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Theories of Practice: The Functions of the Chief Executive Officer. MPA 8002 The Structure and Theory of Human Organization Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D. At a crisis in my youth, my father taught me the wisdom of choice:. …to try and to fail is at least to learn.

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Theories of practice the functions of the chief executive officer l.jpg

Theories of Practice:The Functions of the Chief Executive Officer

MPA 8002

The Structure and Theory of Human Organization

Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D.


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At a crisis in my youth,

my father taught me the wisdom of choice:

…to try and to fail is at least to learn

…to fail to try is to suffer the inestimable loss of what might have been.

Chester I. Barnard (1938)


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For the greater part of the 20th century, the alleged objectivity associated with the assumptions and concepts of scientific management have guided most inquiry into human organizations.


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Structural theories of practice, for example, rationalize human organizations and their functioning, emphasizing the proper alignment of people, process, and technology...

…suggesting that there exists “one best way” to manage and lead all human organizations.


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  • concepts including...

the general social setting within which work is completed

division of labor

the particular work to be completed as part of an organic system of work

functionalization

the emphasis upon individuals and groups to contribute to the organic system of work

specialization


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For Chester Barnard, while structural theories of practice offer the promise of improving organizational functioning, other factors are absolutely essential to organizational survival...


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…factors including:

  • the willingness to cooperate

  • the ability to communicate

  • the existence of and acceptance of organizational purpose


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For Barnard, organizational survival is not dependent solely upon structure but more so upon maintaining a dynamic equilibrium in a continuously fluctuating environment of physical, biological, and social materials, elements, and forces.

All of which calls for an individual who possesses an abiding awareness of the need to adjust the processes internal to the organization continuously.


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The structural concepts of executive theory...

  • individual

  • cooperative system

  • organization

  • complex formal organization

  • formal organization

  • informal organization


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  • individual:

…a single, unique, independent, isolate, whole entity

…embodying innumerable forces and materials past and present which are the physical, biological, and social factors

…to which are superadded the limited power of choice which results in purpose and for which one bears personal responsibility


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  • a “limitation”

…the function of the total situation or the combination of physical, biological, or social factors when viewed by individuals from the standpoint of a purpose

An organization’s design as a whole can only be changed by operating on one set of factors at a time (the “strategic factor”) and dealing with the impact this change will have on the other sets of factors.


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…overcoming a limitation is a means to an end, inducing within an individual the necessity for cooperation with others

…or, making the decision that one’s limitation cannot be overcome, the individual decides to drop that end

Cooperation inculcates a shared “purpose” for engaging in organized activity towards an end.


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  • cooperative system:

…an amalgam composed of the impersonal, coordinated activities of human beings

…the concrete social process by which social action is accomplished

…a change in the relationship of one part to any or all of the others changes the cooperative system


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  • the social contribution of one person is the primary factor in maintaining the system of cooperation...

…this social contribution elicits physical energy from other participants in the cooperative system

…the physical energy, in turn, is then converted into material at desired places.


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For Barnard, then, it is not correct to impute to any individual a definite product.

Rather, the increase (or decrease) of material product (the “value added”) results from the combination or coordination of efforts.


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It is also not correct, in Barnard’s thought, to impute to any individual a particular contribution.

The only statement that one can make about the significance of an individual’s particular contribution is in terms of its differential effect upon the entire cooperative system.


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  • the survival of an organization is dependent upon its ability to create a surplus of cooperation

…this reality illuminates the creative side of managing and leading human organizations

…successful managers and leaders secure the appropriate combination of the elements of organization to produce utilities that allow the organization to endure


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  • organization:

…a system of consciously coordinated individual human activities or forces

…the function of which is:

  • to create

  • to transform

  • to exchange

…various personal and impersonal utilities


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  • For Barnard, human beings not structures are the constitutive element of organization:

1) individuals capable of communicating with one another

2) each possessing a willingness to serve

3) each sharing a common purpose


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  • However, it is not the individuals but rather the services, acts, actions, or influences of individuals that constitute organization...

…that is, the willingness of individuals to contribute their efforts to the cooperative system

…this is indispensable to an organization’s effective and efficient functioning and survival.


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  • complex formal organization:

…a cooperative system composed of physical, biological, and personal systems

…which prescribes, guarantees, and limits the purpose and rights of subordinate organizations, upon whom the subordinate organizations are dependent


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  • formal organization:

…the concrete social process by which social action is accomplished

…the system of consciously coordinated activities or forces of two or more persons


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  • informal organization:

…the aggregate of personal contacts and interactions and the associated groupings of people

…provide a means of communication, of cohesion, and of protecting the integrity of the individual that is necessary to the operation of a formal organization


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The emergence of organization...

interests

limits

individual

personal:

needs

free will

the decision to cooperate

purpose

objectives

organization

impersonal :

strategies

projects

goals


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The dynamic concepts of executive theory...

  • free will

  • cooperation

  • communication

  • authority

  • the decision-making process

  • maintaining a dynamic equilibrium


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  • free will:

…a limited power of choice

…presupposing the capacity for self-determination

…preserving personal integrity

…upholding personal, ethical, and legal responsibility for one’s choices


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  • because of various limitations which constrict the choices available...

…the exercise of free will requires individuals to develop a “purpose”

…which, in turn, provides a “motive” or “rationale” to engage in cooperative ventures that make other choices possible


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  • cooperation:

…an expression of human will and purpose in a physical environment


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  • communication:

…the necessary ability to translate purpose into terms of the concrete actions required to effect it

…reduces confusion and indecision as these relate to the timing of actions

…creates the necessity for a leader


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  • authority:

…the character of a communication in a formal organization by virtue of which the communication is accepted by a contributor to or “member” of the organization as governing the action that individual contributes


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  • authority may be a consequence of:

the advantage of placement in the organizational hierarchy

…position…

the advantage of possessing the respect of individuals in the organization

…leadership…


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  • however, the determination of authority always remains with the individual...

…objective authority cannot be imputed to persons in organizational positions unless subjectively they are first dominated by the organization as respects their decisions


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  • authority, then, depends upon:

  • a cooperative personal attitude of individuals

  • a system of organizational communication

…which fosters organizational effectiveness and efficiency as well as survival


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  • the decision-making process:

…the matter of discriminating important strategic factors

...and redefining or changing the organization’s purpose

...on the basis of an estimate of future results of action in the existing situation

...in light of history, experience, or knowledge of the past


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  • the decision-making process first involves…

personal decisions: decisions by the individuals affected whether or not to contribute to a cooperative effort as a matter of a personal choice

D1

  • external to the organizational system

  • not delegated to others


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  • the decision-making process then involves…

impersonal decision: a response made by individuals whose role and intent is to effect the organizational system as a whole

D2

  • internal to the organizational system

  • delegated to others


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  • the responsibility for an organization decision is assigned positively and definitely to those located at the organization’s communication centers...

…that is, the aptness of a decision depends upon those who possess the knowledge of facts and of organizational purpose


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  • maintaining a dynamic equilibrium:

…the ability to juggle subjective (personal) motives and objective (impersonal) purpose so as to develop a surplus of cooperation among the people whose social contributions constitute the organization


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…this dynamic equilibrium is disturbed by false ideologies, particularly those held by managers/leaders, which...

  • vitiate experience from consciousness when dealing with organizational problems

  • reinforce personal predilections, prejudices, and interests in guiding organizational action

False ideologies can become destructive factors, inhibiting further cooperation.


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The fundamental concepts of executive theory...

  • efficiency

  • effectiveness

  • organization purpose

  • zone of indifference

  • strategic factor

  • organization economy

  • span of control

  • leadership density

  • responsibility


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  • efficiency : individual : motives

the maintenance of an equilibrium of organizational activities through the satisfaction of the motives of individuals sufficient to induce cooperative action


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  • efficiency of effort depends upon the ability of the executive to secure and maintain the personal contributions of energy that is prerequisite to effect organizational purposes

…that is, the executive capacity to offer effective inducements and in sufficient quantity to maintain organizational equilibrium


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  • effectiveness : organization : purpose

the appropriateness of the means selected under the conditions of the organization as a whole for the accomplishment of a specific desired end


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  • effectiveness of cooperation is evident in the accomplishment of the recognized objectives of cooperative action

…these objectives are impersonal, that is, these objectives aim at the system of cooperation as a whole


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  • organization purpose:

…the impersonal reason for which the formal organization exists

Purpose is experienced as a belief that—as a consequence of one’s limitations and reduced choices and, then, through the exercise of will—it is better to cooperate in “trying” or “attempting” something impersonal to fulfill one’s personal motive than it is to drop that end.


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  • purpose is not empty words or catchy phrases...

…but the bridge between the past and the future which functions only as it rests upon the present

…as all who contribute to the system of efforts accept and act upon a shared purpose


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  • the challenge to managers/leaders is to foster those conditions wherein:

…the aggregate of organizational actions are a consequence of decisions

…decisions made by those “closest to the action” relative to the organization’s purpose and environment

...and resulting in closer and closer approximations in concrete acts


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  • zone of indifference:

…the willingness to accept orders specifying action because the individual feels indifferent about the order in so far as authority is concerned


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The zone of indifference will be wider or narrower depending upon the degree to which the inducements exceed the burdens and sacrifices determining the individual’s adhesion to the organization.


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  • strategic factor:

…a limitation that, when controlled in the right form, at the right place, and at the right time, will establish a new system or set of conditions which meets the organizational purpose


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To determine what element should be changed or is missing is the first step in defining what action is required.

Decision, then, is related to action which sets into motion the dynamic and developmental aspects of organizational change.


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The structural frame’s assumption of cause and effect in an absolute sense is not pertinent to organizational analysis...

…the only measurable variations in the effect of single factors is in terms of strategic factors

…that is, those controllable alternatives which effect changes in the system as a whole not the contributions of any single factor


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The strategic factor, then, is the center of the environment of decision. It is the point at which choice applies. To do or not to do this, that is the question.

The determination of the strategic factor is itself the decision which reduces purpose to a new level, compelling the search for a new strategic factor in the new situation.


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It is the series of strategic factors and the actions that directly relate to the strategic factors that determine the course of organizational events, not the general decisions.

As organizational members in subordinate positions refine the organizational purpose in practicable terms and conditions.


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For Barnard, the determination of the strategic factors that will stimulate cooperation is a matter of sense not of science, of feeling the proportions of the relationship of heterogeneous details to the organic whole...

…the essential process is “sensemaking” (Weick, 1995), that is, envisioning the organization as a whole and the total situation relevant to it.


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When the process of managing and leading organizations is viewed as integrating the elements of organization into a whole, of balancing local and broad considerations with general and specific requirements...

…the symbolic frame provides a helpful theoretical perspective for learning about the actual factors influencing organizational culture


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…transforming managing and leading organizations...

  • from an intellectual exercise to an aesthetic and ethical exercise

  • from science and facts to art and sensing fitness and appropriateness

  • from coercing compliance to inducing normative cooperation

  • from responding to orders to bearing responsibility for purpose


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  • organization economy:

…the pool of values as assessed by the organization as a social system

physical

materials

social

relations

personal

activities

…as these values impact coordinated action


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  • span of control:

…the ability for an executive to communicate essential information regarding or governing specific action

…normally less than 15 individuals and preferably 5 or 6 individuals


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  • leadership density

…at the lowest levels of a formal organization, where ultimate authority resides, individuals make personal decisions reflecting their willingness to contribute to a cooperative effort


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  • responsibility

… the power of a particular private code of ethics to control the conduct of individuals in the presence of strong contrary desires or impulses


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The primary executive function...

LEADERSHIP

…the personal capacity for exercising authority that affirms decisions and lends quality and ethics to the coordination of organized activity through the formulation and inculcation of organizational purpose

…the technical attainments and ethical complexities associated with executive responsibility


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…a necessary and constitutive element of organization made necessary by:

  • the need for communication that translates the organization’s purpose into concrete actions

  • to make decisions about what to do and when and where to do it in the midst of differing ideas


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Leadership inspires cooperative decisions by creating faith...

  • in common understanding

  • in the probability of success

  • in the ultimate satisfaction of personal motives

  • in the integrity of objective authority

  • in the superiority of common purpose as a personal aim of those who partake in it


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The ethical element of leadership...

  • foundational elements...

…the objective field within which action must take place

…the decision-making process as it relates to the objective field where the action will take place

…the aesthetic and intuitive, not conscious, analysis of factors


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The ethical sector of organizational action...

first: identifying the individual’s...

attitudes

distilled into

specific purposes

(“attitudes”)

inducing cooperation

values

that are

ideals

hopes


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second: getting individuals to focus on the elements of the ethical sector...

personal choices

ideals

motives

aspirations

values

appraisals of utility

attitudes

norms of conduct


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third: inducing cooperation among all who contribute to the organization as a whole

…requires managers/leaders who create faith

…which is the catalyst by which the living system of human efforts continues its incessant interchanges of energies and satisfactions


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Exercising “ethical creativeness”...

  • involves resolving conflict between individual ethical codes by substituting a new action for that originally conceived so that the new way is “worked out” to meet all of the individual requirements

Ethical creativeness is the highest expression of personal responsibility for it moves individuals beyond a concern for doing things right and towards the consideration of doing right things.


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  • requires inventing an ethical basis for the solution of dilemmas (Cuban, 1992)

...by substituting a new action which avoids the conflict

...or providing an ethical justification for an exception or compromise

Creative ethics emphasizes personal responsibility in the form of a sincere and honest conviction that what one does for the good of the organization one personally believes is right.


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1) to secure, create, and inspire “morale”

2) to inculcate points of view, fundamental attitudes, and loyalty to to the cooperative system as a system of objective authority

Ethical creativeness results in subordinating individual interest and the minor dictates of personal ethical codes to the good of the cooperative whole.


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Using executive theory...

Requires leaders and managers who...

formulate, redefine, break in to details, and decide upon the innumerable simultaneous and progressive actions that are the stream of syntheses constituting purposive actions


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  • as managers and leaders…

  • pyramid the formulation of purpose: pushing responsibility for defining and acting upon purpose at the base where the authority for effort resides

  • teach: indoctrinating those at the lower levels with the general and major decisions so that they remain cohesive and make the ultimate detailed decisions coherent


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This module has focused on...

The executivetheory that managers and leaders can utilize in practice episodes...


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...as this theory of practice provides managers and leaders a frame of reference to inform thinking about the nature of human organization making...


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…and the importance of inculcating a shared purpose that develops an ethical code guiding cooperative efforts toward organizational ends.


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AN EXECUTIVE THEORY SCENARIO

Executives endeavor to foster cooperative efforts toward shared purposes within the organizations. Executives are incessant as they struggle to integrate purpose and action so that the cooperative efforts of the organization will exceed the ability of any individual and overcome individual limitations.


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MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP

IN AN EXECUTIVE THEORY SCENARIO

Executives believe that the most important part of their job is to inculcate a shared purpose so that a group of diverse individuals will effectively and efficiently contribute their efforts to the cooperative endeavor called “organization.” This purpose inspires faith in the organization and develops loyalty as individuals engage in ethical actions that enable every member of the organization to overcome individual limitations. Effective executives create a synergy uniting the many “parts” so that the organization, as a “whole,” fulfills its purpose and is capable of adapting as necessary.


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References

  • Barnard, C. I. (1938/1968). The functions of the executive. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Cuban, L. (1992). Managing dilemmas while building professional communities. Educational Researcher, 21(1), 4-11.

  • Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.


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