LEADERS CHALLENGE THE INSTITUTIONAL PROCESSES

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CHAPTER 3 THE MORALE THEORY

“There’s a high price to pay for low morale. No, make that an enormous price. So, what does it cost an organisation when morale hits bottom? Well, what ’s the cost of turnover, bad attitudes, decreased productivity, low self- esteem, poor performance, and absenteeism, and lousy customer service?” Anne Bruce.

INTRODUCTION

Chapter 2 presented a discussion on the conceptualisation of the leadership phenomenon and this was carried out through the analysis of a number of approaches to the study of leadership such as: the trait approach, the behaviour approach, the transformational approach, the power approach, the path- goal approach, Fiedler’s contingency model, the normative decision model and the leadership continuum model. These approaches were then categorised into three dimensions: leader-focussed, group focused and situation-focussed.
Chapter 2 also examined those approaches that were leader-focused and situation-focused and deliberately omitted those that are group-focused such as group behaviour, motivation and morale. The main aim of this chapter is to discuss group-focused approaches focussing specifically on morale. This is informed by the premise that the fundamental objective of leadership is to foster high morale among subordinates so that they could provide superior performance which in turn should culminate in effective and efficient realisation of goals (Smith, 1997:219; Northouse, 2001:3; Lewis et al. 2004:117; Williams et al. 1985:333). This premise is the foundation of this study and to clarify the point further, the premise is presented graphically below in the following manner:
According to figure 3.1 above, the role of leadership is to generate high positive employee morale which is expected to drive employees to raise their performance or productivity and that should result in the effective and efficient delivery of services to the public. For example, the Department of Agriculture is entrusted with the responsibility of supporting the farming community to produce food and fibre so that each and every individual could be assured of food security. In this instance, leadership effectiveness would be judged by the level of agricultural productivity in South Africa, which at this point, is hopelessly low (Du Toit, 2002:22; Centre for Development Enterprise, 2005:10; DAFF, 2009:23). The positive outcome of high agricultural productivity is the lowering of food prices which eventually assists in the lowering of inflation.
The leadership theory analysis framework that was constructed in chapter 2 (see figure 2.7) is presented below for the purpose of assisting the reader to further comprehend the interrelatedness of these approaches. The first objective of this chapter is to provide a conceptual definition of the morale theory by presenting three models of morale such as the Lawrence Model, The Porter, Lawler and Hackman Model, and the Schwartz Model. This will be followed by a discussion of the differences between morale and three other related concepts which are job satisfaction, esprit de corps, and motivation. The second objective is to explain how the morale phenomenon can affect institutional performance. In other words, this section will table those benefits that may accrue to an institution as a result of high morale being fostered by the leadership of that institution. Morale per se is not the ultimate prize that an institution can wish for. The ultimate objective is how morale can act as a catalyst for institutional superior performance and superior performance means that institutional goals will be implemented or realised effectively and efficiently. And last but not least, the chapter will end by providing concluding remarks of salient points that would have emerged during discussions of the concepts presented in this chapter.
The leadership analysis framework is presented below for the purpose of integrating the morale theory into the broader leadership theory. The aim is to demonstrate that morale is part of leadership.

MEANING OF MORALE

The leadership theory analysis framework depicted above presents a platform on which the role of leadership in employee performance can be analysed. Employee performance is the ultimate objective of leadership but somewhere between leadership and employee performance lies a grand canyon called employee morale. The term “morale” has no relation with the term “moral” which means “standards of behaviour or principles of right and wrong” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary…1995, s.v. “moral”). Just like leadership, the definition of morale is also riddled with controversies. There are as many definitions of morale as there are many writers on this phenomenon (Lawrence, 1966:1). Some writers view morale as an individualistic phenomenon while others view it as a group phenomenon (Hershey, 1985:1; Arrow, Mcgrath and Berdahl, 2000:3). Both Lawrence and Hershey contend that the definition of morale is further complicated by the use of terms such as job satisfaction, job attitudes, motivation, job frustration and group dynamics (Lawrence, 1966:1; Hershey, 1985:1). Yoder as quoted by Lawrence (1966:4) seems to suggest an interesting compromise between the terms job satisfaction and morale. His suggestion is that the term “job satisfaction” should be used as a measure of individual psychological factors and the term “morale” should be used to denote group psychological factors.
The debate about whether morale is an individual or group issue can be better understood by making an example using a bee colony. Although each bee is equally important in the gathering of nectar for the purpose of honey production, a single bee can hardly collect enough nectar to fill the honey combs as required by the colony. However, it is the sum total of all the nectar gatherers that enables the colony to produce enough honey that will sustain the colony and should one bee develop a negative attitude towards nectar collection, this will not affect the overall collection of nectar. But should all the bees gang up and refuse to go and collect nectar, the entire colony may be seriously affected in terms of honey production. It is possible to study the behaviour and characteristics of a single bee but if that is done in isolation, it may not project the true picture about the behaviour and subsequent impact of the entire colony. For example, if one bee attacks a humanbeing or any other animal, the effect is very minimal but an attack from the entire colony can have a devastating consequence on the victim.
Turning the same argument to institutional productivity, a single worker may affect the institution negligibly but a group of workers working cooperatively can achieve unbelievable results and on the other hand, a group of employees working cooperatively against their institution may inflict a serious damage should they decide to embark on a wildcat industrial action for instance (Arrow et al. 17-19). Likewise, one employee who has high morale may not change much if the other employees are having negative feelings about the work environment. In fact, the other workers may view him or her as an impimpi (sell-out or management informant).
The approach adopted by this study is that morale is a group phenomenon and this is informed by the definition of leadership that was postulated in chapter 1 (see section 1.13.10) which is supported by the leadership analysis framework as depicted in figure 3.1. For the purpose of this study, morale is defined as; “all psychological factors or forces that influence the performance of a group.” This definition is further validated by Lawrence (1966:9) where he states that “the term ‘morale’ includes all those psychological factors which lead workers to do what the organization (i.e. management) expects from them or which deter them from doing what the organization expects of them.” The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary…1995, s.v. “ morale” ) defines morale as “the amount of confidence, enthusiasm, determination, etc that a person or group has at a particular time.” The Oxford definition is corroborated by Hershey (1985:ii) where he states that “morale is a degree of enthusiasm that a group has for its objective.” Hershey is also of the view that morale should be considered a state of being and this can be likened to an individual’s state of health. This implies that the morale of a group is not constant rather, it can change any given moment. The definition as postulated above implies the existence of two dimensions: psychological factors (attitudes), and performance (employee productivity) . What is most important is to note that there is a causal relationship between the two. The causal relationship is assumed to be that employees’ psychological factors have a direct bearing on their work performance (Lawrence, 1966:10; Arrow et al. 2000.40-41). Employee attitudes are said to be gravitating between being positive and being negative. Positive attitude leads to positive employee performance whereas, negative attitudes are associated with bad employee performance. In other words, morale is like a double-edged sword. If it swings to the right, it infuses tremendous positive energy that propels employees to perform at a superior level. But if it swings to the left, it may produce such a high negative energy that may inflict serious damage to the operations of an institution. The obvious fact here is that leadership would always strive to engender an environment that would result in the production of positive morale as this should contribute to high employee productivity.
The questions that one may ask are: what constitute employee psychological factors (attitudes) and are employee psychological factors the only variables that may affect employee performance? Answers to these questions are provided by Lawrence (1966:10), Porter, Lawler and Hackman (1975:225), and Schwartz (1980:483) where they provide models that depicts those factors that have a direct bearing on employee performance.
Lawrence categorised those factors into two dimensions that he called technical factors and morale factors. His deductive reasoning is that employee performance is a function of technical assets that are provided by the institution to the employee (both physical and non-physical resources) that are associated with the job to be performed and also the psychological or attitudes of the employees who must perform the job. Lawrence goes on and argues that it is no use equipping workers with technical resources if their attitudes are left in the negative. The implication of Lawrence’s proposition is that both technical resources and employee attitudes (psychological factors) should be treated as being equally important. For example, a car manufacturer who has invested billions of rands in technical resources may not reap the advantages of economies of scale if the workers keep on embarking on industrial actions because they are not happy with their working environment. Economies of scale can only be reaped where there is harmony on the shop floor so that workers could then use the technology provided to produce not only at optimum level but also at highly qualitative level.
It is interesting to note from Lawrence’s model that the approach he has adopted in constructing his model embraces the concept of morale as having been composed of a number of factors (system approach) such as individual factors, group factors and situational factors. According to Lawrence (1966:10) the concept of morale is made up of these three factors (individual, group and situation). This model seems to support the argument that was presented in chapter 2 (see section 2.5) where issues of different approaches to leadership were presented to validate the argument that the leadership phenomenon is not a unidirectional concept but instead, it is a complex matter which cannot be presented under one approach or model. Lawrence’s model is depicted in figure 3.3 below as follows:

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The Lawrence Model of Morale

The Lawrence Model consists of a number of factors that are regarded as drivers of morale. These factors are discussed below in the following order: technical factors, individual factors, group factors, and situational factors.

Technical factors

As has been explained above, technical factors are all physical and non-physical resources that are provided by the institution for the purpose of enabling employees to perform optimally. These are sometimes called “non-human” factors of production (Crosby and Bryson, 2005:247). Such resources would normally include among others, things such as machinery and equipments, institutional processes, institutional policies and procedures including strategies (Lawrence, 1966:10: Crosby and Bryson, 2005:156-161; Arrow et al. 2000:115).

Individual factors

Individual factors that may affect work performance may include but not limited to: age and work experience, qualification, motivation, resistance to change, sense of responsibility and perception of the work situation (Tindale, 1998:12; Levine and Moreland, 2006:11; Barker, Wahlers, Watson and Kibler, 1991:65).

Group factors

Factors that may affect performance include the following: group structure, group interaction, group supervision and leadership, group outside influence and group incentives (Levine and Moreland, 2006:11-19; Barker et al. 1991:66).

Situational factors

Situational factors that may affect work performance according to Lawrence (1966:73) may include among others, the following: intrinsic features of the job (level and difficulty, fatigue and interest), extrinsic features of the job (hours of work, organisation of work, and location of work) and incentives related to the job (financial incentives, knowledge of results, opportunities for promotion and empowerment in decision-making).

The Porter, Lawler and Hackman Model of Morale

Porter, Lawler and Hackman (1975:221) argue that morale is affected by a number of institutional systems and processes as well as social influences of the group. This point is also raised by Lawrence (figure 3.3) where he has provided a discussion on the role of institutional resources in the morale equation. They point out (Porter et al. 1975:221) that morale may be affected by institutional design, institutional practices and social influences as depicted by figure 3.4 below. The institutional design dimension refers to those factors that have helped to shape the structural configuration of the institution (Crosby and Bryson, 2005:81). The institutional practices dimension is concerned with all managerial practices that are directed at employees (Crosby and Bryson, 2005:29-32). The social influences dimension of the model is concerned with those social factors that may produce positive or negative employee reaction against the institution. The model is discussed further in the following sections.

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Institutional design

Institutional design refers to the manner in which the institution is configured. Schwartz (1980:209) makes an important comment when he claims that “to organise is to arrange or form into a coherent whole. In management, organising involves dealing with various individuals and groups of individuals, each of whom performs a function needed to achieve a result. Organising directly affects the efficiency with which human and other resources are used and therefore is very important in managing.” How does organising affect the efficiency with which human and other resources are used? If the structure is constructed in such a way that people are incorrectly placed, or where the structure itself does not address the issues that are contained in the strategy of the institution, a situation will arise where groups within the institution will begin to pull in different directions and that has the potential of causing a great deal of stress among institutional groups which in turn has the potential of lowering group morale. This argument is also confirmed by Porter et al. (1975:221) where they point out that “among the many influences on the work behaviour of individuals in institutional settings, none is more important or more pervasive than the design of the institution itself.” Another point that needs mentioning here is that people spend years learning a particular skill and if the structure is altered in such a way that people find it difficult to perform their functions according to the acquired skills, those that are affected by the changes will offer a formidable resistance against the new structure. For example, closing a faculty of a university and then place those lecturers under another faculty may cause a serious resistance by those affected by this new arrangement as they would regard themselves as victims of the new order. Two more factors of institutional design that may raise or lower group morale are: contextual factors, and work design factors.
Porter et al. (1975:225) define contextual factors as those factors that are somehow external to the institutional basic structure and functioning but have the potential to affect it. The main point that is made here is that these exogenous factors affect the institution from the “outside in” and the institution is regarded as a recipient rather than an initiator of these factors. Factors such as the environment under which the institution operates, the technology available to be adopted, and the type of human resources available to be employed, have an impact on group behaviour (Tsoukas, 1994:86). For example, the work performed by members of the police can either be fulfilling or be extremely depressing as a result of the neighbourhood (environment) the police station is situated. One would expect to find that police whose station is in the middle of Soweto may be more stressed than those whose station is around Sandton. This situation can also be exacerbated by the type of technology used by those police stations. Where appropriate police technology is applied, cops would be able to apprehend more criminals and that may raise morale among members. Human resource capability is a big issue in South Africa since 1994. This means that failure to hire competent leaders in the police force may demoralise the rank and file and that may lead to low group morale.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND TO AND RATIONALE OF THE STUDY
1.3 MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.5 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
1.6 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.7 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.8 HYPOTHESIS
1.9 FOCUS AND FRAME OF REFERENCE
1.10 DEMARCATION OF THE STUDY
1.11 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.12 REFERENCE TECHNIQUE
1.13 TERMINOLOGY
1.14 OVERVIEW OF CHAPTERS
1.15 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 2 CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS OF THE LEADERSHIP THEORY
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 UNIVERSALITY OF LEADERSHIP
2.3 NATURE OF LEADERSHIP
2.4 DEFINITION OF LEADERSHIP
2.5 APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF LEADERSHIP
2.6 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 3 A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE MORALE THEORY
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 MEANING OF MORALE
3.3 MORALE AND JOB SATISFACTION
3.4 MORALE AND ESPRIT DE CORPS
3.5 MORALE AND MOTIVATION
3.6 EFFECTS OF GROUP MORALE ON INSTITUTIONAL PERFORMANCE
3.7 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 4 THE KOUZES/POSNER LEADERSHIP BEHAVIOUR MODEL AS DRIVER OF EMPLOYEE MORALE
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 REASONS FOR CHOOSING THE KOUZES/POSNER MODEL AS A FOUNDATION FOR THE STUDY
4.3 LEADERS MODEL THE WAY
4.4 LEADERS INSPIRE A SHARED VISION
4.5 LEADERS CHALLENGE THE INSTITUTIONAL PROCESSES
4.6 LEADERS ENABLE OTHERS TO ACT
4.7 LEADERS ENCOURAGE THE HEART TO ENDURE
4.8 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 5 THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AS LOCUS FOR THE STUDY
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 VISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
5.3 MISSION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
5.4 VALUES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
5.5 ORGANISATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
5.6 ROLE OF DIRECTORATES IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MISSION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
5.7 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 THE RESEARCH PROCESS
6.3 THE QUESTIONNAIRE AS THE ADOPTED DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENT FOR THIS STUDY
6.4 RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF THE LPI QUESTIONNAIRE
6.5 ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE GATHERING OF THE EMPIRICAL DATA
6.6 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 7 ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS OF THE EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
7.1 INTRODUCTION
7.2 CHALLENGES EXPERIENCED DURING THE DATAGATHERING PROCESS
7.3 NATURE OF THE COLLECTED DATA
7.4 ANALYSIS OF THE COLLECTED DATA
7.5 ANALYSING THE DATA: LEADERS MODEL THE WAY
7.6 ANALYSING THE DATA: LEADERS INSPIRE A SHARED VISION
7.7 ANALYSING THE DATA: LEADERS CHALLENGE THE PROCESS
7.8 ANALYSING THE DATA: LEADERS ENABLE OTHERS TO ACT
7.9 ANALYSING THE DATA: LEADERS ENCOURAGE THE HEART TO ENDURE
7.10 ANALYSING THE DATA: TOTAL SCORES FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS
7.11 ANALYSING THE DATA: PERCENTILE RANKING AGAINST THE LPI NORM
7.12 TESTING THE HYPOTHESIS
7.13 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
8.1 INTRODUCTION
8.2 CONCLUSIONS ABOUT EACH SUB-HYPOTHESIS
8.3 CONCLUSIONS ACCORDING TO THE LPI PERCENTILE RANKING
8.4 CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
8.6 RECOMMENDATIONS EMANATING FROM THE STUDY
8.7 FURTHER RESEARCH
8.8 CONCLUSION
LIST OF SOURCES
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