Social Science

For members of the sandwich generation who are working outside the home, flexible work schedules can help alleviate the stresses associated with both caregiving responsibilities and work responsibilities. The Family and Medical Leave Act, adopted in 1993, guarantees family caregivers some unpaid leave. In addition, some large corporations provide time off for caregiving.

Assessing and Intervening in Family Systems Families are characterized by multiple ongoing interactions. When social workers intervene with families, there is much to observe and understand. The dimensions of family interaction that will be dis- cussed here include communication, family norms, and problems commonly faced by families. In addi- tion, two prominent family-assessment instruments will be described: the ecomap and the genogram.

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Communication involves transmitting information from one person to another, using a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviors. Verbal communica- tion involves the use of words and will be addressed first.

The first phase of verbal communication involves the translation of thoughts into words. The informa- tion sender must know the correct words and how to put them together. Only then will the information have the chance of being effectively received. The sender may be vague or inaccurate in forming the message, and interruptions and distractions may detract from the communication process.

The information receiver then must be receptive to the information. That is, he or she must be paying attention both to the sender and to the sender’s words. The receiver must understand what the spe- cific words mean. Inaccuracies or problems at any point in this process can stop the information from getting across to the receiver. At any point, distor- tions may interfere.

Verbal communication patterns inside the family include who talks a lot and who talks only rarely. They involve who talks to whom and who defers to whom. They also reflect the subtle and not so subtle qualities involved in family members’ relationships.

The sender also transmits nonverbal messages along with the verbal messages. These include facial

expressions, body posture, emotions displayed, and many other subtle aspects of communication. Some- where between verbal and nonverbal aspects of com- munication are voice inflection, intonation, and loudness. All this gives the receiver additional infor- mation about the intent and specific meaning of the message that’s being sent. Sometimes the receiver will attribute more value to the nonverbal aspects of the message than to the verbal.

For example, a 17-year-old son asks his father, “Dad, can I have the car next Saturday night?” Dad, who’s in the middle of writing up his tax re- turns (which are due in two days), replies “No.” Harry interprets this to mean that his father is an authoritarian tyrant who does not trust him with the family car. Harry stomps off in a huff. However, what Dad was really thinking was that he and Mom need the car this Saturday because they’re taking their best friends, the Jamesons, out for their 20th wedding anniversary. Dad was also thinking that perhaps the Jamesons wouldn’t mind driving. Or maybe he and Harry could work something out to share the car. At any rate, Dad really meant that he was much too involved with the tax forms to talk about it and would rather discuss it during dinner.

This is a good example of ineffective communica- tion. The information was vague and incomplete, and neither person clarified his thoughts or gave feedback to the other. There are endless variations to the types of ineffective communication that can take place in families. Social workers can often help to clarify, untangle, and reconstruct communication patterns.

One especially important aspect of assessing mes- sages is whether they are congruent or incongruent. Communication is incongruent when two or more messages contradict each other’s meaning. In other words, the messages are confusing. Contradictory messages within families disturb effective family functioning.

Nonverbal messages can sometimes contradict verbal messages. For example, a recently widowed woman says, “I’m sorry Frank passed away,” with a big grin on her face. The information expressed by the words indicates that she is sad. However, her accompanying physical expression shows that she is happy. Her words are considered socially appropri- ate for the situation. However, in this particular case, she seems relieved to get rid of “the old buz- zard” and happy to be the beneficiary of a large life insurance policy.

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The double message reflected by the widow’s ver- bal and nonverbal behavior provides a relatively simple, clear-cut illustration of potential problem communication within families. However, congru- ence is certainly not the only important aspect of nonverbal communication. All of the principles of nonverbal communication discussed in Chapter 11 can be applied to communication within families.

Family Norms Family norms are the rules that specify what is con- sidered proper behavior within the family group. Many times the most powerful rules are those that are not clearly and verbally stated. Rather, these are implicit rules or repeated family transactions that all family members understand but never discuss. It’s important for families to establish norms that allow both the entire family and each individual member to function effectively and productively.

Every family differs in its individual set of norms or rules. For example, the Myers family believes the husband’s role is to earn enough money to support his wife and three children. Mr. Myers works as a bus driver for the city he lives in, and makes about $50,000 a year. He works 40 hours a week, and then is free to lie on the couch or pursue his hobbies of hunting and fishing. His wife is expected to stay at home, raise the children, and perform all the house- hold tasks. She also home-schools the three school- age children. The Myers attend a fundamentalist church that urges the wife to play a supportive role to her husband. Mrs. Myers is unaware that she puts in more than 100 hours per week performing all her teaching and domestic tasks. The children are ex- pected to concentrate on their studies, and are not asked to help out around the house. As a result, Mrs. Myers is becoming physically and emotionally exhausted, looks haggard, and her blood pressure is elevated.

The Woodbeck family has very different norms. Mr. and Mrs. Woodbeck value earning a lot of money so that the family can take exotic vacations and live a life of luxury. Mr. Woodbeck is an attor- ney, and Mrs. Woodbeck is a physician. They have a live-in housekeeper, Donna Maloney, who performs most of the domestic tasks. The Woodbecks send their two teenage children to a private high school and have urged them to aspire to attend prestigious colleges and eventually become high-paid profes- sionals. Mr. and Mrs. Woodbeck cherish the values that the school is helping to instill in their children,

as well as the socialization components of the school. Mr. and Mrs. Woodbeck have few hobbies, as both of them work an average of 70-plus hours per week. Their free time is spent primarily on fam- ily activities.

Social workers need to help families identify and understand that inappropriate, ineffective norms can be changed. For example, it simply is not in Mrs. Myers’s best interest to be putting in more than 100 hours a week on home-schooling and do- mestic tasks. If a social worker became involved (perhaps after a referral from Mrs. Myers’s physi- cian, who is concerned about her blood pressure), that social worker could help Mrs. Myers (and prob- ably eventually Mr. Myers) to examine the family norms that are adversely affecting her. Once such norms are identified, the social worker could help them clarify alternative solutions and help them as- sess which is the best solution for them.

Family System Assessment: The Ecomap An ecomap is a paper-and-pencil assessment tool that practitioners use to assess specific troubles and plan interventions for clients. The ecomap is a drawing of the client/family in its social environ- ment. An ecomap is usually drawn jointly by the social worker and the client. It helps both the worker and the client achieve a holistic or ecologi- cal view of the client’s family life and the nature of the family’s relationships with groups, associations, organizations, other families, and individuals. It has been used in a variety of situations, including mar- riage and family counseling, and adoption and foster-care home studies. The ecomap has also been used to supplement traditional social histories and case records. It is a shorthand method for recording basic social information. The technique helps users (clients and practitioners) gain insight into clients’ problems and better sort out how to make construc- tive changes. The technique provides a “snapshot view” of important interactions at a particular point in time. The primary developer of the technique is Ann Hartman (1978).

A typical ecomap consists of a family diagram surrounded by a set of circles and lines used to de- scribe the family within an environmental context. The ecomap user can create her or his own abbrevia- tions and symbols (see Figure 12.2).

To draw an ecomap, a circle (representing the cli- ent’s family) is placed in the center of a large, blank sheet of paper (see Figure 12.3). The composition of

Sociological Aspects of Young and Middle Adulthood 557

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the family is indicated within the family circle. A number of other circles are drawn in the area sur- rounding the family circle. These represent the other systems (that is, the groups, other families, indivi- duals, and organizations) with which the family or- dinarily interacts.

Different kinds of lines are drawn to describe the nature of the relationships that the members of the client family have with the other systems. The direc- tional flow of energy (indicating giving and/or re- ceiving of resources and communication between the client family members and the significant sys- tems) is expressed by the use of arrows. A case example of the use of an ecomap follows.

Barb and Mike Haynes are referred to the Adult Services Unit of the Greene County Human Services Department by Dean Medical Clinic. The clinic has been treating Mike’s mother, Ruth Haynes, for Alz- heimer’s disease since she was diagnosed with the disorder four years ago. For the past three years she has been living with Barb and Mike. She now requires round-the-clock care, because during the evening hours she has trouble sleeping, wanders around the house, and starts screaming when she

40 Female, 40 years old

Male, 38 years old

Person, sex, and age unknown

Deceased female, died at age 62

A stressful, conflict-laden relationship

A tenuous, uncertain relationship

A positive relationship or resource (the thicker the line, the stronger or more positive the relationship or resource)

The direction of the giving and receiving exchange in a relationship or resource (in some relationships, the client may primarily receive or give)

38

62

FIGURE 12.2 Commonly Used Symbols in an Ecomap

Client family

Social environment

An ecomap is an assessment tool for depicting the relationships and interactions between a client family and its social environment. The largest circle in the center depicts the client family. The surrounding circles represent the significant groups, organizations, other families, and individuals that make up the family’s social environment.

FIGURE 12.3 Setting Up an Ecomap

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© Ce ng ag e Le ar ni ng

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becomes lost and confused. Dean Medical Clinic has referred Barb and Mike Haynes to the Adult Services Unit to explore alternative caregiving arrangements.

Barb and Mike Haynes meet with Maria Garcia, Adult Services Worker. They indicate that they feel a moral obligation to continue caring for Ruth in their home, because Ruth spent most of her adult years caring for Mike and his brother and sister when they were children. Barb and Mike also indi- cate that they have a 2-year-old child, Erin, at home. This is a second marriage for both Barb and Mike, and they are paying for Mike’s son, Brian, to attend the state university. With such expenses, both believe they need to continue to work. Mike’s oldest sister, Mary Kruger, is a single parent who has two children in high school. Mary Kruger has a visual disability but has been able to be the primary caregiver for Ruth and Erin during the daylight hours when Mike andBarb are at work. Recently,Mary informedMike and Barb that caring for Ruth is becoming too diffi- cult and that some kind of alternative care is needed. Ms. Garcia suggests that adult day care for Ruthmay be a useful resource.

Mike adds that it is emotionally devastating to see his mother slowly deteriorate. He indicates he is in a double bind; he feels an obligation to care for his mother, but doing so is causing major disruptions in his family life. The stress has resulted in marital dis- cord with Barb, and he adds that both he and Barb have become increasingly short in temper and patience with Erin.

At this point, Ms. Garcia suggests it may be help- ful to graphically diagram their present dilemma. Together, the Hayneses and Ms. Garcia draw the ecomap shown in Figure 12.4. While drawing the map, Mike inquires whether Ruth’s medical condi- tion might soon stabilize. Ms. Garcia indicates that Ruth may occasionally appear to stabilize, but the long-term prognosis is gradual deterioration in men- tal functioning and in physical capabilities. The eco- map helps Mike and Barb see that even though they are working full-time during the day and spending the remainder of their waking hours caring for Erin and Ruth, they are becoming too emotionally and physically exhausted to continue doing so. During the past three years, they have ceased social- izing with friends. Now they seldom have any time to spend even with Brian. Feeling helpless and hopeless, they inquire if some other care arrangement is avail- able besides a nursing home. They indicate that Ruth

has said on numerous occasions, “I’d rather die now than be placed in a nursing home.” Ms. Garcia tells them of some high-quality adult group homes in the area and gives them the addresses.

After visiting a few of the care facilities, Barb and Mike ask Ruth to stay for a few days at one they particularly like. At first Ruth is opposed to going for a “visit.” But after being there a few days, she adjusts fairly well and soon concludes (erroneously, but no one objects) that it is a home she bought and that the people on the staff are her “domestic employees.” Ruth’s adjustment eases the guilt that Barb and Mike feel in placing Ruth in a care facility, and this results in substantial improvements in their marital relationship and in their interactions with Erin, Brian, and their friends.

A major value of an ecomap is that it facilitates both the worker’s and the client’s view of the client’s family from a systems and an ecological perspective. Sometimes, as happened in the case of the Hayneses, the drawing of the ecomap helps clients and practi- tioners gain greater insight into the social dynamics of a problematic situation.

Family System Assessment: The Genogram A genogram is a graphic way of investigating the origins of a client’s problem by diagramming the family over at least three generations. The client and the worker usually construct the family geno- gram jointly. The genogram is essentially a family tree. Murray Bowen is the primary developer of this technique (Kerr & Bowen, 1988). The genogram is a useful tool for the worker and family members to examine problematic emotional and behavioral patterns in an intergenerational context. Emotional and behavioral patterns in families tend to repeat themselves; what happens in one generation will of- ten occur in the next. Genograms help family mem- bers to identify and understand family relationship patterns.

Figure 12.5 shows some of the commonly used symbols. Together, the symbols provide a visual re- presentation of at least three generations of a family, including names, ages, genders, marital status, sibling positions, and so on. When relevant, additional items of information may be included, such as emotional difficulties, behavioral problems, religious affilia- tion, ethnic origins, geographic locations, occupations, socioeconomic status, and significant life events.

Sociological Aspects of Young and Middle Adulthood 559

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Daryl
Highlight
The following case example illustrates the use of a genogram.

Chris Witt makes an appointment with Kyle Nolan, a social worker in private practice. Chris is distraught. He indicates that his wife, Karen, and two children are currently at Sister House, a shelter for battered women. Chris states he and his wife had a “scuffle” two days ago, and she bruised her face. Yesterday, when he was at work, she left home with

the children and went to Sister House. He adds that she has contacted an attorney and is now seeking a divorce.

Mr. Nolan inquires as to the specifics of the “scuffle.” Chris says he came home after having a few beers. His dinner was cold, and he “got on” Karen for not cleaning up the house. He adds that Karen then started mouthing off, and he slapped her to shut her up. Mr. Nolan inquires whether such

Deceased husband’s pension plan

(sufficient for Ruth’s financial needs)

Ruth’s friends (no longer

contact Ruth)

Richard—Ruth’s other son

(no longer has contact with

Ruth)

Metro Transit (Mike has been a bus driver for

13 years)

Porta Bella Restaurant

(Barb has been a waitress for

9 years)

Dean Medical Clinic

(treats Ruth for Alzheimer’s disease)

State university

(Brian is majoring in computer science

and living in a residence

hall)

Mary— Mike’s sister

(primary caregiver during the day for Erin and Ruth) Friends

(Barb and Mike have mutual friends, but now are usually

too busy to socialize with

them)

Erin 2

Barb 38

Jim 44

Mike 42

Ruth 62

Brian 19

Divorced Divorced Married 4 years

M ar

y is

e xh

au st

ed

in p

ro vi

di ng

c ar

e

Liz 37

Pat 44

Barb’s parents

(retired and moved to Florida; Barb seldom sees

them)

St. James Church (Barb attends but

Mike does not)

FIGURE 12.4 Sample Ecomap: Barb and Mike Haynes

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incidents had occurred in the past. Chris indicates, “A few times,” and adds that getting physical with Karen is the only way for him to “keep her in line.” He says he works all day long in his small business

as a concrete contractor, while his wife sits at home watching soap operas. He feels she is not doing her fair share and the house usually looks like a disaster.

Mr. Nolan asks Chris if he feels that getting phys- ical with his wife is justifiable. He responds, “Sure,” and adds that his dad frequently told him, “Spare the rod, and spoil both the wife and the kids.” Mr. Nolan asks Chris if his dad was abusive to him when he was a child. Chris indicates that he was and adds that to this day he detests his dad for abusing him and his mother.

Mr. Nolan then suggests that together they draw a family tree, focusing on three areas: episodes of heavy drinking, episodes of physical abuse, and traditional versus modern gender stereotypes. Mr. Nolan ex- plains that a traditional gender stereotype includes the husband as the primary decision maker, the wife as submissive to him, and the wife as primarily re- sponsible for domestic tasks. The modern gender ste- reotype involves an egalitarian relationship between husband and wife. After an initial reluctance (Chris expresses confusion as to how such a tree would help get his wife back), Chris agrees. The resulting geno- gram is presented in Figure 12.6.

The genogram helps Chris to see that he and his wife are products of family systems that have strik- ingly different values and customs. In his family, the males tend to drink heavily, have a traditional view of marriage, and tend to use physical force in inter- actions with their spouses and children. Upon ques- tioning, Chris mentions that he has at times struck his own children. Mr. Nolan asks Chris how he feels about repeating the same patterns of abuse with his wife and children that he despised his father for using. Tears come to his eyes, and he says one word, “Guilty.”

Mr. Nolan and Chris discuss what Chris might do to change his family interactions and how he might best approach his wife to request that she and the children return. Chris agrees to attend AA (Alco- holics Anonymous) meetings and a therapy group for batterers. After a month of attending these meet- ings, Chris contacts his wife and asks her to return. Karen agrees to return if Chris stops drinking (most of the abuse occurred when he was intoxicated) and if he agrees to continue to attend group therapy and AA meetings. Chris readily agrees. Karen’s parents express their disapproval of her returning.

For the first few months, Chris Witt is on his best behavior, and there is considerable harmony in the

21 21-year-old male

Deceased male (died at age 67)

Deceased female (died at age 32)

33-year-old identified female client

27-year-old identified male client

23-year-old female

Couple separated (/) in 1981, divorced (//) in 1983

Unmarried couple living together since 1982, with a 4-year-old son

Married couple with an adopted daughter

Married couple (married in 1982)

Married couple with two children: an 8-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son

Married couple, wife pregnant

m 82

8 3

33

67

23

82

4

s 81; d 83

32

27

FIGURE 12.5 Commonly Used Genogram Symbols

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Sociological Aspects of Young and Middle Adulthood 561

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Witt family. Then one day Chris has to fire one of his employees. Feeling bad, he stops afterward at a tavern and drinks until he is intoxicated. When he finally arrives home, he starts to verbally and physi- cally abuse Karen and the children. This is the final straw for Karen. She takes the children to her par- ents’ house, where they stay for several days until they are able to find and move into an apartment. She also files for divorce and follows through in obtaining one.

In many ways, this is not a success case (in reality, many cases are not). The genogram, however, was useful in helping Chris realize that he had acquired,

and was acting out, certain dysfunctional family pat- terns. Unfortunately, he was not yet fully ready to make lasting changes. Perhaps sometime in the fu- ture he will be more committed to making changes. At the present time, he has returned to drinking heavily.

The ecomap and the genogram have a number of similarities. With both techniques, users gain insight into family dynamics. Some of the symbols used in the two approaches are identical. There are also dif- ferences. The ecomap focuses attention on a family’s interactions with groups, resources, organizations, associations, other families, and other individuals.

52

47 57 59

Loren Rebecca

30 26

58

m?

54 55

Richard Marge Mildred

77

Emma LeRoy

Traditional view of marriage; used to drink

heavily

Traditional view of

marriage

Nondrinker; modern view of

marriage

Social drinker; modern view of

marriage

Episodes of heavy drinking; modern view of

marriage

Episodes of heavy drinking;

incidents of spouse abuse; traditional

view of marriage

2832 25

ChrisDan

31

Linda

13

Janet

5

m 89

m ?m 61

s 90, d 91

Loretta

3

Marvin

Gail Bill Karen

FIGURE 12.6 Sample Genogram: The Chris and Karen Witt Family ©

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The genogram focuses attention on intergenerational family patterns, particularly those that are problem- atic or dysfunctional.

Family Problems and Social Work Roles Thorman (1982) points out that although each fam- ily is unique, conflicts and problems within families tend to cluster in four major categories: (1) marital problems between the husband and wife; (2) difficul- ties between parents and children; (3) personal prob- lems of individual family members; and (4) stresses imposed on the family by the external environment.

Family problems do not necessarily fall neatly into one or another of these categories. Frequently, families experience more than one category of prob- lems. Nor are these problem categories mutually exclusive. Many times one problem will be closely related to another. Consider, for instance, the wife and mother of a family who is a department store manager and the primary breadwinner for her fam- ily. The store at which she has been working for the past 11 years suddenly goes out of business. Despite massive efforts, she is unable to find another job with similar responsibilities and salary. This can be considered a family problem caused by stresses in the environment. However, this is also a personal prob- lem for the wife andmother. Her sense of self-worth is seriously diminished by her job loss and inability to find another position. She becomes cranky, short- tempered, and difficult to live with. The environmen- tal stress she is experiencing causes her to have diffi- culties relating to both her children and spouse. The entire family system becomes disturbed.

A family therapy perspective sees any problem within the family as a family group problem, not as a problem on the part of any one individual mem- ber (Okun & Rappaport, 1980). Social workers, therefore, need to assess the many dimensions of the problem and the effects on all family members.

The first category of problems typically experi- enced by families ismarital problems between the hus- band and wife. Although problems between spouses affect all family members, intervention may target a subsystem of the family—in this case, the marital sub- system. In other words, a social worker may work with the couple alone instead of the entire family to solve a specific problem. When the marital pair gets along better, the entire family will be positively affected. A marital problem case example follows.

Gianna and Mark Di Franco were married in 1998. Both had been previously divorced. Gianna

had two children from a prior marriage, and Mark had four. Gianna was a financial planner who owned her own company. Mark was vice president of a much larger company. Both earned about the same amount. On the night before they were married, Mark presented Gianna with a prenuptial agreement. It stated that the assets each brought into the mar- riage would be kept separate, and would be the prop- erty of the person bringing it into the marriage if a divorce occurred. The agreement also stated that each spouse would pay an equal share of the family expenses. Mark said he would not marry Gianna un- less she signed the agreement. Gianna did not want to call off the wedding, so she signed the agreement.

After three years of marriage, Gianna had twoma- jor concerns. First, when Mark became angry with her, he would refuse to talk to her—often for as long as two weeks. Gianna often did not know “what she did wrong.” Mark, after pouting for a while, would eventually start talking again. When she asked why he’d stopped communicating, he’d always respond, “If you can’t figure it out, I’m not going to tell you.”

Gianna’s second concern was financial. Mark be- came president of his company and received a big in- crease in salary. Gianna, on the other hand, saw her earnings sliced nearly in half as the stockmarket drop in the early 2000s resulted in much less business for her company. She asked Mark several times to pay more of the family expenses. He always pulled out the prenuptial agreement and said he wanted to pay his extra money into trust funds for his four children.

The financial situation and the communication problem became such major issues for Gianna that she went to see a family social worker. The social worker indicated that progress on these issues could only be made if Mark came in for joint counseling. Mark at first refused to go. Gianna had to give him an ultimatum: “Either go with me for counseling, or I’m filing for divorce.”

Mark relented and went for counseling with Gianna. At first, he refused to change the prenuptial agreement, but eventually he realized that if he didn’t pay more of the household expenses, and if he didn’t start communicating with Gianna about his con- cerns, she was going to file for divorce. He thus agreed to pay more of the family expenses. However, the communication issue was more of a hurdle for him. He was raised in a family in which he learned the pattern of not communicating from his father, who also would stop speaking for a week or two to his wife when he was angry with her. Gianna adopted

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the strategy of making a counseling appointment for Mark and her whenever Mark stopped talking to her for a day or two.

Richard B. Stuart (1983) developed a Couple’s Pre-Counseling Inventory, which is used to assess a couple’s problems. Each member of the couple is asked to fill out the questionnaire separately. Later, answers can be shared during counseling, and mis- conceptions each has about how the other person feels can be clarified. Areas that are evaluated include happiness with the relationship; caring behaviors liked, and perceptions of caring behaviors liked, by the partner; communication; how conflict is man- aged; how moods and other aspects of personal life are managed; sexual interaction; how children are managed; willingness to make changes; marital his- tory; and specific goals each person wants to pursue.

Such an instrument provides an excellent mecha- nism for assessment because misconceptions between partners can be clearly pinpointed. For instance, un- der the topic of sexual interaction, members of the couple are asked to respond to a variety of statements, indicating their levels of satisfaction with the issue involved. The range is from 5, which means “very satisfied,” to 1, which means “very dissatisfied.” One statement concerns “the length of our foreplay.” If one partner is very satisfied and the other very dissatisfied, this is clearly an area that needs to be addressed.

The second major type of family problem in- volves relationships between parents and children, including parents’ difficulties controlling their chil- dren and, especially as children reach adolescence, communication problems.

There are many perspectives on child manage- ment and parent-child communication techniques. Two major approaches are the application of learn- ing theory and Parent Effectiveness Training (PET), developed by Thomas Gordon (1970). Practitioners can help parents improve their control of children by assessing the individual family situations and teaching parents some basic behavior modification techniques. Behavior modification involves the ap- plication of learning theory principles to real-life situations. Practitioners can also teach the use of PET techniques. (The application of learning theory principles to positive parenting was discussed in Chapter 4, and PET was described in Chapter 8.)

Personal problems of individual family members make up the third category of problems typically experienced by families.

For example, John and Tara Altman brought their 12-year-old-son, Terrell, into treatment because for two years he had shown decreasing interest in doing his schoolwork. His grades also slowly fell from a B average to one D (in physical education) and the rest Fs. The school system was considering recommending that Terrell repeat the seventh grade. John and Tara asked the social worker to “inspire” Terrell to become refocused on his schoolwork. The social worker asked Terrell why his grades had slid. He replied that his mom and dad used to help him with his schoolwork, but they had stopped showing much interest in him. In fact, it seemed that his par- ents had stopped talking to one another in the past two and a half years.

At this point, the social worker decided to meet at the next session with just John and Tara to explore what was happening between them. At that session, Tara revealed she had discovered two and a half years earlier that John had had a brief affair with one of her best friends shortly after they were mar- ried, and she was unable to forgive him. At first, she was furious with John, but now she had become so depressed that she was on Prozac. She had given up talking to John, and they had not been intimate since her discovery. John acknowledged that he had had the affair, and said he was trying to do everything in his power to restore their former relationship. John added that he had thrown himself into his work as an electrician in order to escape his wife’s wrath. He was also concerned that Tara was drinking too much. Tara said alcohol helped her escape the pain of knowing that John had had an affair. And she was seriously thinking about divorcing John once Terrell graduated from high school.

The social worker helped John and Tara see that Terrell’s lack of interest in school was related to his parents’ showing little interest in him; it was also his way of adapting to the animosity between John and Tara. The social worker helped Tara see that she needed to either divorce John now or let go of focus- ing on the pain she felt about the affair. After con- siderable reflection, Tara said she wanted to find a way to let go. The social worker helped her learn to tell herself “Stop” whenever she began to think about the affair, and to then think instead of positive attributes about John and her family. This process of learning to let go took Tara about three months to fully implement.

During this period, both Tara and John focused much more of their attention, in positive ways, on

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Terrell. He began refocusing on his schoolwork, his grades began to improve, and he also became more contented.

The Altman family provides a good illustration of a family-owned problem.All three familymembers were hurting emotionally. Terrell was the identified client, but all three family members needed to make changes in order for the family to function more effectively.

The fourth category of problems frequently found in families includes problems caused by factors outside the family. These problems may include inadequate income, unemployment, poor housing, inadequate access to means of transportation and places for recreation, and lack of job opportunities. Also included in the multitude of potential problems are poor health, inadequate schools, and dangerous neighborhoods.

To begin addressing these problems, social workers need effective brokering skills. That is, they need to know what services are available, and how to make a connection between families in need and these services.

Many times, appropriate services will be unavail- able or nonexistent. Social workers will need to advo- cate, support, or even help to develop appropriate resources for their clients. Services that do not exist will need to be developed. Unresponsive agency ad- ministrations will need to be confronted. Legal assis- tance may be needed. There are no easy solutions to solving such nationwide problems as poverty or poor health care. This is an ongoing process, and political involvement may be necessary. Such environmental stresses pose serious problems for families, and social work practitioners cannot ignore them.

Social Work with Organizations As defined in Chapter 1, organizations are “(1) social entities that (2) are goal-directed, (3) are designed as deliberately structured and coordinated activity sys- tems, and (4) are linked to the external environment” (Daft, 2007, p. 10). Social entities involve groups of people, all having their own strengths, needs, ideas, and quirks. Organizations are goal-directed in that they exist to accomplish some purpose or meet some need. As an activity system, an organization is made up of a coordinated series of units accomplish- ing different tasks yet working together to achieve some common end. Finally, organizations are in con- stant interaction with other people, decision makers, agencies, neighborhoods, and communities in the

external social environment as they strive to achieve goals.

It is imperative that social workers have an exten- sive knowledge of organizations. As Chapter 1 indi- cates, working with organizations is one of the systems in which social workers are expected to have expertise. Highlight 12.12 expands on the importance of social workers’ being skilled in understanding and analyzing organizations. Several theories of organiza- tional behavior are presented in this section. These different theories provide a variety of perspectives for viewing and analyzing organizations.

The Autocratic Model The autocratic model has been in existence for thou- sands of years. During the Industrial Revolution, it was the predominent model for how an organization should function. This model depends on power. Those who are in power act autocratically. The message to employees is, “You do this—or else”; an employee who does not follow orders is penalized, often severely.

Anautocraticmodel uses one-way communication— from the top to the workers. Management believes that it knows what is best. The employee’s obliga- tion is to follow orders. Employees have to be per- suaded, directed, and pushed into performance, and this is management’s task. Management does the thinking, and the workers obey the directives. Under autocratic conditions, the workers’ role is obedience to management.

The autocratic model does work in some settings. Most military organizations throughout the world are formulated on this model. The model was also used successfully during the Industrial Revolution, for example, in building great railroad systems and in operating giant steel mills.

The autocratic model has a number of disadvan- tages. Workers are often in the best position to iden- tify shortcomings in the structure and technology of the organizational system, but one-way communica- tion prevents feedback to management. The model also fails to generate much of a commitment among the workers to accomplish organizational goals. Fi- nally, the model fails to motivate workers to put forth an effort to further develop their skills (skills that often would be highly beneficial to the employer).

The Custodial Model Many decades ago, when the autocratic model was the predominant model of organizational behavior, some progressive managers began to study their

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employees. They found that the autocratic model of- ten resulted in the employees’ feeling insecure about their continued employment. Employees also had feelings of aggression toward management. Because the employees could not express their discontent di- rectly, they expressed it indirectly. Some vented their anger on their families and neighbors, and the entire community suffered. Others sabotaged production. Davis and Newstrom (1989) described sabotage in a wood-processing plant:

Managers treated workers crudely, sometimes even to the point of physical abuse. Since employees could not strike back directly for fear of losing their jobs, they found another way to do it. They symbolically fed their supervisor to a log-shreddingmachine! They did this by purposely destroying good sheets of ve- neer, which made the supervisor look bad when monthly efficiency reports were prepared. (p. 31)

In the 1890s and 1900s, some progressive employ- ers thought that if these feelings could be alleviated,

employeesmight feel more like working, whichwould increase productivity. To satisfy the employees’ secu- rity needs, a number of companies began to provide welfare programs such as pension programs, child- care centers, health insurance, and life insurance.

The custodial approach leads to employee depen- dence on the organization. According to Davis and Newstrom (1989), “If employees have ten years of seniority under the union contract and a good pen- sion program, they cannot afford to quit even if the grass looks greener somewhere else!” (p. 31).

Employees working under a custodial model tend to focus on their economic rewards and benefits. They are happier and more content than under the autocratic model, but they do not have a high com- mitment to helping the organization accomplish its goals. They tend to give passive cooperation to their employer. The model’s most evident flaw is that most employees are producing substantially below their capacities. They are not motivated to advance to higher capacities. Most such employees do not

HIGHLIGHT 12.12

Analyzing a Human Services Organization

It is essential that a social worker understand and analyze not only the agency or organization that she or he works for but also the other agencies and organizations that she or he inter- acts with. Some questions that are useful in analyzing an agency or organization are the following:

1. What is the mission statement of the organization? 2. What are the major problems of the organization’s

clients? 3. What services does the organization provide? 4. How are client needs determined? 5. What percentage of clients are people of color,

women, gays or lesbians, older adults, or members of other at-risk populations?

6. What was the total cost of services of this organization in the past year?

7. How much money is spent on each program? 8. What are the organization’s funding sources? 9. How much money and what percentage of funds does

the organization receive from each source? 10. What types of clients does the organization refuse? 11. What other organizations provide the same services in

the community? 12. What is the organizational structure? For example,

does the organization have a formal chain of command?

13. Is there an informal decision-making process and structure at the organization? (That is, are there peo- ple who exert more influence than would be expected from their formal positions in the bureaucracy of the organization?)

14. How much input do the direct service providers at the organization have on major policy decisions?

15. Does the organization have a board that oversees its operations? If so, what are the backgrounds of the board members?

16. Do employees at every level feel valued? 17. What is the morale among employees? 18. What are the major unmet needs of the organization? 19. Does the organization have a handbook of personnel

policies and procedures? 20. What is the public image of the organization in the

community? 21. What has been the rate of turnover in recent years

among the staff at the organization? What were departing staff members’ major reasons for leaving?

22. Does the organization have a process for evaluating the outcomes of its services? If so, what is the process, and what are the outcome results?

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feel fulfilled or motivated at their place of work. In summary, contented employees (which the custodial model is designed to ensure) are not necessarily the most productive.

The Scientific Management Model One of the earliest and most important schools of thought on the management of functions and tasks in the workplace was based on the work of Frederick Taylor (1947). Taylor was a mechanical engineer, an American industrialist, and an educa- tor. He focused primarily on management techni- ques that would lead to increased productivity. He asserted that many organizational problems in the workplace involved misunderstandings between man- agers and workers. Managers erroneously thought that workers were lazy and unemotional, and they mistakenly believed they understood workers’ jobs. Workers mistakenly thought that managers cared most about exploiting them.

To solve these problems, Taylor developed the sci- entific management model, which focused on the need for managers to conduct a scientific analysis of the workplace. One of the first steps was to conduct a careful study of how each job could best be accom- plished. An excellent way to do this, according to Taylor, was to identify the best worker at each job and then carefully study how he or she did the work. The goal of this analysis was to discover the optimal way of doing the job—in Taylor’s words, the “one best way.” Once this best way was identified, tools could be modified to better complete the work, work- ers’ abilities and interests could be fitted to particular job assignments, and the level of production that the average worker could sustain could be gauged.

Once the level of production for the average worker was determined, Taylor indicated that the next step was to provide incentives to increase pro- ductivity. His favorite strategy was the piece-rate wage, in which workers were paid for each unit they produced. The goals were to produce more units, re- duce unit cost, increase organizational productivity and profitability, and provide incentives for workers to produce more.

Taylor’s work has been criticized as having a “technicist” bias, because it tends to treat workers as little more than cogs on a wheel. No two workers are exactly alike, so the “one best way” of doing a job is often unique to the person doing it. In fact, forcing the same work approach on different workers may actually decrease both productivity and worker

satisfaction. In addition, Taylor’s approach has lim- ited application to human services providers. Because each client is unique, each situation has to be individ- ualized, and therefore it is difficult (if not impossible) to specify the “one best way” to provide a service.

The Human Relations Model In 1927, the Hawthorne Works of the Western Elec- tric Company in Chicago began a series of experi- ments designed to discover ways to increase worker satisfaction and worker productivity (Roethlisberger & Dickson, 1939). Hawthorne Works manufactured telephones on an assembly line. Workers needed no special skills, and they performed simple, repetitive tasks. The workers were not unionized, and manage- ment sought to find ways to increase productivity. If job satisfaction could be increased, employees would work more efficiently, and productivity would then increase.

The company tested the effects on productivity of a number of factors: rest breaks, better lighting, changes in the number of work hours, changes in the wages paid, improved food facilities, and so on. The results were surprising. Productivity increased, as expected, with improved working conditions; but it also increased when working conditions worsened. This latter finding was unexpected and led to an additional study.

The investigators discovered that participation in these experiments was extremely attractive to the workers, who felt they had been selected by manage- ment for their individual abilities. As a result, they worked harder, even when working conditions be- came less favorable. In addition, the workers’ mo- rale and general attitude toward work improved, because they felt they were receiving special atten- tion. Participating in a study enabled them to work in smaller groups and become involved in making decisions. Working in smaller groups allowed them to develop a stronger sense of solidarity with their fellow workers. Being involved in decision making decreased their feelings of meaninglessness and powerlessness about their work.

In sociological and psychological research, the re- sults of this study have become known as the Hawthorne effect. In essence, when people know they are participants in a study, this awareness may lead them to behave differently and substantially in- fluence the results.

The results of this study, and of other similar studies, led some researchers to conclude that the

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key variables affecting productivity are social fac- tors. Etzioni (1964) summarized some of the basic tenets of the human relations approach:

• The level of production is set by social norms, not by physiological capacities.

• Noneconomic rewards and sanctions significantly affect the behavior of the workers and largely limit the effect of economic incentive plans.

• Workers do not act or react as individuals but as members of groups.

• The role of leadership is important in understand- ing social factors in organizations, and this leader- ship may be either formal or informal.

Numerous studies have provided evidence to sup- port these tenets (Netting, Kettner, & McMurtry, 1993). Workers who are capable of greater produc- tivity often will not excel because they are unwilling to exceed the “average” level set by the norms of the group, even if this means earning less. These studies have also found that attempts by management to influence workers’ behavior are often more success- ful if targeted at the group as a whole, rather than at individuals. Finally, the studies have documented the importance of informal leadership in influencing workers’ behavior in ways that can either amplify or negate formal leadership directives. This model as- serts that managers who succeed in increasing pro- ductivity are most likely responsive to the workers’ social needs.

One criticism of the human relations model is (surprisingly) that it tends to manipulate, dehuman- ize, oppress, and exploit workers. The model leads to the conclusion that management can increase pro- ductivity by helping workers become content, rather than by increasing economic rewards for higher pro- ductivity. The human relations model allows for concentrated power and decision making at the top. It is not intended to empower employees in the decision-making process or to assist them in ac- quiring genuine participation in the running of the organization. The practice of dealing with people on the basis of their perceived social relationships within the workplace may also be a factor in perpet- uating the “good old boys” network; this network has disadvantaged women and people of color over the years. Another criticism of the human relations approach is that a happy workforce is not necessar- ily a productive workforce, because the norms for worker production may be set well below the work- ers’ levels of capability.

Theory X and Theory Y Douglas McGregor (1960) developed two theories of management. He theorized that management thinking and behavior are based on two different sets of assumptions, which he labeled Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X managers view employees as being inca-

pable of much growth. Employees are perceived as having an inherent dislike for work and attempting to evade work whenever possible. Therefore, X-type managers believe they must control, direct, force, or threaten employees to make them work. Employees are also viewed as having relatively little ambition, wishing to avoid responsibilities, and preferring to be directed. Theory X managers therefore spell out job responsibilities carefully, set work goals without employee input, use external rewards (such as money) to push employees to work, and punish those who deviate from established rules.

Because Theory X managers reduce responsibili- ties to a level at which few mistakes can be made, work usually becomes so structured that it is monot- onous and distasteful. These Theory X assumptions, of course, are inconsistent with what behavioral scientists assert are effective principles for directing, influencing, and motivating people. Theory X man- agers are, in essence, adhering to an autocratic model of organizational behavior.

In contrast, Theory Y managers view employees as wanting to grow and develop by exerting physical and mental effort to accomplish work objectives to which they are committed. These managers believe that the promise of internal rewards, such as self- respect and personal improvement, are stronger motivators than external rewards (money) and pun- ishment. They also believe that under proper condi- tions, employees will not only accept responsibility but seek it. Most employees are assumed to have considerable ingenuity, creativity, and imagination for problem solving. Therefore, they are given con- siderable responsibility to test the limits of their ca- pabilities. Mistakes and errors are viewed as necessary phases of the learning process, and work is structured so that employees have a sense of accomplishment and growth.

Employees who work for Y-type managers are generally more creative and productive, experience greater work satisfaction, and are more highly moti- vated than employees who work for X-type man- agers. Under both management styles, expectations often become self-fulfilling prophecies.

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The Collegial Model A useful extension of Theory Y is the collegial model, which emphasizes the team concept. Employ- ees work together closely and feel a commitment to achieving a common purpose. Some organizations— such as university departments, research laborato- ries, and most human services organizations—have a goal of creating a collegial atmosphere to facilitate achieving their purposes. (Sadly, many such organi- zations are unsuccessful in creating such an atmosphere.)

Creating a collegial atmosphere is highly depen- dent on management’s building a feeling of partner- ship with employees. When such a partnership develops, employees feel needed and useful. Man- agers are then viewed as joint contributors rather than as bosses. Management is the coach that builds a better team. Davis and Newstrom (1989) described some of the approaches to developing a team concept:

The feeling of partnerships can be built in many ways. Some organizations have abolished the use of reserved parking spaces for executives, so every employee has an equal chance of finding one close to the workplace. Some firms have tried to elimi- nate the use of terms like “bosses” and “subordi- nates,” feeling that those terms simply create perceptions of psychological distance between managers and nonmanagers. Other employers have removed time clocks, set up “fun committees,” sponsored company canoe trips, or required man- agers to spend a week or two annually working in field or factory locations. All of these approaches are designed to build a spirit of mutuality, in which every person makes contributions and appreciates those of others. (p. 34)

If the sense of partnership is developed, employ- ees produce quality work and seek to cooperate with coworkers, not because management directs them to do so, but because they feel an internal obligation to produce high-quality work. The collegial approach thus leads to a sense of self-discipline. In this envi- ronment, employees are more apt to have a sense of fulfillment, to feel self-actualized, and to produce higher-quality work.

Theory Z William Ouchi described the Japanese style of man- agement in his 1981 best-seller Theory Z. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, attention in the U.S. business

world became focused on the Japanese approach to management, as markets long dominated by U.S. firms (such as the automobile industry) were taken over by Japanese industries. Japanese industrial organizations had rapidly overcome their earlier reputation for poor-quality work and were setting worldwide standards for quality and durability.

Theory Z asserted that the theoretical principles underlying Japanese management went beyond The- ory Y. According to Theory Z, a business organiza- tion in Japan is more than the profitability-oriented entity that it is in the United States. It is a way of life. It provides lifetime employment. It is enmeshed with the nation’s political, social, and economic net- work. Furthermore, its influence spills over into many other organizations, such as nursery schools, elementary and secondary schools, and universities.

The basic philosophy of Theory Z is that involved and committed workers are the key to increased pro- ductivity. Ideas and suggestions about how to im- prove the organization are routinely solicited, and implemented where feasible. One strategy for ac- complishing this is the quality circle, where employ- ees and management routinely meet to brainstorm about ways to improve productivity and quality.

In contrast to American organizations, Japanese organizations tend not to have written objectives or organizational charts. Most work is done in teams, and decisions are made by a consensus. The teams tend to function without a designated leader. Cooper- ation within units, and between units, is emphasized. Loyalty to the organization is also emphasized, as is organizational loyalty to the employee.

Experiments designed to transplant Japanese- style management to the United States have re- sulted in mixed success. In most cases, American organizations have concluded that Theory Z proba- bly works quite well in a homogeneous culture that has Japan’s societal values, but some components do not fit well with the more heterogeneous and individualistic character of the United States. In ad- dition, some firms in volatile industries (such as electronics) have difficulty balancing their desire to provide lifetime employment with the need to ad- just their workforces to meet rapidly changing mar- ket demands.

Management by Objectives Fundamental to the core of an organization is its purpose—that is, the commonly shared understand- ing of the reason for its existence.

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Management theorist Peter Drucker (1954) pro- posed a strategy for making organizational goals and objectives the central construct around which organizational life is designed to function. In other words, instead of focusing on employee needs and wants, or on organizational structure, as the ways to increase efficiency and productivity, Drucker pro- posed beginning with the desired outcome and work- ing backward. The strategy is first to identify the organizational objectives or goals and then to adapt the organizational tasks, resources, and structure to meet those objectives. This management by objec- tives (MBO) approach is designed to focus the orga- nization’s efforts on meeting these objectives. Success is determined, then, by the degree to which stated objectives are reached.

This approach can be applied to the organization as a whole, as well as to internal divisions or depart- ments. When the MBO approach is applied to inter- nal divisions, the objectives set for each division should be consistent with and supportive of the over- all organizational objectives.

In many areas, including human services, the MBO approach can also be applied to the cases ser- viced by each employee. Goals are set with each cli- ent, tasks to meet these goals are then determined, and deadlines are set for the completion of these tasks. The degree of success of each case is then de- termined at a later date (often when a case is closed) by the extent to which stated goals were achieved.

An adaptation of the MBO approach, called stra- tegic planning and budgeting (SPB), became popular in the 1990s and is still widely used. The process involves first specifying the overall vision or mission of an organization, then identifying a variety of more specific objectives or plans for achieving that vision, and, finally, adapting the resources to meet the specific high-priority objectives or plans. Organi- zations often hire outside consultants to assist in conducting the SPB process.

Onemajor advantage of theMBO approach for an organization or its divisions is that it produces clear statements (made available to all employees) about the objectives and the tasks that are expected to be accomplished in specified time periods. This type of activity tends to improve cooperation and collabora- tion. TheMBO approach is also useful because it pro- vides a guide for allocating resources and a focus for monitoring and evaluating organizational efforts.

An additional benefit of the MBO approach is that it creates diversity in the workplace. Prior to

this approach, those responsible for hiring failed to employ women and people of color in significant numbers. As affirmative action programs were de- veloped within organizations, the MBO approach was widely used to set specific hiring goals and ob- jectives. The result has been significant changes in recruitment approaches that have enabled more women and minorities to secure employment.

Total Quality Management The theorist most closely associated with developing the concept of total quality management (TQM) is W. Edwards Deming (1986). Deming was a statisti- cian who formed many of his theories during World War II, when he instructed industries on how to use statistical methods to improve the quality of military production. FollowingWorldWar II, Deming taught the Japanese his theories of quality control and continuous improvement, and he is now recognized, along with J. Juran (1989) and others, as having laid the groundwork for Japan’s industrial and economic boom.

Omachonu and Ross (1994) define total quality management as “the integration of all functions and processes within an organization in order to achieve continuous improvement of the quality of goods and services. The goal is customer satisfaction” (p. 1). TQM is based on a number of ideas. It means think- ing about quality in terms of all functions of the enterprise and as a start-to-finish process that inte- grates interrelated functions at all levels. It is a systems approach that considers every interaction between the various elements of an organization.

TQM asserts that the management of many busi- nesses and organizations makes the mistake of blam- ing what goes wrong in an organization on individuals rather than on the system. TQM, rather, believes in the “85/15 Rule,” which asserts that 85 percent of the problems can be corrected by changing systems (structures, rules, practices, expec- tations, and traditions that are largely determined by management) and less than 15 percent of the prob- lems can be solved by individual workers. When problems arise, TQM asserts, management should look for causes in the system and work to remove them before casting blame on workers.

TQM further maintains that customer satisfac- tion is the main purpose of the organization. There- fore, quality includes continuously improving all the organization’s processes that lead to customer satisfaction. The customer is seen as part of the

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design and production process, as the customer’s needs must be continually monitored.

In recent years, numerous organizations have adopted a TQM approach to improve their goods and services. One of the reasons that quality is being emphasized more is because consumers are increas- ingly shunning mass-produced, poorly made, dispos- able production. Companies are realizing that to remain competitive in global markets, quality of products and services is essential. Ford’s motto, “Quality Is Job One,” symbolizes this emphasis.

There are a variety of approaches to TQM, largely because numerous theoreticians (business gurus) have advanced somewhat diverse approaches. Hower (1994, p. 10) gives the following summary of the key principles of TQM:

• Employees asking their external and internal cus- tomers what they need, and providing more of it

• Instilling pride into every employee • Concentrating on information and data (a com-

mon language) to solve problems, instead of con- centrating on opinions and egos

• Developing leaders, not managers, and knowing the difference

• Improving every process (everyone is in a pro- cess), checking this improvement at predetermined times, then improving it again if necessary

• Helping every employee enjoy his or her work while the organization continues to become more productive

• Providing a forum or open atmosphere so that employees at all levels feel free to voice their opi- nions when they think they have good ideas

• Receiving a continuous increase in those sugges- tions, and accepting and implementing the best ones

• Utilizing the teamwork concept, because teams often make better decisions than individuals

• Empowering these teams to implement their re- commended solutions and learn from their failures

• Reducing the number of layers of authority to en- hance this empowerment

• Recognizing complaints as opportunities for improvement

These principles give the reader an idea of the “flavor” of TQM.

Summary Comments About Models of Organizational Behavior Any of these models can be successfully applied in some situations. Which model to apply to obtain the

highest productivity depends on the tasks to be com- pleted and on employee needs and expectations. For example, the autocraticmodel will probablyworkwell in military operations, where quick decisions are needed to respond to rapidly changing crises and where military personnel expect autocratic leadership. However, this model does not generally work well in human services organizations, in which employees are expecting the Theory Y style of managers.

Value Orientations in Organizational Decision Making In theory, the task of making decisions about an or- ganization’s objectives and goals would follow a ra- tional process. This process would include identifying the problems, specifying resource limitations, weigh- ing the advantages and disadvantages of proposed solutions, and selecting the resolution strategy with the fewest risks and the greatest chance of success. In practice, however, subjective influences (particularly value orientations) can impede the rational process.

Most people tend to believe that decisions aremade primarily on the basis of objective facts and figures. However, values and assumptions form the bases of most decisions, and facts and figures are used only in relation to these values and assumptions. Consider the following list of questions. What do they indicate about how we make our most important decisions?

• Should abortions be permitted or prohibited dur- ing the first weeks following conception?

• Should homosexuality be viewed as a natural ex- pression of sexuality?

• When does harsh discipline of a child become child abuse?

• Should the primary objective of imprisonment be rehabilitation or retribution?

Answers to these questions are usually not based on data uncovered after careful research; they are based on individual beliefs about the value of life, personal freedom, and protective social standards. Even every- day decisions are based largely on values.

Practically every decision is also based on certain assumptions. Without assumptions, nothing can be proved. Assumptions are made in every research study to test any hypothesis. For example, in a mar- ket research survey, analysts assume that the instru- ments they use (such as a questionnaire) will be valid

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and reliable. It cannot even be proved the sun will rise in the east tomorrow without assuming that its history provides that proof.

Every decision maker in an organization brings not only his or her objective knowledge and exper- tise to the decision-making process, but also his or her value orientations. Value orientation means an individual’s own ideas about what is desirable and worthwhile. Most values are acquired through prior learning experiences in interactions with family, friends, educators, organizations such as a church, and anyone else who has made an impression on a person’s thinking.

Philosopher Edward Spranger (1928) believed that most people eventually come to rely on one of six possible value orientations. Although it is possi- ble for a person to hold values in all six orientations, each person tends to lean more heavily toward one type in the decision-making process. The six value orientations are as follows:

• Theoretical. A person with a theoretical orienta- tion strives toward a rational, systematic ordering of knowledge. Personal preference does not count as much as being able to classify, compare, contrast, and interrelate various pieces of information. The theoretical person places value on simply knowing what exists—and why.

• Economic. An economic orientation places pri- mary value on the utility of things, and practical uses of knowledge are given foremost attention. Proposed plans of action are assessed in terms of their costs and benefits. If the costs outweigh the benefits, the economically oriented person is not likely to support the plan.

• Aesthetic. An aesthetic orientation is grounded in an appreciation of artistic values, and personal preferences for form, harmony, and beauty are in- fluential in making decisions. Because the experi- ence of single events is considered an important end in itself, reactions to aesthetic qualities will frequently be expressed.

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