such as rates of pay + speed of the production processes, or specific issues such as the attitude of a particular supervisor or the quality of food served in the lunchroom  Organizational humanism held that tension could be controlled + directed but probably not totally eliminated, by allowing workers a real decision-making role in the workplace  Many approaches to participatory management  Peter Drucker is one of the early proponents of it o Argued that the very characteristics that Weber saw as such powerful engines of efficiency—bureaucracy, hierarchical structures + specialization—were in fact powerful forces for misdirection  He felt that in large organizations managers + employees became too involved in their own specialty + had a tendency to emphasize this at the expense of the overall good of the organization  Problem is the inability to focus on the overall organizational goal; solution is a more participatory form of management that would allow managers to have a broader view of the organization + a clearer understanding of its overall goals Organizational Development  Based on the idea that all organizations tend to become rigid + while it remains rigid, the environment around the organization changes which has serious consequences o Conditions usually deteriorate until a serious crisis occurs, which causes either radical restructuring or even the collapse of the organization  Purpose of OD is to locate the barriers to change + to show the organization how to engage in planned, goal-directed change + not directionless evolution or radical revolution  Recognizes that all organizations have a history that creates an organizational culture o This culture develops as a result of the organization’s past successes + failures  When the culture of an organization has a negative effect (e.g. not willing to try something due to failure of it earlier) it is called a drag  Patterns + procedures that create drag are merely symptoms of a more serious underlying problem in the organization’s culture o Pointless to change these patterns + procedures w/out changing the underlying culture  Many practitioners of OD but all share a belief in a general 3-phase approach: o Unfreezing: involves identifying current dysfunctional behaviour + helping the organization to unlearn it o Moving or changing: improvements needed are identified + implemented o Refreezing: involves refreezing the organization w/ its new behaviour in place so that the organization doesn’t unconsciously revert to the old behaviour Total Quality Management  Leading proponent was W. Edwards Deming  After WWII he became disillusioned w/ the way American companies were using his previous philosophy b/ they tended to view the statistical techniques as an end in themselves + didn’t incorporate thinking about quality into their overall management + organizational culture  When teaching Japanese business leaders he emphasized that they must make quality the overall focus of their organizational culture  Basic difference between American + Japanese approach to quality can be seen by looking at the auto industry o Americans focus on production rather than quality o Japanese approach was to put less emphasis on the raw speed of construction + make every employee
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