Organizational success is the principal concern of all managers. Without proper planning and clearly set guidelines, no organization can succeed. Many theorists have come up with core principles, in a bid to help managers know how to lead their organizations to success, which when followed can certainly ensure success. According to Kotter’s article on effective management published in the Harvard Business Review Journal, managerial success requires strict adherence to “specific management principles and effective use of power” (1977). He emphasizes the effective use of power alongside the principles if success is to be realized (p. 125).
Theoretical issues identified in the article
Kotter identifies and encourages the adherence to what he terms as essential management principles in modern organizations citing their proven success in many organizations around the world (1977). These principles define the role of management and sets a distinct difference between control and service. He further claims that the principles of management suggested by the various schools of management, Classical, Behavioral, Quantitative, Contingency, and Quality schools cannot be applied entirely in organizational challenges as organizational environments and situations differ (p. 128). As such, he claims that the core principles that no organization can survive without implementing are authority, division of labor, employees’ motivation, job security for employees, and teamwork.
Division of labor and specialization
Division of labor remains one of the most effective ways of achieving excellent job performance. When work is divided into small portions and each portion assigned a competent individual, the work becomes easy to complete and monitor. Division of labor also reduces time wastage as employees’ haphazard movement from one job to another is minimized. For managers, specialization presents the most effective way of getting your tasks completed on time and excellently. It also eliminates the chances of biasness in job allocation as every employee is assigned in their areas of strength.
Authority and responsibility
Kotter’s article gives special emphasis to authority and responsibility (1977). He claims authority is the most important principle of management. By exercising authority, managers are able to influence employees to adhere to set rules and inspire them to achieve organizational goals. Authority gives managers the right to order employees by virtue of their position as managers. Therefore, Kotter asserts that even managers who lack intelligence, have undesirable personality traits, and low experience, are still capable of commanding and influencing their employees based on “official authority” (p. 127).
Motivation of employees
Employees are the backbone of any organization. For any organization to be successful, the employees must be motivated and appreciated. Most employees, according to (Kotter, 1977) are motivated by the provision of good remunerations. Therefore, he states that organizations should provide competitive salaries and bonuses to their employees to increase their level of motivation, which consequently results in high production (p. 129). Employees’ motivation can prove quite challenging because people are unique. They are not like machines. According to (Ross & Murdick, 1977), motivations differ. There are people who derive their motivation from good working conditions while others find it in job challenges. The cost of motivating employees can be quite expensive in terms of time and resources, but the results are worth the involvement. Kotter points out that most organizations value customers than employees when the truth is that no organization can survive without employees. He also points out that employees selection should be done carefully to ensure that the required skills match with the hired skills (p. 129).
Employees’ performance is significantly affected by security of tenure (Jae, David & Youngjun, 2006). Employees who are certain of retaining their jobs will always work hard to find efficient ways of completing their jobs. Such employees are dedicated and committed to their jobs. This ensures high productivity and continuity. Employers spend huge sums of money in employees’ selection, training, and placement. It is, therefore, very important for employees to perform their jobs excellently. This is the only way through which employers can get value for their money and employees to keep their jobs. However, there are times when employees’ performances fail to meet the set standards due to lack of motivation, resulting in retrenchment and layoffs. Such circumstances can be minimized or eradicated by the use of effective motivation and training tools.
Teamwork is another essential principle of management. Organizations have teams or departments each charged with specific responsibilities to complete to ensure smooth operation and realization of set goals. Just like any other team, any task that seems insurmountable can derail the teams completely. There have been incidences of teams failing to achieve their objective due to lack of teamwork, discouragement, and inability to make quick, precise, and informed decisions. No success can be attained without teamwork. Teamwork ensures that individuals share their expertise, experience, and knowledge to find solutions to everyday work challenges. Without teamwork, even insignificant challenges become complex. Most importantly, teamwork has team dynamics, which are known for motivational values.
Kotter’s article is very detailed. It also provides a basis for understanding organizational principles, which can assist the management in ensuring organizational success. In the modern world, organizational success is highly dependent on the five principles of management, authority, division of labor, employees’ motivation, job security, and teamwork, as highlighted by (Kotter, 1977). Organizational competition has become fiercer with each passing day. As such, it is crucial to have motivated employees as suggested by Kotter in his preferred principles of management. Motivated employees can drive an organization to unimaginable heights of success. Kotter has also highlighted teamwork as an important principle of management. The importance of teamwork to any organization cannot be ignored.
They ensure focus towards organizational objectives, increase motivation, improve members effectiveness through sharing and guidance, and help in simplifying tasks to be completed (Ross & Murdick, 1977). The claim by Kotter, “No success can be attained without teamwork,” is valid (1977, p. 129). The processes involved in organizational operations are interrelated, but complex. The final output from one section, forms the input in another section. This calls for maximum cooperation if operational success is to be attained. A report by (Sprimont, 2009) indicated that job security is the may concern of most employees. This also justify the claim by Kotter, that job security is a core requirement for organizational success. Despite the acceptance of many of the concepts proposed by Kotter, many gaps and omissions exist in his article, which may hinder the realization of effective management.
The existing gaps
Despite listing motivation as one of the main principles of management, Kotter failed completely to suggest effective methods of motivation, which can be used in organization settings. Motivation of employees is very important (Shrivastava & Berger, 2010).). As such, organizations should explore various motivational tools, psychological, social, and empowerment, to ensure employee motivation, as different employees are motivated differently. Secondly, the article fails to highlight the significance of unity of command, unity of direction, discipline, centralization, and equity principles, which have been proven essential in management. Henri Fayol developed these principles (Dean, 1995). The article further indicates that the greatest all management principles is authority. This is not in line with class study, which emphasizes that for organizations to be successful, the basic management principles must be applied indiscriminately.
Conceptual differences and similarities
The article’s principles laid down by Kotter have heavily relied on the classical management theories. It has also borrowed from Behavioral, Quantitative, and Contingency schools of management studied in class. However, unlike class studies, which have tackled management principles in terms of the theorists responsible for formulating the principles, the article has approached the principles in terms of roles and objectives. In this manner, the article has touched various principles suggested by these theorists, but failed to exhaust all of them as it is a hybrid of many of the theories. The application of the article in a modern day organization could create substantial operational gaps, which could be adversely harmful. This is not the case in class studies, which have exhausted each theorists work, therefore, giving one the opportunity to analyze and select the most applicable principles in the management process.
For instance, the 14 principles of management have been fully discussed unlike Kotter’s article, which seems to value only four of the principles. Another distinctive difference is the presentation of the work in terms of eras. Kotter’s work incorporates the works of theorist from the classical era, Behavioral era, Quantitative era, Contingency era, and Quality era to the modern management era. It fails completely to draw a line between the eras. Instead, it has merged the principles from the different eras to come up with what he considers “most effective” for organizational success (Kotter, 1977, p. 135). If applied, Kotter’s recommendations could be quite easy to adopt by organizations. This could perhaps be the motivation behind its formulation. This is because it focuses on managers as the triggers of organizational success. As such, it ignores many concerns of employees, which would otherwise cause the management time and finances to solve.
Principles of management have been applied in organizations for centuries. Despite many years of application, these theories have remained relevant in solving organizational challenges. However, many writers have attempted to modify some of the theories to suit modern day situations and challenges with success. Kotter’s article on effective management is one such insightful writings. By borrowing from various principles and concepts, the article has succeeded in simplifying the demands of effective management. However, it has omitted many valuable concepts considered relevant in the modern day management practice and should not be used without reference to other relevant theories. It is true that organizations can achieve milestones with motivated employees. However, the business environment is dynamic and highly competitive. Staying afloat and remaining profitable has become more and more complicated. It demands team performance and relevant operational principles. It is no longer debatable that management principles are indispensable if effective performance is to be realized.
Dean, C. C. (1995). The Principles of Scientific Management by Fred Taylor: Exposures in print beyond the private printing. Journal of Management History (Archive) , 3 (1), 4 – 17.
Jae, W. Y., David J. L., & Youngjun, C. (2006). Principles of management and competitive strategies: using Fayol to implement Porter. Journal of Management History , 12 (4), 352 – 368.
Kotter, J. P. (1977). Power, Dependence, and Effective Management. Harvard Business Review , 55 (4), 125-136.
Ross, J. E., & Murdick, R. G. (1977). What are the Principles of “Principles of Management”? The Academy of Management Review , 2 (1), 143-146.
Shrivastava, P., & Berger, S. (2010). Linking Theory & Practice. Organization Management Journal , 35 (7), 246–261.
Sprimont, T. E. (2009). Challenges to Bureaucratic Organizations In the Modern Business World. International Journal of Applied Management of Change , 1 (1), 21-37.