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The behavioral management perspective increased in popularity in the period between the 1850s and 1920s. Managers emphasized on employee behavior, which they considered being the best mediator between the strategies of the organization and its level of performance. The main assumption of this theory is that the role of management practices is to influence the attitudes and behaviors through elicitation and control.
Schuler &Jackson (1999, p. 214) indicate that each organization must have certain attitudes and behaviors in place to enable it to achieve the necessary objectives. The variation in the behaviors and attitudes that a company adopts are determined by the company’s specific characteristics. Ideally, no two companies can share the same characteristics, even if they operate within the same sector, under the same set of conditions.
Within the behavioral management perspective, the organizational strategies employed require that different HRM practices be put in place in order to elicit and reinforce certain behaviors. In this case, sayMarch&Shapira (1987, p. 1416), it becomes difficult to dissociate HRM practices from competitive strategies. The strategies, in this case, may entail such things as cost-reduction, quality enhancement and innovation.
In order for the right behaviors to be elicited and reinforced, there has to be a definite rationale that should be conceptualized by the management team of every organization. This rationale provides accurate linkages with HRM practices in order for competitive strategies to be put in place with an aim of predicting, studying, refining and modifying strategies and practices in certain circumstances.
The main rationale used by proponents of the behavioral management perspective is that employee role behaviors are very instrumental in the process of implementing the most competitive strategies (DuBrin 1999, p 151). The role of different behaviors varies depending on certain dimensions including innovative versus repetitive behavior, high versus low risk-taking and flexible versus inflexible change.
Proponents of this management theory proposed that innovation strategies require long-term focus, high degree of innovative behavior, risk-taking and concern for quantity. This is in sharp contrast with cost-reduction strategies that require short-term focus, repetitive behaviors, autonomous activity, low risk-taking and concern for quality.
Using behavioral management perspectives, one can easily figure out what different aspects of HR entail. These aspects, according to Priem& Butler (2001, p. 28), include HR policies, HR philosophy, HR processes, HR practices, and HR programs. However, it is can be discerned that HR policies, HR programs and HR philosophy, all express aspects of an organization’s culture, values and goals of the HR function. Although goals, culture, and values are very important elements of an HR function, what motivates people within an organization are practices that manifest different role behaviors that are elicited by the management depending on specific strategic needs at different times.
In a behavioral management perspective, different HR practices may differ depending on a strategy type because different behaviors and skills are needed in order for the strategy to be carried out to successful completion. It is very important to note that in the behavioral management perspective, no attention is paid to the abilities, knowledge and skills of employees. Role behaviors are what matters most.
In conclusion, the behavioral management perspective considers behaviors and attitudes over and above any skills, knowledge, and abilities that employees may possess.
DuBrin, A, 1999, Essentials of Management, Cengage Learning, London.
March, J,& Shapira, Z, 1987, ‘Managerial Perspectives on Risk and Risk Taking’ Management Science, Vol. 33, no.11, pp. 1404-1418
Priem,R, & Butler, J. 2001, ‘Is the Resource-Based “View” a Useful Perspective for Strategic Management Research?’ The Academy of Management Review,Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 22-40.
Schuler,R,&Jackson,S, 1999, Strategic Human Resource Management. Blackwell Publishers, Oxford.
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