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Chris Argyris’s Immaturity-Maturity Theory

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     In a departure from the strict stage approach, well known organisational behaviour theorist Chris Argyris has identified specific dimensions of the human personality as it develops. Argyris proposes that a human personality rather than going through precise stages, progresses along a continuum from immaturity as an infant to maturity as an adult. However, at any age, people can have their degree of development plotted according to the seven dimensions as shown in the following table : THE ARGYRIS IMMATURITY-MATURITY CONTINUUM

    Immaturity Characteristics| Maturity Characteristics| Passivity| Activity| Dependence| Independence| Few ways of behaving| Diverse behaviour| Shallow interests| Deep interests| Short-time perspective| Long-time perspective| Subordinate position| Super ordinate position| Lack of self awareness| Self awareness and control| Argyris has very carefully pointed out that this model does not imply that all persons reach or strive for all dimensions on the mature end of the continuum. He has further explained that : ( i ) The seven dimensions represent only one aspect of the total personality.

    Much also depends upon the individual’s perception, self concept and adaptation and adjustment. (ii) The seven dimensions continually change in degree from the infant to the adult end of the continuum. (iii) The model, being only a construct, cannot product specific behaviour. However, it does provide a method of describing and measuring the growth of any individual in the culture. (iv) The seven demenions are based upon latent characteristics of the personality, which may be quite different from the observable behaviour.

    In contrast to the theories of Freud and Erikson, Argyris’s Immaturity-maturity Model of personality is specifically directed to the study and analysis of organisational behaviour. Argyris assumes that the personalities of organisational employees can be generally described by the mature end of the continuum. This being the case, in order to obtain full expression of employee’s personalities the formal organisation should allow for activity rather than passivity, independence rather than dependence, long rather than short time perspective, occupation of a position higher than that of peers and expression of deep important abilities.

    Argyris argues that very often the exact opposite occurs. The mature organisational participant becomes frustrated and anxious and is in conflict with the modern formal organisation. In other words, Argyris sees a basic incongruity between the needs of the mature personality and the nature of the formal organisations. Argyris’s assumption that all organisational men are mature does not always hold good in practice. Moreover, the mature people continue with the organisation inspite of all aberrations in their personality.

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