A paper presented to the Project Management Institute's Annual Seminar/Symposium "Tides of Change", Long Beach, California, USA, 1998 (Updated for web presentation, 2002). Presented here as the fourth in a series linking project type through management style to project success.

Introduction | Review 1950-1970  | Review 1980-1990  | Classification
Findings | Summary & Conclusions | Appendix A  | Appendix B

Review of Selected Literature, 1950-1970

In the 1950s, discussion on the means for "getting things done" centered around "motivation". Many psychologists have established the existence of a prioritized hierarchy of needs that motivate individuals towards satisfactory performance. In particular, Maslow, often quoted in project management literature, put forward a hierarchy depicted as a pyramid. This displayed basic psychological needs at the base and worked up to 'self-actualization' at the top.[1]

Some years later, Herzberg postulated a controversial Motivator-Hygiene theory in which only some of the needs represented a positive motivation. The absence of fulfillment of other needs simply had a negative effect.[2] Verma, in a recent Project Management Institute (PMI) book publication,[3] has brought these two positions neatly together by shading that part of Maslow's pyramid which corresponds to Herzberg's positive motivators, see Figure 1. The problem with these approaches is that people are treated as though they are all the same.

Figure 1: Maslow's Modified Hierarchy of Needs
Figure 1: Maslow's Modified Hierarchy of Needs

In the 1960s, Huber attempted to move the discussion of motivation towards "on-the-job development" through the work of behavioral scientists. He chose to categorize and document professional attitudes and abilities in terms of what he called general and specific motivation and interpersonal and professional competence.[4] Huber recognized that the numerous combinations, when applied to particular situations, could give rise to both functional and dysfunctional consequences.

Blake and Mouton moved the discussion to the issue of management style. They proposed a 9x9 "Management Grid" in which "Concern for Production" is set against "Concern for People", two elements of a manager's job characterizing the manager's leadership role.[5] Positions on the grid show five essentially different management styles ranging from Impoverished Management (1,1) to Team Management (9,9) as shown in Figure 2. The problem with this is that everyone wants to be an "ideal" manager at "9,9", and there appears to be no question of matching style to situation. Indeed, anyone placed at "1,1" would appear to be bereft of any good reason to be a manager at all, let alone a leader!

Figure 2: Blake-Mouton Managerial
Figure 2: Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid

In the 1970s, Hersey and Blanchard observed that "... the evidence of research clearly indicates that there is no single all-purpose leadership style. Successful leaders are those who can adapt their behavior to meet demands of their unique situation."[6] They proposed a line chart comparing Task Behavior, i.e., providing direction, low to high, against Relationship Behavior, i.e. providing support, low or high. They show four levels of "direction" appropriate to four levels of 'maturity of the followers', the higher the maturity the lower the direction required. This phenomenon is often clearly evident in a corporate setting as "team building" progresses.

Introduction  Introduction

1. Maslow, Abraham, Motivation and Personality, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1954.
2. Herzberg, Frederick, One more Time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review 46(1), 1968, pp53-62.
3. Verma, Vijay, Human Resource Skills for the Project Manager: The Human Aspects of Project Management, Volume Two, Project Management Institute, 1995, p61.
4. Huber, George. P., The Application of Behavioral Science Theory to Professional Development, Academy of Management Journal 10(3), 1967, pp273-286.
5. Blake, Robert R., and Jane S. Mouton, The Managerial Grid, Gulf Publishing, Houston, 1964.
6. Hersey, Paul, and Ken H. Blanchard, The Management of Change, Training and Development Journal, 26(1, 2 & 3), 1972.
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