Sunday, July 14, 2013

Participative Management by Rensis Likert

Rensis Likert along with his associates carried out research on the management practices and behavior in American business administration for over a period of twenty five years. The uniqueness in Likert's studies was that they were conducted in a wide variety of organizations such as railways, hospitals, schools and voluntary organizations etc. In modern complex organizations there was continuous pressure on the employees to work more and more. This competitive environment had generated pressure on the employees for high performance. Likert was mainly interested in knowing the causes of this pressure.

The factors which force the employees to deliver high performance in modern organizations are:

  • Increasing competition from the developed countries

  • Increasing trend towards giving more freedom to the individuals

  • Resistance by employees to pressure on them

  • Resistance by employees to the close supervisionHigher education level of the workers due to which employee attitudes also changes and they expect more participative style of management

Likert's views can be analysed under following heads:

Style of Supervision according to Likert

According to Likert, there are two categories of supervisors: job centered and employee centered. The job centered supervisors aim at the performance of the assigned tasks only. They ensure that all the prescribed standards are adhered to and the job is finished on time. The features of such supervisors are:

  • They do not trust their sub-ordinates and have little confidence in them

  • Due to lack of trust they exercise close supervision.

  • They do not give freedom to the sub-ordinates

  • They pronounce punishments when mistakes occur

  • Sub-ordinates feel lot of pressure due to them

While the characteristics of the employee centered supervisors are following:

  • They believe in human aspects and team building to increase the performance

  • They trust their sub-ordinates

  • Sub-ordinates feel motivated due to them as well as due to their own achievements also

  • They allow the sub-ordinates to take their own initiatives

  • General rather than close supervision is exercised by them over subordinates

  • They assist sub-ordinates in case mistakes occur and do not exert much pressure on them

Concept of 'Supportive Relationships'

According to Likert the experience of an employee at the organization as well as with other members of the organization including the supervisor should be such that it should be viewed as supportive by the employee and the employee maintains a feel of personal worth, dignity and importance for the organization. Likert calls this the concept of "supportive relationship".

Interaction-lnfluence System

Interaction-influence system according to Likert facilitates the integration of "organisational and managerial processes". such as co-ordination, communication, decision making and direction etc. These are some of the inter-dependant processes whose effectiveness depends on the performance of this interaction-influence system. Further this system helps in augmenting the skills, abilities and changing the attitudes of the individuals in the organisations. Some of the features of the organisations with interaction-influence system are:

  • The personal needs, goals and values of the organisation will be reflected in the organisation as a whole

  • The accomplishment of the goals of the organisation would be seen as complementary to accomplishment of personal goals to the employees

  • Pressures for high performance will come from the employees themselves and not from the traditional hierarchies of the organisations

  • Reliable and prompt communication networks will operate throughout the organisation

  • The organisational decisions and actions will be affected by every member of the organisation. The influence will be directly proportional to the power of ideas not to the power of position

  • Co-operation, motivation, communication etc. will ensure that employees throughout the organisation exert their influence through their ideas on the decisions made in the organisation so that the capability of the organisation get built up

However traditionally the organisations are too hierarchial and only one to one Interactions are there among the employees. This does not promote the above kind of interaction-influence system. To remove this difficulty Likert proposes the "Linking Pin Model".

The Linking Pin Model

This type of model has been presented as an alternative to the traditional hierarchical structure of traditional organisations by Likert Each individual has dual roles in two overlapping groups in this scheme of structuring organisation. Every member of organisation is member of a higher level group and leader of a lower level group. They are quite different in comparison to the traditional top-down management of the classical organisations in the sense that they grow upwards from the organisational base. In this model group functions and processes become far more important than the individual roles.

Different Management Systems according to Likert

The most important contribution of Likert was to conceptualise different systems of management along a continuum. He identifies four distinct types of management styles. These are not isolated categories but many intermediate categories are possible in between them. These are as follows:

  • Management System 1: Exploitative - Authoritative

  • Management System 2: Benevolent - Authoritative

  • Management System 3: Consultative

  • Management System 4: Participative

Likert believed that the component parts of the management system should be consistent with its overall philosophy. Thus an exploitative - authoritative management system would show a steep hierarchial structure, close supervision, one to one relations, lot of pressure for high performance and low motivation among the employees. However the System 4 of participative style will show cross-functional linkages, tendency for group relations, joint decision making and lateral communication besides the top - down communication etc.

Systems 2 and 3 are intermediate levels in transition from System 1 to System 4 e. g. System 2 remains to be authoritative like System 1 but its exploitative character is replaced by the benevolence of the management towards its members. In consultative management style of System 3 broad based decisions are taken in which some powers are delegated to the middle level management also.

Though Likert prefers System 4 to any other management system still he doesn't favour abruptly transplanting the management style of one system in the other system. The skills of the members of the organisation as well those of its leaders suit a particular system. If one system is forced on a group of individuals not suited for it then the effectiveness of the whole system would decline. This is the reason Likert pleads for only gradual change from System 1 to System 4 and not an abrupt change.

Likert believes that the overall strategy and philosophy of the management of the organisation should change in accordance to System 4 principles and the isolated efforts of team building, job enrichment and participative decision making etc. would not be of much use for the organisation.


Critical Evaluation of Rensis Likert

Likert's ideas are criticised on the following grounds:

  1. Likert's linking pin model is often accused of only drawing the triangles around the hierarchial structures & slowing down the process of decision making and doing nothing more.

  • Likert has not dwelt on how to push organisations from System 1 to System 4.

  • In practice it is observed that management often reverts back to the System 1 & 2 techniques in times of crisis. If System 4 is that much effective then why it is not preferred in times of emergency. Does it mean that supportive relationships break down in these situations.

  • Organisations exist in an overall ecology. If the society itself is hierarchial and authoritarian culture exists in it then it should not be expected that the organisations would follow System 4 concept,

However notwithstanding these criticisms, Likert's views on linking pin model, participative style in accordance with System 4, and idea of supportive relationships and that of interaction-influence system bring about employee friendly management practices in the organisation theory. His ideas de-emphasise status, power, position, hierarchy and de-personalise problem solving. Also Cross functional linkages and upward & horizontal linkages are recognized in the organisation due to the attractive ideas of Rensis Likert

Reference : Google Books


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