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Management Theory of Rensis Likert

Jeanne Dininni

Likert participative management invites employees to partner in your company's success

The management theory of Rensis Likert brought a new dimension to organizational development theory.

The Likert system made it possible to quantify the results of all the work various theorists had been doing with group dynamics. Likert theory also facilitated the measurement of the "soft" areas of management, such as trust and communication.

Additionally, Likert delineated the characteristics of high- and low-producing organizations and identified the problems with traditional organizational structures. Rensis Likert recognized four management styles, or systems.

1. Exploitative-authoritative: The first system of Rensis Likert theory is characterized by decision-making in the upper echelons of the organization, with no teamwork and little communication other than threats.

2. Benevolent-authoritative: This Likert system is based on a master-servant relationship between management and employees, where rewards are the sole motivators and both teamwork and communication are minimal.

3. Consultative: In this style, managers partly trust subordinates, use both rewards and involvement to inspire motivation, foster a higher level of responsibility for meeting goals, and inspire a moderate amount of teamwork and some communication.

4. Participative-group: This system is based on managerial trust and confidence in employees; collectively determined, goal-based rewards; a collective sense of responsibility for meeting company objectives; collaborative teamwork and open communication.

Acquire some background information on Rensis Likert management theory

Numerous websites provide valuable information about Likert theory. In addition to tables and summaries of Rensis Likert principles, you'll find various videos and instructional materials that can help you develop the background knowledge and practical expertise to put Likert's management system to work for your company.
Mountain View College offers four videos which present interviews in which Rensis Likert discusses the System 4 style of management, which he considers the most effective. (Video four is particularly informative.)

Seek guidance to fit Rensis Likert theory into your program

Consultants with knowledge and experience in the management theory of Rensis Likert can guide you in maximizing the benefit of his principles in your own company's unique environment.

Locate resources that will help you make the most of Likert theory

Widely available online tools and resources can help you more easily implement Likert system principles. Surveys, PowerPoint presentations and other products that develop management skills which play key roles in Likert participative management theory let you choose the resources most valuable to your business.
Virginia Commonwealth University provides a list of Likert's Characteristics of an Effective Work Group, which can help you form such groups or assess your current groups and thereby put Rensis Likert's participative management theory to work in your own company. The Mercer Group offers, in addition to its consulting services, organizational climate surveys, which can help improve your company's organizational development. A Powerpoint presentation, called "Reflections on Leadership," is available on authorSTREAM. The presentation offers principles that can help you and your managers develop the traits that will facilitate Likert's System 4 management style.

  • Never underestimate the value of Likert's theory of management for your company. If your budget is small, take advantage of free information and tools available online and consider advancing to paid products, training or consulting services when they become more affordable to you.
Image Credit:
Jeanne Dininni