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Contingency Theories in Management

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This essay sets out to show where the four popular management contingency variables of organisational size, routineness of task technology, environmental uncertainty and individual differences are reflected in the work of the manager that was interviewed. Using classical theories of Fayol, Mintzberg and Katz along practical examples from the managers’ day-to-day routine, this essay sets out to explain how these theories and functions impact upon how the manager applies the situational approach to management using the contemporary and widely accepted contingency theories.

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The manager that was interviewed was Mr. Luke Jecks, the Director of Sales and Marketing within an Australian-based organisation in the private sector, Cellarmaster Wines. With over three hundred staff, the organisation is Australia’s largest selling direct retailer of wines, selling over one million cases of wine per annum to in excess of three hundred thousand club members a year, as well as exporting to international markets, namely the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Cellarmaster Wines uses various forms of direct marketing, but predominantly focuses on Internet, print media and telemarketing to sell to their club members.

Being a top-level manager, Mr. Jecks, performs an extremely diversified number of roles within his position, but Mr. Jecks’ main focus is defining marketing strategies, allocating advertising activities and budgets, motivating sales staff and other members of the organisation and monitoring the external sales environment.

In applying the situational approach to the dynamic and ever-changing organisational environment, Mr. Jecks applies various roles and functions outlined by the classical management theorists, Fayol, Katz and Mintzberg, in order to co-ordinate the organisation using the contemporary contingency approach. The contingency approach to management is based on the idea that there is no one best way to best way to manage and in order to be effective, planning, organising, leading and controlling must be tailored to the particular circumstances faced by an organisation. Robbins, Bergman, Stagg and Coulter, 2009). This open system perspective stresses the importance of organisations facing different contingencies, and thus requires different styles of management (Robbins et al, 2009) Managers must implement different ways of managing in line with the four popular contingency variables; organisational size, routineness of task technology, environmental uncertainty and individual differences. Organisational size is significant as it impacts on the effectiveness of different organisations (Barnett, 2006).

The larger the organisation, the delegation of tasks and goals becomes more fragmented, and coordination becomes more difficult. Due to the relatively large number of subordinates, Mr. Jecks applies Fayols’ principle of Division of work, as Fayol (as cited in Rodriques, 2001 p. 19-20) states “work can be performed more efficiently and more productively if it is divided into smaller elements to specific workers. ” Mr. Jecks sets clear and transparent work plans and allocates human resources to carry out the plans. Katz’s human skills are also applied by Mr. Jecks, which is defined by Katz (1955, p. 91) as the “ability to work co-operatively with others, to communicate effectively, to resolve conflict and be a team player”. Within the organisation, Mr. Jecks must apply this skill in order to be effective in administering work plans to other heads of departments and individuals, so that organisational plans can be accomplished. The interpersonal role of leader outlined by Mintzberg (1975,p. 54) states that “because he is in charge of and organisational unit, the manager is responsible for the work of the people of that unit. Mintzberg (1979) also states that mangers lead on a group level, especially by building and managing teams. This role is reflected when Mr. Jecks addresses the organisational contingency by motivating all subordinates, assigning the right staff to the right jobs and sets training programs so staffs are skilled to complete objectives. In addition to the organisational size theory, Mr. Jecks employs Routineness technologies to effectively manage the organisation. To achieve its purpose, an organisation uses task technology.

Routineness technologies require organisational structure, leadership styles and control systems that differ from those required by customized or non-routined technologies. (Robbins et al, 2010). Goodhue and Thompson (1985) imply that technologies are viewed as tools used by individuals in carrying out their tasks. And tasks are broadly defined by Perrow (1967) as the actions employed to transform inputs into outputs. Technology, or the work done by organisations, is considered the defining characteristic of organisations. Perrow (1967,p. 95) states that “organisations are seen primarily as systems for getting work done, for applying techniques to the problem of altering materials, whether the materials are people, symbols or things Perrow (1967) also states that Non-routine technology is where an organization has to develop structure that allows employees to respond quickly to manage exceptions and create new solutions. Routine and non-routine technologies are both employed by Mr. Jecks within the organisation. In applying Fayols’ principle of leading, Mr.

Jecks sets out clear and transparent work plans with centralised decision-making. Mr. Jecks applies the contingency variable of routineness of task technology, and places a high degree of dependence on written organisational directives, and repetition of established procedures and practices. Fayol (1949, p. 49) states “the best plans cannot anticipate all unexpected occurrences which may arise, but does include a place for these events and prepare the weapons which may be needed at the moment of being surprised. ” In responding to unexpected occurrences, Mr. Jecks employs the disturbance-handler role, as Mintzberg (1994,p. 57) explains that the “disturbance handler role depicts the manager involuntarily responding to pressures. ”

Mr. Jecks implements action plans to respond to unexpected downturns, for example, when sales are inexplicably falling. Conceptual skills, as outlined by Katz (1974) are also engaged by Mr. Jecks, as thinking “outside the box” when tackling the non-routine task, adapting marketing and sales strategies in response to fluctuations within the organisation. Along with the organisational size and task routineness contingencies, Mr. Jecks must also address the area of environmental uncertainty when managing the organisation. The environment that the organisation is in is extremely volatile and every-changing, as many external forces such as customers, suppliers and competitors dictate how Mr. Jecks executes his decisional roles of the entrepreneur and disturbance handler outlined by Mintzberg (1975). As the organisation is within the retail sector, the wants, needs and demands of customers and suppliers change constantly, as well as the actions of competitors, all of which must be monitored and addressed in a timely manner effectively and efficiently.

In the entrepreneurial role, Mr. Jecks analyses the sales market, defining and implementing sales goals in relation to external market forces. Mr. Jecks must also respond to unexpected disturbances from outside and within the organisation, and does so by organising and implementing action plans to respond to problems, e. g. downturns in sales, delivery constraints from suppliers and sale campaigns run by competitors. In addressing this environmental uncertainty, Mr. Jecks also applies conceptual skills highlighted by Katz (1974, p. 6) when addressing the environmental variable, “as conceptual skills extend to visualising the relationship of the firm to the external environment. ”

Mr. Jecks studies and analyses all approaches to multi-channel marketing, constantly adapting the marketing matrix used by the organisation in response to the external environmental forces. Technical skills outlined by Katz (1974) are also implemented, as a thorough understanding of the marketing and sales sciences are crucial to the organisation. Along with applying the organisational, task routineness and environmental uncertainty theories to management, Mr. Jecks must also consider the contingency theory of individual differences. Individuals differ in terms of their desire for growth, autonomy, tolerance of ambiguity and expectations. These and other differences are important when managers select motivation techniques, leadership styles and job designs (Robbins et al. 2009) Mr. Jecks applies the leader role outlined by Mintzberg (1975) to this contingency and a major part of his position within the organisation is to motivate all subordinates, allocates staff with the necessary skills to perform specific jobs and helps to create training programs so staff are skilled to complete objectives.

The human skills of Katz (1974) are also reflected, as Mr. Jecks has to communicate effectively and resolve conflict. Technical skills are also applied to a certain extent when approaching this contingency, as highlighted by Peterson (1994,p. 1299)”managers must have technical skill, as these skills allow the manager to train direct and evaluate subordinates performing specialized tasks. ” The contingency approach to management is extremely appropriate in today’s modern organisational environment.

In addressing the four contingencies of organisational size, routineness of task technology, environmental uncertainty and individual difference, the manager must employ and execute a number of combinations of the various roles and functions outlined by the popular theorists of Katz, Mintzberg and Fayol. As we have seen, in order for the manager to direct the organisation efficiently and effectively, no one function or role can be solely implemented to address each of the four popular contingency theories.

Cite this Contingency Theories in Management

Contingency Theories in Management. (2017, Mar 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/contingency-theories-in-management/

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