Administrative theory

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Administrative theory

Administrative theory focuses in developing principles for an organization in order to carry out managerial activities more effectively. Prominent writers in this perspective were Henri Fayol, Max Weber, and Chester Barnard.

Henri Fayol's theory was focussed to achieve the ‘most rational' organization to carry out various tasks assigned to a large group of labour. In other words, organizations are expected to clear and rigid objectives, which are maintained by every individual, by following the rules and regulations fulfilling the individual expectations, as per the given blueprint and structure.

Henry Fayol's 14 principles of management-

1. Division of work - Every work and task must be performed by the respective specialized people and the same should be built as a unit or department.

2. Authority - delegated people who are authorized to give orders and expect that they are met.

3. Discipline - workers should be obedient and pay respect to the organization

4. Unity of command - As per the company hierarchy, only one person with authority should give orders to the employees

5. Unity of direction - the organization and employees should have only one plan of action or set of objectives.

6. Subordination of individual interests to the general interest -avoid ambiguity within the organization while following only one objective.

7. Remuneration -the organization must understand the economic value of employees and their essentials.

8. Centralization - Centralization depends on the importance on the authority that makes the decision or department level.

9. Scalar chain - authority in an organization which commands evenly from top to bottom.

10. Order - everything, people and resources, has a place that it belongs.

11. Equity -management-employee relations should be fair in terms of equity.

12. Stability of tenure of personnel

13. Initiative - the productivity and motivation will improve through new initiatives

14. Esprit de corps - Harmony and unity within the organization

Chester Barnard (1886-1961) is an experienced manager and did extensive study in sociological theory in building a theory of the organization.

Barnard's most famous work, viewed organization as a "cooperative system" of people possessing three crucial elements: (1) willingness to cooperate, (2) a common purpose, and (3) communication.' Considering the absence of any one of these three elements would lead to an unbalanced organization, according to Barnard

Decision Making process:

Decision making is the process of reducing un-ambiguity and doubt about changes to allow a reasonable choice to be made within the organization. In other words, uncertainty is reduced rather than eliminated. Very few decisions are made with total certainty because complete knowledge about all the alternatives is seldom possible. Hence, every decision takes a certain level of risk. If there is no uncertainty, there's no decision making; you have a set of steps that is followed to bring about a fixed result.

Task 1

Decision Making is a Recursive Process

Most decisions in organizations are made by moving back and forth between the decision and the alternatives. The alternatives influence the criteria we apply to them, and similarly the criteria we establish influence the alternatives we will consider. The key point is that the characteristics of the alternatives we discover will often revise the criteria we have previously identified.

Understand Different Styles of Decision-Making

According to the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), people are divided into thinkers and feelers:

* A Thinker tends to use reason and logic

* A Feeler tends to use values and subjective judgment

Use Varied Logics in Innovation Projects

New business leaders use the managerial equivalent of fuzzy logic to address the ambiguity of the fuzzy front end. Technology leaders have a similar form of logic used to address the ambiguity of the fuzzy from end.

Identify the Loop Poles

Ask yourself “What can go wrong in this situation? What is the worst possible outcome?” and decide whether one can live with those consequences.

Estimate the Probabilities

Probabilities are obvious to the art of decision making and investments. The principle is to estimate the probable result if a given event occurs.

Warren Buffett, the world's most successful investor, is a master of judging the probabilities. He says, "Take the probability of loss times the amount of possible loss from the probability of gain times the amount of possible gain.

Making Decisions in Discussion with Other People

Solve problems and make decisions more effectively by discussing with people. Perhaps the most important thing you do is communication which is very prominent in business to solve problems and make decisions, both by yourself and with other people

Decision making tree:

A decision tree is one of the most systematic tools of decision-making theory and practice. It will particularly help in situations of complex decision problems. A decision making tree is essentially a diagram that represents, in a specially organized way, the decisions, the main external or other events that introduce uncertainty, as well as possible outcomes of all those decisions and events.

Task 2

Assessing Your Strengths

Strength is a combination of inherent talent, personal characteristics, behavior, transferable skills and learned knowledge that when applied produces a consistently successful result. Following are the key questions when to evaluate your strengths. Make a list of your skills, dividing them into three categories:

Knowledge-based skills: Acquired from education and experience (e.g., computer skills, languages, degrees, training, and technical ability).
Transferable skills: Your portable skills that you take from job to job (e.g., communication and people skills, analytical problem solving and planning skills).
Personal traits: Your unique qualities (e.g., dependable, flexible, friendly, hard working, expressive, formal, punctual, and being a team player).

Accessing Weaknesses

Weakness is considered as a thing that prevents you from performing at your best. Think about how you manage the activity and what steps you could take on a practical level to improve overcoming your weaknesses. Examples of strategies that can be used to manage and improve on weaknesses include practicing the task or activity, designing a support system to help deal with the weakness, focusing on strength to try and overcome the weakness.

Reflective Action

“Reflective action is a process of ongoing learning from one's own actions. The beauty of reflective action is that it is self sustaining. Though leaders and managers who are committed to reflective action will certainly benefit from participation in training workshops and coaching sessions, they have access to a life-long process that allows them to learn from any situation they encounter.

Action Learning

Action learning considers learning as ‘relational learning' based on a collective process which has the “person participating in a shared process of meaning-making, creating frameworks of understanding within which all may act” (Pedler 1997). We are just some of many actors reflecting on, interpreting and constructing a contextually relevant and ongoing learning process.

Action learning is built around a number of elements:

The ‘set' - a (small) group of people;

The learning vehicle - the work-focused, real-time project or task that the individual and set can focus on

The process the set adopts when working- each individual has their own ‘space' to consider the problem, but the set adopts a helpful questioning approach;

A set adviser - who helps the group as it works and learns;

A set duration for the program and the emphasis on learning which emerges from both the ‘problem' and working within the set. (Weinstein 1999)

(In our subject, it is easiest to consider the lecturer as the ‘set adviser', but you will also be called upon to be the ‘set advisor' during the subject as well).

1. Action Learning is built on the premise of: L = P + Q


L = ‘Learning' through a combination of knowledge and insightful questioning

P = ‘Programmed Knowledge' - ‘expert' and ‘personal/input' knowledge

Q = ‘Questioning Insight' or in effect the process of action learning

As already mentioned, the action learning process has built upon the experiential learning model and in order for Q - Questioning Insight, to be effective a cycle of learning is required

Again, within the action learning cycle, the different learning styles come into play. The learning spiral also evolves to ensure that the learner will not return to the same place of knowledge, but to a different and new place.

While ‘reflection' is placed in just one location of the learning cycle, reflection should occur at all stages of the cycle, whether that be undertaking an action or planning a new one.

2. Action learning is built on problem and not puzzle solving

‘Puzzles' have a known answer to the question, but the single answer is not known yet. ‘Problems' are those issues, challenges, opportunities where there is no answer, no one right way of doing things and hence no one solution.

In the simple equation:

L = P + Q

Programmed knowledge (P) is probably sufficient to answer ‘puzzles' as ‘specialists' can help find the answer, but as McGill and Beaty (2001) suggest, it is probably insufficient to solve ‘problems' where there are no right answers:

“Dealing with problems needs programmed knowledge but also questioning insight where the complexity is taken into consideration in making decisions. This requires more than a trained and knowledgeable operator; it requires a holistic approach, an approach which is the essence of learning".

3. Learning as a Social Process

Action learning is a social framework for individuals to pool their ideas to take action and solve a problem. Here, learners can take responsibility for their decisions and actions and being managers of the situation, actively interact with the world. From this, they can seek to strengthen their on-going learning and the building of their personal capacity. This is at the personal or self-development level. At the group level, collaborative enquiry allows for “shared work, knowledge and ways of knowing where new social meanings and realities are collectively constructed” (Pedler 1997).

4. The set adviser

The role of an adviser is important and fraught with dangers if entered into with preconceived outcomes. In other words, the facilitator is there to establish and maintain an environment to learn and to ensure participants identify and consider their learning, rather than simply focus on and implement actions.

Action Learning Model

1. The Challenge. Participants are given an unstructured situation, without prior preparation. It can be a problem, a question or a project. It can be presented informally initially, but is always formalized into a charge.

2. Issue Identification. Participants identify the issues they must confront and manage in order to produce the deliverable required by the charge. Two types of issues are identified. (1) Project Issues. Where information and data needs are unique to the project situation, but must be collected and analyzed for deliverable. (2) Learning Issues where knowledge of concepts and techniques to be presented or developed in order to develop the deliverable.

3. Inquiry. Based on the identified issues, participants engage in inquiry. They conduct research to collect information and data necessary for the project. They also engage in learning activities independently with experts, and/or interactive learning modules developed and provided for their use.

4. Action. Participants then analyze the data collected; using the learning developed, and make decisions regarding the deliverable. Note that this frequently involves iteration with point 2 and 3 as more information or knowledge leads to the identification of additional issues and to the need for more inquiry. At some point, however, the iteration must stop (usually caused by a time deadline) and the deliverable must be prepared and delivered.

5. Reflection. After the deliverable is presented and feedback is received, participants engage in reflection. We believe that practice unexamined does not lead to learning. Rather, the process of reflection is central to making learning explicit and being able to recall and use the content learned and skills developed in other situations.
Action Research

Action research is a form of self-reflective enquiry conducted by participants… in social (including educational) situations in order to improve:

* Their own social and educational practices;

* Their understanding of these practices and

* The situation (and institutions) in which these practices are carried out"

The essential element of action research is the trying out of ideas in practice as a means of improvement and increasing knowledge. As in action learning, there are a series of cycles to increase knowledge based on planning (analyzing a complex situation and developing a strategic action plan), action (implementing the plan - the practical testing phase), observing (the monitoring of action), and reflecting (reflectively evaluating the results over the whole action process).

'Looping' and moving the cycle forward to probe into the future and improve practice is an outcome of action research. A single loop process does not influence future actions. Likewise the four 'steps' of planning, acting, observing and reflecting should not be seen as static steps, but rather moments in the action research spiral

The role of the researcher (as the role of the set advisor or facilitator in the action learning cycle) is varied and can be placed on a continuum of possibilities depending on their emphasis (e.g. participation, empowerment, knowledge generation etc) and techniques or approaches

Although the action research model provides a useful framework to review action learning processes, it is not a prerequisite, i.e. many action researchers do not have action learning sets (groups) and vice versa. But many of the underlying principles of these approaches to learning and research are similar.

Task 3
Wild cat Strikes:

Wildcat strikes spread to power stations across Britain today with more than 2,000 workers at 17 different sites walking out in protest against the use of foreign contractors. The government has called in independent mediator Acas to look in to claims that British workers are allegally excluded from engineering and construction projects.

The workers were brought to that place on worse terms and conditions to actually get jobs in front of British workers, on the basis of dumbing down the terms and conditions.

What has to be done over time is that where there are jobs in the country, there is a need for people with the skills.

So,people worried about their jobs could "certainly look to the Conservative Party to do more to promote employment and combat unemployment than is being done in this country at the moment".

The various judgments that have been made distorted the original intention and there is a need to bring in fresh directives to make it absolutely clear that people cannot be undercut in this way.

A true understanding of industrial strife demands consideration of related, less-spectacular manifestations as well.The general object of study is not the labour dispute, the strike or the lockout but the total range of behavior and attitudes that express opposition and divergent orientations between industrial owners and managers on the one hand and working people and their organisations on the other.

The demand for a change in EU law to protect the interests of British workers has led to the need for a clear understanding for the call off of the strike. Rather than focusing on wildcat strikes only, it is necessary to place them in relation with the behavior that leads to and that which results from them.


Perception encompasses all processes associated with the recognition, transformation and organization of sensory information. It is closely related to all higher-order cognitive functions (such as reasoning, concept formation, problem-solving, memory, etc.) as well as sensory-motor behavior.

Attention is a fundamental component of perception that is often used to differentiate higher-order cognitive processes from those that are purely sensory. Some theories of memory, such as Paivio or Craik & Lockhart, distinguish different types or levels of processing based upon perceptual phenomena.

Theories of Perception:

Two major classes:

Bottom-up: perception builds up hierarchically from a set of primitive "features" to our internal representations.
Top-down: perception starts with a set of primitives, but our perceptual experience is influenced by higher-level processes, such as knowledge and context.

Bottom-up theories

All bottom-up theories rely on the notion that perception builds upwards from a foundation of primitives to a representation our cognitive system can use.

This takes place without any influence from higher cognitive processes.

Five main theories:

Direct perception

Precursor to behaviorism ó Perception is a direct result of stimulus energy affecting receptor cells. No higher cognitive processes or internal representations are necessary

Template/Exemplar theory

We store examples of all the objects we have seen as exemplars or templates.

We compare a perceived object to this set of exemplars until we find a match.

Prototype theory

Instead of storing many exemplars or rigid templates, we store a prototype, which is kind of like the average of an object.

We compare a perceived object to these prototypes until we find the closest match.

Feature theory

Perception starts with the identification of basic features that are put together into more complex objects, which are put together into more complex objects, etc. until we identify an object.

Example: Pandemonium

Neural basis for feature theory

Using single-cell recording (remember that?), Hubel & Wiesel found neurons in the primary visual cortex (occipital lobe) that respond to visual features such as lines and corners.

These feature detectors are a result of how the early visual system is wired.

Structural description theory

Kind of like a three-dimensional version of feature theory, where rather than having lines and corners as the basic features, simple geometric shapes, called geons, are the basic features.

We recognize objects by matching the geons we are looking at to the stored geons in memory.

Top-down theories

Top-down theories posit varying degrees of influence of higher cognitive processes on what we actually perceive.
The primary example of this is the effect of context on perception, such as in the Word Superiority Effect.

Constructive and Defensive behavior:

In order to understand constructive thinking,it isessential to understand emotions first. Many people feel that their emotions are a way in which they automatically react to circumstances. To them, an event happens, and then this event triggers emotions.

Most of these people are aware that it is possible for them to control their emotions, as well as the ways in which they express them, but most of these people feel that there is no way for them to actually stop the emotions from occurring in the first place.

For instance, when most people are treated in a manner which to them is unfair, they will react with anger. Once they become angry, they can decide whether or not they want to showcase this anger. One thing that most people don't realize is that their emotions are affected by the manner in which they see the circumstances, not the circumstances themselves.

In this lies the basic foundation for constructive thinking. The way you think and the things you think about is the person you will become. In other words, you are what you think. Constructive thinking should be thought of as a way in which you think constructively about the world around you.

Instead of allowing yourself to react to the events that occur in your life, you will first learn to interpret these events. The key to constructive thinking is understanding that interpretations often will have an influence on your emotions.

Most people believe that emotions always come first, and then thoughts come second. When most people become angry, they will have thoughts which are aggressive. When you're sad, you will often begin to develop thoughts which are pessimistic.

While it is true that our feelings do have an effect on our thoughts, the reality is that our thoughts shape our feelings. The distinction between thoughts preceding emotions and emotions preceding thoughts is that one is more conscious, while the other is more preconscious.

Most people are aware of their conscious as opposed to their pre-conscious, this is why we often have impressions about things which are false. But this raises the question of exactly what are interpretations? The best way to describe interpretations is that they are thoughts which are automatic, thoughts that in most cases you won't be aware of. Despite this, they are still thoughts

Defensive behavior is a method many of us use to protect our self-esteem. Often, defensiveness is used to hide those parts of our personality or emotions we can't or don't want to expose to others.

Excessively concerned with guarding against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one's ego, or exposure of one's shortcomings.

Eventually defensive behaviors become a “knee jerk reaction.” You may be defensive about certain subjects, people or emotions and not even realize it. When defensiveness becomes a day-to-day way of life, it can then become emotionally destructive and disempowering

To deal with and understand built-in defense mechanisms, you must first become aware of them. Here are a few common signs of defensive behaviors:

~ Not talking about certain subjects;
~ Becoming defensive when challenged;
~ Negatively misinterpreting what others say;
~ Finding yourself easily irritated, especially by certain people or topics;
~ Feeling as if no one understands you;
~ Overly self-critical; and also
~ Finding it difficult to listen to the opinions of others.

Defensive behavior can manifest itself as sarcasm, withdrawing into silence, blaming or shaming, denial, anger, rigidly sticking to one way of thinking, not listening to others, and all or nothing thinking.

When you're feeling as if you may be getting defensive, here are a few things you can do:

*Take a deep breath and look at the situation clearly and without emotion. Slowing down that “knee-jerk” reaction can allow you to think clearly.
*Don't allow someone to push your “hot buttons.” Take a minute to gain control to think and react logically. See if the other person will sit down and talk with you unemotionally.
*Walk away to clear your head and allow the defensiveness to cool down. Give yourself time to form a cool and rational response.
*Try not to become negative or pessimistic about yourself. Negative self-talk will only make matters worse. Say to yourself something like, “I am good at handling situations like this is a positive and logical manner.”

Defensiveness does not serve you in positive ways. Often, defensive behavior will hurt you emotionally and physically more than it is having an impact on the other person/people.
Interpersonal skills:

Interpersonal skills can be defined broadly as “those skills which one needs in order to communicate effectively with another person or a group of people” (Rungapadiachy, 1999, p.193). Although there is some variation in the literature over the exact skills that qualify under this heading (Chant, Jenkinson, Randle and Russell, 2002), most authors (e.g. Rungapadiachy, 1999; Hargie and Dickson, 2004; Hargie, 1997; Hayes, 2002) tend to agree on a number of core areas in which competency is essential for effective interpersonal interactions. These include the following:

* Self-awareness: Self-awareness is considered to be a pre-requisite for the type of “other-awareness” or empathy assumed to underlie effective communication (Hayes, 2002).

* Effective listening: The ability to listen effectively is a core skill in a range of interpersonal situations (see Bostrom, 1997). Some of the features that underpin effective listening and its role in oral communication are explored in more detail in section 2.2.

* Questioning: The ability to use questions that maximize the amount of relevant (relative to irrelevant) information that is gathered in an exchange, serves to enhance the communicative efficiency of the interaction (Hayes, 2002).

* Oral communication: Some of the processes involved in effective oral presentations are explored in section 2.2 below and as noted above, the topic of oral communication is addressed in greater depth by the corresponding Learn Higher learning area.

* Helping or facilitating: Being effective at helping others is considered (e.g. Hayes, 2002; Rungapadiachy, 1999) an important aspect of interpersonal competence. Ideas about helping behavior from Humanistic psychology have also had an important influence in terms of generating research and developments in the area of interpersonal skills teaching, an issue which is explored further in section 4.2.

* Reflecting: Another skill that is closely related to the psychological sciences or counseling more specifically is the ability to reflect or present reflections. Hargie and Dickson (2004, p.148) define reflections as “statements in the interviewer's own words that encapsulate and re-present the essence of the interviewee's own words”.

* Assertiveness: Being assertive is an important interpersonal skill for interactions in all domains. Asserting oneself can serve many different communicative functions including allowing the expression of views clearly and openly and the avoidance of negative conflicts (see Hargie and Dickson, 2004).

* Non-verbal communications: A number of communicative activities also involve non-verbal behavior and an ability to detect and portray messages through this medium is also seen as a central interpersonal skill (Harrigan, Rosenthal and Scherer, 2005). Messages can be communicated through the following non-verbal channels:

* Facial expressions: Ekman's work in the area of facial expressions (e.g. Ekman, 1992) provides solid evidence that information about an individual's emotional state can be transmitted via their facial expression. In addition, facial expressions can be used to regulate interactions, for example the synchronisation of conversations (Hayes, 2002).

* Gaze: Emotion information can also be communicated through gaze. For example, long stares are often seen as signals of hostility or aggression. Looking can also be used to initiate and regulate interpersonal interactions and can be used to assess the reactions of others during oral presentations and conversations (Hayes, 2002).

* Gestures: Gestures can be used to replace words, in addition to words to place emphasis on an element of a verbal message, or to regulate or signal the beginning or end of an interaction (Ekman and Friesen, 1969, cited in Hayes, 2002).

* Posture: An individual's posture can reveal how they feel and their attitude towards others involved in the interaction (Argyle, 1994). Posture also tends to vary as a function of how formal an interpersonal situation is with more relaxed postures indicating less formal situations (Hayes, 2002).

* Paralinguistic cues: Non-verbal vocal cues such as the pitch, tone and speed of speech can also reveal information about emotional states and can be used to regulate interactions. For example, people experiencing anxiety tend to speak very quickly and in a high pitch (Scherer, 1981).


Action learning helps everyone to learn best from each other, reflecting on how real problems are being addressed, and questioning the assumptions on which their actions are based. In future The action learning concepts applies to new situations where action learning concepts have not been applied before.