Contemporary Management issues

Last Updated: 21 Mar 2023
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Essay on Contemporary Management issues

Understanding the need to develop organisation behaviour within organisations seems like something of a taboo subject until you understand the depth of the subject. If we view the organisation as an iceberg, above the water one can see goals, structure, Rules, technology and procedures. But under the water, the part of the organisation that is unseen there are values, feelings, attitudes, perception, group norms, informal interactions, belifs and assumption.

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Fig 1.1The organisational Iceberg model
For the organisation, anything above the water can been seen and therefore can be controlled however anything below the water is very difficult to see and therefore difficult to control. If a ship were about to hit the iceberg it would be able to avoid what it can see above the water but what lies below is what will cause damage to the ship. This creates a good basis for the importance of organisational behaviour and the development of culture within the organisation for operational efficiency and improved performance. This essay will further explore the importance of power, culture, and change within the organisation and the affects it can have on performance and the affects of individual group behaviour in the work environment.

The effects of change, power and culture within organisations The modern business environment is a fast paced and fickle environment. For organisations to remain competitive and challenge there competitor it is important for them to embrace the continuous changes of technology, climate, economy, values, environment, government and competition while remaining focused on the organisations mission and goals. “Given that the world is constantly changing and the speed at which these changes occur is very fast, it's vital that organizations understand the necessity and opportunity of change, before their results or performance start to decrease.” (Nadina, R 2011) Looking at the motives for change, you can see that the issues that are surrounding the organisation and driving changes are external factors which need to be addressed from within the organisation. But managing change within an organisation is incredibly difficult due to many varying characters and personalities of individuals within the organisation. Also read about "Contemporary theory of management"

Uncertainty, frustration and fear are common reactions to change. It is therefore understandable that people often adapt a defensive and negative attitude. (Mullins, LJ 2007) Change needs to be met on an individual, group, Organisational, society, national, international and global levels. This will enable the business the information to make adjusted and well informed decisions on how best to move the organisation’s targets to achieve their objectives. In order for change to be successful these factors need to be studied, monitored and controlled. The underlying factor for an organisation to be successful is that change is inevitable and necessary to meet the demands of the macro environment.

However not all organisations and individuals respond well to changes in the environment they have become accustomed to. The depth of this statement does not carry any great weight until you understand that the success rates of deliberate change aren't high; 67 percent of total quality management initiatives end with no results after two years. (McLachlan, PA 2002) Perhaps the reason for this is the failure to respond quickly enough to the demanding changes of Macro environment or a failure to recognize the needs of the individual within the organization. Dr Spencer Johnson looks at the differing behaviours of his characters in the short story, “Who moved my cheese?” (Johnson, S 1998)

The story introduces four characters with four different personalities and how they deal with change from personalities that just accept change and move on, to people who watch out for change so they can adjust when required. Or people who are resistant to change and waste their time trying to work out why the change happened. This is a great example of the level of emotions people experience during changes to their environment and culture. There are many theories surrounding this subject, but the most commonly used is Kubler Ross (1969). The Kubler Ross Stages of grief is a theory that has been adapted to explain the array of emotions experienced during personal change. This theory looks at the Highs and lows of personal grief in a time line scenario with the message of in time we accept that the changes will happen.

Fig 2.1 Kubler Ross Stages of Grief
But this theory is somewhat pessimistic and assumes that everyone resist’s change. But in the short story “Who Moved my cheese?” The character’s Sniff and Scurry just got on with the changes, they did not experience the array
of emotions presented in the stages of grief. This should be assumed in the everyday working environment if we are to be able to make informed decisions on one’s methods for change.

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Fig 2.2 the Positive life cycle
Looking at the Positive lifecycle this becomes more realistic and assumes that not everyone fears change but initially embrace it and although there are still highs and lows eventually change is accepted. But yet again the theory is too rigid and does not accept that different individuals will have differing attributes to their personality. John Fischer’s Process of Transition theory is much more accurate as this allows people to join the curve at the stage that suits them best in line with their individual characteristics. But this is still viewed as a curve of ups and downs. It might be easier to develop the theory around Macgregor’s X and Y theory. This way we understand that there is a clear division between Sniff and scurry and Hem and Haw. Hem and Haw would fall into category X they generally dislike work and only work if they are forced to. Sniff and Scurry fall more into category Y Effort in work is as natural as work and play. So you could draw the conclusion that Stages of Grief, Positive lifecycle, and Process of transition theories work quite well with category X Type personalities but does not comply with the personalities within Type Y personalities. What is clearly apparent in all the change theories is that at some point individuals will experience a negative attitude to change yet eventually there is an acceptance of change, whether going forward this is positive or negative is not explored any further.

John Fishers Process of transition Fig 2.3
Looking at all the stages of change it is easy to see why one would need to look at ways of managing the culture and environment during the change process in order to keep damage to performance down to a minimum. Not just introduce change but to incorporate it in to the culture of the organisation so it is the normal working practice for individuals to challenge their methods of work, for managers to explore and adapt the management structure to be constantly changing to meet the requirements of that change. This is why organisational culture is so important to organisations. It is now widely recognised that organisational culture can directly impact and affect the performance of that organisations outputs. MacLachlan, R (2011) believes that culture is the belief in a common set of values that underpins how a group of people think and act. Once we understand that, and then were in a position to strengthen or change it. If we can control the way a group think and act then this can be used to benefit operational proficiency. However this statement leads to many conflicting beliefs in how organisations and their work cultures should be managed.

To understand this statement, one first needs to understand what exactly “work culture” is and how it affects the performance of organisations. Buchanan and Huczynski (2009) states “Culture can be thought of as the personality of the organisation. It deals with how things are done in a company on a daily basis” While this offers a primitive outlook at organisational culture it does offer the basis for thought. Furnham (1997) states

“The culture of an organisation refers to the unique configurations of norms, values, beliefs, and ways of behaving and so on that categorize the manner in which groups and individuals combine to get things done.

Taking a deeper look one might be able to link a direct connection between culture and changing culture to improve organisational outputs or performance, an idea that has been at the forefront of management theory since the studies of the Hawthorne experiments in 1924-1932 by Elton Mayo. Mayo’s findings showed that productivity could be increased by making simple changes to employees working patterns and conditions. It was believed by Mayo that workers respond more effectively to being valued by their colleagues and their super ordinate’s rather than other tangible rewards or incentives. Fritz Roethlisberger further added

“Whereas scientific management made the simplification of work and the indifference of workers to anything but a financial reward seem almost both inevitable and desirable, the Hawthorne researchers identified that much of what individuals found meaningful in work was their association with others.” (Roethlisberger, F 1958)

If changes to work culture can change or motivate groups and individuals to increase productivity then it is easy to
see why managing work cultures has become something of a modern management phenomenon. Looking at management theory Peter Anthony has identified two styles of management theory, “official and real” theory. Official approach would be the management by numbers approach which explores the organization as a well oiled machine with all parties focused on targets and goals. For this approach to be accepted then this would assume that all Group members would fall into theory Y according to Macgregor’s X and Y theory. Real theory is a more empirical analysis of the chaos and struggles of personality, emotions and behavior and contributes to the everyday working culture and environment of organizations. Real theory would take into account that Members would fall in category X and Y and assumes that management style would reflect individual personality and characteristics. Looking more closely at how culture is formed we can start to develop an understanding of the organization. Schein believes that culture is initially developed by the values of the founder or group leader, but as time goes on and the group become successful those initial values are then no longer valid and a work culture is developed which then requires a different leadership style based on the new values. When the group experiences difficulties in its work pattern the group looks to its leader for direction. The group leader must then step outside of the work culture and develop a more adaptive work method based around new values and expectations. (Schein, E 2004) Schein has emphasized the importance of leadership in work culture but this does not reflect the individual’s values and behaviors.

Looking at the group as a whole, it is the interaction between each other that has determined the work culture between the groups. For this work culture to increase performance the leader will need to develop skills to manage the group’s values and methods. Schein’s approach looks to be directed more towards Tuckmans (1965) theory of team building whereby he highlights four main stages in team building. What is highlighted by both Tuchman and Schein is that individual behavior will dictate status within a group. This contributes to where the culture of organizations is developed in the personalities and group behaviors of individuals all working towards a common goal and yet striving for recognition, status or power from their fellow colleagues, peers and leaders. The effects of power within a group are apparent in all organizations however there are those who
oppose it. So what part does power play in organizations and performance? Power in organizations takes shape in many different forms. French and Raven highlight the five sources of power as being :- Reward power; the ability to offer incentive, Coercive power; the ability to use threatening behavior, Legitimate power; the status of one’s self within the organizational hierarchy, Referent power; the ability to gain ones colleague respect, Expert power; holding much needed knowledge. French and Raven (1960) French and Raven (1960) go on to categorize these sources of power into two sub-sections of Organizational power {Reward, Coercive and Legitimate} and Personal power {Expert and Reverent} and believed that Organizational power was in essence easier to remove from an individual due to being instilled in the organizational hierarchy and structure, therefore were less affective sources of power. However Max Weber takes a different view to power and authority.

He saw three types of authority as he put it; Traditional Authority shares the Marxist view of social class and tradition determining authority by social standing, Charismatic Authority which occurs through personal qualities or character and Rational-Legal authority which is placed upon a person through their place in the organizational hierarchy. Max Weber looks at more than the organization for sources of power and identifies social standing as having an influence of authority within a social climate. Added to this is the shared view of French and Raven of personal power or Charismatic authority as is the terminology used by Weber, and again is the shared view of Organizational power or Rational–Legal authority both of which represent the same characteristics. What is not explored within these theories is the influence of inanimate objects that affect personalities and which can signify power or status within a group Edgren (1990) refers to these as “the dead things” that take on a powerful role as signifiers. These could be things like building, interiors, company cars, large offices. Looking back at Macgregor’s X and Y theory, what is missing from theories of power and authority is how one controls groups and individuals within those groups. If we are to take on board that individuals fit into theory X or Theory Y, then the power sources put forward to us seek validity from control of individual behavior within groups from that of Social class, or organizational hierarchy. For French and Ravens Sources of power to work within an organizational environment then we need to assume that conformity from all individuals is without question which will then conflict with Macgregor’s personality characteristics of individuals.

For French and Ravens sources of power to have any validity then we need to believe that people with personal power are the group leaders. If we are to believe that personal qualities and charismatic authority is more valuable within a group or social environment than the possession of organizational power then surely leaders should be individuals that carry these personal characteristics. This then presents a problem, because if personal qualities make leaders then can the art of management be taught as an applied skill? In a study by Peiro, J and Melia, J (2003) it is stated that there are two approaches to power. The first conceptualizes power as domination and challenges to power as acts of resistance. The other, that of the mainstream management see’s power as formal and legitimate authority where influence is conceptualized as a change of behavior, opinions, attitudes, goals, needs, and/or values of a person as an action by another person. It would appear that the mainstream management prefers to see power as a formal and legitimate authority but this does not clarify whether personal power is the key to good leaders however it does highlight that influence is the concept of a change to behavior etc. Organizational Structure could hold the evidence to support this statement. The purpose of structure is the division of work among members of the organization, and the co-ordination of their activities so they are directed towards the goals and objectives of the organization. (Mullins, LJ, 2007) Organization structure is the basis for a productive organization.

Adding structure to groups highlights the purposes of each individual within that group where each person can see that their input will contribute to the overall outputs of the organization. Setting guidelines and boundaries will illustrate to the groups what is expected of them and where they fit in within the organization, but further more structure will enable the hierarchy to control the environment and culture to further enhance performance whilst satisfying individual and group needs. Learning to understand behavior could be a key element in understanding power and authority, after all the ability to influence the work force for increases of performance could be considered a personal power. If you can learn how to motivate and control groups and individuals within a structured work environment then it must therefore be possible to learn to manage and
lead an organization as an applied skill.

What is clear from the study is that change, power and culture are very present in the organisation and further more, play a contributing factor in the success of the business. This is widely recognised by businesses now and plays a major part in the organisational strategy. This study has highlighted the complications and confusions involved in managing organisational behaviour and the complexities of organisational structure. It has highlighted that in order for an organisation to grow, it will need to adapt change within its environment and be able to read the macro environment to embrace the oncoming changes. Although change within organisations is largely unsuccessful as a managed practice, organisations do change as part of their natural growth. To help reduce the pitfalls of change management, the ability to read your organisation and the culture of the organisation is essential. How groups and individuals responds to change can widely hold the key to whether change is successful or not as individual personalities respond differently to change as illustrated by Spencer Johnson (1998) in the short story “Who moved my cheese”.

What was highlighted in this story is that different individuals struggle with change and find it hard to cope with, while some people just embrace it and accept that it was part of everyday life. The resistance to change creates a problem for a business. The Kubler ross stages of grief theory further highlights that individuals generally respond negatively to changes to their environment and so for the resistance to change to be minimised the allowance for individuals greif or anxieties should be measured and controlled to enhance and support the change process. For change to be successful it needs to be delivered into the micro environment without resistance and individuals and groups need to incorporate this into their work culture. The modern work culture as a method of improving operational proficiency is something of a phenomenon. The organisational culture can be seen as the lifeblood of the organisation it is the part of the business that is unseen but very much active in all levels of the business. Through studies like the Hawthorne experiments it was highlighted that small changes in an individuals work environment and working conditions could see improvements in performance, but the overall outcome saw that individuals work better in association with others. Taking this onboard we start to develop an appreciation for the scale of how individuals and groups can affect organisations outputs.

This was supported by Roethlisberger (1958) and has been supported by businesses ever since with examples like team building exercises and group developments etc. The structure within an organisation can offer some indication of hierarchy and the power structure. Using the French and Raven sources of power as example we build an understanding of the differing views of power and how that power ties in with the structure and status of the individual. It was concluded that although in some instances social class may be a factor in power and authority, personal power sources hold more standing within the organisation and paired with the legitimate power of Structure and position makes for ideal leadership within organisations. With good leadership and management, the ability to manage, control and monitor the organisational culture, and the ability to seek out and embrace changes within the organisations external environment, managing performance within an organisation can be achieved with great success.

Anthony, P D 1986, The Foundation of Management, Tavistock publications, London Buchanan, D & Huczynski, A 2009, Organsational behavior, pp 100, Pearson’s educational, Harlow Business Balls Online 2012, Kublar Ross Five stages of Grief (Accessed on 04-11-2012)

Business Balls Online 2012, Personal change process, (Accessed on 04-11-2012) Changing minds Online 2012 Positive change

Management decision making, towards an integrative approach, pp 112, Prentice hall, Harlow Fisher J M, (2005), A Time for change, Human Resource Development International vol 8:2 (2005), pp 257 –264, Taylor & Francis Furnam, A 1997, the psychology of behavior at work, pp 555 Psychology press, Hove East Sussex Johnson, S 1998, Who Moved My Cheese, Ebury, London

Kubler-Ross, E 1969, On Death and Dying. New York: Collier Books, pp. 234-235. (accessed on 21-10-2012)

McLachlan, PA 2002, 'Change Leadership Today', T+D, 56, 11, p. 26, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 November 2012.

MacLachlan, R 2011, PM People Management September 2011, Cultural Leaders – Growing awareness of how people as members of groups think and behave is transforming the role and potential of HR. pp 5,

Personnel Publications ltd, London McGregor, D 1960, the human side of enterprise, McGraw-Hill New York, pp246

Mullins LJ. 2007, Management and organisational behaviour, pp564, Prentice Hall, Harlow Mullins, LJ 2007, Management and Organisational Behaviour, pp742 Prentice Hall, Harlow.

Nadina, R 2011, 'METHODS OF IDENTIFICATION OF THE NEED FOR ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE AS BEING OPPORTUNE', Annals Of The University Of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 20, 2, pp. 707-712, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2012.

Peiró, J, & Meliá, J 2003, 'Formal and Informal Interpersonal Power in Organisations: Testing a Factorial Model of Power in Role–sets', Applied Psychology: An International Review, 52, 1, pp. 14-35, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2012.

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Edgren, T 1990, taken from Management decision making, towards an integrative approach, pp 112, Prentice hall, Harlow Fisher J M, (2005), A Time for change, Human Resource Development International vol 8:2 (2005), pp 257 – 264, Taylor & Francis Furnam, A 1997, the psychology of behavior at work, pp 555

Psychology press, Hove East Sussex Johnson, S 1998, Who Moved My Cheese, Ebury, London

Related Questions

on Contemporary Management issues

What are the various contemporary issues in management?
Contemporary issues in management include the need to manage a diverse workforce, the need to stay competitive in a global economy, the need to manage technology and data, and the need to manage change in a rapidly evolving business environment. Additionally, managers must also be aware of ethical considerations and the need to balance the interests of stakeholders.
What is contemporary management issues in business?
Contemporary management issues in business include the need to stay competitive in a global market, the need to manage a diverse workforce, and the need to effectively use technology to increase efficiency and productivity. Additionally, businesses must also be aware of the changing regulatory environment and the need to remain compliant with applicable laws and regulations.
What are examples of management issues?
Management issues can include things like poor communication between management and employees, lack of clear direction or goals, and difficulty with delegation of tasks. Other issues can include difficulty with conflict resolution, inadequate training, and difficulty with employee motivation.

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