Likerts Managemnt Styles

Management has many different approaches within the organization. At the institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Renis Likert and colleagues proposed that Management styles could be classified into one of four different systems:
System 1 – “Exploitive Authoritative”
System 2 – “Benevolent Authoritative”
System 4 – “Participative Group”
I learned different management styles, while taking a management course and was highly interested in them. I decided to do my research on Likert’s systems of management because of my previous knowledge and interest on the subject. I was interested in learning, in further detail, the different ways that companies can be managed.

Likert’s first book about management styles, New patterns of management, was written in 1961. This book mainly supported the other books that I used for this research. Likert talks about the authoritative form of organization which has decision making from the top, and the participative form of organization which has decision making widely throughout the organization. A ten page chart, “Organizational and Performance Characteristics of different Management Systems Based on a Comparative Analysis,” is presented which is broken down into seven main parts: (1) Character of motivational forces, (2) Character of communication process, (3) Character of interaction-influence process, (4) Character of decision-making process, (5) Character of goal-setting or ordering, (6) Character of control processes, and (7) Performance characteristics (later character of leadership was added). This chart is organized as is four discrete kinds of organizational systems exist, of which fall at four points of a suggested continuum: Exploitive authoritative, Benevolent authoritative, Consultative, and Participative group. “(The chart) oversimplifies the situation. The four different systems really blend into one another and make one continuum with many intermediate patterns.” This reading went into depth about what types of people work in an authoritarian organization and a participative organization. (Likert-1961)
Likert wrote another book in 1967, titled, “The human organization. In this book Likert changed the names of the four styles, –Exploitive authoritative, Benevolent authoritative, Consultative, and Participative group – to System 1, System 2, System 3, and System 4; he included the same ten page chart as he did in his earlier book.

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System 4 is the ideal management style, in which Likert wrote a substantial amount to back this up. He believes that the superior/subordinate relationship is extremely crucial. In proving his ideal management style as System 4, he touched upon some of the following topics:
(1) The use by the manager of the principle of supportive relationships.

(2) His use of group decision-making and group methods of supervision.

(3) His high performance goals for the organization.

Likert wrote System 1, System 2, and System 3, the other Management styles – in the form of disadvantages.

Some managers in Likert’s research felt that a manager should move toward System 4 after he has achieved high levels of productivity. “They feel that the way to move from low to high productivity is to use a management system well toward the left (e.g., System 1 or 2) and move toward System 4 only after high productivity is achieved” Research results show that managers who do hold this view are not likely to achieve high productivity in their results. Other field experiences have demonstrated – “how difficult it is to effect substantial changes in the management system of a particular plant, department, or company and how long a period of time is required.”
System 1 is moved towards when top management is trying to cut costs, increase productivity and improve productivity, even though Likert has proven in his book that management should move toward System 4.

When applying System 4 to management in a company, we learn that it will differ depending on the nature of the work and the heritage of the organization.

System 1 and System 2 are the traditional organizational structures and we learn that the form of the organization used consists of a man-to-man pattern (a). This model stars at the top of the organization – President -, which has full authority and responsibility. He/She delegates the tasks to the Vice-President, who in turn does the same to their subordinates. The continues down the line of the organization.

System 4 management uses a structure known as a group pattern, contrasted with the man-to-man model (b). This structure consists of overlapping groups. “The interaction and decision-making relies heavily on group processes.” There are also interactions between individuals – superior/subordinate, subordinate/subordinate. (Likert – 1967)
Organizational communication: A managerial perspective, was another book I used, It presented management styles on a continuum ranging from highly autocratic (Exploitive) to high democratic (participative).There were quizzes in this book for individuals to discover what type of managers they might be:
v CLASSICAL MANAGEMENT – communication limited to one-way vertical, formal channels.

v HUMAN RELATIONS MANAGEMENT – functions of this organization maintain (1) communication, (2) cohesiveness, and (3) individual feelings of integrity, self-respect, and independent choice.

v HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT – communication are informal and formal; upward, downward, horizontal and diagonal flows; decision-making is decentralized.

The extensive questionnaire that Likert developed to measure the character of: (1) leadership processes, (2) motivational processes, (3) communication processes, (4) interpersonal interactions, (5) decision-making processes, (6) goal-setting processes, (7) control processes, and (8) performance foals and training; was spoken of by Jackson and Morgan. They felt that Likert’s approach to management styles is similar to where’s ideal bureaucracy, even though Likert emphasizes on processes rather than structural measurements. The four general types of organizational management systems are described in Organization theory as follows:
System 1 – Exploitive and authoritarian environment.

– Little interpersonal supportive and participation.

System 2- benevolent and authoritarian environment.

– More paternalistic, than System 1
System 3- consultative environment.

– Upward and downward communication.

– certain degree of self-regulation and consultative goal setting
System 4- participative environment
– More emphasis on self-regulation and mutual support, openness, and trust.

– More involved participation at all levels.

“It is unlikely one would utilize participate goal setting and decision making while practicing authoritarian leadership processes.” (Jackson and Morgan – 1978)
“What works for one organization may not work for another, and what works for one organization may change as that organization’s situation changes.” This quote was taken from the textbook, Management, by Ricky w. Griffin. The point I just made I learned throughout my research. In 1969, a General Motors plant in Atlanta changed from a System 2 to a System 4 in three years. After the change in Management style, a few things happened to them:
v Direct and indirect labor efficiency improved.

Major strength is the emphasis on behavioral process in the organization of the organizations design; the behavioral model recognizes the individual values of an organization’s employees.

Griffin also elaborates the eight characteristics of Likert’s management styles. (Griffin – 1990)
Organizational communication had three quizzes on different types of management, so that readers could discover what class a manager they might be. I discovered under each of the following that:
(1) Most employees work best under loose (as opposed to close) control.

(2) The primary function of communication is to give orders and monitor results.

(3) The most important communication channel is downward from superior to subordinate.

(4) If given the opportunity, most workers would goof off.

(5) Most workers are willing to assume responsibility for they’re won work.

(1) People want to belong and to be recognized as individuals more than they want to earn money.

(2) Open-door policies seldom make much sense.

(3) People want to feel they are useful, important members of a team.

(4) The informal organization should be eliminated.

(5) Suggestion boxes are a waste of time and should be done away with.

(6) Most workers simply want to be treated well.

(1) Most workers find work to be inherently distasteful.

(2) If people have say in setting job-related goals, they are often motivated to do a better job.

(3) Money is the prime motivator for most workers.

(4) The average worker likes to be (directed).

(5) Properly motivated people exercise self-direction and self-control.

(6) Most workers need to be managed through the use of close control.

Through these quizzes the following conclusions can also be made; A subordinate will definitely tell his boss what he thinks the boss wants to hear and the way his boss wants to hear it, grapevine communication is used a lot in organizations, and the accuracy of communication depends on how a supervisor asks a question to a subordinate.

Likert’s research that I have presented results in that System 4 is the best approach, which offers the best results:
v Long-range improvement in productivity
The superior/subordinate relationship is crucial, when the management style leans more towards System 4 and management’s trust and confidence in the employee’s increases. One concept System 4 uses is the principle of supportive relationships:
The leadership and other processes of the organization must be such as to ensure a maximum probability that in all interactions and in all relationships within the organization, each member, in the light of his background, values, desires, and expectation, will view the experience as supportive and one which builds and maintains his sense of personal worth and importance. (Likert – 1967)
This principle requires that the needs and desires of employees – stable employment, job security, opportunity for promotion, and satisfactory compensation – are met; the other systems do not completely cover the requirements of this principle. System 4 has another fundamental concept, which is used by the superior in-group decision-making and supervision in the management of his work group. Performance goals are the third concept. The employees desires can only be met when the organization its departments, and its member have high performance goals. (Likert – 1967)
In order to achieve a satisfactory solution in an organization, there are four conditions that need to be met. They can have extensive functionalization, resolve differences, and achieve efficient coordination on a product or geographical basis:
(1) It must provide high levels of cooperative behavior between superiors and subordinates and especially among peers. Favorable attitudes and confidence and trust are needed among its members.

(2) It must have the organizational structure and the interaction skills required to solve differences and conflicts and to attain creative solutions.

(3) It must possess the capacity to exert influence and to create motivation and coordination without traditional forms of line authority.

(4) Its decision-making processes and superior-subordinates relationships must be such as to enable a person to perform his hob well and without hazard when he has two or more superiors.

“The formal organization theory underlying System 1 through3 fails to meet these
Four conditions.” System 1 and System 3 have certain guidelines that exist, they are as follows:
(1) The theory specifies that a person can have only one boss.

(2) It calls for managerial procedures and behaviors which, on the average, tend to produce competition and conflict between peers and apathy or resentment among subordinates.

(3) It fails to make full use of those motivational forces, which must be employed if cooperative attitudes and effective coordination are to be achieved.

Union-management relationships that shifted from System 2 to System 4; is also listed by Likert with a few changes that have occurred:
v Great increase in the capacity to attain acceptance solutions to difficult problems.

v Effective problem solving replaced irreconcilable conflict.

v Differences did not become formal grievances because they were solved at the point of disagreement.

v New contracts were negotiated without strikes and without work stoppage.

v Both companies and union member have derived substantial financial benefits from the improved relationships. (Likert – 1967)
Organization theory, was the only book that made a negative point about Likert’s System 4 management style: “Likert emphasizes on processes rather than structural measurements.” (Jackson, Morgan – 1978) To me, this really isn’t it negative. The way that Likert writes and phrases his words, he is a firm believer in System 4 as the ideal management style for any organization, is to me the best way; Fortunate for me, I agree with Likert as far as to say that System 4 is the ideal model, but I do not believe that it is suitable for all organizations, departments, managers, or individuals. It depends greatly on the individuals in the organization and the nature of the situation. I, myself am a “people person,” and always will be. I hope that when I get into the work force, the management style leans towards System 4, and I want to be equally important to my organization.

1. Gibson, Jane Whitney; Hidgetts, Richard M., Organizational communication: A managerial perspective, second edition, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1991, p. 31, 36-37, 41-45.

2. Griffin, Ricky W., Management, third edition, Houghton Miffin Company, Boston, 1990, p. 311-313.

3. Jackson, John H.; Morgan Cyril P., Orgainization threory: A macro perspective for management, Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey, 1978, p. 1978, p. 80-81.

4. Likert, Rensis, New patterns of management, McGraw-Hill Book Company. Inc., new York, 1961, p. 222-223, 234, 235-236.

5. Likert, Rensis, The human organization, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, 1967, p. 11-12, 14-24, 26, 38, 44, 46-47, 49-50, 88-89, 158-159, 186-187.