Management and Organization

A historical perspective on management provides a context or environment in which to interpret current opportunities and problems. However, studying history does not mean merely arranging events in chronological order, it means developing and understanding of the impact of societal forces on organizations. Studying history is a way to achieve strategic thinking, see the big picture and improve conceptual skills. We will start by examining how social, political, and economic forces have influenced organizations and the practice of management.

Social forces

The aspects of a culture that guide and influence relationships among people, their values, needs and standards of behavior

What do people value? What do people need? What are the standards of behavior among people? These forces shape what is known as the social contract, which refers to the unwritten, common rules and perception about relationship among people and between employees and management.

A significant social force today is the changing attitudes, ideas, and values of Generation X and Generation Y employees. Generation X workers those now in their thirties have had a profound impact on the workplace, and Generation Y may have an even greater one. These young workers, the most educated generation in the history of the US, grew up technologically adept and globally conscious. Some trends sparked by Generation X and Y workers are completely reshaping the social contract. Career life cycles are getting shorter, with workers typically hanging jobs every few years and changing careers several times during their life time. Some consultants predict that the traditional 20 year career building cycle will transform into a 20 month skills building process. Young workers also expect to have access to cutting edge technology opportunities to learn and further their careers and personal goals, and the power to make substantive decisions and changes in the workplace. Finally, there is a growing focus on work life balance, reflected in trends such as telecommuting flextime, shared jobs, and organization sponsored sabbaticals.

Political forces: The influence and legal institutions on people and organizations.

Political forces include basic assumptions underlying the political system, such as the desirability of self government property rights, contract rights, the definition of justice and the determination of innocence or guilt of a crime. The spread of capitalism throughout the world has dramatically altered the business landscape. The dominance of the free market systems and growing interdependencies among the world’s countries require organizations to operate differently and managers to think in new ways. At the same time, strong anti-American sentiments in many parts of the world create challenges for US companies and managers. Another potent political force is the empowerment of citizens throughout the world. Power is being diffused both within and among countries as never before. People are demanding empowerment, participation and responsibility in all areas of their lives, including their work.

Economics forces pertain to the availability production and distribution of resources in society. Governments, military agencies, churches schools and business organizations in every society require resources to achieve their goals and economic forces influence the allocation of scarce resources. The economy of the United states and other developed countries is shifting dramatically with the sources of wealth the fundamentals of distribution, and the nature of economic decision making undergoing significant changes. The emerging new economy is based largely on ideas, information and knowledge rather than material resources. Supply chains and distribution of resources have been revolutionized by digital technology. Surplus, inventories which once could trigger recessions are declining or completely disappearing. Another economic trend is the booming importance of small and mid sized businesses including start ups, which early in the twenty first century grew at three times the rate of the national economy.

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