The Dilemmas of Participative Management of a University

The group developed initiatives that differed so much from President Brittle’s expectations because President Brittle did not give them an orientation. Instead she placed a group of departmental professionals together and asked them to “design a series of strategic initiatives for the school that both capitalize on the existing strengths and that are responsive to emerging social trends. ” (Organizational Communication, 2010, pg216) In my opinion that was not enough information for the team to work with.

She should have spelled out exactly what she wanted placing emphasis on the fact that she wanted to see some new and innovative ideas. President Brittle could have avoided the “groupthink” in the team members by attending the first session and explaining that no idea is right and no idea is wrong and encouraging everyone to share an idea, whether good or bad. This would have given the team a crystal clear idea of what was expected and it would have given the team member that really does not speak up the encouragement to do so.

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The benefits of encouraging employee participation in decision making would be the fact that the employee will feel that they have a voice and they will be more inclined to follow the guidelines. Why? Because, when the team member and/or participant helps to build guidelines they will follow them and encourage others to do the same. For example, my daughter and I decide to take weekly turns washing dishes in the evenings. We decide that the dishes must be washed every evening or that person has to wash dishes for an additional week.

The two of us are going to follow the course of action we discussed and the agreed upon standard because we do not want to deal with the consequences. The challenges of employee participation would be the constant conflict and disagreements, given that, team mates do not always respect the other’s right and/or entitlement to share an idea or thought. When team members do not respect the other person and/or position, because they feel that their rank is beneath them and does not give them the entitlement to share an idea due to them working on-the-line, there is no recovery.

Team conflict may occur among members hailing from different fields of professions, such as in a cross-functional project team, or between line workers (who work directly with the product or service) and staff teams (who provide behind-the-scenes support). It may also occur as a result of perceived inequities in group member status or productivity, personality differences, or other work-related problems. ” (Organizational Communication, 2010, pg 223). Based on the readings about teams, I would advise the president to abandon the proposal because it is not what she had in mind.

Be honest. Sit the team down again and explain to them exactly what she wants and why and that she expects all on the team to participate and have input. She wants new and innovative ideas that will coincide with today’s trends not extensions of the old. She also needs to explain to those that are in upper/mid management that they are to respect those that work on the line or in the trenches, because they actually have the most experience since they deal with the issues directly on a daily basis.

The patterns of communication that I would encourage in this instance would be Communication as a Strategic Control. Eisenberg, Goodall, and Trethway (2010) explain this communication pattern as one that recognizes the need for control regardless of personal relationships because greater clarity is the real goal. I believe that if Ms. Brittle makes these specific changes she will acquire the outcome desired.


  1. Eisenberg, Eric. M. , Goodall Jr. , H. L. , & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint, 6th Edition; Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s

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