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Management Theory of Chris Argyris

Jeanne Dininni

Can Argyris's management theory help your company mature?

Chris Argyris explored the concept of organizational learning and its impact on a company's growth, effectiveness and adaptability.

Argyris's theories focused on single- and double-loop learning, the immaturity/maturity continuum, organizational communication and the effects of each of these on employee motivation, accountability and empowerment.

The management theory of Chris Argyris states that, in contrast to double-loop learning, which questions underlying assumptions, single-loop learning, which solves problems superficially and symptomatically, fails to address the real issues that make companies ineffective. Argyris theory also asserts that open communication within an organization, normally considered a good thing, can block learning and hinder progress if it's based on defensiveness, denial of real problems, inability to face tough issues and refusal to examine one's own attitudes and contributions to the problem.

Seven steps

As for the immaturity/maturity continuum, the Chris Argyris theory states that successful employee empowerment requires management to provide opportunities for personal growth in the same 7 areas in which children must mature as they approach adulthood. Along the immaturity/maturity continuum, employees must move from:

1. Passivity to activity;

2. Dependence to independence;

3. Few behaviors to many behaviors;

4. Shallow interests to deep interests;

5. Short-term perspective to long-term perspective;

6. Subordination to equality or superiority; and

7. Non self-awareness to self-awareness/self-control.


Gain a thorough understanding of Argyris management theory

Before you can put Argyris's theory to work in your organization, you need to understand it and learn how it can work for you.

Take advantage of consulting services that are based on Argyris's management theory

Numerous management consultants have studied the Chris Argyris theory, and you can use their expertise to guide you in implementing his valuable concepts to make your own company successful.

Locate tools and resources that will help you make the most of Chris Argyris management theories

Many online resources are available to help reinforce your understanding and implementation of Argyris's management principles.

  • You'll likely find the many facets of Argyris's theory fascinating, as you delve more deeply into them. Take advantage of as much of the information that's readily available online as you can. It will be well worth your while, as you learn to put his theories into practice to help your company grow and mature.
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Jeanne Dininni