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Organizational Design Movement


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Also known as the ‘neo-human relations school’ or ‘organizational psychology’, this was a group of writers who were influential in American and European business schools in the 1960s. The most notable the orists were Douglas McGregor (The Human Side of the Enterprise, 1960), Rensis Likert (‘New Patterns of Management’, in V. Vroom and E. L. Deci (eds.), Management and Motivation, 1970), and Chris Argyris (‘Understanding Human Behaviour in Organizations’, in M. Haire (ed.), Modern Organization Theory, 1959). What these writers shared was a conviction that conventional formal organizations (See formal structure) embodied the (regressive) psychological assumptions of their designers; that such organizations often resulted in psychological distress for individuals working within them; and that better organizational structures were possible. Each built loosely on the theories of Abraham H. Maslow. McGregor stresses the importance of the worker's selffulfilment. Likert favoured restructuring the hierarchical command structure of organizations as a series of interlinked collaborating groups. Argyris argued against the dependence and frustration produced by the constraints of directive leadership and in favour of organizational designs which facilitated self-actualization among employees. These ideas became one of the principal elements feeding into the later Quality of Work Life Movement (see QWL Movement), despite the fact that much of the Oranizational Design programme rested on questionable empirical evidence, and an undemonstrated assumption that frustration of the higher needs in Maslow's needs hierarchy generated a narrow and destructive money-mindedness in employees.

Subjects: Sociology.


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