Models of managerial leadership in improving productivity

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Everyone has beliefs about the right way for managers of doing things. When it comes to managerial leadership, these beliefs are sometimes referred to as models. Models are representations of a more complex reality. It provides a particular perspective phenomenon about the more complex reality. Models sometimes can help us to see some aspects of a phenomenon; they can also blind us to other aspects. Our models and definitions of management keep evolving as social values change (Fabian, 2000). Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1983) created the Competing Values Framework (CVF), which originally emerged from empirical research on the question of what makes organizations effective. The framework has four models, the Human Relations Model, the Open System Model, the Rational Goal Model and the Internal Process Model, which are depending on two dimensions -organizational preference for structure and organizational focus (Quinn et al 2007). More specifically, one dimension differentiates an orientation toward stability, order, and control from an orientation toward flexibility, discretion, and dynamism. The second dimension differentiates an orientation toward an external focus on opportunities, differentiation and rivalry regarding outsiders, from an orientation toward an internal focus on capability, the integration and unity of processes. In this essay, it will focus on the strengths and limitations of the Rational Goal Model and the Human Relation Model respectively, and also give a short comparison.

The Rational Goal Model began to emerge in the first 25 years of the twentieth century. In this model, productivity and profit are the ultimate criteria of organization effectiveness; hence the ultimate value is the achievement and profit maximization. The managers in this model play roles as decisive directors and task-oriented producers (Quinn et al, 2007).

To clarify the advantages and disadvantages of this model, we can deliberate the strengths and limitations of scientific management, which is one of the most important practices among this model.


The scientific management movement initiated by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the last decades of the nineteenth century, which was brought into being by the forces of covering the gap between the enormous growth in the size of enterprises and the purposive and systematic application of science to production (Braverman, 1974). The positive effect of it is so tremendous that Taylorism dominates the world of production (Braverman, 1974).

One of Taylor's methods is breaking the task down into small component parts and training workers to be specialised in doing that simple part (Taylor, 1964). It hugely increases productivity. The best example can be seen in the increasing production in Ford. Under Taylor's ideas, Henry Ford introduced the assembly line and reduced car assembly time from 728 hours to 93 minutes. The total sales increased from 221,805 (1914) to 472,350 (1916) as increased productivity caused the price fell to $360 per car (Lewis, 1987). Adam Smith (2009) also supported the idea of division of labour in his work of Wealth of Nation as he claimed that it increases dexterity among every particular workman, saves the time that is lost in passing and the invention of machines facilitate labour and enable one man to do work of many.

Meanwhile, it accelerates the replacement of skilled craftspeople by unskilled workers and thus reduces the labour cost and creates a way for mass production of complex precision industries. This is because the process that labours power capacity of performing is dissociated as separate elements, rather than as a capacity integrated in a single worker. Hence, the job they were required to perform were simplified to the ultimate degree so that workers would be cheap, easy to train, easy to supervise, and easy to replace (Babbage, 1832). One of IBM's innovations can be a very good example of applying scientific management principles. Most of the equipments produced by IBM are of a high order of complexity. If the productions of these equipments are dependent on craft skills, it could be turned out neither in large quantities nor at a price could the customer afford to pay. Indeed, IBM divided the production into homogeneous stages and uses semi-skilled machine operators (Drucker, 1955). This also decreased the cost of production since though workers produced a great deal more; their work became much simpler than before. For example, when Henry Ford established his first assembly line to produce the Model T, employee turnover rose to approximately 380 percent per annum; only by doubling wage to his famous "$5 a day" was he able to stabilize the work situation and persuade workers to accept the new technology (Morgan, 1997).

Scientific management also made the production much easier to predict and control. Because of the well-entrenched rules and regulations, scientific management operates in a high predictable manner. Everyone in the factory performed in the same steps to produce the same products. Hence it is easy for inside managers to know what and when the product will be provided to consumers while outside consumers who receive the product know with high degree of confidence what and when they will receive it. As scientific management produced a nonhuman technology, it also showed great control over workers.


Though scientific management had worldly success and was sold to managers as the "on best way to organize" (Morgan, 1997), it has two blind spots: one is engineering and the other is philosophical. What it does not see is as important as it sees.

The first blind spot is the belief that "because we must analyse work into its simplest constituent motions we must also organize it as a series of individual motions, each if possible carried out by an individual worker". The logic that considers the worker as the machine tool seems not correct. It is true that the work efficiency can be improved by dividing the task into different motions or operations and improving the performance of them. However, it is not true that the human being can perform better if the work can be divided into more individual components. It is also not true that worker is a machine tool, because they are not productive resources but have their own personality, emotions or soul, and we have to accept that "man's specific contribution is always to perform many motions, to integrate, to balance, to control, to measure and to judge" (Drucker, 1955).

Besides, job cycles are often very short, with workers sometimes being asked to complete work involving seven or eight separate operations every forty or fifty seconds. For instance, when General Motors decided to tighten up on efficiency in its Lordstown plant in the late 1960s, workers had only thirty-six second to perform at least eight different operations, such as walking, lifting, handing, raising a carpet, bending to fasten the bolts by hand, fastening them by air gun, replacing the carpet, and putting a sticker on the hood (Aronowitz, 1992).

In addition, this capitalist mode of production systematically destroys all-around skills where they exist. The distribution of knowledge of the productive process among all its participants becomes not merely "unnecessary", but a positive barrier to the functioning of the capitalist mode of production. This caused the situation that over the long run it creates mass of simple labour, which has been the primary feature of populations in developed capitalist countries (Braverman, 1974). That is one reason that American industry was outstripped by Japanese industry, which found a way not only to be formally rational, but also to use the capabilities of its workers more fully (Ritzer, 1993).

The second blind spot is the "divorce of planning from doing" - one of its most pernicious elements. It reflects a "dubious and dangerous philosophical concept of elite which has a monopoly on esoteric knowledge entitling it to manipulate the unwashed peasantry" (Drucker, 1955). In this way, a structure is given to all labour processes that at its extremes polarize those whose time is infinitely valuable and those whose time is worth almost nothing (Braverman, 1974). One worker who worked in GM once said: "I don't even feel useful now. They could replace me; I don't feel necessary…They could always find somebody stupider than me to do the job" (Aronowitz 1992), workers in such a working atmosphere fell trashy of themselves.

The Human Relation Model

After discussing the strengths and limitations of the Rational Goal Model, I will turn to discover the merits and demerits of the Human Relation Goal.

The Change Point - the Birth and the Strengths of the Human Relation Model

After the stock market crash in 1929 and World War â…¡, the lives and outlook of generations changed. Managers realized that the early theorists about rational goal and internal process models paid too little attention on the individual needs, nonfinancial rewards in the workplace, or the prevalence of social interaction in organizations, so that these models were not fully appropriate to the demands of the times. Some fundamental changes began to appear in the fabric of society during the second quarter of the century and researchers began to study on how employees could contribute to meeting organizational goals through knowledge, ideas, and discussions (Quinn et al, 2007; Miller, 2006).

By the end of the second quarter of the century, the human relations model emerged. "The key emphasis of this model is on commitment, cohesion, and morale. The means-ends assumption is that involvement results in commitment and the key values are participation, conflict resolution, and consensus building" (Quinn et al, 2007).

During that period, Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger carried out their work in the Western Electric Company's Hawthorne plant in Illinois which have become collectively known as the Hawthorne studies. The Hawthorne investigations served as springboard, moving organizational theorists from classical theories to human relations approaches. These studies began to highlight the role of communication, especially informal and group communication in organizational functioning, which are the most momentous investigations of it (Miller, 2006; Pugh and Hickson, 1989). This study showed great effect on production by using human relation model.

To better understand the productivity increases seen in the illumination studies, Mayo and his team isolated a group of six women who assembled telephones relay systems. A number of changes were introduced to that group, including incentive plans, rest pauses, temperature, humidity, work hours, and refreshments to understand the changing in productivity. Productivity remained high under a wide range of conditions after more than one year studies; these researchers concluded that the "results could be best explained by the influences of the social group on productivity and the extra attention paid by the managers to the six workers in the group". This phenomenon, whereby mere attention to individuals causes change in behaviour, has come to be known as the Hawthorne effect. This could be confirmed by the interview of the workers as they said it is the different environment that makes them happy and work better (Greenwood et al, 1983; Miller, 2006).

Mayo and his colleagues Pugh and Hickson (1989) also note that emotionally based attitudes of the workers, rather than the objective difficulties of the situation are the main cause of worker-management cooperation problems.

To sum up, it is easily to conclude that by treating workers well with enriched and challenging jobs, and by fulfilling their needs for esteem and self-actualization, it would generate a climate in which worker satisfaction and productivity will flourish.

The story of IBM could be a good example to support this theory. Several years ago, one of the first of the new complicated electronic computers was being developed. However, there was a great pressure on supplying because the engineering design has taken so much longer than expected. This caused the situation that the production had to be begun before the engineering work was fully completed. The great IBM innovation solved the problem effectively by inviting foremen and workers from production floor to work with engineers collaboratively. The workers who were got in on the planning of the product, of the production process and of their own jobs felt pride of themselves and saw themselves as a "brain" rather than a "hand", which lead the result of a superior design of production, a significantly better, cheaper, faster production engineering (Drucker, 1955).

Human Relations recognizes human resource as a specific resource, which against mechanistic concepts of the human being as a "slot-machine man". It was one of the great liberating forces, knocking off blinders that management had been wearing for century. However, it has pernicious limitations.


One limitation is its belief in "spontaneous motivation". Human relations people insisted that "remove fear and people will work". There was no doubt that it makes a tremendous contribution at a time when management felt fear is the only way to stimulate people to work. However, it offers so little and general motivations so that the model was difficult to understand and certainly difficult to practice. "Attempts often resulted in a kind of authoritarian benevolence." (Drucker, 1955; Quinn et al, 2007)

It should be "obvious" that that employee who is more satisfied will also be more productive. However, years of researches stemming from the human relations movement have failed to support this connection (Miller, 2006). This is the second limitation that human relation lacks an adequate focus on work. Positive motivations must have their centre in work and jobs, but human relations put all its stress on inter-personal relations and on the "informal group" and less on work and job. There is a favourite saying that "the happy worker is an efficient and a productive worker", however, the case is that it is not the business of the enterprise to create happiness but to sell and make profit. No workers would be happy if the company is unprofitable with no wages payable (Drucker, 1955).

Although human relations focus on the social nature of human being, its problem on power and control cannot be denied. According to Morgan (1997), "Any move away from hierarchically controlled structures toward more flexible, emergent patterns has major implications for the distribution of power and control as the increase in autonomy granted to self-organizing units undermines the ability of those with ultimate power to keep a firm hand on day-to-day activities and developments." Human relations model may just be a slogan and an excuse of lacking management policy (Drucker, 1955).

Short Comparison

Compare to human relations, the emphasis of the rational goal model is on the work, which simply divides the work into small elements. By systematically improving the performance of the workers in each element, the work efficiency will be improved. Moreover, the rational goal model has performed well under the support by its basic concepts and easy practise with both applicable tools and techniques. Therefore, there is no difficulty for this model to contribute in reality. Furthermore, the higher output brought by this model is visible and measurable. However, this model neglects the human capacity and considers human beings as animals, which worse the relationships between employers and employees. On the contrary, human relation model pays more attentions on a major foundation in managing the human organization, and makes managers understand that attitudes and methods are important elements required by human resource. Although the human relation model has great achievement, it is still not adequate, which gives great attentions to human relations and focuses less on work. It is only the foundations of building, and other parts should be still perfected.


This essay has discussed two models of the Competing Values Framework (CVF), the Human Relations Model and the Rational Goal Model. The Rational Goal Model has the great effects on work performances, which includes increasing productivity, accelerating the replacement of labour, increasing control and predictability. However, its two blind spots of engineering and philosophy lie at the basis of many modern organizational problems. The main strength of the Human Relations Model is increasing productivity by paying attention to human capacity while the limitations are the wrong belief in "spontaneous motivation" making it hard to be practiced, lacking an adequate focus on work and the serious danger of losing control. Therefore, no one model is almighty, only making appropriate choices and effort toward change around the positive tensions facing the organization can create greater value in the organization.