Approaches to Improving Productivity


Productivity is the output of goods and services divided by the inputs needed to generate that output (World Book, 2003). It is essential that managers have a fundamental understanding of methods for obtaining optimum productivity. It is absolutely essential for managers to develop meaningful solutions to today\'s complex management problems by using solutions that provide answers to problems people and organizations are having. It is critical to management\'s success that they be able to meaningfully understand human resource needs and be able to successfully deploy these resources. The content of this essay provides information on the organizational behavior theories of Chester Barnard who is one of the early advocates, and Victor Vroom who is one of the modern behavioral science theorists. Both management theories describe Chester Barnard and Victor Vroom’s ideas that have formulated business management practices today. Barnard emphasized the importance of communication, arguing that everyone should know that channels of communication, that everyone should have access to the channels and that the lines of communication should be short (Wren, Greenwood, 1998). It is important to dynamically communicate with the entire environment in order to achieve organizational goals. Victor Vroom’s management theory focuses on approaches to organization decision-making and motivation. Vroom\'s innovation brought in the concept of a chain of goals for people.


Organisational behavior deals with the behaviors and actions of people at work (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, Coulter, 2003, p.44). Within most organizations there are large numbers of people performing a variety of tasks, and these individuals exert an influence on that organization. It is important to note that people pursue their needs as individuals, and as members of small, unofficial groups. These groups are an important part of the organizational matrix. These unofficial groups are social mechanisms used by employees to exert internal pressures on organizations (Williamson, 1995). It is thus crucial for managers to develop a thorough understanding of the dynamics of people and master the skills of coping with their positive and negative influences.

Chester Barnard

Chester Barnard regarded organizations as social systems which required cooperation. The manager’s job was to stimulate and communicate employee’s high levels of effort (Robbins et al, 2003, p.44). Barnard emphasized the ways in which managers might develop their organizations into cooperative systems by focusing on the integration of work efforts through communication of goals and attention to worker motivation (McMahon and Carr, 1999, p.227). According to Barnard, individuals have only a limited amount of power. A person can do only so much when acting alone. Barnard theorizes that there are two ways to measure this new cooperation. The first is effectiveness, which is social in character and the second is efficiency, which relates to the satisfaction of individual matters and is more personal in nature.

Barnard’s contribution comes in the areas of communication, decision making, and authority within an organization. He argued that organizations are not machines and informal relationships are powerful forces that help the organization, if properly managed. He also introduced the ‘the acceptance theory of authority’, which states that people have free will and can choose whether to follow management orders. They typically follow orders because they perceive positive benefits for themselves, but they do have a choice. He suggested that managers should treat employees properly because their acceptance of authority may be critical to organization success in important situations (Williamson, 1995). When employees are treated properly, they are more willing to serve and this will result in them working harder. However, Barnard\'s four conditions need to be met in order for an individual to accept a communication as authoritative. First, the person must understand the communication, second, at the time of his or her decision, that person must believe that what is to be done is consistent with the purpose of the organization, third at the time of his or her decision, that persons personal interest regarding the issue, and fourth that person is mentally and physically able to comply with the communication (Hersey and Blanchard, 1972).

He is also known for his concept of "Zones of Indifference" which is the idea that good leaders should try to take middle-of-the-road, or neutral, positions on issues as much as possible because each person\'s attitude usually has such a middle-ground area where they will believe or obey without question