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PEOPLE IN ORGANIZATION
If there is any one characteristic of people which is universally valid and important, it is that they differ. To say that all persons are created equal is a statement of human rights under the law. It communicates nothing at all about human nature. As a matter of fact, people differ greatly in intelligence, aptitudes, physical strength, manual dexterity, knowledge, skill, interests, personality traits, motivation, and many other attributes which potentially influence behavior and productivity.
We are rational—but only to a point. We plan, set goals, think, reason, and live by creeds and values. But we also become frustrated and behave in ways that can be perceived as rational only by someone who understands all our deeply embedded, sometimes conflicting needs, aspirations, and perceptions. In many situations our motivation is unconscious so that not even we understand our own actions.
The fact that one’s environment strongly influences behavior is indisputable. A number of prominent psychologists have assumed that human freedom is an illusion. Human choices are thought to be totally determined. This, of course, is an assumption. Many people do not subjectively perceive themselves in this way. It is significant that behavior and expectations are strongly influenced by what a person believes to be true. Individuals feel responsible for their actions. Also, people consciously believe that their choices are real, regardless of any awareness of philosophical arguments to the contrary. Organizations cannot function optimally without these pragmatic assumptions.
There are, of course, innumerable statements which one might make about human nature, but they would not all have a direct influence on how people should be dealt within the work environment. The late Douglas McGregor did an excellent job of conceptualizing some of the assumptions about human nature which are relevant to organizational behavior. He labeled these, Theory X, the classical or traditional view, and Theory Y, a progressive view upon which he believed a new model for human relations in organizations could be developed.
Theory X. This theory holds that the average person inherently dislikes work, is innately lazy, irresponsible, self-centered, and security oriented, and consequently is indifferent to the needs of the organization. Because of these characteristics, the average person must be threatened, coerced, and controlled. In fact, most people prefer to be directed and controlled. They seek security above all, prefer to avoid responsibility, and both want and need external control in the work situation. Because people are basically cunning and immature, management should experience little difficulty in using a highly directive and manipulative style of supervision.
Theory Y. Experience has shown that Theory X assumptions result in a great deal of difficulty for management although they remain popular with some managers. McGregor’s Theory Y makes the opposite assumptions. People do not inherently dislike work and are not inherently lazy. Rather they have learned to dislike work, to be lazy, and to be irresponsible because of the nature of their work and supervision. They have a high capacity for developing an intrinsic interest in their work, for committing themselves to organizational objectives, and for working productively with a minimum of external controls.
Two points should be made with reference to these theories. First, the Theory X characteristics are said to be inherent or innate. To be such, they would necessarily apply to everyone, which is obviously absurd. On the other hand, under Theory Y, people are said to have the potential or capacity for the responsible behavior and attitudes described. If anyone possesses these qualities, and a great many people do, then everyone has the potential for them. Second, McGregor speaks of assumptions about the average person, and one must ask, «Average on what dimensions?» Are we talking about intelligence? education? experience? Average is a statistical concept. The average person is nonexistent, hypothetical construct. When we make assumptions about the average person, at best we are referring to most people, and in doing so must recognize that there are exceptions.
T E X T 3
Here is one more text about people in organization. Read it and say whether you can take the information seriously.
When might you need to give blood for a personality test? The answer to that question may puzzle you more than the question itself: when you apply for a job. What’s more, your blood group could seriously influence your career prospects. Some people believe your blood group hides no secrets. It reveals the “real you” – a person who gets things done, a good salesman, a creative person or a problem-solver – that is why you could be asked to state your blood group when completing a job application form. This growing trend was first used in Japan and now management consultant firms in other parts of the world have joined in. Someone, somewhere has spent some time working out statistics regarding who’s who in the blood group system. The owners of certain group tend to be particularly good or bad at certain tasks. In fact, one major Japanese firm is so well informed about blood groups that the company is quite specific about its needs: “We must have 30per cent of blood group A and 15 per cent of AB, 25 per cent of blood group 0, and 30 per cent of blood group B among echelons of our management personnel”. Apparently, if you belong to blood group 0 you get things done and sell the goods. Blood group A are thinkers, while blood group B are highly creative. And if you got problems, ask the Abs to solve them.