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Chapter II

Review of Literature


2.0 Introduction

Concepts and theories that constitute the scientific literature on a topic may be considered as analogous to cartographical maps that represent particular geographical territories of interest. Maps of geographical territories are graphic representations that provide a frame of reference to people who want to deal with the territory. Even as such maps are a means by which people understand where they are and where they can go, so should the social science literature provide a cognitive frame of reference, with which the researcher could know the whereabouts of his current position and how he could proceed to reach where he wants to go.

Several maps may be available for the same territory, but not all of them might serve or be useful to an explorer. The pertinence, specificity and practicality of the maps will render some of them more useful than others for a given purpose. A choice, therefore, is necessitated. In the social science literature, there are numerous studies, which focus on any of the multifarious human issues such as health, illnesses, conflict, stress, motivation and performance, and show that all these issues are somehow (as causes and/or consequences) related to interpersonal relations. We shall, however, restrict our review to studies that will sufficiently help us focus the objective of the present study in some perspective.

The review begins with studies that refer to the significance of interpersonal relations in management and proceeds to those that have attempted to explain interpersonal behaviour itself. Since the objective of the thesis is to map the existing interpersonal needs (of the chosen sample), we shall also scan the literature for help in this regard.

2.1 Interpersonal Relations in Management

Managers carry out their job functions by interacting with others: superiors, subordinates, peers, suppliers, and customers. On the basis of several empirical studies on the manager's job, Mintzberg (1975) reported that managers spent most (78 per cent) of their time in relating to people, face-to-face, over the telephone or through written communications. Stewart (1967) found that "even in those few moments when managers are alone, they are frequently interrupted by people". All these interactions constitute the realm of interpersonal relations in management.

These interpersonal interactions have been found to influence organisational functioning, directly or indirectly (e.g., Gabarro, 1976; Pestonjee, 1992; Rao, 1987). Srilata (1988), for example, found that personality characteristics and the interpersonal behavioural style of the supervisor contributed to the subordinate's experience of organisational stress. Organisational stress was found to be negatively associated with organisational effectiveness (Khanna, 1985). Rao and Selvan (1992) found that both managers as well as subordinates, in their independent responses to the question of what in their opinion contributed to managerial effectiveness, indicated "interpersonal relationships" as the most important factor. Their study also reports that, in response to the question of what suggestions they would give for improvement of their manager's effectiveness, the two top-ranking (and highly inter-connected) suggestions by the subordinates were: "improve communications" and "improve interpersonal relationships". The authors of the above study proposed that interpersonal skills be imparted to managers through various training programmes. But, what exactly are these skills? What are the components or determinants of interpersonal behaviour? There is a gap to be filled here. The determinants of interpersonal behaviour must needs be identified if the recommended training is to take off effectively. Before we get into that, we shall first take a look at the available literature on the subject.

2.2.0 Review of Literature

The available literature on the subject of our interest, namely, interpersonal behaviour, may be classified into four broad categories: general motivational theories of human behaviour, omnibus theories of personality, two-dimensional theories of interpersonal relations, and a three-dimensional theory of interpersonal behaviour. Salient points from each of these categories of literature are briefly discussed in the following sub-sections.

2.2.1 Interpersonal Concepts in Motivational Theories

One of the basic questions that psychology tries to answer is: why do people behave the way they do?. In their scientific attempt to answer the question, psychologists (e.g., Alderfer, 1969; Maslow, 1954; McClelland, 1961) have theorised that human behaviour is motivated or that it is triggered by some inner drives, which are based on certain needs. Interpersonal behaviour, being a subset of behaviour, can be viewed as founded on certain needs, too. If interpersonal behaviour, as was discussed above, is an essential part of managerial work and if needs are the fundamental basis of behaviour, then a knowledge of the specific needs that influence the interpersonal behaviour of managers can help us understand one very important aspect of managerial effectiveness.

Some of the needs that influence human behaviour are biological, some emotional, and some social in nature. The most popular classification of human needs categorises them into five groups: physiological, security, love & belongingness, status, and self-actualisation needs (Maslow, 1954). A reclassification by Alderfer (1969) reduced Maslow's five categories into three and called them Existence, Relatedness, and Growth needs. According to McClelland, human behaviour in organisational settings is motivated by the need for achievement, the need for power and the need for affiliation.

As may be noticed, the italicised words in the above paragraph refer to the interpersonal aspects of human behaviour. And yet, when one tries to understand those very interpersonal aspects of human behaviour in a systematic way, these theories do not help much, for they fall short of addressing the interpersonal behaviour domain, directly and adequately. The concepts of love & belongingness and relatedness, apart from classifying certain behaviours and inferring to their corresponding motivational constructs, do little else in operationalising them and, much less, in terms of providing a conceptual framework or model of interpersonal behaviour.

McClelland's concepts of achievement, affiliation and power, though operationalised to an extent and found useful in studying certain important facets of managerial work (McClelland, 1976), do not present a specific framework of interpersonal behaviour, either. While his concept of nAff (need for affiliation) does obviously refer to interpersonal aspects, his nPower, which allegedly refers to some other aspect, actually covers a good deal of what characterises interpersonal behaviour, too. When he defines nPower as the urge to have impact on others, he is certainly referring to a basis of interpersonal behaviour. How about nAch (the need for achievement)? One could argue that achievement in society has to have certain interpersonal nuance, because one's "achievement" has to be recognised by at least one other person who matters and, thus, certain interpersonal interaction is involved. But such an argument would be going too far. Accepting the concept of nAch, therefore, to be distinct from the other two needs of nAff and nPower, one would not consider McClelland's as a theory of interpersonal relations. It is not an integrated conceptual framework for understanding the interpersonal phenomenon.

Just as the concept of Johari Window, when used in a feedback context, can help in understanding some aspects of interpersonal behaviour, the concepts of relatedness, love & belongingness and nAff, contained in the above-cited motivational theories are useful, but too segmental and, hence, inadequate to address the domain of interpersonal behaviour in a comprehensive manner.

2.2.2 Personality Theories and Interpersonal Relations

All personality theories would necessarily have something to say about interpersonal relations, for the latter is an integral part of the total personality. By virtue of their being concerned with the entire system of human personality, these theories stop short of details in regard to any one of its subsystems. And yet, it is useful to take a cursory look at the various interpersonal aspects, which some of these theories emphasised.

Freud seems to have emphasised the emotional-attachment aspect, by attributing almost all of the libidinal cathexis to sex and affection. Of the three libidinal types of persons (Narcissistic, Obsessional and Erotic), the erotic seems to be the most interpersonal. According to Adler, the individual personality is a constant strive toward overcoming the feelings of inferiority that arise in everyone right at the initial experience with the world and continue to accompany one's life; he proposed the "will to power", with which to overcome the feelings of inferiority. Jung emphasised introversion and extroversion as the characteristic modes, in which the "life energy" of a person expresses itself. Fromm (1947) referred to three types of "interpersonal relatedness": 'Withdrawal-destructiveness', 'symbiotic' and 'love'; he emphasised the love aspect as the most successful form of interpersonal relatedness.

Horney (1945) held that the human being, in his/her struggle to come to terms with the environment, develops three basic behavioural trends of moving away from, moving against and moving toward people. Horney's is an interpersonal theory of personality. Her concept of "moving against people", obviously an interpersonal dimension, captures the negative use of interpersonal power and leaves out the positive aspect of power and influence in the interpersonal context. The other two concepts of "moving away from" and "moving toward" are but two sides of one and the same dimension of sociability. Here, again, love & affection seems to have received greater emphasis than other aspects of interpersonal relations.

Berne's (1964) theory of Transactional Analysis is quite conspicuously addressed to the domain of interpersonal behaviour. According to this theory, the individual human being is interminably in need of strokes, to acquire which s/he transacts with other humans. A stroke, broadly, is an act of acknowledging or rejecting the presence of another person; a transaction is essentially an exchange of strokes, positive and negative. The individual is conceptualised in this theory as an amalgam of three selves or states of being or ego states, called the Parent, the Adult and the Child, any one of which may dominate the individual's transactions with others. (Please note: In the context of this framework, Child is different from a child; the latter is a young one of the human species while the former is a technical term for one of the ego states.) Depending on the way a child is received and treated and the way the child interprets its early experiences, the child takes a certain basic psychological position about him-/herself as well as about others. This existential or life position gradually firms up into any of the following four hues: I am OK:you are OK, I am NOT OK:you are OK, I am OK:you are NOT OK, or I am NOT OK:you are NOT OK. This life position, once formed, becomes -- to use a computer term -- the individual's operating system, from which emanate one's day-to-day transactions. Thence forward, one's life experiences are both influenced by and interpreted in the light of one's life position. On the basis of the extracts of these interpreted experiences, the person writes his/her own psychological script that the person feels urged to live his/her life by.

Transactions are thus a result of the three ego states, combined with a particular psychological life position, acting out the script in search of strokes. Depending on the within-person and between-person combination of ego states, life positions and scripts, the transactions may be complementary, crossed, or ulterior, giving rise to positive, negative or ambivalent feelings, respectively. By becoming aware of one's script and life position, it is possible for one to change the operating system (the life position) and edit (or even rewrite) the script. Then by consciously choosing to engage a particular ego state in a given situation, using a positive life position (the I-am-ok:you-are-ok operating system) and acting out a suitably edited (or rewritten) script, the individual can acquire (and provide others with) the necessary positive strokes to enjoy a fulfilling existence on earth.

While this theory has acquired popularity among people, it does not seem to have attracted the attention of behavioural scientists, interested in empirical studies. In its concept of need (for strokes), this theory shares common grounds with the need-based motivational theories, but the concept is much less differentiated, encompassing a host of dimensions: accepting, rejecting, loving, hating, greeting, praising, scolding, criticising, yelling, etc., despite the differences in their structural and emotional content, are all strokes. Despite such complexities at the scientific level, Transactional Analysis has acquired great popularity among the public, probably because it offers explanations for almost any and every aspect of every-day life in an easy-to-understand language. If the latter quality of the theory is a strength and the cause of its popularity, this very strength is its weakness in stimulating scientific enquiry. A mega-theory that attempts to explain everything can hardly guide scientific investigation of anything specific.

Having taken a cursory look at the various interpersonal dimensions, emphasised in some personality theories, we now turn to theories that are directly addressed to the specific domain of interpersonal behaviour.

2.2.3 Two-dimensional Theories of Interpersonal Behaviour

The origin of formal studies in the domain of interpersonal behaviour has been traced to a doctoral dissertation by Freedman in 1950. Freedman conceptualised interpersonal behaviour as composed of two intersecting dimensions of love-hate (represented on the horizontal line) and dominate-submit (represented on the vertical line). Within this framework, it was proposed that cases of interpersonal behaviour could be placed in specific segments within any of the quadrants, depending on the kind and degree of the dimension reflected by a particular behaviour (Leary, et al., 1951).

Later studies of interpersonal behaviour were found to conform closely to this Freedman-Leary conceptual model, except for certain terminological modifications to suit the specific social contexts being studied (Wiggins, 1982). In a parent-child context, for example, Schaefer (1959) substituted accepting-rejecting for love-hate and control-autonomy for dominate-submit; Becker (1964) proposed dimensions of warmth-vs-hostility and restrictive-vs-permissive; Raphael-Leff (1983) preferred to use regulating-facilitating in place of dominate-submit. Birtchnell (1987) classified interpersonal behaviour along attachment-detachment and directiveness-receptiveness dimensions. The essential features of the theory in all these studies, however, remained the same: the four characteristics or tendencies of love, hate, domination and submission (or their variants) forming the four nodal points of two intersecting dimensions in such a way that samples of interpersonal behaviour could be arranged in a continuous circle (known as the interpersonal circle) running through the four nodes.

Benjamin (1974), in her structural analysis of social behaviour (SASB), took Leary's horizontal dimension of love-hate (she termed it affiliation) and Schaefer's vertical dimension of dominate-emancipate (termed interdependence), but created three separate two-dimensional "surfaces". The first surface was considered "active in nature" and was called parentlike; it was concerned with doing things to or for another person. The second surface was considered "reactive" and was called childlike; it was concerned with what is done to or for the self. The third surface was considered to represent introjections of others' treatment of the individual and was concerned with one's attitudes and forms of behaviour towards oneself. Measures were also developed in the form of questionnaires based on the SASB model to measure interpersonal attitudes.

Unlike the general motivational theories of human behaviour and the theories of personality that we discussed earlier, the two-dimensional theories, based on the Freedman-Leary model, were specifically addressed to the structure of interpersonal behaviour. However, statistical analyses were found to yield unsatisfactory results regarding the circumplexity or the internal consistency of the scales used (Paddock & Nowicki, 1986). In this process, the theory seems to have suffered more than benefited, for, as Birtchnell (1990) observes, `the successive changes ... have been dictated by the requirements of the circumplex hypothesis and not by a respect for the nature and meaning of the two principal dimensions. There remains a great deal about the theory which requires clarification and modification. (The successive changes in the theory) appear to have diverted attention from the principal objectives of a two-dimensional theory' (p. 1199). Besides, it may be recalled that the origin of this theory was in the context and service of psychiatry and its ultimate objective was to classify psychiatric disorders in interpersonal terms (Sullivan, 1953; Leary, 1957).

2.2.4 A Three-dimensional Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour

Schutz (1958; 1960), on the basis of the research he had done in the navy for the purpose of composing navy groups that would work and be productive together, proposed a three dimensional theory of interpersonal behaviour. In his initial formulation of the theory, he postulated three dimensions to account for all interpersonal phenomena, operative and distinguishable at the behavioural and the feeling levels. On the level of behaviour he called the dimensions Inclusion, Control, and Affection; their counterparts on the level of feelings were called Significance, Competence, and Loveability. He identified two facets of each of the dimensions: the expressed facet (what one does to another or others, similar to Benjamin's parentlike surface) and the wanted facet (similar to Benjamin's childlike surface). He also developed instruments to measure these two facets of each of the three dimensions.

Schutz called his theory FIRO (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation). His instrument to measure the three dimensions on the behavioural level was named FIRO-B and the one for the feelings level was named FIRO-F. While updating the theory in the early 1980s, Schutz (1982) introduced certain changes in some aspects of the theory and, correspondingly, also in the instruments. These revisions are discussed in the following paragraphs:

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