3. Organizational Man:
YourDictionary http://www.yourdictionary.com/organization-man defines Organization Man as
— someone who has so completely taken on the attitudes and behaviors expected by a company that he or she has lost his or her individual identity. An example of an organization man is a person who cares only for company goals and not personal goals outside of work.
Webster’s New World College Dictionary http://www.yourdictionary.com/organization-man defines an organization man as “an employee, esp. an executive, of a large corporation who conforms completely to corporate attitudes and expectations”
William Whyte wrote “The Organization Man” in 1956 after observing a drift from the individualistic, creative and competitive self-reliance culture of the pre-World War II era to a post war culture found within modern industrial, commercial and some scientific and government organizations which was characterized by dependency on the organizational collective i.e. “— a belief in the group as the source of creativity; a belief in “belongingness” as the ultimate need of the individual; and a belief in the application of science to achieve that belongingness”, Whyte (1956).
The Organization Man Model describes a situation where an individual subordinates his personal life and interests to those of the organization he works for. This is brought about by the belief that;
o An individual by himself is isolated, meaningless and cannot achieve as much as he would if he belonged to a group. The group is seem as the cradle of creativity, innovation and a foundation of safety and job security. Thompson and McHugh (1990) commenting on the influence of Whyte’s writings observed that theorists in this era held a belief that organizations and groups could make better decisions than individuals, hence working for an organization is preferable in order to advance one’s individual creativity.
o The ultimate need of individuals is to belong to a social group i.e. organization.
Coates (1997:1.2) says “This sense of belongingness was akin to undertaking organization vows, and in practice meant that members were more deeply beholden to their organization than ever before.” This is the same need that is exhibited by an individual wanting to belong to a family, friends, relatives or other community groups.
o A belief in the application of science to achieve belongingness – to the group and organization. Belongingness is achieved with the help of science. Whenever there is a conflict between the needs of the society and the needs of the individual, an equilibrium can be created by applying the methods of science. Science can help in removing all the obstacles to consensus
Therefore organizations were seen as the most preferred place to advance one’s creativity than attempting to go it alone. This saw the emergency of employees with an outlook characterized by loyalty and commitment to the organization at the expense of their individual interests.
Whyte’s work created a lot of interest in the role of organizational culture on productivity and competitiveness. In the period from the 1960’s to 1980’s there was popular acceptance that a strong organizational culture premised on commitment to the organization, conformity, uniformity, stability and loyalty was a key factor to the success of organizations. This saw organizations investing in corporate culture development programs with particular emphasis on developing a strong corporate culture characterized by loyalty, conformity and commitment – hence a person joining an organization would be subjected to pressure to conform or worship the corporate culture. Williams et al, (1992) researching on the period observed that there was a general belief that strong commitment by employees gave some organizations a competitive advantage over other organizations in the same industry.
Although the importance of the organization man culture decreased in the 1980s due to advancements in technology and the emergency of and proliferation of small enterprises there has been a resurgence of belief in the relevance of the Organization Man.
It is the view of the writers of this presentation that in the modern era organizations are taking even greater effort to turn their employees into a new variant of the Organization Man under the mantra of keeping their employees “engaged” with the organization i.e. improving the degree to which an employee is involved in, loyal and enthusiastic about the organization they work for. Schmidt et al, (1993) defines employee engagement as “an employee’s involvement with, commitment to, and satisfaction with work”.
It is a generally accepted fact that an organization with more engaged employees outperforms those organizations whose employees have low engagement. Low engagement can be described as being distracted or having low concern about the affairs of the organization. Coates (1997) observes that various researchers were advancing the argument that the full utilization of human resources requires a high degree of individual commitment and identification with the company from employees. In Zimbabwe HRM Consultancy firms such as Industrial Psychology Consultants (IPC) and HR Productivity are (like other consultancy firms worldwide) at the forefront of promoting committed and loyal employees in various organizations through their researches dubbed “Employee Engagement Surveys” where various perspectives are measured to determine the level of employee engagement with the organization.
Anatomy of the “Organization Man”
o Operates in a highly structured organizational setting with a clearly defined way of doing things (culture) i.e. clearly drawn lines of authority, levels of decision making and work is guided by clearly drafted procedures or manuals.
o Works in close physical contact with others as a team almost on a day to day basis.
o Achieves conformity in environments where there are pre-determined settings for decision making e.g. meetings and planning seminars.
o Expects plans to come from the top hierarchy or the group and the top is responsible for controlling the implementation of the strategy.
o There is a pre-determined flow of communication – usually the vertical up and down communication flow.
o Is a stickler to cultural symbols/artifacts Schein (1990) e.g. dress code, procedures, processes, norms etc.
o Expects reward for long service, obedience and loyalty.
o In summary – a person who has sold his soul to the organization.
Criticism of the Organization Man
Whyte himself bemoaned that organization man breeds conformism and this leads to mediocrity. He argued that individuals and work itself become routine, boring and stifles individual creativity. Executives dodge accountability under the cloak of the collective. There is compartmentalization of ideas and creativity, strict procedural norms and long stays by employees in the same organization leads to decay. Max Weber referred to this culture as modern bureaucracy.
4. The Self Actuating Man:
The British Dictionary of Definitions defines self-actuating as “to motivate or incite into action.” The term was originally introduced by Goldstein (1939) who described self-actuating as “the tendency to actualize, as much as possible, individual capacities.” In his theory Goldstein’s argued that faced with given circumstances (situation by situation or contextually) individuals have the tendency to apply their whole potential/capabilities. An example that would fit this theory is of a student applying his whole potential or capabilities to pass a given assignment rather than face the humiliation of failure.
Abraham Maslow took Goldstein’s theory further and developed the hierarchy (incremental) theory of human motivation.
Maturity (the level where one achieves self-motivation and self-control and has a persistent desire to take oneself to the limits of 3potential)
Self-actualization emerges when all the other needs have been satisfied. The needs vary from person to person depending on individual inclination.
Maslow (1943:382) specifically defined self-actualization as;
the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him the individual to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.
Maslow and Goldstein’s theories differ from the classical models of human nature in that they focus on intrinsic desire which is part of human nature rather than the external forces that would act as the driving force that determines human behaviour. It can be concluded – from an analysis of the various models – that management would need to harness both external motivation factors (such as the economic, social need and the need to belong to an organization) with the inherent desire to actuate in order to shape the desired behaviour in employees and get the fullest out of them. What is implied by these models is that organizations should have enough scope for individuals to satisfy their basic needs and for them to self-actuate and they will leave if there is no scope.
5. Complex Man:
The line of thinking that human nature is complex which modern theorists have adopted started with early researches by Kurt Lewin – a German American Psychologist – who argued that human behavior is a result of both a person’s personality and the environment the person finds himself in. He coined the symbolic terms B = f (P, E) where B is behaviour, P personality and E is environment. In his paper “A dynamic Theory of Personality”, Lewin (nd) concluded that “in a dynamic theory of psychological process the problems of the environment and of the person are inseparably bound up together”. While this line of thinking appears quite obvious in the present day Lewin’s theory did not get traction at that time (1935 -1947) as it was overshadowed by other theories such as the Rational Economic Man, Social Man and Organization Man.
Lewin’s theory got interest when Schein (1965) in his studies on organisational culture first proposed what he called (The Complex Man Model), where he argued that human nature was complex and cannot be explained by simple assumptions only. French and Bell (1982) state that: “… Individuals have drives toward personal growth and development, and these are most likely to be actualized in an environment which is both supportive and challenging.”
Morden theorists hold the view that there are many things that shape human behaviour and that humans respond to the environment in which they find themselves in. Scholars are in agreement that humans in previous eras are different from humans in the current period due to factors such as higher levels of education, increased use of technology which has disrupted how work is structured in organisations, the proliferation of wealth which was not previously available to most people. Modern organisations are also different and even single organisation may have many different departments or branches and people working there do not behave or respond to given variables in the same way. Organisations For management this means that those drivers previously used to get the maximum out of people such as economic needs, social needs, ambition and hierarchical needs may no longer hold sway in controlling employees in organisations.
This thinking explains why the “contextual leadership style” is currently in fashion. Simply put the contextual leadership style is the manager’s ability to read the evolving environment in which he is operating and aligning that to the individual in the context of his abilities and potential.
Mayo (2007) discussed contextual leadership/intelligence as the ability to notice a unique business opportunity when “—environmental factors and individual action come together.” When environmental factors and individual factors “come together” they may sometimes create “—a specific and sometimes unique context for business” leading to the development of new products or services or exploration of new opportunities i.e. capitalizing on evolving trends. An example can be derived from SECURICO Security Services which realized that among its guarding staff there were trained and experienced bank tellers who had been laid off during the closure of banks in the period 2004 – 2008. At the same time various companies were being forced to handle large sums of cash from their sales as confidence in the banking system declined. This unique context of business led to SECURICO introducing cashiering services where the company posted its cashiers at client’s premises to receive cash.
In conclusion while some of the aspects of classical and traditional human nature models may still apply to organizations today, management should – as Mayo argues – focus more on the contextual situation rather than the individual characteristics.