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The impact of managerial style on task performance considering nature of task and individual motivational needs
THE IMPACT OF MANAGERIAL STYLE ON TASK PERFORMANCE CONSIDERING NATURE OF TASK AND INDIVIDUAL MOTIVATIONAL NEEDS<br />Baena, S.; Calle, C.; Fernández, P.; García, I. & García, A.<br />Faculty of Psychology<br />University of Sevilla<br />Abstract<br />The aim of motivating workers has long served as a worry in managerial thoughts for many centuries and it is still a burden for contemporary human resources managers (Steers, Porter & Bingley, 2003; Dieleman, Toonen, Touré & Martineau, 2006). While there is a vast number of proposed managerial theories and models, the real practice is however underestimated by using the same old Taylorist procedures in many cases to assure employee´s commitment and loyalty (Antunes, 2001; Aktouf, 2002; Gil Tovar, 2010). <br />The purpose of this study is to experimentally evaluate the effects of managerial styles on task performance considering the moderating role of task nature and individual´s motivational needs. Precisely, Ouchi (1981) managerial approach (Theory Z) was employed to examine its effect on student performance in achieving two different tasks: (1) a cognitive exercise –logical problems-, and a manual task – a complex puzzle-. Participants were experimentally assigned to managerial conditions in accordance with their actual motivation after filling in a self-made scale on motivational needs based on the X and Y theories (McGuire, 1960). Managerial styles were recreated for each condition in a 2*2 design both in a Taylorist way (close supervision, rigid instructions, and zero communication allowed), and in a humanistic way (providing autonomy, social support, and self-defined norms). Experimental groups were externally motivated contingent to their work performance with material and non-material rewards. <br />Bearing in mind our literature revision (Hackman & Oldham, 1975; Parker, 1998; Langfred & Moye, 2004; Niessen & Volmer, 2010), it is expected that X-motivated individuals will perform better in the Taylorist managerial condition (and vice verse). However, this effect will be greater when performing the manual task rather than the cognitive one. The results will be discussed to provide support for practical managerial styles to both achieve greater amounts of performance and employees´ satisfaction.<br />Key words: Z theory, managerial style, task performance.<br />Introduction<br />The purpose of this study is to experimentally evaluate the effects of managerial styles (X theory and Y theory) on task performance considering the moderating role of task nature and individual´s motivational needs. This topic is considered important due to the fact that the aim of motivating workers has been taken into account in managerial thoughts for many centuries, and it is still worrying for contemporary human resources managers in all fields. For example, Dieleman, Toonen, Touré & Martineau conducted an experiment that proved that motivation is important for improving certain services in the health sector. Nowadays there are a vast number of proposed managerial theories and models, according to the wide number of organizational types that exist. At the present time, although the nature of the organizations is more flexible, requires more team work and as McGregor stated in “The human side of business” (1960), the modern employees should search for motivation in the top of Maslow’s pyramid (acknowledgment, self – esteem and the ability of self – fulfillment), in the real practice there is a tendency to underestimate the current models by using the same old Taylorist procedures in many cases to assure employee´s commitment and loyalty. Organizations are still using some of the concepts that Taylor proposed, such as work division, specialization, and economic rewards due to production, though the names and some aspects have changed by mixing them with other theories (Antunes, 2001; Aktouf, 2002; Gil Tovar, 2010). <br />The main independent variables considered in this study were the type of supervision and the nature of task. According to McGregor, there are two main managerial styles depending on the person´s conception, the X theory, which is the authoritarian style and the Y theory considered as a participative style. Firstly, the X theory has a lazy conception of employees, meaning that they have a hedonic attitude; therefore they would avoid work as much as possible and they would prefer being followers rather than leaders. Consequently, they must be obliged and pushed to complete their duties by means of strict supervision, clear and precise instructions and a reward – punishment system, mainly based on extrinsic rewards, especially economical ones (Porter & Lawler, 1968). This theory represents the managerial style defined by Taylor’s scientific management, Fayol’s industrial and general administration theory and Weber’s bureaucracy. They all defended repetitive tasks, restriction of creativity and individual initiative. <br /> On the opposite, the Y theory considers that employees are naturally active and productive, worried about their work and capable of controlling their own work, which leads to no need for supervision. As an alternative, the manager must try to create an appropriate environment where workers can achieve their personal objectives as well as the organizational ones, by trusting them and giving the necessary information. Employees try to assume responsibilities, be creative, original and they look forward achieving personal goals and improvements; for that reason, they would look more for intrinsic rewards, (Porter & Lawler, 1968) such as promotions, more responsibilities and self – fulfillment, instead of extrinsic ones. The idea of considering workers not as part of the machinery (not as individuals) is not originally conceived by McGregor, other authors before him such as Hugo Münsterberg , who studied the way of improving the employees satisfaction by means of improving the working environment, or Elton Mayo, who considered that there were other ways of motivating employees rather than economic rewards, took into account that idea.<br />An alternative theory was proposed by William Ouchi, the Z theory, but it has been adapted for practical purposes by Morse and Lorsch (1970). They considered that some workers would be better motivated by X theory and others by Y theory.<br />Related to the nature of the task, some authors such as Hackman and Oldham in their Job Characteristic Model (JCM) stated that the task itself is important for motivating employees. Some of their ideas are that challenging tasks are more motivating than boring ones which would lead to a better performance. Other idea is that there are some other characteristics of the task, such as variety of the task, the autonomy the worker has to carry it out and the decision authority, which adds challenge to the task, and will enrich it. The model also assumes that autonomy and feedback are extremely important factors and that in order to enrich the task, these authors proposed five different principles: to combine tasks, form natural working groups, establish long – lasting relationships with members of other departments, increase the vertical burden of work, and open new feedback channels. Following these principles would lead to an increase in motivation, commitment and the employees´ performance. If employees have a high need of personal growth they have a high internal motivation (i.e. desire for challenge and personal development), always taking into account that the job fulfills the worker´s basic needs first. On the other hand, people who have low levels of need for personal growth and they are unsatisfied they will not be motivated by an enriched task. <br />Although there are no current studies directly investigating X and Y theories, there are several ones that study variables related to both managerial styles. Some of those variables are job autonomy, predicted control, supportive supervision, motivation of workers and proactive personality. <br />Parker, Axtell and Turner investigated the influence of job autonomy and supportive supervision in safety in organizations, they considered that the way safety was managed was the way other managerial behaviors such as high- performance, would be approached; meaning that there are a wide range of factors that affect the management of safety as well as management in general. Two of the main variables that are studied are job autonomy and supportive supervision. These two variables can be considered as defining characteristics of X and Y theory. In Y theory employees would have a considerably important job autonomy and the supervision would be participative as employees take part in the decision making process and in the other theory those variables would be defined contrarily. In the study job autonomy is defined as the degree of discretion employees have over important decisions in their work, such as timing and methods of their task, and it has been an influential factor for motivation and job satisfaction. Moreover, they hypothesized that supportive supervision would lead to safer working which was confirmed by the results. This can lead to the conclusion that the application of Y theory, characterized by job autonomy and supportive supervision would lead to better performance.<br />Other study was conducted by Paul E. Spector, who investigated the relationship between perceived control (what we consider the type of supervision or the pressure of the leaders) and participative decision – making (considering it as a motivation factor as it gives more responsibility to the employee and as an example of the Y theory). Their results showed that high levels of perceived control correlate positively with high levels of performance and job satisfaction. Similar results were found when analyzing the relationship between participation and autonomy, leading to the same conclusions that the previous study, that Y theory would have better results.<br />Finally, Jerry Bryan Fuller, Jr., Kim Hester and Susie S. Cox found out that personality influences job performance. This consideration coincides with the practical adaptation that Morse and Lorsche did of Ouchi’s Z theory. They stated that proactive personality leads to better performance, considering proactive personality as people who “seek out for opportunities to improve things, take action and tend to persevere until they bring about meaningful change” (Seibert et al., 1999: 417). They also tend to show initiative and creativity. This study would lead to the conclusion that people with proactive personality would perform better in situations and tasks that enables them to develop those qualities. The idea shared by Langfred and Moye, that stated that depending on the task requirements, different people should be selected according to their personal characteristics; selecting those whose personal qualities fit the task requirements. <br />The studies conducted by Paul E. Spector and Parker, Axtell and Turner show that Y managerial style would lead to a better performance in general; however, taking into account the ideas of Hackman and Oldham, the assumptions of Niessen and Volmer, who stated that people who are given low autonomy in the first place, would perform poorly when given high autonomy, Langfred and Moye statements , that thought that depending on the requirements of the task, supervisors should select people with more or less autonomy and the study conducted by Jerry Bryan Fuller, Jr., Kim Hester and Susie S. Cox . <br />Hypothesis 1: it is expected that X-motivated individuals will perform better in the Taylorist managerial condition (and vice verse). <br />Based on the idea of Hackman and Oldham that challenging tasks are more motivating than boring ones and considering manual tasks more enjoyable than cognitive ones.<br />Hypothesis 2: the effect stated in the first hypothesis will be greater when performing manual tasks rather than cognitive ones. <br />And finally, based on the supposition that having no supervision would lead to people not willing to participate. <br />Hypothesis 3: people in Y theory group would show more social loafing than those in the other group.<br />The results will be discussed to provide support for practical managerial styles to both achieve greater amounts of performance and employees´ satisfaction.<br />Method<br />Participants<br />In the experiment participated 12 second year students of Psychology at University of Seville, being a total of 6 men and 6 women, with ages in between 19 and 21 years old. Not having any of them any difficulty to carry out the proposed tasks. <br />The subjects were informed enough to be able to perform the tasks but without that information conditioning the results.<br />Design<br />It is a quasiexperimental factorial 3X2 design, where the manipulated independent variables were the type of supervision (X theory and Y theory), the nature of the task (manual and cognitive) and the motivation (with motivation and without motivation). The dependent variable was the efficiency, measured by the percentage of response answers and by the proportion of completed pieces. There were two different groups, and the subjects were assigned to each group depending on their timetables, those who were in class A were assigned to the Y group and those in class B assigned to the X group. <br />Instruments<br />In order to do the experiment a questionnaire assessing the supervisory preferences was used, it had 15 questions which had to be answered using a 6 point Likert scale, being 0 never and 5 always (ANEX 1). It was also used a set of 25 general history questions different in each session (ANEX 2). They were also provided with several history books in order to be able to answer those questions. In addition, they were provided with a different 200 pieces puzzle in each session. Finally, at the end of the second session they were given a 15 items questionnaire about the perceived control. It was also answered with a 6 points Likert scale (ANEX 3).<br />Procedure<br />Firstly, subjects were divided in two groups with the same number of participants and the same number of men and women in each experimental condition. Two different sessions were done with each group. The experiment was carried out in an empty classroom, both sessions and both groups in the same classroom.<br />The first group was under a democratic supervision (Y theory). They were given at the beginning the preferences questionnaire mentioned previously, and then instructions were given. The instructions were given verbally and were simple, they had to answer several questions, they could use the history books to answer them if they wanted to and they had 15 minutes to answer as many questions as they could. After that each one was given the questions and a history book and it was up to them to work as a team or to do it individually. When they finished the cognitive task, they were given instructions again. The supervisors explained that the second task was a manual one, this time they had a 200 pieces puzzle and they had 15 minutes again to complete as much as they could. Again they were not given specific instructions on how to carry out the task. <br />In the second session, instructions did not change much, the only difference was that they were told that there was a competition with another group and that if they won, they would receive a price. The price consisted on putting a picture of all them on the classroom (intrinsic motivation). The following instructions and procedure was the same as in the second session. After this second session they had to complete the perceived control questionnaire.<br />In this experimental condition, the supervisors were around all the time in case they needed help, but they were not controlling their work. <br />In the second group, during the first session, participants were given the preferences questionnaire and after that instructions were provided. In this case they were told that they had to answer several questions in a limited time of 15 minutes, they were paired up, not having the possibility of choosing their partner and each couple was given a sheet with the questions on it and a history book which was obligatory to use. They were also told which questions each couple had to answer and that they could not talk with the other couples. After this task, they were given instructions on how to do the puzzle. They were paired up again and told that they had 15 minutes to perform the task and which part of the puzzle was the responsibility of each couple (ex. One couple had to do the borders, other one the centre…). They were not allowed to help the others. <br />During the second session the instructions and procedure were the same as in the first one except for the fact that they were told that it was a competition between groups and that if they won, they were going to be given a cake (extrinsic motivation). Finally, at the end of the session they had to complete the perceived control questionnaire. <br />In this experimental condition, supervisors were constantly controlling the subjects’ work, making sure that they were using the book to answer the questions, that each couple was doing the assigned part and that they were not helping each other. <br />Results and conclusions<br />IDENTIFICATION OF LEADERSHIP<br />Group 1 (Y)Group 2 (X)Perceived Control503035314831213527434129Preference565467535859513241405536<br />A higher punctuation in “Perceived Control” means that the person thinks that he/she is under Y theory, whereas a low one indicates that the person feels that he/she is controlled by an X theory management style. In the results obtained we can observe that people in the Y and X group think that they are conducted in a general X theory management. This does not correlate to our expectations.<br />A higher punctuation in “Preference” means that the person is more comfortable under Y theory, whereas a low one indicates that the person prefers the X theory. The results show that in general people in the Y group have a preference for the Y theory, and people in the X one have a preference for the X theory.<br />After having done the t – test, we can say that the differences in both perceived control and preferences between both groups are not statistically significant.<br />TASKS:<br />CognitiveManualSession 1 (Y)0,40,345Session 2 (Y)0,440,092Session 1 (X)0,360,185Session 2 (X)0,560,102<br />Tests of Within-Subjects EffectsMeasure:MEASURE_1SourceType III Sum of SquaresdfMean SquareFSig.tareaSphericity Assumed,1341,1348,368,063Greenhouse-Geisser,1341,000,1348,368,063Huynh-Feldt,1341,000,1348,368,063Lower-bound,1341,000,1348,368,063Error(tarea)Sphericity Assumed,0483,016Greenhouse-Geisser,0483,000,016Huynh-Feldt,0483,000,016Lower-bound,0483,000,016<br />We can observe a high difference between cognitive and manual tasks. In theory, challenging tasks (manual) are more motivating than boring ones (cognitive), what would lead to a better performance (Hackman and Oldham). However, this statement is not confirmed in the study. The history questions (cognitive) had higher results than the puzzle (manual). It could be due to a bias in the integration and the combined interpretation of the different types of results. <br />It is also interesting that both groups obtained a better performance in cognitive tasks under motivation; nevertheless, they had higher outcomes without motivation in manual tasks.<br />The differences between the cognitive and the manual tasks are not statistically significant as it shows that the significance of the Greenhouse test is higher than 0.05 (sig. =0.063)<br />EFFECTS OF MOTIVATION:<br />Y THEORY GROUPSession 1 (no motivation)Session 2 (motivation)Cognitive0,360,56Manual0,1850,102<br />Y<br />Tests of Within-Subjects EffectsMeasure:MEASURE_1SourceType III Sum of SquaresdfMean SquareFSig.motivacionSphericity Assumed,0031,003,171,750Greenhouse-Geisser,0031,000,003,171,750Huynh-Feldt,003....Lower-bound,0031,000,003,171,750Error(motivacion)Sphericity Assumed,0201,020Greenhouse-Geisser,0201,000,020Huynh-Feldt,020..Lower-bound,0201,000,020<br />The Y Theory group showed an improvement in the results when motivation was present in the cognitive task, but it was not the same in the case of manual one.The differences between the first session (without motivation) and the second session (with motivation) in group Y are not statistically significant as it shows a significance higher than 0.05 in the Greenhouse test. (sig. =0.75)<br />X THEORY GROUPSession 1 (no motivation)Session 2 (motivation)Cognitive0,40,44Manual0,3450,052<br /> X<br />Tests of Within-Subjects EffectsMeasure:MEASURE_1SourceType III Sum of SquaresdfMean SquareFSig.motivacionSphericity Assumed,0111,011,528,600Greenhouse-Geisser,0111,000,011,528,600Huynh-Feldt,011....Lower-bound,0111,000,011,528,600Error(motivacion)Sphericity Assumed,0211,021Greenhouse-Geisser,0211,000,021Huynh-Feldt,021..Lower-bound,0211,000,021<br />The X Theory group showed an improvement in the results when motivation was present in the cognitive task, but it was not the same in the case of manual one.<br />In contrast to the X group, the differences in motivation between manual tasks were much higher than those between cognitive ones.<br />Finally, the differences between the results in the first session (without motivation) and the results in the second session (with motivation) are not statistically significant as it shows a significance higher than 0.05 in the Greenhouse test (sig. =0.06)<br />In addition, we obtained some observational data; it is especially relevant in the case of the Y group. It is remarkable that although they were given the possibility to work individually, they organized themselves and do both the manual and the cognitive tasks in group, collaborating. It is also interesting that more social loafing was observed in this group than in the X group. Two people did not collaborate as much as they should in both tasks in the Y group while in the X group all participants did the assigned task. <br />Conclusions<br />We can conclude that none of our hypothesis was confirmed, except the third one that states that there would be more social loafing in the Y group than in the X group, this hypothesis was confirmed by the observational data we collected. The results are not relevant, and it can be because of the low number of groups studied and the low number of people in each group Another factor that could be the cause of the irrelevance is that the questionnaire of “Perceived Control” was not adapted to the situation of the studied groups, maybe because the participants knew the supervisors or because there were only two sessions. Probably the fact of increasing the number of sessions would have helped to consolidate the supervisory style and consequently the perceived control. It would be also important to comment that in order to measure the efficiency of both cognitive and manual tasks, the results had to be integrated into a common measurement, and that could have been also a bias in the experiment. It is also important to remark that the participants knew each other factor that can explain why they worked as a group in the Y group.<br />For further investigations more groups should be included as well as more participants. It may also be important that the participants did not know the supervisors none the other participants. It would also be interesting to include other group with no supervision at all (laissez faire style), following Lewin’s proposal. Another suggestion could be including stronger motivators, such as money and studying the creativity, by doing more sessions. <br />References<br />Dieleman, M., Toonen, J., Touré, H. y Martineau, T. The match between motivation and performance management of health sector workers in Mali. Human Resources for Health. Recuperado diciembre 19, 2010 de http://www.human-resources-health.com/content/4/1/2#IDA0KLRF<br />Fuller, J.B., Hester, K. y Cox, S.S. Proactive personality and job performance: exploring job autonomy as a moderator. Journal of Managerial Issues. Recuperado en Enero 2, 2011 de http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb6703/is_1_22/ai_n53201540/<br />Gil Tovar, H. El Taylorismo sigue vivo. 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