Organizational Communication

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last updated 9/7/2016

From Human Relations to Human Resources

Research ultimately failed support the key assumption of the Human Relations movement, that worker satisfaction increases productivity, and experience at the workplace also did not support that assumption consistently.  There also turned out surprising resistance to participatory management schemes and some other HR methods.  Therefore, adjustments were made by HR managers to incorporate more accurate research and experience, resulting in the Human Resources approach to management. 

At its root, Human Resources differs from Human Relations in that it does not depend primarily on member satisfaction.  Rather it imagines the organization's members as persons who are intelligent, intrinsically motivated and capable of self-direction who, therefore, will do their best work if they are given the resources (tangible, intangible and informational) they need.  Communication in HR, then emphasizes TASK, MAINTENANCE and INNOVATION elements.

Key theorists and characteristics of the new HR (Human Resources) model are found below.

Characteristics of the Human Resources Model

  1. High concern for both people and productivity
  2. Organizational structures that facilitate participatory decision-making
  3. Tasks designed to use full skills of employees
  4. Open formal and informal channels of communication
  5. Clearly established performance objectives which allow substantial autonomy in work
  6. An array of tangible and intangible rewards linked to goal attainment in challenging jobs
  7. Investment in development of personnel resources (e.g. training)

Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid

A training tool that reflects the outcomes for varying degrees of concern for production versus concern for people.  (see chart on OC p. 49)

Chris Argyris' Perspective

  1. The upper level needs (see Maslow) of healthy people aren't consistent with  mechanistic organizational practices.
  2. Frustrations get worse when organizations rely on formal rules for control; employees need to set and achieve their own goals.
  3. A competitive climate creates hostility and leads to short-term, self-centered perspectives.
  4. Thus, employees become defensive, apathetic, develop ties with other dissatisfieds, leave the organization.
  5. The more mature the workers, the more this happens.

Pfeffer's Seven Practices of Successful Organizations

  • employment security
  • selective hiring of new employees
  • decentralization and self-managed teams
  • high compensation based on performance
  • training
  • reduced status differentiators
  • financial and performance information sharing

Likert's Theory (System IV) emphasizes collective participation and rewards and open communication.   (OC. pp. 50-51 & 53)

System I - Exploitative Authoritative

System II - Benevolent Authoritative

System III - Consultative

System IV - Participative

    Discussion Questions for Tuesday --> Thursday

  1. Does Human Relations style of management work better for some types of employees than others?  Which ones?  Does HR style of management work better for some types of organizations than others?  What types?