Subordination Loyalty And Productivity Management
Managers aim to secure subordination, loyalty and productivity from workers Harbison and Myers 1959 p.49. To what extend are these responses achievable. Discuss with reference to the right to manage, 'traditional' and 'contemporary' labour management techniques, and the constraints on managerial decision-making over labour management issues. â€ƒ
In the relationship between managers and employees, the major concern of almost all managers is to establish and maintain their authority (Harbison and Myers, 1959: 47). Therefore, their aims are to secure "subordination, loyalty and productivity" from workers (ibid.). Managers need subordination to maintain discipline in the workplace. They also want to create workers' loyalty which would further drive their willing to accept the managerial authority and maximize the productivity. In order to secure these responses, managers claim that they have the right to manage and use various labour management techniques to control over workers. Nevertheless, there are various constraints on managerial decision-making which restrict managers' unilateral authority in the workplace. This essay will discuss the legal, ideological and functional bases of the right to manage as well as its effect on securing subordination, loyalty and productivity from workers. After that the essay will examine the traditional and contemporary labour management techniques and focus on how they sought to address the problem of labour productivity. Finally, it will analyze several limitations of the managerial decision-making over labour management issues such as organization-related structural factors, the role of government, the resistance of employees and pressure from other managements, which force management to reduce and share its unilateral authority over workers.
In the beginning, this essay will discuss the legal, ideological and functional bases of the right to manage. Its legal basis has derived from the common law property rights and the statutory law of ownership responsibility (Storey, 1983: 103). It is a fact that employers' rights over employees stem from their ownership of property, originating "in the right of the owner to do what he will with his own" (ibid.). By acting on behalf of owner to manage the organization, managers are recognised "as owner or agents of owner" (ibid.). It means that managers are accorded the same legal status as employers, therefore they have the legal rights to be able to discipline employees in the workplace. Moreover, the statutory law of ownership responsibility also provides another legal foundation for managers. For instance, the statutory law often puts the responsibility for health and safety at work in management hands. It has been claimed as reason why the right to manage must be concentrated in managers' hands in order to accomplish their duties towards workers (ibid.).
Furthermore, the legal basis of the right to manage is also based on the employment contract, which rests on the imagery of "master and servant" (Selznick, 1969: 122). This imagery is central in understanding many aspects of the modern contract of employment, in particular, the imbalance of power between the employers and the employees. More specifically, one of the most important legal attributes of the master-servant relation as it operated in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is that "the master had general authority to discipline the servant" (ibid. :124). This means the masters have the unilateral authority at the workplace while the servants have to obey masters' commands. Although there are many developments of employment contract at the present time, Selznick argues that the employment contract had become a legal tool for guaranteeing to management the unilateral power to make rules (ibid. :135). When a worker enters the employment contract, implied terms in the contract will reserve full authority of control to the employer. Therefore, the continuing master-servant imagery of the authority of the master lends a legal foundation to the right to manage of managers (ibid. :136).
Secondly, managers also have the ideological basis of the right to manage. The employment relationship is influenced by three perspectives on work, namely the unitary, the pluralism and the Marxism (or radical). Nevertheless, all managerial ideologies base on the unitary perspective and ignore the other perspectives. The unitary perspective assumes that there is "one source of authority and one focus of loyalty within the organization" (Fox, 1966: 3). Both managers and employees have the same interests, common goals. Therefore, the managers always have the right to make decisions for the best interests of themselves and employees; while the employees who voluntarily agree to work should be happy and accept management's right to manage (Rose, 2008: 27). From this point of view, the unitary perspective is regarded as an ideology that offers the legal foundation for managers to control over the employees; or in other words, the right to manage of managers is partly ideological.
Last but not least, the final basis of the right to manage is functional. The management has four main functions: "(1) the undertaking of risk and the handling of uncertainty; (2) planning and innovation; (3) coordination, administration, and control; (4) routine supervision" (Harbison and Myers, 1959: 8). In order to manage the organization successfully, the managers need to determine a wide range of policies, such as finance, marketing, sales policies. Therefore, managers claim that they must have the right to manage in order to carry out management's functions. Harbison and Myers (1959) also argue that there are three basis types of management: patrimonial management where the managers come from a family, political management where the authority is held by persons on relationships to a political regime, and professional management where the managerial positions are held by persons on the basis of competence. Because of the increased technical and economic complexity of modern industry, managers is forced to move away from patrimonial and political types to professional type (Harbison and Myers, 1959: 80). It means that if managers want to achieve the economic efficiency for their organization, they must have expertise and ability, which rest on their training and education (Storey, 1983: 104). Furthermore, Storey also argues that there are persons naturally identifiable as leaders who are gifted to lead, and others who perform best when led (ibid.). Therefore, managers are considered as the most suitable persons to exercise the leadership function. For those reasons, the right to manage of managers is partly functional.
After analyzing the legal, ideological and functional bases of the right to manage, it can be realized that managers need these rights to legitimize their managerial control over employees in order to achieve subordination, loyalty and productivity from them. Nevertheless, if managers use only the right to manage, they could be able to get subordination, but not loyalty and productivity. Subordination is necessary but not sufficient, and loyalty alone cannot guarantee efficiency; thus, all three responses are ultimately needed (Harbison and Myers, 1959: 48). Therefore, the right to manage of managers should be seen as an ideological justification for management techniques to solve management's need for subordination, loyalty and productivity.
In the next section, this essay will examine the traditional and contemporary management techniques to achieve three responses from workers. Firstly, the traditional management techniques have two main approaches: scientific management and human relations along with neo-human relations. Scientific management, which is initiated by Taylor, F.W, is seen as "a collection of work-design and control techniques" (Rose, 1988: 25). Scientific management assumes that the causes of under-working and poor productivity stem from both labour and management (ibid. :26). On the workers' side, the inefficiency is caused by "soldiering". It has two forms: "natural soldiering" which comes from the natural instinct and tendency of workers and "systematic soldiering" which derives from their relations with other workers (ibid. :27). On the managers' side, the problem is their incompetence and the old method of management, such as "rule-of-thumb" and "I guess so" (ibid.). In order to solve the problem of both inefficient management and inefficient working practices, Taylor classifies scientific management into four principles: "first, the development of a science to replace the old rule-of-thumb; second, the scientific selection and the progressive development of the workmen; third, the bringing of the science and scientifically selected and trained men together; and, fourth, the constant and intimate cooperation which always occur between the workmen and the management" (Taylor, 2007: 280). Following that, four solutions to address the labour problem are emphasized in the Taylor's study: the separation of conception from execution, the division of labour and standardization of work, the selection and training and a fair day's pay for a fair day's work (Rose, 1988: 30-31).
The first solution of scientific management is the separation of conception from execution. It means that if workers have the ability to execute on their own conception, they will resist the right to manage of managers. Therefore, it is very difficult for managers to achieve the subordination and the labour efficiency from workers (Braverman, 1998: 78). Secondly, the next solution is the division of labour and the standardization of work. In order to achieve the productivity, managers need to seek "one best way" of how the work is going to be done, which is "an optimal relationship between the method adopted, the time taken, the tool used, and the fatigue generated"; hence, all workers selected to perform the task must adopt it (Rose, 1988: 30). Furthermore, managers also have the responsibility to select a "first class" man for the job and train him, make sure he will be able to do the highest and the most profitable class of work (Taylor, 2007: 277). By doing this class of work, the worker will be paid a higher daily wage, but not over-paid, that is the final solution "a fair day's pay for a fair day's work" (Taylor, 1911: 155). These solutions aim to get workers work harder and maximize the profit as well as surplus value for the organizations.
In spite of the contribution of scientific management to achieve higher levels of productivity, there are also many critiques in this labour management technique. According to Braverman (1988), the principles of scientific management such as the dissociation of the labour process from the skill of the workers, the separation of conception from execution and the control of labour process; which all lead to the dehumanization of work and an effort of de-skilled and alienated workers to resist these scientific practices. The reason of these critiques derives from the assumption of scientific management that the worker is seen as an "economic man" and is only motivated by economic interest (Rose, 1988). Therefore, Braverman argues that the scientific management has been outmoded by human relations because of Taylor's naive view of human motivation (Braverman, 1988: 60).
The human relations and neo-human relations is the second traditional labour management technique in which the work group takes centre stages; therefore, the necessary management techniques to improve performance is based on work group behaviour and response (Rose, 1988). The human relations approach assumes that the causes of under-working and poor productivity stem from social factors and some failure of leadership (Fox, 1966: 369). From this view of human relations, the image of the worker is as "social man" (Hollway, 1991: 71). The human relations approach also recognized that the worker's morale and behaviour at the workplace are influenced by the supervision. Therefore, managers need to improve supervisory training in interpersonal skills and leadership in order to achieve productivity from workers (Hollway, 1991: 76).
Moreover, the neo-human relations, which is associated with the Maslow's theory, concerns with social basic needs of workers in order to address the problem of labour productivity. Maslow (1992: 50) states that workers always have their social basis needs which are physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. These basis needs are ordered in a hierarchy of prepotency and the lower order needs must be at least partially satisfied before a higher order need is pursued. Maslow also points that the only motivating need is an unfulfilled need (ibid.). Therefore, the solution to solve the labour problem is that managers have to identify the unfulfilled needs of workers and motivate them to work harder by using social rewards to satisfy their needs.
Nevertheless, Maslow's ideas would not have reached the business field if they had not been promoted by McGregor and Herzberg. According to McGregor (1960), there are two theories about human nature and human behaviour, namely theory X and theory Y. Theory X assumes workers inherently dislike their work; therefore, managers have to use punishment to coerce, control and direct their employees in order to achieve the high level of productivity at work. It also emphasizes that workers prefer to be directed, avoid responsibility, have little ambition and mainly want to security (McGregor, 1960: 33-34). On the other hand, the assumption of theory Y is that worker does not inherently dislike work, they will exercise self-direction and self-control for objectives to which they are committed and commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement. Theory Y also highlights workers being learn, under proper conditions, not only to accept but to seek responsibility (ibid. :47-48). Nonetheless, Rose argues "theory Y, in fact, is more of a programme than a theory" (Rose, 1988: 202). Turning to Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory, he discovers two different types of factor: the hygiene factors (lead to dissatisfaction) for avoidance of unpleasantness and motivator factors (lead to satisfaction) for personal growth (Herzberg, 1968: 75). These factors offer another human relations solution to address the labour problem such as job enrichment and enlargement of work cycle (ibid. :172). Although human relations and neo-human relations holds an important place in management thought, it also has some weaknesses such as individualistic in emphasis, based on assumptions about human nature and do not recognize range of possibilities of work organization and worker orientation (Watson, 1980: 34-36).
In general, scientific management sees the organization as an "aggregation of individuals", worker as rational and concentrates on the individual; on the other hand, human relations sees the organization as "complex social structure", workers as irrational and concerned with groups (Fox, 1966: 368). But both of them are based on the unitary view, that workers must accept management authority, and stress the importance of leadership in an organization. They are heading for the same objectives, which are getting workers work harder and securing subordination, loyalty and productivity from them (ibid. :367-369).
Turning to the contemporary management techniques, all of these techniques are based on the term "human resource management" (HRM). Heery and Noon (2011: 161-164) highlight the difficulties in trying to define HRM and outline ten different ways of defining this concept as a: label, term for a range of activities, set of professional practices, method of ensuring internal fit, method of ensuring external fit, competitive advantage, market driven approach, manipulative device and hologram. Following that, HRM is distinguished between "soft" HRM and "hard" HRM, which became a key point for debate (Storey, 1989 cited in Bach, 2005: 5). The soft version of HRM sees workers as a valuable asset and focus on the investment orientation and the development of employees (Bach, 2005: 6). On the other hand, the hard approach views employees as a factor of production and a commodity that has to utilized and disposed (ibid.). It can be realized that the hard approach has certain characteristics in common with scientific management and the soft approach is similar to human relations. Therefore, HRM can be viewed as the re-assertion of managerial prerogative and the re-emergence of attempts by management to solve the labour problem in the tradition of scientific management and human relations. Following that, HRM provides various new management techniques to address the problem of labour productivity such as total quality management (TQM), just in time (JIT) and team working.
According to Legge (2000: 48), TQM is defined as "developing an all-encompassing organizational culture and associated work practices that aim to produce products and services that will meet the needs and expectations of customers" and JIT is defined as "system in which production is pulled through the plant in accordance with configuration of final market demand rather than pushed by predetermined production schedules". These techniques can help managers in reducing the lead times, efficiently using capital and improving the quality of labour productivity (ibid.). Moreover, another HR practice is team working which is defined as an "interdependent collection of individuals who share responsibility for specific out comes of their organization" (Sundstrom et al. 1990 cited in Scarbrough and Kinnie, 2003: 135). Scarbrough and Kinnie (2003: 145) state that the success of team working involves changes in social relations within the organization and the inter-organizational relationships of supply chain. Nonetheless, these new management techniques also are based on the unitary view and emphasize the managerial prerogative as well as the managers' attempt to address labour problem. Therefore, they can be seen as the revision of traditional management techniques.
Although managers claim that they have the right to manage and attempt to use various labour management techniques to achieve subordination, loyalty and productivity from workers, there are also many constraints on managerial decision-making over labour management issues. Firstly, managerial approaches focus far too much upon the internal firm context and insufficiently upon those structural factors which shape and constrain managerial decision-making. These factors include sector, occupation, size, ownership, and the business structures, strategies and styles (Sisson and Marginson, 2003: 176). More specifically, "the structural boundaries provided by markets, technology and labour" in any sector is considered as a constraint on management action (ibid.). Furthermore, the occupations within workforce (the differences between "blue-collar" and "white-collar" workers), the size of company and workplace (the larger the organization, the more complex the management task), the ownership of company (Private/public ownership or domestic/foreign ownership) and the business structures, strategies and styles (three axes are diversification, divisionalization and strategic style) also play important roles in shaping and limiting management action (ibid. :176-181).
Secondly, there are also various limitations on the right to manage of managers, such as the role of government, the resistance of workers and pressures from other managements. By setting minimum wages and general working conditions, the government "becomes a participant in the rule-making process" and limits the unilateral authority of managers over employees (Harbison and Myers, 1959: 60). Besides, another constraint is the resistance of workers to managerial authority, such as restricting output and quitting (ibid. :59). Furthermore, the growth of trade unions also forces management to reduce and share its unilateral authority over workers (ibid. :60). The final constraint is the pressures from other management. More specifically, the individual manager may be influenced by the actions and policies of other management, therefore he cannot be free to make unilateral decisions over employees. For example, progressive managers in every country often try to change the managerial thinking and practice through management associations, conferences, and seminars (ibid.).
In conclusion, this essay has explained why managers aim to secure "subordination, loyalty and productivity" from workers and shown how managers attempt to achieve these responses. It has highlighted that managers have the legal, ideological and functional right to manage. By using these rights, managers can take control over employees to maintain the managerial authority and achieve high level of efficiency in the workplace. Nonetheless, these rights should been seen as rather as an ideological justification for management techniques. In order to put these rights into practice, managers attempt to use both the traditional management techniques (including scientific management, human relations and neo-human relations) and the contemporary management techniques (including HRM and new HRM methods), which are based on the unitary view and stress the importance of leadership in an organization. Nevertheless, these management techniques cannot help managers to completely reach the subordination, loyalty and productivity from workers. Because there are many constraints on managerial decision-making over labour management issues, which come from structural factors, government, workers, and other managements. These obstacles force management to reduce and share its unilateral authority over workers. Therefore, managers need to seek more effective solutions to solve the problem of labour productivity, which becomes a considerable challenge for all human resource managers especially in a rapidly changing global economy.
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