Organizational theory provides a
framework for understanding how organizations manage and function, and what
systems will likely lead to successful outcomes. In the case of the R&D
department at Biotech, Geraldine has developed an efficient and productive, yet
process-centered approach to management.
As Geraldine approaching retirement, she understands that she will need
to retain younger employees, and those who will take over may have different
theories of how the organization should be organized. Her observation of their different approaches
to management demonstrates a conflict between the classical and behavioral
schools of thought in organizational theory.
Valerie: Classic Management School
The school of thought that best fits with Geraldine the
classical school of thought. Geraldine demonstrates the classical management
school. Her focus is on how efficient the R&D Department is run. Although
Geraldine listens to her employee’s ideas on innovative products and ideas,
those ideas area not taken into account in any of her final decisions. As a
manager, we see that Geraldine is very efficient in defining goals, setting
tasks, and dividing work among the employees, as well as organizing product
materials and coordinating and communicating activities between the different
departments. She has been successful at running her lab using this
process-focused management style. When her employees come to her with problems,
she advocates for deciding what method would be useful in a particular situation.
Valerie also believes that it’s important that she maintain
the final responsibility for decision making.
She and Geraldine share several similarities in the way they run teams
and their approaches to management. They both believe that they should have the
final say in decisions. She uses the
terms ‘order and discipline’ in her approach to management. When questioned by
Geraldine about a recently employee whose adjustments to a flavor had thrown
the team off, Valerie insists that the employee should have followed her
directions and stressed that order was important. She’s not interested in the
behavioral aspects or the factors that may have motivated the employee to keep
making changes. According to Lumen Learning’s (n.d) chapter on Classical Perspectives, one of the flaws
of this perspective is the fact that human error is overlooked (p. 1)
Valerie’s Theorist: Henry Fayol
The theorist that best fits Geraldine and Valerie’s approach
to management is Henry Fayol. Fayol contributed to classical management theory
by placing an emphasis on management and the various principles – known as the
14 principles of management – as a way to increase efficiency and productivity.
The fourteen principles focus on division of labor, authority, discipline, as
well as division of labor.
We also see Fayol’s principles of management with respect to
authority as a way to ensure completion of tasks and to encourage compliance.
Geraldine relies on input from her team members with regards to developing
products and innovating, however, she ultimately makes the decisions. Geraldine also becomes concerned that her
granddaughter’s loss of authority will lead to her not retaining control of her
Behavioral/Human Resources Theory School of Thought
Since the classical theory did not account for human error or focus on
employees, the behavioral approach centered on how employees are motivated to
do work and examine specific motivations, such as wants and needs.
Melanie has adopted a human resources approach that is
demonstrated by her desire to engage her employees and make them feel part of a
vital group. For example, Melanie deferred decisions to others when their
opinions were different than her own, and her grandmother is concerned that she
is more of a motivator than a delegator.
To her grandmother, who is more concerned with processes and production,
Melanie’s ideas are a source of frustration, mainly because she feels they will
lead to decentralization of control. On the other hand, Melanie’s concern is
making sure employees feel stable and safe and that their ideas are taken into
consideration. Melanie implies that employees have to be encouraged to be
creative, and implies to her grandmother that employee retention relies heavily
Melanie’s observation that employees will likely stay in an
organization if they are encouraged to be creative is linked to
self-actualization. Therefore, theorist and
management professor Douglas McGregor, who based his assumptions about work and
workers on the Theory X and Y management would fit Melanie. According
to Lumen Learning Behavioral Perspectives (n.d.) Theory X makes the
case for increased supervision of employees who are seemingly unmotivated and Theory
Y assumes that employees are more self-managed and should be steered towards
creative problem-solving with emphasis on employee well-being as the central
focus (pp. 4). Melanie’s management style is that of a Theory Y manager. For example, she believes that there is a
correlation between employees being able to be creative and retention. Secondly,
she believes that employees need to be in a familiar atmosphere where their
safety is of importance, and their ready to change and adapt to a dynamic work
environment. Therefore, her human/behavioral approach is an aspect of Theory Y,
as it’s based in human behavior as opposed to efficiency and productivity.
Head of Research and
Development Lab Choice: Melanie
Melanie’s strategic, values collaboration, and is well
suited to manage cross-functional teams. Most importantly, she is innovative,
and is constantly bring new ideas to Geraldine. Her conversations with
Geraldine are centered around forward-thinking approaches to enhance operations
and help the lab maintain its competitiveness.
She also provides solid evidence in her reasoning for making
Madsen’s article (2016) Good
Leadership and the Changing Role of Management argues that whereas
management used to be more centralized, hierarchal, involving top-down decision
making, those models proved to be problematic, and organizations have found the
need to engage employees and promote leadership (pp. 1). As a leader, Melanie
is more suited to lead and organization based on her ability to work with
cross-functional teams and involve employees in the decision-making process,
even though their ideas may differ from hers.
Melanie’s recognition of the importance of creativity as a
means for employees to feel motivated also shows a shift from the more
industrial ways of thinking into a more people-centered approach. Her
management style is more decentralized, in contrast to her grandmother’s top-down
approach. Ulrich & Lake’s (1991) article Organizational Capability: Creating Competitive Advantage argues
that leadership is not simply confined to management, but that employees need
to be enabled to think as leaders as well (p. 85).
Whereas Valerie and Geraldine rely on the process and
efficiency, and created a centralized decision-making process, Melanie’s
ability to incorporate people into the planning, her ability to come up with
new ideas to stay competitive, and her ability to focus on people rather than
processes and rules would be best suited for the R lab.