In the 1960s, Douglas McGregor, one of the key thinkers in this area, formulated the now-famous Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X is the idea that people instinctively dislike work and will do anything to avoid it.
Theory Y is the more enlightened view that everybody has the potential to find satisfaction in work. (Others have suggested Theory W (for 'whiplash'), the idea that most work since the beginning of human society has been done under conditions of total coercion, i.e. slavery.)
In any case, despite so much evidence to the contrary, many managers stil.1 subscribe to Theory X, believing, for example, that their subordinates need constant supervision if they are to work effectively, or that decisions must be imposed from above without consultation. This, of course, makes for authoritarian managers.
Different cultures have different ways of managing people. Some cultures are well known for the consultative nature of decision-making -all members of the department or work group are asked to contribute to this process. This is management by consensus. Many western companies have tried to imitate what they see as more consensual Asian ways of doing things. Some commentators say that women will become more effective managers than men because they have the power to build consensus and common goals in a way that traditional male managers cannot.
A recent trend has been to encourage employees to use their own initiative, to make decisions on their own without asking managers first. This empowerment has been part of the trend towards downsizing: reducing the number of management layers in companies. After delayering in this way, a company may be left with just a top level of senior managers and front-line managers and employees with direct contact with the public. Empowerment takes the idea of delegation much further than has traditionally been the case. Empowerment and delegation mean new forms of management control to ensure that the overall business plan is being followed and to ensure that operations become more profitable under the new organisation, rather than less.
Another trend is off-site or virtual management, where teams of people linked by e-mail and the Internet work on projects from their own premises. Project managers judge the performance of the team members in terms of what they produce and contribute to projects rather than the amount of time they . spend on them.
ML Pre-int Unit 10 Conflict
Conflict may well be productive in some cases. In any business situation, there are often a number of different ideas about the way to proceed. Usually only one way can be chosen, so conflict is inevitable. Ideally, airing the different ideas in discussion will lead to the best one being chosen. But the process may become political, with an idea being defended by the person or group putting it forward after it has become apparent that it is not the best way to go, and unwillingness to 'lose face' by abandoning a long· cherished idea. There may be conflict between different levels in an organisation's hierarchy or between different departments, with hostility to ideas from elsewhere -the not-invented-here syndrome.
Examples of unproductive conflict include disputes between colleagues or between managers and subordinates that go beyond ideas and become personal. Companies can spend a lot of time and energy resolving these disputes. In countries with high levels of employee protection, dismissing troublesome employees can lead to a long process of consultation with the authorities and even litigation, for example where an employee sues their company for unfair dismissal. Defending an action like this is of course costly and a distraction from a company's normal business.
Labour-management conflict in the form of tactics such as strikes and go-slows can also be very expensive and time·consuming. The goodwill of a company's customers, built up over years, can be lost very quickly when they are hurt by such a dispute. But there are sometimes cases where the public sympathise with the employees and don't mind the disruption. Both sides may put a lot of effort into presenting their case and gaining public sympathy with the use of advertising, public-relations firms, and so on. Many countries have legislation with compulsory cooling-off periods before strikes can begin, official procedures for arbitration between the two sides, and so on.
In dealings between companies, supplier-customer relationships can degenerate into conflict. Conflict seems to be endemic in some industries, for example construction, where contractors are often in dispute about whether the work has been performed properly or whose responsibility a particular problem is. This can lead to protracted legal proceedings.
More and more companies in the US are specifying in contracts that any disputes should be settled using alternative dispute resolution (ADR), avoiding expensive legal wrangling. Specialised organisations have been set up to facilitate this.