Why can’t you buy yourself a Steve Jobs? Part 3

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Previously, I described two approaches to the representation of a manager’s work dominant in management science, namely managerial skills and managerial roles. Now it’s time for the third approach, which brings us closest to answering the question – what does a manager do. It’s time for management styles.

Management styles were first introduced into general team management by Tannenbaum and Schmidt [1]. A management style is defined as a preferred way of directing people in order to bind together diverse activities and functions, as well as to exercise control over employees [2]. In other words, management style is a recurring set of characteristics that are associated with the decision-making processes of a company or individual managers [3].

Several typologies of management styles can be found in many publications. There are three main classical approaches to management styles, the first of which is the Tannenbaum-Schmidt management model, which is task-oriented (results) and people-oriented (relationships) [1]. According to this model, the following management styles are distinguished: authoritarianism, elitism, consultation and democracy. Next is the Likert management system proposing four different types of management styles: exploitative-authoritarian, benevolent authority, consultative and participative [4].

The concept of management styles has been repeatedly used in research on managerial work. Its main result is the division of styles into participative and autocratic styles. The participative style assumes that employees want to make decisions about their work on the basis of McGregor’s participative management idea Theory X – Theory Y [5]. Participative managers seek to empower and reward their subordinates and are always open to employee participation. They also allow employees to improve their professional skills. The participative management style encourages experimentation and risk-taking [6].

The opposite style is authoritarian management. It is sometimes referred to as paternalistic leadership [7]. The authoritarian style limits the creativity of the employee or manager and has a negative impact on employee motivation [8].

Finally, the most well-known among practitioners is Blake and Mouton’s management grid. It is based on two indicators: concern for people and concern for results. This division distinguishes five classes of management styles: impoverished management, authoritarian management, relationship-oriented management, sustainable management and integrated management [9]. However, a more recent conception of management styles simplifies their meaning and divides them into two management styles: participative and authoritarian [10].

Despite such extensive research on management styles and the fact that management styles must be based on the real activities performed by a manager, this concept still does not provide a clear answer as to what activities and in what order a manager performs them in order to complete, for example, a project or some larger undertaking.

In Part 2, “Why can’t you buy yourself a Steve Jobs?” and in this post, I described the approaches in management science that dominate the study of a manager’s work. None of them – managerial skills, managerial roles and leadership styles – provide a basis for constructing a sequence of managerial activities that could even in a simple situation be replicated by a robot manager.

In later posts, I will present a solution to this problem, but even before that, I will show how dominant thinking in management science is in these three categories.

[1] Tannenbaum, R. & Schmidt, W.H., (1958). How to choose a leadership pattern. Harvard Business Review, 36(2), 95-101.

[2] Pei-Li, Y., Shih-Chieh, W. & Yu-Lin, W., (2016). Improving IT professionals job skills development: The use of management styles and individual cultural value orientation. Asia Pacific Management Review, 21, 63-73.

[3] Albaum, G., Herche, J. &Murphy, B., (1995). Decision making style influences on the valuation and use of information by managers. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 3(2), 1-19.

[4] Likert, R., (1958). Measuring Organizational Performance. Harvard Business Review, 36(2), 41-50.

[5] Hines, G.H., (1974). Sociocultural influences on employee expectancy and participative. Academy of Management Journal, 17(2), 334-339.

[6] Cheng, J.L.C. & Bolon, D.S., (1993). The management of multinational R&D: a neglected topic in international business research. Journal of International Business Studies, 24(1), 1-18.

[7] Morris, T. & Pavett, M.C., (1992). Management style and productivity in two cultures. Journal of International Business Studies, 23(1), 169-179.

[8] Karakitapoglu-Aygün, Z. & Gumusluoglu, J., (2013). The bright and dark sides of leadership: transformational vs. non-transformational leadership in a non-Western context. Leadership, 9(1), 107-133.

[9] Blake, R.R. & Mouton, J.S., (1965). International managerial Grids. Training Directors Journal, 19(5), 8-23.

[10] Jago, G., (2017). A contrarian view: Culture and participative management. European Management Journal, 35(5), 645-650.