Category Archives: Management

Crisis communication: A national study of leadership during the financial crisis

Source: Dr. Ruby Rouse and Dr. Richard Schuttler, University of Phoenix, September 20, 2009

From a summary:
Many employees report employers are increasingly using threats and intimidation tactics to cope with the financial crisis, according to a national study of leadership sponsored by the University of Phoenix Office of Research Support (ORS). “We’re told if we discussed layoffs or downsizing, we would be fired – immediately,” one worker said. Another individual observed, “Questions get you written up and/or fired.”

Belligerent behavior is a “disturbing leadership trend in the financial crisis,” according to researchers Dr. Ruby Rouse and Dr. Richard Schuttler (2009), who received a grant to study supervisor communication during the crisis. In the summer of 2009, 1,150 working adults in the United States evaluated the leadership and communication effectiveness of their supervisors. Open-ended comments from employees contained repeated descriptions of threatening communication, such as:

* “Be thankful you have a job.”
* “You can be replaced.”
* “There are lots of qualified people on the street who would love your job.”
* “You never know who will be gone tomorrow.”
See also:
Executive summary

Race and Sex in Organizing Work: ‘Diversity,’ Discrimination, and Integration

Source: Tristin Green, Emory Law Journal, 2009

From the abstract:
This Article provides the first extended analysis of the conscious use of race and sex in decisions organizing work. It takes the position that race and sex are being used in organizing work-in assigning clients and job tasks, in composing work teams, in staffing committees and outreach groups-and that they are being used pursuant to a “diversity” narrative in ways that are likely to entrench workplace inequality. At the same time, it argues that race and sex could be used in those same decisions to reduce workplace discrimination and to further equality in work. Drawing on a rich body of research in sociology, social psychology, and organizational theory, the Article exposes the risks and possibilities of race and sex in organizing work by focusing on the role that social interactions play in producing and reproducing disadvantage and on the role of organizational and institutional structures in shaping those interactions.

Based on this empirical foundation and on the Supreme Court case law governing the use of race and sex in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Article advances a comprehensive approach to the permissibility of race and sex in decisions organizing work. It argues that Title VII permits the use of race and sex in decisions organizing work to serve the goal of reducing employment discrimination, provided that individual race- and sex-based decisions are part of an employer’s systemic integrative effort. This approach recognizes that decisions organizing work differ from decisions at moments of entry, promotion, and exit in ways that matter to an anti discrimination analysis. They are “softer” in that their benefits and harms are not always immediately discernible, and they can impose costs as well as benefits on women and people of color, even when they are intended to (and do) further anti discrimination goals. The approach to Title VII developed in this Article accounts for these differences and offers a unique opportunity to harness the existing business case for diversity to progress meaningful integration in work and to foster reduced workplace discrimination.

Are Public Service Nonprofit Boards Meeting Their Responsibilities?

Source: Robert D. Herman, Public Administration Review, Volume 69 Issue 3, May/June 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Public service nonprofit organizations have long been “partners” in the delivery of public services. Such nonprofit organizations are governed by boards, typically composed of citizen volunteers, that are expected to meet substantial standards of accountability and performance. Previous research has raised questions about how well such boards are meeting their responsibilities. A 2007 Urban Institute study, based on the first large representative sample of U.S. public benefit nonprofits, provides important evidence about the extent to which nonprofit boards are meeting certain accountability and performance standards.

Successfully Executing Ambitious Strategies in Government: An Empirical Analysis

Source: Steve Kelman, Jeff Myers, Harvard University – John F. Kennedy School of Government, Working Paper No. RWP09-009, April 2, 2009

From the abstract:
How are senior government executives who attempt to execute an ambitious vision requiring significant strategic change in their organizations able to succeed? How do they go about formulating a strategy in the first place? What managerial and leadership techniques do they use to execute their strategy? In this paper, these questions are examined by comparing (so as to avoid the pitfalls of “best practices” research) management and leadership behaviors of a group of agency leaders from the Clinton and Bush administrations identified by independent experts as having been successful at executing an ambitious strategy with a control group consisting of those the experts identified as having tried but failed at significant strategic change, along with counterparts to the successes, who had the same position as they in a different administration. We find a number of differentiators (such as using strategic planning, monitoring performance metrics, reorganizing, and having a smaller number of goals), while other techniques either were not commonly used or failed to differentiate (such as establishing accountability systems or appeals to public service motivation). We find that agencies that the successes led had significantly lower percentages of political appointees than the average agency in the government. One important finding is that failures seem to have used techniques recommended specifically for managing transformation or change as frequently as successes did, so use of such techniques does not differentiate successes from failures. However, failures (and counterparts) used techniques associated with improving general organizational performance less than successes.

Running Business Like a Government

Source: Ken Miller, Governing, April 9, 2009

There’s a lot that government does right. The private sector ought to take a few notes.

If there is a bright side to this economic meltdown, hopefully it’s that people gain a new appreciation of what it’s like to manage government.

Here’s what government can teach businesses about their operations:
1. How to have a true appreciation for — and be good stewards of — investors’ money.
2. True accountability.
3. It’s not about the money.

The Supreme Court and the Continuing Deconstitutionalization of Public Personnel Management

Source: Robert Roberts, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 29 no. 1, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In Engquist v. Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Supreme Court held that public employees may not use the so-called equal protection clause of class-of-one doctrine to challenge the constitutionality of arguably arbitrary adverse personnel actions. In the 2000 case of Village of Willowbrook v. Olech, the high court had authorized citizens to bring class-of-one equal protection lawsuits to challenge arguably arbitrary discretionary decisions by government officials. The decision provides further evidence of the ongoing effort by a majority of the Roberts Court to limit the constitutional rights of public employees. The article argues that the ongoing deconstitutionalization of public personnel management has significant implications for the management of public organizations. If the trend continues, public employees, much like their private sector counterparts, will become much more dependent on statutory protections and collective bargaining agreements to protect them from arbitrary personnel decisions.

Achieving Breakthrough Performance

Source: Mark Gottfredson, Steve Schaubert, & Elisabeth Babcock, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Vol. 6 no. 3, Summer 2008

From the Girl Scouts, to Partners In Health, to the city of Providence, R.I., great organizations have one thing in common: great managers. These managers, in turn, share four simple management principles that they use to guide organizations from mere mediocrity to stand-out stardom.

Job Evaluation Revisited: The Point Factor Method

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, Vol. 40 no. 4, 2008
(subscription required)

The point factor method of job evaluation consists of a large number of discretionary decisions that result in something that appears to be entirely objective and, even, scientific.

This article examines the oldest and most commonly used formal approach to job evaluation, the point factor method. It focuses on how and why things are done, with particular attention to the extent to which discretionary decisions are inherent in the process. Other approaches to formal job evaluation (the Hay guide-chart profile method, factor comparison, ranking and classification) are not addressed. However, much of the following discussion pertains to them as well.

The Perfect Compromise: Bridging the Gap between At-Will Employment and Just Cause

Source: Nicole B. Porter, Nebraska Law Review, (Forthcoming)

From the abstract:
Many scholars have criticized the harshness of the employment at-will presumption, which allows an employer to terminate an employee for good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all. Other scholars defend at-will employment and criticize the just cause standard. This Article does not take sides in this debate; but instead, attempts to bridge the gap between the two by proposing a compromise statute, which I call the Employment Termination Equity Act (ETEA). Under ETEA, employers would remain free to terminate without having the difficult burden of proving just cause. However, certain enumerated reasons for termination would be unlawful. In determining which termination decisions should warrant protection, my goal was two-fold: (1) to make unlawful egregious termination decisions that have previously been unremedied despite the many exceptions to at-will employment and (2) to provide some overlap protection with current employment statutes by using a procedural process that will be more easily accessible by employees. Yet, in the spirit of true compromise, ETEA will provide fewer types of remedies than other employment statutes or common law claims, and will force plaintiffs to choose between suit under this proposed termination statute and other statutory remedies. As with any compromise, lines had to be drawn and line-drawing never satisfies everyone. My goal in this article is to convince the reader to view my line drawing optimistically – as a necessary means of bridging the gap between at-will employment and just cause.