The Effective Organization and the Individual

While the matter of systemic differentiation and integration is our central interest, we are not ignoring the consequences of different organizational and administrative patterns for the satisfaction and development of individual managers. In fact, there seems to be an important connection for the individual between working in an organization structured to deal effectively with its task and his feelings of personal satisfaction and growth. Organizations so structured that members can deal realistically and effectively with their tasks will provide powerful sources of social and psychological satisfaction. This is so because individual managers bring to an organization several motives that they seek to fulfill. Among the most important are a need for achievement, a need for affiliation, and a need for power. To some degree individuals desire to accomplish something (need for achievement) by engaging in a task that they can perform effectively. For many managers in our modern society this would appear to be a dominant need that, for the most part, can be satisfied only within the organizational setting. Individuals also have a need for contact with others (need for affiliation). While many managers meet this need to an important extent in family and social relationships outside work, it must also be satisfied to some extent on the job.

Individual managers also have a desire to exercise some control over others (need for power). Again the need is met to some degree outside the organization, but it is also a motivating force in the organization. We should emphasize that while individuals vary in the intensity with which they feel these various needs, to some extent all organization members will seek gratification of their need for achievement in their work.

To satisfy this need, the organization must be structured to provide its members with an opportunity to do their individual jobs well. The importance of this is emphasized by the work of Robert White in relating the idea of competence to individual development and mental health.19 He points out that individuals must feel a sense of competence in dealing with both objects and others in their personal environment. To borrow his phrase, “competence becomes in the course of development a highly important nucleus of motivation.” This underlying desire for mastery of one’s personal environment seems closely related to McClelland’s concept of need for achievement. As an individual satisfies the need for achievement he demonstrates competence in the world in which he lives. Making this connection helps us to understand that, if the individual is to satisfy this need, he must work in an organization that is suited to the requirements of the task he is interested in performing. Thus, if we concern ourselves with understanding what type of organization meets different environmental demands, we will also be confronting the question of developing organizations that offer a high probability of satisfying these basic needs of individuals for achievement and competence. While most members seem to have a high need for achievement, others may have stronger power or affiliation needs. Organizations well designed for the demands of their environment also can provide ample opportunity for the satisfaction of these other needs.

Source: Lawrence Paul R., Lorsch Jay W. (1967), Organization and Environment: Managing Differentiation and Integration, Harvard Business School.

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