HRM – Conflicts of Scientific and Humanistic Values
One of the popular theory of the “Critical Theorist ” ( with referrence to the Marxist view ).
science reduce humankind to passive objects beholden to the laws of “nature.”
Sociology, as a form of science, is therefore also criticized for making scientific studies a means to an end unto themselves, as well as for not recognizing the importance of the individual.
Modern society at large is criticized for being obsessed with rationality and efficiency instead of human emancipation. Also, people have become overly controlled by technology. For example, constant stimuli such ad television pacify us and control our thoughts and emotions.
Culture also comes under attack for becoming what has been termed a culture industry. Instead of having stories, beliefs or artifacts for their own sake, culture has become commodified It has lost spontaneity or the ability to inspire originality in people. Similarly, there is said to be a knowledge industry. Universities are seen as oppressive institutions more concerned with increasing their influence than in providing students with knowledge.
Likewise, in the field of organization development, humanistic and scientific are two different and opposite elements that have always been in constant conflict and tension. And so often the measure of these conflicts are the effectiveness or efficiency of an organisation.
In my point of view, “humanistic” in nature and approach, whatever the subject, seeks to solve problems “from a human-centered viewpoint.” And hence this paper could be an attempt of such effort.
2.0 What is efficiency ?
Efficiency is highly prized in a culture turned toward productivity. It is therefore cultivated in contemporary business administration theories. It also tends to be prized above all other values in modern society, as society is more and more oriented toward technological advancement. Efficiency is also defined here as the most economic or the shortest or fastest or most simple way of realizing or achieving a goal with the least cost.
As a means of evaluating human activity in business and practical activity in general, efficiency is, therefore, the standard. It is a standard of quality pertaining to the action, but it cannot be considered a moral virtue, since the quality of good or evil does not derive from the form in which an objective is achieved but from the goal or end that the action achieves. To give an extreme example, one could say that Hitler and his engineers were extremely efficient in achieving the goal of exterminating Jews. This is to say that one may very well be extremely efficient in obtaining goals that are evil just as one may be efficient in achieving good goals. It is therefore not the efficiency of achieving the goal that qualifies the action as being good or bad.
In this sense, it is important to point out the danger of an inherent tendency of technological society to put efficiency at the top of the hierarchy of values, along with moral values. In fact, as was pointed out, it is only an instrumental value. Nevertheless, as a standard, it tends to be applied, nowadays, beyond the realm where it might be adequately applied, that is, in the production, administration and economy of services and goods.
In justifying efficiency, on the other hand, one should say that in modern times, reason has to apply its own rational parameters to action in order to organize a society that has grown to massive proportions. Therefore, efficiency is a quality that derives from the rationalization of action. In mass society, institutions and policies have to be previously planned in order to achieve a desired objective, as, for instance, the running of government, hospitals, schools, universities, etc. Max Weber, for instance points out that it is the business of bureaucracy to be efficient; and John Dewey writes of social efficiency as that action that has the most beneficial results for all society.
A problem arises, however, when the criteria of efficiency, becomes the criteria applied above all others, in the evaluation of human action and output. As a matter of fact, though, the tendency of technology is to universalize its own standard, spreading it over and above all other standards. In the technological society, people start to forget that, as Descartes pointed out, only matter, “res extensa”, is measurable and not the realm of the spirit.
So in order to avoid that the nature of our discussion here will only be subjected to efficiency in the context of work organization.
2.1 Question of Humanistic/QWL
In my opinion they in fact two of a same thing, depending on the application of their context to form a sentence.
To use the dictionary definition of humanistic, it is characterized by a
‘devotion to human welfare, interest in or concern for man.’
It is a search for
‘a doctrine, set of attitudes, or way of life centered upon human interests or values.’
I believe this is very much in the directions perceived by Revel and Reich. A true revolution, Revel wrote, is a
‘social. cultural, moral and even artistic transformation, where the values of the old world are rejected, where relations between social classes are reconsidered, where relations among individuals are modifed, where the concept of the family changes, where the value of work, the very goals of existence are reconsidered.”
On the other hand, QWL is a by product of humanistic value in a context of work. It is really a description of a situation. Quality Work Life, a balance situation of work and humanistic values. It is a situation being derived through a long period experimentation and observation and part of an evolution of the existence of mankind and its adaptation to his environment. In a way it is an ideal or a concept of how human should live his lifes especially considering the present situation whereby most human beings are burden with the tasks of WORKING in order to survive. Hence even the notion is direct interpretation of how human succumb to his working environment.
Especially as this evolution turns from a mere simplicity to a being more and more complex and intricate. From just fulfilling the task of a pheasant and hunter ( during the prehistoric ages ), now we are thrown into fulfilling the role of a corporate animal ( the highly technological era ). It all goes back to the tasks that we need to do in order to survive and how these tasks and their related environment affects our lives and our reactions to adapt to this situation.
There is a long history of attempts to achieve an understanding of human behaviour in the workplace. Throughout the twentieth century, practitioners and academics have searched for theories and tools to explain and influence human behaviour at work. Sociologists, psychologists and management theorists have attempted to build such a science, producing a constant stream of new and reworked ideas. They offer theoretical insights and practical assistance in areas of people management such as recruitment and selection, performance measurement, team composition and organizational design. These insights were the foundation of knowledge in a field that we all know as Human Resources Management ( HRM ).
A graphical evolution of the awareness of this situation is as illustrated herewith :
Even though at the moment the field of HRM is pretty much being congested by so many theories and notions to the state of kiosk, we can imagine that, one day, there will be a science of management in which these problems and their solutions are catalogued, classified, standardized and made predictable. The most significant include:
oScientific management. A hard-nosed and authoritarian approach to management developed by F.W. Taylor at the beginning of the 20th century. Taylor believed in a combination of detailed task specifications and selection of the ‘best man’ for the job. It was the function of managers to think – workers were expected to do exactly as they were told. This, he felt, would result in the most efficient method of performing physical work. Additionally, he advocated premium payments as a means of rewarding the most effective (compliant) workers. Taylor’s ideas led on to:
oFordism a philosophy of production based on the continuous assembly line
techniques devised by Henry Ford. This methodology dominated worldwide manufacturing until the 1980s.
oTime and motion – stopwatch methods of measuring work, used to increase
efficiency and minimize wasted time and effort.
oContinuous improvement – fundamental to Japanese production methods:
using employee knowledge and ingenuity to continually refine product manufacture and development. These practices require management control over the precise detail of work in order to maximise efficiency and gain competitive advantage. Inevitably, this is achieved at the expense of employees who sacrifice the freedom to control their own work.
oHuman factors. In Australia, New Zealand and – particularly – the UK, government-sponsored research by work psychologists during and after the first world war produced significant information on the relationship between boredom, fatigue and working conditions. They established that fatigue arose from psychological as well as physical causes. They demonstrated also that working longer hours did not necessarily increase productivity. Human factors psychologists established a tradition of performance measurement, job analysis and clarification of skill requirements. These underlie key HRM techniques such as competence assessment and selection methods.
oHuman relations. In the 1920s and 30s researchers in the USA demonstrated that work performance and motivation did not depend simply on pay and discipline. People worked for many other reasons. They wanted to be involved in determining their own work conditions. They responded to encouragement and the interest shown by management. Workers formed informal groups which established their own norms of behaviour, including acceptable levels of performance. Working groups exercised social pressure on their members to conform to these unconsciously determined rules. The human relations movement had considerable influence within US business schools such as Harvard which later developed a ‘soft’, humanistic interpretation of HRM.
oBehavioural science. The human relations and human factors approaches were absorbed into a broad behavioural science movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This period produced some influential theories on the motivation of human performance. For example, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs gave an individual focus to the reasons why people work, satisfying an ascending series of needs from survival, through security to eventual ‘self-actualisation’. In the same period, concepts of job design such as job enrichment and job enlargement were investigated. It was felt that people would give more to an organization if they gained satisfaction from their jobs. Jobs should be designed to be interesting and challenging to gain the commitment of workers – a central theme of HRM.
oManagement by objectives. Based on work by Drucker in the 1950s, and further developed by McGregor, management by objectives (MBO) linked achievement to competence and job performance. MBO primarily focused on the individual, tying rewards and promotion opportunities to specific agreed objectives, measured by feedback from performance assessment. Individual managers were given the opportunity to clarify the purposes of their jobs and set their own targets. MBO developed into modern performance management schemes and performance-related pay.
oContingency. Many researchers found difficulty in applying academic theories to real organizations. The socio-technical school developed models of behaviour and performance which took into account the contingent variables, or ‘it depends’ circumstances, attached to particular work situations (Burns and Stalker, 1961; Woodward, 1980). They argued that employees were part of a system which also included the equipment and other resources utilized by an organization. The system could not function optimally unless all its components – human and non-human – had been considered. The HRM concepts of coherence and integration derive, in part, from this line of thought.
oOrganizational development. Also drawn from the long tradition of organizational theory, organizational development (OD) took a pragmatic approach to change. Theory and practice were mixed in a tentative process called ‘action research’. OD familiarized managers with the idea that changes in processes, attitudes and behaviour were possible and that organizations should be thought of as whole entities.
oStrategic management. Directing people to achieve strategic objectives so that individual goals are tied to the business needs of the whole organization. Strategic management has become a dominant framework for organizational thinking since the second world war. It is based on concepts first used for largescale military and space programmes in the USA. Frequently, it employs project and team-based methods for planning and implementation. Lately, internal (including human) resources and key competencies have been identified as crucial elements of long-term competitive success. Strategic management has become the major unifying theme of undergraduate and – especially – postgraduate business courses. The concern with strategy distinguishes human resource management from personnel management.
oLeadership. Many writers have concluded that a visionary leader is essential, particularly in developing and inspiring teams. McGregor’s The Human Side of Enterprise (1960) linked leadership and management style to motivation. McGregor expressed the contrast between authoritarian people management (‘Theory X’) and a modern form based on human relations ideas (‘Theory Y’). His ideas parallel ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ HRM. Effective managers do not not need to give orders and discipline staff, they draw the best from their people through encouragement, support and personal charisma. Later authors (such as Peters and Waterman, 1982) feature the leader’s vision and mission as a quasi-religious means of galvanising worker commitment and enthusiasm.
oCorporate culture. Deal and Kennedy (1982) popularized the belief that organizational effectiveness depends on a strong, positive corporate culture. They combined ideas from leadership theory and strategic management thinkers with prevailing beliefs about Japanese business success. Managers were exhorted to examine their existing organizational climates critically and work to change them into dynamic and creative cultures. The excellence movement inspired by Peters and Waterman (In Search of Excellence, 1982, and others) has been particularly influential with practising managers, despite criticisms of the research on which it was based.
And the list can go on and on as long there are still human beings in this planet that we called earth and as long as we are faced to the situation of dealing with our work life. The evolution will never stop. And till then, the science of HRM is very much relevant to our lives as well.
HRM is identified with attempts to deal constructively with this tension through assertive, but non-autocratic, people management. It is also linked to the use of performance-related pay and other ways of rewarding appropriate behaviour. It seeks to interprete the complex relationship between an employee and his employer and his organization. Managers in different industries encounter similar experiences: businesses expand or fail; they innovate or stagnate; they may be exciting or unhappy organizations in which to work; finance has to be obtained and workers have to be recruited; new equipment is purchased, eliminating old procedures and introducing new methods; staff must be re-organized, retrained or dismissed. Over and over again, leaders and managers must deal with events which are clearly similar but also different enough to require fresh thinking. All for the sake of achieving utopian life. An ideal of the best circumstances that human being should be put in relation to his life and his work. A balance of both worlds. The one that the HRM experts call QWL.
Therefore QWL or quality of work life is being defined as :
“the degree of your physical and emotional well being experienced as a result of your work life.”
Because we spend a high percentage of our time working in our jobs, the quality of our work life is very important to our well being and the quality of our lives in general.
To sum it all up, think of a job with high quality of work life as a job that provides an experience of joy and satisfaction, a feeling of accomplishment, freedom from high levels of physical and emotional stress, as well as adequate pay and benefits. A work environment that totally fulfill our humanistic senses and values.
Work-life balance issues today are inescapable. There are long hours, you are judged by being seen, and family is not mentioned in the workplace.
Researchers heard that where top managers work long hours, middle managers can be reluctant to step out of line and “rock the boat”. Staff who reduce hours in an attempt to regain work-life balance are seen as less committed to careers and employers. They may be withheld from the best projects and passed over for promotion. Leaving the office at 6pm is seen as leaving early. Being with your children is seen as less acceptable than being with another client. Working from home is often seen as time off and may mean missing out on opportunities which arise in the office.
The ability of employees to balance the demands of work and personal responsibilities is critical to their health and well being , and to their contribution to the mission and work of the Department. Employees report that control over their work schedules and ability to provide care for dependent children and elders are key issues in this work/life balance.
The inability to achieve a balance between these might leads to serious repercussion to the human/employee well beings.
Psychologists have studied the effects of low quality of work life and low job satisfaction on the worker. Workers with low quality of work life are at higher risk for a number of health problems. In addition, the low morale caused by low quality of work life results in pervasive personnel problems that haunt the organization; grievances, turnover, destructive rumors and gossip, etc. occur more frequently. The quality of productivity is also affected. Quality of Work Life is important because it affects you very personally, from your health to your overall satisfaction with your life in general.
Studies show that Low Job Satisfaction and Low Quality of Work Life is associated with:
Physical and Emotional Problems:
Low Life Satisfaction
Incidence of ulcers
Incidence of heart disease
Shortened life span
Mental Health Problems
Low Sense of Well Being
Destructive Rumors and Gossip
Taking Long Breaks
Production of Faulty Products
Sabotaging Equipment or Facilities
Therefore it is undeniably that QWL is a very important elements in organization development.
But the real problems lies in the amount of change that need to be implemented by an organization to foster QWL. It takes immense effort and changes on the part of the company setup and system in order for QWL to be effective. QWL based organisational change may require changes in management style. New structures and new approaches to work organisation will not be effective unless the practices and beliefs of management actively support the new environment. We are talking about job redescription, empowerment, flexibility and a whole lot of other sacrifices that need to be made on the part of the management, which is something that is not easy to grasp with for some.
Furthermore, job satisfaction does not necessarily increase the amount of productivity; happy workers do not necessarily produce more, but they do produce better quality.
This may explain why some organizations have not spent more time and money trying to increase quality of work life. It is not necessarily their “bottom line.” Other companies recognize the short and long term benefits of increasing the quality of work life. In a competitive job market, it can be an important factor in recruiting and retaining skilled workers, and in maintaining a high quality of product and service. Not all companies make quality of work life a priority this might be due to their skepticism that the QWL might not bring significant improvement to productivity and efficiency.
Even though many facts have shown the answer to stress is work-life balance: spending more time with our children in the school holidays, when they’re sick or just on the annual sports day; caring for elderly parents or a terminally ill partner or a disabled relative; studying: taking exams, pursuing professional or personal development; doing some voluntary work – getting seconded to a charity – or simply travelling for a while. These are not outrageous desires, and only need to be temporary or part time. All involve activities which stretch the mind or develop new abilities. Employers benefit
because employees develop and
because they’re happier.
Nevertheless all these rationales are purely psychological and difficult to measure through any quantification means. The yardstick is of course efficiency. This is another factor that truly adds skepticism.
On the other hand, the expert say that ‘Scientific management’, under any name, creates an inevitable tension between the rights and expectations of workers and management’s need to gain ever greater quality and cost-effectiveness.
Hence this clearly shows that there is a significant truth in saying that there is a conflict in humanistic and efficiency within and organization.
4.0 The discussion
In my opinion there are two sides of the story here in order to approach the discussion. One is through a generic situation and the other to more specific cases, and of course in either case the viewpoints are restricted from one’s own experience being part a government’s organization.
Hence the problems depicted here are being bounded by these shortfalls.
The perimeter of discussion will solely be pivoted on humanistic aspects in relation to efficiency within a government’s organisation.
The factor to be highlighted first and foremost is that even though the nature of the government’s organization has improved significantly through out the years, nevertheless it is still far from reaching the ideal situation of the so called QWL. And hence even though attempts have been made to introduce some elements of humanisation into the work process nevertheless the result is much to be desired. The reasons behind these failures will try to be uncovered during this discussion.
4.1 The government organisation
The operating efficiency (or effectiveness) of government workplaces is of significant interest to policymakers as well as other stakeholders in the operation of the government (i.e., the public, the government workers, the suppliers, etc.). At a macro-level the operative efficiency may be seen as an input into national productivity. An inefficient government would eventually limit the ability of the rest of the economy to make productivity and other gains.
While all aspects of activity are affected when governments engage in widespread restructuring,
human resources represent a particularly important dimension in the process, for several reasons.
First, governments are a major employer. Second, labour is an important factor of production,
especially in a sector that is focused on service delivery. Third, government activities
increasingly involve a technology component and “knowledge work” that is human-capital
Therefore this discussion here will try to provoke some thoughts on the possible conflicts of the humanistic values in relation to efficiency within the local context ( government sectors in particular ) and the shortfalls that need to be overcome in order to achieve total QWL in particular within the government’s organization.
4.2 The present day – the generic cases
We are experiencing today a pace, breadth, and depth of change unseen in any previous chapter in workplace development in the Western world. At last we have arrived to an era that the management’s experts called The learning organisation” which should be enrichened with endless innovations. Innovations that emphasize the importance of learning and of personal and collective development can be seen in the emergence of less authoritative structures and more collaborative and democratic work processes.
As has been stated amongst the fundamentals of QWL are :
oImprove employee satisfaction;
oStrengthen workplace learning; and
oBetter manage on-going change and transition
Within the government organization there has been a significant awareness of the importance of fostering knowledge to its employees. One has to ponder wether this sense of awareness is a result of believed that ‘quality of working life’ was an emergent value and that human development could be fostered through work. Or was it in fact as a matter just another experimentation on the part of the policy maker. If in the west, this action is seen as an effort to try and create a much humanistic environment and in doing so hope to motivate these employees.
In recent years, there have been genuine efforts to establish conditions that foster strong management concept within government organisations. Efforts to devolve controls that were traditionally wielded by central agencies to departments have enabled public sector managers to explore innovative ways to address key departmental issues.
Arnold Deutsche, in his book entitled The Human Resource Revolution: Communicate or Litigate
noted that today’s “knowledge workers” hold work attitudes that differ in many ways from those of
the “factory and production” workers that preceded them. Key differences include rising expectations for a more rewarding career, more humane working experiences and a greater “democratization” of the workplace. Today’s employees are more likely to want a career not “just a job” and a meaningful life outside of work. Many have high expectations about gaining satisfaction from their work now and in the future, and want a say in decisions affecting their jobs and their employment.
Hence from my experience, the stereotype character of a government employee is very unencouraging. They are viewed as uninnovative, demoralized and lazy. Most people attribute these to the sense of security that one has by being associated to the civil sectors, hence it wouldn’t necessitate ones to be a performer to ensure their survival within that organization. This sense of security make them complacent about things. The real contributing will later be uncovered during this discussion. In truth however, being part of the organization I would gladly says that fortunately that not normally the case.
Occasionally one can find a young, dynamic and resourceful government employee. Normally they are the newly graduated professionals which are eager to experience the world outside. They are so full of energy and full of enthusiasm to practice to theories they have acquired during their college days and very much courages and brave to abide to their professional principles.
True to the natural cycle of life, researchers are also seeing a different set of attitudes in individuals just entering the workplace (the so called “nexus” group or “echo boomers”). As Conger notes:
In a nutshell, they distrust hierarchy. They prefer more informal arrangements. They
prefer to judge on merit rather than on status. They are far less loyal to their companies. They are the first generation to be raised on a heavy diet of workplace participation and teamwork. They know computers inside and out. They like money but they also say they want balance in their lives.
Research also indicates that this group wants choice, flexibility and increased control over both their jobs and the work-life interface.
And the norms are these kinds of staff are the performers within their small domain in the big organization. Hence when that’s the case it’s not really surprising that they are given a little bit more trust comparable to the others and sometimes also given a little more autonomy and authority. In a way this is really a model of humanization in the workplace. They gain the trust of their domain leaders and in some instances even all the way up to the highest level .
With trust comes responsibility: the group is responsible for the project, the person for their work, the company for the person. Connected to responsibility is a strong sense of both personal and collective accountability. When you hold the responsibility, you are accountable for the decisions you make, the work performed, the hours claimed, the copies made. Accountability recognizes, however, that outcomes are not always a matter of individual performance but the result of factors outside our control. The need for close interaction with others becomes necessary then, in order to support conditions which make accountability, responsibility, and understanding and empathy, realistic conditions of work.
This is where the problems really start. When the needs to mobilise a collective effort is a neccessity, only then this high flyer realize that in order to get things done you will have to do it yourself. Only then will he realize that he is a lone crusader in the noble course of bearing his organisation flag. The external environment is not supportive at all.
So often that I have seen that the ending is much predictable. A two options of either :
If u can’t beat them join them a classic case of a disengaged worker.
They are either rusted out or burnt out,” Renee Arrington, a partner in the retained executive search firm of Ray & Berndtson, says. They are often formerly excellent employees who did whatever it took to get the job done and who now contribute at a minimal level, she adds. “Disengaged workers don’t have traction. They’re not accomplishing the same amount of work that they used to.” Arrington also points out that someone not motivated by his or her job won’t make progress on professional goals. “The person has pulled his or her heart out of the work,” Arrington says.
Another option is, bear with it for as long as u can and play along with the game smartly which is gather as much as u can in term of knowledge and experience and leave when the timing is right which will normally result in the best and the brightest employees will often leave the organization, and yet, it is precisely these skilled individuals, with their energy and their creativity, that the organization needs if it is to survive.
They are the one that contribute to the organisation’s efficiency not to mention the costs of hiring new employees are enormous for an organization that has lost not only its best people but, along with them, their special know-how and expertise. But the saddest part is, there goes another one down the drain.
A typical case that contribute to government’s efficiency.
4.3 Where did we go wrong
It is an organization stereotype that government sector is viewed as modern scholars David Osborne and Ted Gaebler argue that governments are inefficient because they are hierarchical, over-centralized and routinized.
Government’s sector is being clustered with endless bureaucracy. The notion of bureaucracy is often viewed as being synonymous with inertia, inefficiency and government. While many contemporary governments are bureaucracies, it should not be forgotten that the bureaucratic structure was a private sector initiative that was initially designed to maximize productivity and efficiency in private organizations. Although the term was not widely used, the general principles of bureaucratic administration were prevalent within factories prior to its adoption by government in the early twentieth century.
The implication of this bureaucracy is people within the organization is being treated like machine. Classic management theorists believed that organizations should work like machines, using people, capital and machinery as their parts; and that organizational success depended on maximizing production through the specialized division of labor.
From my observation, the implication of this bureaucracy is we were to deliberately become men who need “order” and nothing but order, become nervous and cowardly if for one moment this order wavers, and helpless if they are torn away from their total incorporation in it.
In Malaysia, ethical guideline ( or could it be order? ) play a prominent part in the life of the civil servants. Civil service ethics shape the behavior and discipline of the Malaysian civil servants and reinforce good values as well as enhance efficiency in work.
Ethics in the Malaysian Civil Service mostly come in the form of written rules and regulations, the major guideline being the Code of Conduct under the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993. To complement these Regulations, programmes to instill and inculcate positive values and ethics have been introduced from time to time to remind civil servants of their moral duties and obligations.
qCode of Conduct -The code of conduct contained in the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993 is a guideline for civil servants in terms of behavioral expectations and proper conduct. It lists practices that are desired of civil servants and those that are prohibited. The desirable set of practice and behaviors, for example requires civil servants to put official duty before personal interest declaration of asset, to be honest, responsible, competent and obedient. Prohibited practices include outside employment without permission, receiving and giving gifts under unreasonable or suspicious circumstances, making unauthorized public statements, drug abuse, participation in politics and absence without leave. Civil servants are required to observe and comply with the code of conduct at all times and non-compliance will attract disciplinary action.
Civil servants must also abide by the directives issued in the form of administrative circulars from time to time. These circulars are extension of the provisions under regulations mentioned above and are usually explanatory in nature. The circulars seek to ensure that civil servants comply with on-going government administrative policies. It also serve as a means to disseminate the government’s position or ruling in relation to a particular issue or procedure. Failure to abide by them too results in disciplinary action.
qCultivation of positive values and good working habits
Efforts to inculcate good values and working habits have been introduced with the intention of providing civil servants with useful and righteous grounds and pretext when having to dealt with problem solving and decision making. The seriousness of the government in cultivating good values and ethic in the civil servants is illustrated by the incorporation of these programmes in the administration system. The values to be subscribed by the public servants are trustworthiness, responsibility, sincerity, dedication, moderation, diligence, clean conduct, co-operatives, honorable and gratitude. This programmed form as a basic in implementation of excellent work culture in the public service of Malaysia. To achieve this, the public servants are required to attend various training/courses such as induction courses, pre-promotional courses, team building, leadership training courses, motivational, TQM Ethics and Discipline in Public Service etc. The objectives of the courses are:
(i) to instill espirit-de-corp;
(ii) to promote practice of positive values;
(iii) to increase quality and productivity;
(iv) to increase physically and mentally prepared public servants:
(v) to increase the level of professionalism in public management;
(vi) to increase the sense of responsibility and high degree of loyalty; and
(vii) to develop leadership capability.
Other than above mentioned courses, there are number of activities with a view to instill positive values and good working habits such as spiritual development talks, monthly assembly and productivity talks, quality day, formal and informal meetings, QCC convention and department’s bulletin.
qThe Cultivation Of Humanistic Values In The Administration
This is an effort to instill a virtuous attitude and approach towards work in and among the personnel in the administrative system in order to upgrade their productivity. It seeks to bring about greater consciousness of high moral principles in the civil servant through the absorption of universal humanistic values. The values to be subscribed by the civil servants are as follows:
(vii) Clean conduct
These values will hope to bring about greater realization and awareness in the civil servant of his responsibility as a public officer holding the public trust in carrying out his duties. These values help him to practice a principled and disciplined lifestyle be it at home or in the workplace. Their aim is in helping the civil servant to become more accountable, committed, polite, efficient, persevering and, above all, disciplined in performing his duties. This in turn would give rise to an administrative system which is not only productive and efficient but also morally sound.
q”The Twelve Pillars”
The Civil Service has produced a set of values to be subscribed by the civil servant known as “The Twelve Pillars”. It provides the ideal foundation of values and ethical practice by the civil servant to apply and adapt to in the course of his duty. They are the culmination of previous efforts to identify the core values for the Civil Service. The twelve values or “pillars’ are:
(i) The value of time;
(ii) The success of perseverance;
(iii) The pleasure of working;
(iv) The dignity of simplicity;
(v) The worth of character;
(vi) The power of kindness;
(vii) The influence of examples;
(viii) The obligation of duty;
(ix) The wisdom of economy;
(x) The virtue of patience;
(xi) The improvement of talent; and
(xii) The joy of originating.
By holding on to these principles, the civil servant would put these values into practice and eventually consider them as part and parcel of his professional values and work ethics. This will generate productivity in work through good conduct and discipline which would be rewarding for the civil servant, his organisation and the general public as well.
And the list above can go on and on but surprisingly is none of the most efficient giant, private organisation has that many rules to dictate how it’s staff should act and work apart from just the endless list relating to job process and procedures.
That the world should know no men but these: it is in such an evolution that we are already caught up, and the great question is, therefore, not how we can promote and hasten it, but what can we oppose to this machinery in order to keep a portion of mankind free from this parceling-out of the soul, from this supreme mastery of the bureaucratic way of life.
Bureaucracy leads to order, impersonality and routinization – because they had a dehumanizing’ effect on both the workplace and society. This definitely defies the principle of QWL. Furthermore, the irony of bureaucracy is that it can over-conform to its own rules and procedures, thereby treating individuals as numbers and generating “red tape.” In doing so, it also stifles personal growth, decreases worker morale and quells ambition, which consequently affects an organization’s productive capabilities. This situation of machinisation of the human beings which in the end will jeorpardise efficiency. For individual employees, the implicit goal became that of protecting themselves and the organization against change. Instead of being concerned or motivated to make things happen, they worked to make sure nothing happened. Ordinary employees, then, were expected to “do their jobs” in a routine manner, and supervisors monitored the organization for signs of change or innovation. Quality control was exercised as suppression of deviation in procedure rather than detection of product variation. Performance generally meant conformity rather than creativity.
Another distinct features that existed within the government organization is the hierarchy of the system that position/fit every individual into the system. Even though this segregation exist in a more suttle way comparable to post colonial era when the higher post government officer being address as Tuan”, yet still there exist a caste structure within the organization. It is no stranger that every personnel within a government organization is sometimes being known by the salary tagged ones is being accustomed to, such a J4′ officer, a Superscale grade A’ officer etc. The whole principle still in a way supportive notion of Scientific Management.
Similarly, Frederick Taylor argued that an organization could increase its productive capacity by separating intellectual and manual labour, thereby dividing work processes into specialized tasks. He believed that the efficacy of specialized labour depended on how work was divided and he asserted that there was “one best way” to accomplish any given task. With this idea in mind, Taylor pioneered time efficiency studies and gained credence for his theory of scientific management, which applies scientific principles to systematically manage an organization. By the early 1900s, Taylor’s theory had effectively permeated the ethos of management in both the private and public sector, thereby giving rise to modern bureaucratic administration.
Hence from the above discussion it can clearly be seen the lack of humanistic values in the government’s organisation is the pivotal factor in contributing to government’s effectiveness and at the end of it all – efficiency.
IN my opinion these are the answer to the so called uninnovative, demoralized and lazy civil servants. This is the root of the problems which will keep on spreading like a cancer even to the healthy part of the organisation just like the case of the young and ambitious professional above.
This is due to the fact that external environment and force is so much influential comparable the internal strength of an individual. The key word is MOTIVATION. Motivation is a concept frequently used to illuminate changes in behaviour in the workplace.
Abraham Maslow ( the first psychologist that came out with the concept of – The Human Resources Perspective ) believes that a management perspective that suggests jobs should be designed to meet higher-level needs by allowing workers to use their full-potential. His fundamentals are :
qhierarchy of needs
qproblems stemmed from inability to satisfy needs
Perry and Porter (1982) further identified motivation as that which “energizes, directs, and sustains behaviour.” They emphasized not only the amount of effort but also the direction and quality of the effort. The concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation refine understanding of motivation. Bandura identified intrinsic motivation as comprising three types of relationship: one in which the consequences originate externally but are naturally related to the individual’s behaviour, a second in which behaviour produces naturally occurring outcomes that are internal to the organism, and a third where a self-evaluative mechanism is at work. He suggested that pursuit of activities is lasting and least subject to situational inducements when the effects are either intrinsically related to the behaviour or are self-provided.
According to Thomas and Velthouse (1990), intrinsic task motivation is achieved in four ways: through meaning (value of work goal or purpose), competence (self-efficacy), self-determination (autonomy in initiation and continuation of work), and impact (influence on work outcomes). But motivation is also generated in a different way. Extrinsic motivation is “motivation for behavior that is neither inherent in the behavior itself nor representative of goals established by the behaving person”. Extrinsic motivation “can refer to rather arbitrary rewards and goals, in contrast to the inherent reward of an act itself, or to self-determinated goals that characterize intrinsic motivation”. The tools available to management such as giving direction and rewards would thus typically create extrinsic motivation.
Perry and Porter defined the variables affecting (presumably mostly) extrinsic motivation as individual, job, work environment, and external environments, and identified four motivational techniques: monetary incentives, goal setting, job design (all extrinsic) and participation (which could be either intrinsic or extrinsic).
Therefore, as a conclusion, humanistic factors are the main determinant in achieving efficiencies within an organisation. And the ultimate achievement of humanisation is when a particular worker or employee has experienced QWL.
5.0 QWL and efficiency – the other perspectives
Tension and conflict between humanistic aspect and efficiency can arise through many angles but in whatever case it is normally attributed to the imbalance of the two elements regardless to which inclination the imbalance is.
The underneath scenarios are just a brief descriptions of how these tension and conflicts might arise through a different perspectives. They are just meant to give an idea of the vastness of humanistic and efficiency issues. Comparable to the discussion that has been laid out previously, the nature of the situation given herewith is much more specific in nature.
5.1 The specific case – a matter of humanity, ethic and the ringgit sign
Tension ( Between humanistic and efficiency ) could also arise through a specific job description. This particularly cases can clearly be seen in professions that deals with humanity such medicine. It’s a matter of ethics and professionalisme and where do we draw the line between the sense of humanity and the ringgit sign. Hence this will bring a new perspective into the whole humanistic’ situation.
For example, for a private medical practitioner, the nos. of patient that he treats is directly proportionate to the amount of salary that he will draw at the end of the day. Let’s say he is very much motivated by the monetary compensation ( aren’t we all? ). Hence he will have a tendency to just give a brief diagnose of his patient for the sake of chasing the time and put aside his professional ethics as these ethics don’t really motivate him ( remember the intrinsic motivator ). The risk is the treated patient might not be receiving the due attention and response from the practitioner. Therefore, looking from the eye of the practitioner, he is achieving his QWL but at the same time he is sacrificing his humanity. He is efficient by his standard. Or isn’t he?
As for my own life experience. Being an architect in the government organisation is no bread and butter. Especially if u are ones the always like to make an impression and experimentation with all the new ideas that some pragmatic people find too obtrusive and too far out’. Being an architect means that you have to be creative and uncommon’. After all that’s the only way for an architect to express his desire and feeling. That’s what motivate him and make him feel alive rather than doing the same old thing day in and day out. A true principle of QWL. But then again the process to change the mindset of the people to accept something revolutionise and different proved to be very time consuming and can sometime be very hazardous to the position within the organisation. At the end the day it might even be wasteful. At the end of it you will miss the dateline and be marked as unefficient. These two possible cases only mean that :
qThe standard of efficiency is different between one organisation to the another.
qThe level and type of motivations are also very much different from one individuals and another
qYes, in order to achieve a personal QWL, one might happen to sacrifice certain degree of the organisation’s efficiency.
qAchieving QWL for a certain individual only means that he is fulfilling his humanistic senses that could also be at the expense of the general humanity values.
Within our society, the meaning of work will perhaps always be somehow connected with our ability to create and maintain a lifestyle. Yet within this environment there lie more fundamental meanings as well. In my opinion, work constitutes how we care for others and how we contribute to their lives. “It’s a reason to create.” ( a typical architect’s point of view ). Work means personal growth through the daily struggles and challenges, through expressive activity, and an ever-broadening perception of our presence in the world. It means the “thrill” and pride in “seeing something come from nothing,” or in “pushing myself to do what I did not believe I could do.” The experience of trust, responsibility, being connected with others, and recognition help to create meanings of value and of the awareness of one another’s essential humanity. In the past, when these have been absent, participants present a reliance on financial outcomes to define meaning within work. While the material rewards as a meaning for work remain for all people, they increasingly dim as we engage more closely with others in purposeful work.
QWL is about having a career that gives you personal growth. It’s about being part of a company that gives you access to empowering resources. It’s about feeling rewarded for a job well done, having fun, and being able to make a difference. Quality of life and quality of work are synergistic. It’s hard to have the life you want when you have a job that isn’t fulfilling. Both should goes hand in hand and in constant balance in order to achieve organisation efficiency. Any imbalace will definitely create conflict and tension to the human well being.
There are basically two ways to assess the quality of your work life. One way is to look at the policies, programs, procedures, management styles, and physical surroundings in your job. Jobs where policies provide for teamwork, where programs of recognition are present, and where management practices encourage participation by workers in decision making often provide a high quality of work life.
A second way to assess the quality of your work life is to have you directly rate your job for the presence of many tangible and intangible rewards; this is your level of “job satisfaction.” For example, we might ask you to rate how much positive recognition you receive from your supervisor, or if you feel your job provides opportunities for growth. We will use this method to help you assess (anonymously) the current level of the quality of your work life
As far as government organisation is concerned, the government commitment to change is also a major factor and governments are not always knowledgeable on what are appropriate strategies at particular moments of time when faced with unforeseen circumstances.
The challenge for governments is how to shape public sector internal labour markets that can
compete with the private sector in terms of earnings, promotion, and career development.
The traditional civil-service model should be characterized by clearly delineated job definitions, procedures for merit-based promotions, the linking of greater authority with greater knowledge and expertise, and more recently,
Governments need to examine all aspects of remuneration including non-wage earnings and the
role that can and should be played by innovative practices such as peformance-based pay and the use of bonuses. Since, for most occupational groups, compensation is bargained collectively, any new approaches that are developed must meet with union approval.
All in all it goes back to the principles of motivation and humanistic values.
At a disaggregate workplace level, the adoption of innovative workplace practices can give the government the ability to do more with less.
As a final say, as has been stated earlier the scope of achieving QWL is vast and wide and to a certain extend it has managed to overcome part of the management’s problems yet in my opinion, it hasn’t not totally provide the thorough solution of the whole problem. This is due to the fact it merely offers a system and its effectiveness is being subjected to the reactions of the individuals within the organizations towards the system.
All the current study on human behaviour within an organization has so far being conducted in the west environment whereby the cultural values and work ethics are definitely different from us in Malaysia. And hence there is a possibility that what has been regarded their cup of tea might not receive the same kind of appeal here ( with reference to Hofstede theory ).But the of course this is another subject for further discussion for another day. And with this I rest my case.
-hisham ali –
David Osborne and Ted Gaebler – Reinventing government, 1992 1993 Goodsell
Bandura, A. 1977b. Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Cofer, Charles N. 1996. “Extrinsic Motivation.”
Glor, Eleanor D. 1998. “What Do We Know About Enhancing Creativity and Innovation? A Review of Literature,” The Innovation Journal, The Public Sector Innovation Journal, on Internet at: http://www.innovation.cc.
Glor, E.D. 2001. “Ideas for enhancing employee empowerment in the government of Canada.” In press with Optimum: The Journal of Public Sector Management. Vol. 30(3).
Gow, J.I. 1991. Learning from Others: Administrative Innovations Among Canadian Governments. Toronto and Ottawa: The Institute of Public Administration of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Management Development, Government of Canada.
Handy, C.B. 1986. Understanding Organizations. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Harackiewicz, J.M. and A.J. Elliot. 1993. “Achievement of goals and intrinsic motivation.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 65: 904-915.
Maslow, A. H. 1973. Dominance, Self-Esteem, Self-Actualization: Germinal Papers of A. H. Maslow. Monterey, Califonia: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company
Perry, James L. and Lyman W. Porter. 1982. “Factors Affecting the Context for Motivation in Public Organizations,” Academy of Management Review. 7(1): 89-98.
Code of Conduct under the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993
Michael Lloyd Chadwick, Editor of The Freemen Digest Global Ideology, Humanistic Studies and the Aspen Institute
Peters and Waterman (In Search of Excellence, 1982,
Arnold Deutsche, The Human Resource Revolution:
Linda Duxbury Chris Higgins,Work-Life Balance in the New Millennium:Where Are We?Where Do We Need to Go? CPRN Discussion Paper No. W12 October 2001 on Internet at: http://www.innovation.cc.
Nada Teofilovic, THE REALITY OF INNOVATION IN GOVERNMENT,Human Resources Development Canada, Government of Canada