Participative Management in Public Administration

Rensis Likert is an American Social Psychologist born in 1903 and obtained PhD. in 1932 from Columbia University. Likert believed that the body of knowledge of social science could pave the way to frame a generalized theory of organization and management. He raised a question that why do some managers get better results than others? What do effective managers do that waste time, money foolishly that was dissipative manager do not? How can we measure effectiveness of manager? etc. Likert classifies supervisors in two categories.
  1. Job Centered
  2. Employee Centered
The primary concern of the first category of supervisors are to ensure performance of assigned task and maintenance or prescribed stands. Some characteristics of such supervisor are:

Job Centered

  1. They exert heavy pressure to get work done.
  2. They have little confidence in the subordinates.
  3. They exercise close and detail supervision.
  4. They allow little freedom to subordinates.
  5. They are punitive and critical when mistake occur.
On the other hand the supervisors in the second category are primarily concerned with the human aspects of their subordinates and effective team building for high task performance. The characteristics of supervisors in this category include the following:
  • Group Dynamics
  • Democratic or Participative
  • Supportive
  • Consultative
  • Participative
  • Mass sharing of benefit of development
  • Mass participation in decision making process
  • Mass contribution to the development
The supervisors are employee centered. They regard their jobs as dealing with human being rather than with the work. They attempt to know them as individuals. They see their function as helping them to do the job efficiently. They exercise general rather than detail supervision, and are more concerned with targets than methods.

Employee Centered

  1. They exert little pressure on subordinates.
  2. They earn and get the confidence and trust of their subordinates.
  3. They increase the achievement motivation of subordinates and encourage them to accept high performance goals through decision process.
  4. They exercise general rather than detail supervision, and allow subordinates to schedule their own pace of work.
  5. They help subordinates when they commit mistakes and problem occur.
The cause or effects of high and low performing managers are the product of work environment. High performing manager are human to their subordinates and low performing manager are compelled to get through with their subordinates to achieve better results. To resolve this course of action dilemma, Likert, low performing managers were changing into each other jobs. While high performing mangers succeeded in improving the performance of low production units, low performing managers placed in high production units brought down their output over a span of time.

In summarizing the findings, Likert identifies four distinct types of management system I to IV having different characteristics of its own. He labels these type as (i) Exploitative Authoritative, (ii) Benevolent Authoritative, (iii) Consultative Authoritative and (iv) Participative Authoritative. However, he does not see them as isolated categories but as blending into one another with many intermediate patterns along the continuum (sequence of things of a similar king).

i) System I: Exploitative Authoritative: Where management are highly production oriented. Displays no confident in their subordinate, centralized decision making, top-down communication, tight supervision, used fear and threats, performance under pressure, low degree of employee motivation, man to man rather than group to group relations, and superiors and subordinate are psychologically far apart, seldom seek or use subordinate ideas. They are punitive.

ii) System II: Benevolent Authoritative Type: System II reveals transitory characteristics of progression from management system I over a period. In system II, management orientation is still authoritative, but becomes less exploitative and more benevolent towards the member of organization. Where management uses rewards and some actual and potential punishment to get out performance, allow some delegation in decision making, exercise close supervision, subordinates do not feel quite free to talk to their superior about their problems, attitudes are subservient to superiors, permits some upward communication, restricted to what the boss wants and policy decisions are taken at the top.

iii) System III: Consultative Authoritative: In system III, exercise of authority is more broad-based with delegation of power to middle levels and consultation of affected interest at low levels. Management displays substantial confidence in their subordinates, involvement of subordinates is sought, consult them before making decision but make broad policy decision themselves, motivate them by giving rewards and occasional punishment. Communication is both down and up but upward communication is given in limited amounts and only cautiously although subordinates can have a moderate amount of influence on the activities of their department.

iv) System IV: Participative Authoritative: The participative management system displays overlapping structures, cross functional linkages, group decision process, open and authentic three-way communication system (up-down and lateral) adaptive supervision, individual and work groups with high degree of achievement motivation. Management gives economic rewards and make full use of group participation and involvement in setting high performance goals, improving work methods, etc.

Decision making is widely done throughout the organization through group process, and is integrated into the formal structure by regarding the organization chart as a series of overlapping groups with each group linked to the rest of the organization by means of persons (called linking pins) who are members of more than one group. System IV management produces high productivity, greater involvement of individuals, and better labor management relations.

Having described the silent features of his four systems of management deduced from empirical research. Likert says that any attempt to switch processes of one system abruptly to the other is bound to impair (weaken or damage) the total system’s effectiveness. Nevertheless Likert pleads for a gradual from system I to system IV.

Management according to Likert, is always a relative process. To be effective and communicate, a leader must always adapt his behavior to take account of the persons whom he leads. There are no specific rules which will work well in all situations, but only general principles which must be interpreted to take account of the expectations, values and skills of those with whom the manager interact.

Pre-requisites for Participative Management

  1. The member of the organizations will perform the best, when they are given the opportunities in making decision that affect them (will increase willingness).
  2. Naked exercise of blunt power by organizational officials is not acceptable. Several heads are better than one for decision making.
  3. There are a large often untapped reservoir of talent, knowledge, skill and ideas among the members of organization that will be realized when the member becomes actively involved in decision making process.
  4. Productivity and self-motivation can be enhanced through the identification and recognition of the employees.
  5. Employees are motivated by participation in setting goals, achieving improved standard (working methods and results) and appraising progress.
  6. A great deal of communication supporting environment and spirit of cooperation between and among employees constitute basic foundations that help develop confidence and trust in the working environment.
  7. It makes employees conscious, active and responsible in respect to their role.

Flat Organizational Structure of Participative Management Model

Rensis Likert's Linking Pin Model
Since the end of Second World War, there had been a radical change in the meaning, approach and scope of public administration. The period of 60’s was a turbulent, unrest and disturbances in political, social, religious etc. aspects and many social problems were cropping up. Seriousness on the part of public administration can’t be neglected concern during the time of turbulence and confusion. But public administration during that period showed a little concern thereby causing the field of public administration less aware in taking the growing problem in account. Sometimes, a new sets of ideas are so significant that they often take the meaning “new” which is relied to give new direction or orientation to any field of study. In this context, perspective public administration was well recognized by the younger enthusiastic scholars in 1968 when the Minnowbrook Conference was held followed by the publication of “Towards a new public administration: Minnowbrook perspective” edited by Frank Marini. 

Mainly two important factors were seen responsible for this conference. First, there was a feeling that public administration had failed to solve several societal problems. This was well highlighted by Dwit Waldo’s article, “Public Administration in a time of Revolution” (turbulence) published in public administration review in 1968. Secondly, there was another feeling that thinking in public administration was dominated by the old people and thinking of the young generation was not reflected in large measure. Accordingly many new scholars were invited to this conference and that the idea of New Public Administration was well conceived. The result of the conference appeared later on. 

Overview of some of the important studies and approaches that have contributed to the new meaning and scope of public administration forms the foundation part of new public administration. Following are the important ones: 
  1. The Honey Report on higher education for public service 1967.
  2. The Philadelphia conference on the theory and practice of public administration 1967. 
  3. The Minnowbrook Conference 1968. 
  4. The Minnowbrook Conference 1988. 
1. The Honey Report:
In 1967, John C Honey of Syracuse University undertook an evaluative study of public administration as a field of study in U.S. Universities. He submitted his reports four years later in 1971. In his report, he highlighted the following issues: 
  • The scope of the study of the subject should be broader and lined with governmental processes. He was of the opinion that at present there was a wide gap between the scholars of public administration and practicing administrators. 
  • Insufficiency of resources at the disposal of scholars of public administration (students, faculty and research). 
  • The public administration departments were inadequate and that the discipline was not clear (is it a discipline, a science or profession?) 
In fact, he found that there was such wanting and sufficient attention should be paid to it if it was desired that public administration and administrators should come up to the expectation of the people. Although the report included recommendation on aspects like the provision of facilities to schools for programs of public administration and public affairs by federal, state and local government, a special program of fellowship to those who were interested to become teachers of public administration etc. It did not say anything about the role of public administration in difficult times. Above all, the report becomes the basis of discussion for wider issues of the role of public administration in solving social problems of modern societies. 

2. The Philadelphia Conference 
In 1967, American Academy of political and social science organized a conference at Philadelphia under the chairmanship of James C. Charlesworth. The conference aimed to discussing the scope, objectives and methods of public administration and how far it was practical instrument of government. The conference did not reach an agreement either on the definition or on its scope. But there emerged a broad consensus on the following points. 
  • It is just as difficult to delineate the scope of public administration, as it is to define it.
  • The policy-administration dichotomy is erroneous.
  • Bureaucracy should be studied structurally and functionally.
  • Public administration and business administration training should not be combined.
  • Public administration has not been able to deal with societal problems, and as a discipline. It should remain separate from discipline of political science.
  • Policy and political considerations are replacing management concern, future administrators should be trained in professional schools, and superior subordinates all should be commodore as co-ordinates.
  • Public administration course should emphasis on interdisciplinary approach. 

3. The Minnowbrook Conference 1968 
A brief summary of themes developed at Minnowbrook now forms important aspects of new public administration. These include: 
  • Policy Issues: The field has shifted focus in significant measure from management of agencies to policy issues. The public policy approach to public management has flourished and is has had a significant effect on the quality of government. (Management oriented public administration studies was found in adequate) 
  • Social Equity: Social equity has been added to efficiency and economy as the rationale or justification of policy positions. Distribution function and impact of governmental institutions should be public administration’s basic concern. 
  • Ethics, Honesty and Responsibility: Government have returned again to the lexicon (dictionary of language vocabulary) of public administration. Career service bureaucrats are no longer considered to be merely implementer of fixed decision as they were in the dominant theory of the late 50s and early 60s. They are now understood to hold a public trust to provide the best possible public service with costs and benefits being fairly distributed among the people. 
  • Cutback Management: To terminate an unneeded or ineffective organization or program is now accepted as an especially honorable administrative responsibility. An extensive literature on cutback management has developed, changed, not growth has come to be understood the more critical theoretical issue. Managing change, not just growth, is the standard for effectiveness.
  • New orientation towards hierarchy: To eliminate the lengthy process of decision making and to ensure timely implementation of decision re-thinking towards the usefulness of the strict concept of hierarchy need to be considered taking into account the prevailing situation. 
  • Pluralism: Plural society is that society where the existence of various groups, interest and parties are well reorganized in the conduct of public affairs. 
As administrative actions serve acceptance of the society, openness and transparency for the same cannot be by passed. It should emphasis objective oriented standards and universalistic norms. 

New public administration displays an intense concern for relevant societal problems. It stresses ethics and values, innovation and social equality. It lays great emphasis on human relations, a creative approach to administration and social change. New public administration has tried to link the subject with society. It has bold raised a voice that the discipline should show its concern to social problems and underprivileged sector of the society. 

5. The Minnowbrook Conference 1988 
Twenty years after the original Minnowbrook conference, another group convened (arranged) at the same site to revisit the 1960’s perspectives, to review developments of intervening decades and to consider prospects for the future of public administration. 

Minnowbrook II was design to compare and control the changing epochs (period marked by notable events of public administration). The purpose of Minnowbrook II were not only to facilitate a general examination of the future of public administration but also to determine whether important differences exist between people who entered public administration in 1960’s and those who entered in the 1980s. 

The values of public purpose, in so far as they reflected by traditional forms of government in America, have received and the values of private interest have moved forward.

Academic public administration has also change dramatically. The field is much larger than it was in 1960s. The field is much more interdisciplinary than in 1960s.

Public administration today is much more analytically theoretically and sophisticated. The MPA degree has become the coin of the realm for those who seek career in government administration. 

The problems faced by those enter relation. The fields of public administration in the 1980s are significantly different from the problems faced by those who entered the field in 1960s. The background and context from which these younger people enter the field is far different from the backgrounds of their older colleague.

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