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Chapter I

An Overview of the Study


It is not good for man to be alone;
I will make a companion suitable for him.
- Genesis, 2:18.

1.0 Introduction

Humans are highly social in their behaviour. They interact with members of their species in a wide variety of ways, ranging from just being together to most intimate forms of socialising. People seek company to avoid being alone, to confabulate, to ask for as well as to offer help, to accomplish common goals, to share joys and sorrows, to listen and to be listened to, to show or to be shown the way, to show off, compete or fight with one another, etc. These interactions are referred to as interpersonal (between persons) behaviour. Interpersonal behaviour, despite its most popular connotation of face-to-face interactions, is not confined to situations in which the interacting humans are physically present. One person's behaviour towards another can occur in the physical absence of the other and yet be truly interpersonal: writing a letter of invitation, for example! Thus, while interpersonal behaviour necessarily involves two or more persons, the presence of the interactants may be physical or psychological.

Interpersonal behaviour helps develop, sustain or thwart certain kinds of relationships between and among people. Some of these relationships are compatible and fulfilling, while others turn out to be incompatible and frustrating in social life. Can these differences be explained and accounted for? What determines the quality of these relationships? A systematic understanding of the determinants of interpersonal behaviour would shed light on this complex phenomenon of social interactions.

The interactions, referred to above, are part of social phenomena, characteristic of people's everyday life. The present study is purportedly to do with managerial work. Where does interpersonal behaviour figure, if at all, in the world of the manager? Managers are professionals employed in formal organisations, which have specific objectives to achieve through officially regulated mechanisms, involving rules and regulations that are objective and impersonal. The domain of interpersonal relations, on the other hand, is concerned with what occurs between people as people, involving issues that are subjective and personal. At least on the face of it, therefore, the two phenomena of managerial behaviour and interpersonal behaviour appear to be diametric; one seems to negate, or fly in the face of, the other. But are they in fact so antithetical to each other? Is interpersonal behaviour just an inevitable, but unwanted-guestlike appendage that the manager has to put up with, because he is unable to arrest it? To be able to answer these questions, one would do well to examine the nature of managerial work.

1.1 Managerial Work and Interpersonal Relations

Henri Fayol is credited with having proposed way back in 1916 that managers plan, organise, coordinate and control. These words are in vogue even today in discussions of managerial work, but the understanding remains vague. In an attempt to more accurately describe what managers actually do, Mintzberg (1975) reviewed the available research on how various managers spent their time; he also undertook empirical studies in several organisations himself. The method used in his studies was "structured observation" of all that the managers really did.

Sythesising the findings, Mintzberg described the manager's job in terms of roles or organised sets of behaviours. For example, the set of behaviours that related to presiding at ceremonies, signing legal documents, making himself available to those who feel the need to meet the boss, receiving visitors, etc. was referred to as the figurehead role. In addition, nine more roles were identified: leader, liaison, monitor, disseminator, spokesman, entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator and negotiator. All the ten roles were found to involve one or more of three basic behaviours: interpersonal contact, processing of information, and making of decisions.

Mintzberg defined the manager as a person in charge of an organisation or one of its units. Being in charge, the manager is invested with formal authority, which "gives rise to three interpersonal roles (figurehead, liaison, and leader), which in turn give rise to three informational roles (monitor or nerve centre, disseminator, and spokesman), and these two sets of roles enable the manager to play four decisional roles (entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, and negotiator)" [Mintzberg, 1975].

Of the ten managerial roles, the interpersonal ones seem to be fundamental and prime, because they arise, as explained by Mintzberg, directly from the manager's formal authority. That is to say, the manager has got to interact with superiors, subordinates, peers and clients -- as part of his job. These interpersonal interactions are fundamental to and inevitable in the managerial job. No matter how small or big the organisation, how simple or complex its design or structure and whatever the management style, all organisational activity, in the ultimate analysis, is carried out by one person relating to one or more other persons. Even where groups are concerned, their functioning is facilitated or hindered by the interpersonal behaviour of the group members. Interpersonal behaviour, in other words, assumes a special significance in the context of management, which has to deal with individuals and groups.

1.2 Impact of Interpersonal Relations in Organisations

The Hawthorne studies of the 1920s identified what, in organisational behaviour, has come to be known as the Hawthorne Effect, which in essence refers to the impact of interpersonal relations in the work group. It was found that morale and productivity in the experimental work group continued to increase even after the improved physical working conditions were restored to their original level. The key variable that was identified by the researchers as accounting for the results was the change in the nature of interpersonal relationships between the supervisors and the workers as well as among the work group members themselves. The study team reports, for example, that the supervisor did not behave like the usual supervisor; he was permissive, interested in the workers and was ready to be influenced by them; the relationship was characterised by greater attention to and respect for the workers in the group (Roethlisberger and Dickson, 1943).

Interpersonal relations in the context of managerial work has, since then, been studied under the supervisor-subordinate exchange or the vertical dyad linkage model. Some of these studies (e.g., Liden and Graen, 1980; Rosse and Kraut, 1983; Scandura et al., 1986) found that, compared to a low-quality exchange relationship, a high-quality exchange relationship was significantly related to greater supervisory support and guidance, higher subordinate satisfaction and performance, and lower subordinate turnover. Weick (1969) has argued that human relationships are the principal means through which organisations are controlled. Effective managerial decision making and, especially, implementation of decisions have been found to be influenced by interpersonal relations in organisations (Mintzberg and Quinn, 1991).

Poor interpersonal relations in the work place are said to be related to stress and its undesirable correlates. One of the consequences of stress is reduced motivation to work (Zalenzik, et al., 1977). Pestonjee (1992), in his review of Indian studies on organisational stress, says that a manager's "performance depends on task activities, behavioural settings, as well as patterns of interpersonal connectedness (emphasis added). Sometimes, ... the job roles threaten to exceed the occupant's capacities and produce role stress. The emotional, physiological and behavioural responses to experienced stress are greatly influenced by personal attributes and experiences which, in turn, may influence an individual's output" (page 104). On the basis of his review, he concludes that interpersonal relations is one of the major sources of stress; personal needs are significant moderators of stress; and stress influences performance.

Since interpersonal relations in the managerial context can, as indicated in the foregoing paragraphs, affect important job-related behaviours in an organisation, studies have attempted to assess the determinants of interpersonal relationship. The studies of Bohra and Pandey (1984), Cardy and Dobbins (1986), Kingstrom and Mainstone (1985), Tsui and Barry (1986), and others found that affective reactions of superiors influenced their performance ratings and rewarding behaviour toward subordinates, which in turn influenced the quality of exchange relationship between the two. A recent laboratory experiment and field study investigated the issue and confirmed the earlier findings, concluding that supervisor's liking for the subordinate was a significant determinant of the quality of the superior-subordinate exchange relationship (Wayne and Ferris, 1990).

1.3 Need for the Study

While the findings of studies, such as those referred to above, underscore the importance of interpersonal relations in the managerial job, they are insufficient to guide action in the practice of interpersonal relations among managers. For instance, liking, as we saw above, has been found to influence interpersonal relations. Are interpersonal relations confined to liking and disliking alone? How about the phenomenon of interpersonal influence? Is that not part of interpersonal relations? Managers do influence others, irrespective of their liking towards others. Further, the concepts of "affective reactions" and "liking" appear to be complex and multi-dimensional; and they also seem to be themselves dependent variables, influenced by antecedents. Affective reactions, for example, could encompass any of the possible emotions like fear, anger, love, hate, jealousy, etc. Liking could be a function of one's admiration for the other's competencies, physical attraction toward the other, etc. For a better understanding, therefore, it is necessary to identify the simpler elements that constitute the determinants of interpersonal relations.

The theory of Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (Schutz, 1958; 1982) seems to meet the above need. It states that interpersonal behaviour is behaviour aimed at satisfying certain inner needs which can only be satisfied through human interaction. It holds that there are three such needs, namely, Inclusion, Control, and Openness, which determine people's interpersonal behaviour.

Although the ubiquity, importance and consequences of interpersonal relations in managerial jobs are well recognised (Pandey and Bohra, 1984; Pestonjee, 1992; Rao and Selvan, 1992; Srilata, 1988; Wayne and Ferris, 1990), the underlying determinants of those relations have not received as much attention in Indian research. The interpersonal needs of managers in our country have remained unexplored.

To explore, map and make an adequate inventory of the prevailing interpersonal needs of managers in India, it would be necessary to go in for an extensive coverage, involving an immensely large sample, composed of sectorial sub-samples (each one of which itself would be fairly large), to represent the universe of management in the country. Obviously, such a large-scale project would far exceed the scope of the thesis at hand, which is just the first step in the as yet neglected direction. It was, therefore, decided to begin the study with one important sector and take a large enough sample so as to kill two birds (however little) with one stone: to arrive at some generalisations within the chosen sector and to catch sight of indicative directions for future studies of the phenomenon in other sectors. The sector chosen for the purpose is the cooperative dairy sector. The following considerations underlay the choice of the sector.

Dairying is an important sector of the Indian economy and its importance has been growing steadily. Over 70 per cent of the country's rural households are engaged in dairying. With the launch of Operation Flood in 1970, cooperative dairying also became a national level instrument of rural development and it presently covers all the major milksheds of the country, over 170 in number. It is a fast-growing agribusiness in the country; it already manages 140 dairy plants and handles over 12 million litres of milk a day, as of October 1993 (NDDB 1993). The Indian cooperative dairy sector is distinctly structured, staffed and managed with great structural and functional similarities across the country. It also inducts, regularly and in sizable numbers, professionally qualified management graduates into its cadre of management. The sector, thus, possesses a massive layout of resources and management machinery (see Table 1.1 below).

More importantly, the dairy cooperatives impact the lives of about 7,000,000 rural households in the country, who are milk producers and owner members of these cooperatives. If we include the consumers of milk and milk products from this massive cooperative dairy set-up, the area of impact is immensely vast, indeed. In addition to milk production enhancement programmes, the cooperative dairy sector continues to procure, process and market more and more of the milk produced in the country. The significance of the cooperative dairy sector is, thus, unquestionable.

Table 1.1: Statistics on Cooperative Dairy Sector

Region

Co-op
societies

Producer
members
('000)

AI
centres

Dairy
plants

Processing
capacity
('000 lpd)

Managerial
and technical
staff strength

Northern

21,301

1,201

2,319

35

4,130

541

Western

17,974

2,446

3,284

44

8,145

1,110

Southern

17,176

3,146

4,737

43

4,915

933

Eastern

4,374

210

654

18

1,186

181

Total

60,825

7,003

10,994

140

18,376

2,765

Source: Dairy India 1992 and NDDB records of 1993.

Research studies on several aspects of the management, practised in the cooperative dairies, may be necessary to understand the working of the sector so as to be able to help improve its effectiveness. One important area of interest, as pointed out in the earlier paragraphs, is the one relating to the interpersonal needs of managers. While a knowledge of the existing interpersonal needs of managers and managers-in-the-making is useful in its own right, such a knowledge could also help design need-based managerial skill development programmes to sustain and enhance the health and effectiveness of the sector.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

Having chosen the cooperative dairy sector as the target, the present study aims at exploring and inventorying the interpersonal needs of the managers in the sector. Since a majority of the fresh professionals who are inducted into this sector graduate from one particular institute in the country, namely, the Institute of Rural Management, Anand, it is logical to include the management students of this Institute also as part of the finite universe being studied.

The specific issues to be explored in this study are set out in terms of the following objectives:

  1. To identify the FIRO (fundamental interpersonal relations orientation) profile of the cooperative dairy managers in India.
  2. To identify the FIRO profile of the management students who are being prepared for assuming managerial positions in the Indian cooperative dairy sector.
  3. To examine the associational relationship among the various aspects of interpersonal needs themselves.
  4. To examine if there are any differences in the interpersonal needs of functional, regional, subjectwise, and age-wise subgroups among the managers.
  5. To examine differences in the interpersonal needs of various subgroups of management students.
  6. To identify any characteristic differences between the interpersonal need profiles of the managers and the management students.

1.5 Organisation of the Thesis

The thesis is organised into five chapters. Having presented an overview of the study in Chapter I, a review of literature, related to interpersonal behaviour is undertaken in Chapter II in order to help place the study in context and develop a perspective for the issues under discussion.

Chapter III deals with the methodology adopted in pursuit of the objectives set forth at the end of the first chapter and converts those objectives into testable hypotheses. The chapter will include descriptions of the sample for the study, the instrument used for collection of data, the procedure adopted in the administration of the instrument, a list of hypotheses and brief descriptions of the statistical methods employed for data analysis and test of hypotheses.

The results and discussion are contained in Chapter IV. The chapter discusses and interprets the output obtained from the various analyses that were carried out on the data collected in the study.

The final Chapter V contains the Summary and Conclusion. It recapitulates the study, discusses some implications of the findings for management development, specifies the limitations of the study and indicates avenues for future research.

A copy of Element-B, the instrument that was used for the study, is presented in Appendix:1, followed by Appendix:2, which contains operational definitions of the three major terms: Inclusion, Control and Openness.


Chapter-2, Chapter-3, Chapter-4, Chapter-5, Synopsis.