Acknowledging that choices among alternative approaches to planning, job design, communications systems, etc., should take into account organization and human variables seems logical and may appear obvious (though the number of organizations in which illogical choices have been made is large). Not so obvious, however, is the fact that there are logical linkages among the integrative mechanisms themselves.
For example, the choice of a particular approach to planning cannot and should not be made independently of the approach to designing jobs or distributing rewards in the organization. Instead, in an effective administrative system, planning is complemented by job design, which in turn fits logically with the reward system, etc.
Conversely, many problems in modern organizations are directly traceable to inconsistencies among the component parts of the administrative system-approaches in one area simply do not fit with, or even work at cross-purposes to, administrative efforts in other areas.
The need for a high-quality fit among the components in an administrative system is well illustrated in the following (real-life) example where the inconsistency between planning and control is glaring.
Organization A is a medium-size manufacturing firm in a high-technology industry. It has four operating divisions, each functioning in highly competitive, rapidly changing markets. Recognizing the needs for a rapid product and a technological development to keep pace with market demands, the top management has instructed division managers to run their own operations.
Along with this administrative decision, however, top management has specified that division controllers must have primary reporting responsibility to the corporate controller. Moreover, top management has a policy that all capital expenditures in excess of Euros: 50.000 must be approved by a headquarters planning group.
The effect of these latter administrative decisions on the motivation of division managers is predictable. They feel they are being controlled, and they complain that the purchase and/ or refurbishment of operating equipment is so delayed by the corporate review process that they cannot match the innovation rate of their competitors.
Thus, corporate efforts to develop an administrative process in which decentralized divisions adapt rapidly to market changes are being thwarted by control procedures more appropriate to stable environmental conditions and centralized decision.
The role of administration is to integrate a complex set of organization and human variables and that effective integration is most likely to occur when there is a high degree of consistency among the integrative mechanisms chosen by top administrators. Integration, however, is not the ultimate purpose of organizational systems.
Organizations are created to serve some hopefully useful social function, and this function is best achieved when the organization is effective (i.e., does the right things), efficient (i.e., does these things right), and satisfies the needs of its members.
The quality of the choices made by administrators in designing their organizations will, of course, have an effect on organizational performance and member satisfaction. And whether these choices serve as a foundation for, or as a barrier to, organizational growth and renewal, is, as indicated earlier, one of the tests of effective administration.
But, while most administrative groups seek to design high-performing organizations, there is no single administrative system that will guarantee this outcome. While management is constrained by both organization and human variables, its choice of a given system of administration is clearly not dictated.
In these situations, administrators are influenced by a final set of variables not yet incorporated into our model. They are influenced by their own theories of how and why people in organizations behave as they do and, therefore, how and why they as administrators ought to behave in a particular fashion.
Within the block assigned to administrator theories, there are three, the Traditional, Human Relations, and Human Resources. While in fact every administrator has his own theory of administration – his own set of concepts which in part guides his behavior and his choices among alternatives in the areas described above-we believe that most administrator views can be clustered around one of the three models.
Most likely, only infrequently does the practicing administrator desire, or feel compelled, to pause from his ongoing activities and analyze his own theory of administration. And yet every administrator has such a theory which, if more fully explicated, might be of immense value to him as he designs and redesigns his organization.
Although it is not often recognized, even by successful administrators, every manager behavior and decisions are influenced by his theory of administration (in essence, a theory is an explanation of how and why someone or something behaves as he or it does).
For example, the general belief that, left unsupervised, employees will soldier on the job implies an underlying set of assumptions about people’s attitudes toward work and the administrative mechanisms required to obtain productivity.
Were an administrator to sit down and analyze the characteristics of his own organization, he might begin to develop the theory that appears to underlie what he observes. And, as in the example of Organization he might find some logical inconsistencies in this theory of administration.
In an effort to make this exercise easier, we offer three alternative administrative models which exhibit a high degree of internal consistency among (1) the assumptions made about human attitudes and behavior; (2) typical administrative actions developed in accordance with these assumptions; and (3) the expected results which are likely to occur if administrators behave as suggested.
No claim is made that any existing administrative system is fully captured by the Traditional, Human Relations, or Human Resources models. However, the essence of a particular system can usually be found to conform closely to one of the three models, and, taken together; the three models cover a broad range of alternative approaches to administration.
By Andrew Clapton