Management Human Relations Works of Chester Barnard, John French, Bertram Raven, Daniel Feldman, Robert Tannenbaum and Fred Massarik
Marlon Wijesekara PA 642 Fall 2010 Final Paper During trying economic times, it is important to study how to organizations could be restructured for them to become more efficient; to accomplish more with less. As MPA students, we will be faced with such decisions in our professional careers; to combine, allocate and restructure our organizations to become more effective. In this paper, I will use three hypothetical fire stations which would be consolidated into one using the concepts from the Human Relations frame.
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I will mainly focus on the executive functions of the Fire Station and give more weight into explaining what my recommendations are to the executive to make this consolidated fire station more effective. I have specifically used the works of Chester Barnard, John French, Bertram Raven, Daniel Feldman, Robert Tannenbaum and Fred Massarik to build an argument for my scenario. The concepts of authority and power are couple of the major components that need to be addressed in this scenario. Without establishing proper authority and defining power, it is impossible for an organization to be functional.
In the interest of Authority, my first recommendation is as follows; There will be only one fire chief who is selected by seniority. The remaining two chiefs will be given ranks below the chief according to their seniority. Barnard argued that Management’s authority rested in its ability to persuade rather than to command. He also emphasized that legitimate management authority is derived from the functional skills and not the hierarchical position. I am assuming that the more years you are with the Fire Station, the more functional skills that one gains.
By selecting the Fire Chief and the Deputy Fire Chiefs according to their seniority would help them persuade their subordinates due to their high functional skills. According to Barnard, authority also rests on clear communication between the principal and the agent. He goes onto state that ” since the efficiency of organization is affected by the degree to which individuals assent to orders, denying the authority of an organization communication is a threat to the interests of all individuals who derive a net advantage from their connection with the organization, unless the orders are unacceptable to them lso. ” A subordinate would only accept an order only if he understands the communication and when he believes that it is not inconsistent with the overall goal of the Fire Station. I recommend that the subordinates are given a clear channel of communication with their immediate superiors to make sure they understand the directives given to them. In order for the superior to become an effective leader, he must also exert influence and persuade subordinates. This is important in making the fire station cohesive and to make sure the organizational goals and mission is executed.
The concept of “power” is quite complex and differs greatly depending on the context. Authors John French and Bertram Raven discusses this phenomenon thoroughly and gives the reader an insight into how this complex relationship operates. Power and influence is extremely important for my scenario of the fire station. I recommend that a well defined and hierarchical organizational structure is crucial to deliver effective service during an emergency. Subordinates must be clearly debriefed and given clear instructions on how to operate during an emergency; otherwise there will be chaos.
To have this strong hierarchical structure, power is and influence is the key. French and Raven explains power and influence as a relationship between two agents; the agent who exerts power and the recipient of that influence who behavior is targeted to be modified or changed. How legitimate is this new authority structure? Will it be accepted by the subordinates? According to French and Raven, legitimate power of superiors derives from internalized values in subordinates which dictate that the superiors have a legitimate right to influence subordinates and that subordinates have an obligation to accept this influence.
By selecting the superiors by the extent of their seniority, I believe that the leadership is accepted by the subordinates as having legitimate power. This is crucial since the ultimate goal of the superiors should be to exert authority without the conscious questioning of their power by the subordinates. Barnard called this effect as the “zone of indifference. ” The extent of authority relies on how much the agent is willing to accept the exercise of authority by the principal.
Authority only exists only when the subordinates accept it. I think lower level participation in the decision making process would help bridge the gap between the acceptance of authority by reducing the amount of resistance to the exercise of formal authority and increasing the positive responses of subordinates to managerial directives. This would be beneficial to the smooth functioning of the newly consolidated fire station since I assume that disobeying direct orders by the superiors would lead to chaos bad service.
Additionally, in order to expand the communications channels between the superiors and the subordinates, I would recommend that subordinates must be given a chance to make sure they understand and get clarifications by reaching to their superiors regarding a specific directive. How can the superiors improve the cohesiveness of three different entities when consolidated into one? I am assuming that these three fire stations before being consolidated had very different group and social norms within their organizations. In any organization, groups adopt informal rules to regulate group behavior.
These “group Norms” are essential to the effectiveness of the organization and I believe that it is the task of the superiors to bend these Norms in favor of the organizational effectiveness. Understanding how group norms develop and why they are enforced is important for two reasons. first, group norms can play a large role in determining whether group will be productive or not. If the work group feels at superiors are supportive, groups norms will develop that facilitate efficiency and productivity. Daniel Feldman looks into these group norms and goes onto explain how these norms could affect an organization.
Why do these Norms exist? Feldman explains that these norms are develop to protect the group from external interferences and harassments. When a group forms a “we feeling” it is to maximize the efficiency of the group as a whole and to reduce faliure. I recommend that it is vital for the Fire chiefs to make sure that the newly consolidated employees develop this we feeling in the organization. A new identity should be formed; even the basics such as a new uniform, new logo and new mission statement could help these new subordinates develop a new identity.
Motivation of employees is also a key issue in organizing an entity. According to Tannenbaum and Massarik, all superiors of an organization are faced with the problem of extracting services and contributions from their subordinates at a high level of quality and efficacy. These service contributions are essential for attaining the goals of the organization. How can the new Fire Chief and the Deputy Fire Chiefs motivate their subordinates to elicit quality service? I recommend that the new structure should encourage the subordinates (the firemen) to participate in the decision making process.
This would in turn lead to a sense of empowerment for the subordinates and thus would encourage them to work harder. I am recommending that the subordinate input in the decision making process must be thoroughly vetted by the superiors prior to setting them in motion. The subordinates wanting to input their suggestions must possess some minimum amount of intelligence so that he may grasp the meaning and implications of the thing being considered; so that no dream world suggestions are put forth.
It is also assumed that subordinate input in the decision making process would impact the fire station improving the overall service. However, it is assumed that the firemen are not unionized, and none of the union influence in exerted in the decision making process. The rationale behind this recommendation is that Firemen are the actual street level bureaucrats who come into contact with the citizens first hand. This gives them enormous amounts of practical and relevant experience the superiors or the management wouldn’t have.
Another variable which I am assuming is that the fire chief is rational in making his decisions. Individuals may also strive for monetary reward, prestige, power, security and the like, or they may strive for certain psychological gratifications through the very act of doing the job. These are also strong motivational factors for employees. Teambuilding conferences and employee appreciation events must be organized in order to fulfill these needs. I recommend that the new Fire Station organize bi-annual employee teambuilding and leadership workshops and an annual get together to boost employee morale and motivation.
The Deputy Fire chiefs must have the ability to reward employees for stellar performance. According to French and Raven, this gives the superiors “Reward Power;” the ability to administer or remove positive or negative rewards. Robert Tannenbaum and Fred Massarik further goes onto explain that “participation in the decision-making process is conceived as an instrument that may be used by the formal leadership of an enterprise in the pursuit of its goals. ” Decisions are made by superiors in order to organize, direct, or control responsible subordinates to attain a specific goal at the end.
As a rational fire chief, when making a decision, his main objective is to make a selection from among alternatives related to any problem which will maximize results at a given cost or which would attain given results at the lowest cost. In this case the valuable practical knowledge of the firefighters could be utilized into the decision making process. Tannenbaum and Massarik gave the following as possible positive impacts of lower level employee participation in the decision making process; 1. An increase in output as a result of greater personal effort due to the feeling that the subordinate is a part of the process. . A reduction in turnover, absenteeism, and tardiness. 3. Less friction between subordinates and superiors. 4. A greater readiness to accept change All of the above mentioned impacts are good for the new fire station’s organizational structure. In this scenario, I believe that a “greater readiness to accept change” is the most relevant. Reorganizing and consolidating three different fire stations means drastic changes to the way the new entity operates; especially when three completely different entities are consolidated to one.
According to Tannenbaum and Masserik, when changes are introduced from above without explanation, subordinates tend to feel insecure and to take countermeasures aimed jeopardize the authority and the commands. However, If they have the capacity to have participated in the process leading to the decision, they have had an opportunity to be heard. Barnard also explains the importance of having a proper decision making process. He argues that if the decision making process is not delegated and if it’s the responsibility of the fire chief to tell every department what to do it would be disastrous.
To reduce this tendency, I recommend that the Fire station is divided into sub departments as follows; By dividing up different sectors of the fire station according to similarity of functions, I believe that the decision making process could be more streamlined and would be equally distributed rather than giving the workload to one individual. Having such a participatory design would also encourage upward information flow. As mentioned above, superiors “seldom have the knowledge of all alternatives and all consequences related to the decisions which they must make. By opening up a clear channel of communication between the superiors and subordinates, the organization benefits from lower level participation in the decision making process and ultimately improve the quality of the decisions. Another assumption is that these three fire stations originally functioned very differently from each other. They had vastly different group norms and different modus operandi. It is also important to note that a fireman could only accept the authority of his superiors only if he can understand the communication; and only when he believes that it is not inconsistent with the wider goal of the organization.
This where a strong organizational goal and a mission statement comes into play. Consolidating three different fire stations can be chaotic, with different group and organizational norms and different ways of operating. By having one cohesive goal, much of this chaos can be controlled. With these recommendations I believe that the executive function of the newly consolidated fire station could become effective and viable. Organizations could only become effective when all arms of the entity work in unison. The recommendations I have explained above helps the organization achieve this goal.