Behavioural and Systems Approach (concise and simple notes on Chapter 6 Mohit Bhattacharya’s book New Horizons of Public Administration) 

Introduction – 

Organisation theories are generally based on studies on private firms. Public administration is different from them because of 3 factors i.e. democracy, interdependent organisations and public welfare as the ultimate goal in public administration while rent seeking is main goal in private organisations. 

Traditional Theory – 

Emphasized on mechanical aspects – scientific work methods i.e. diving of work into parts, skill development and training of workers in specific fields, maximization of output by limited labor (Taylor), efficiency by Weber (bureaucracy), and psychological aspects such as piece by piece pay incentive, monetary motivation’s (Taylor). (overemphasis on this method leads to rigidity, lack of innovation, motivation, disaffection and alienation in workers)

Human Relations Approach – 

Main experiment by Elton Mayo – Hawthorne Experiments which proved physical conditions have less affect than mental or psychological conditions on work output. Concept of informal work group, and independent decisions being taken by it. 

Neo-Human Relationists – (Argyris, McGregor and Herzberg)

– Giving discretion to lower level members, and their involvement in decision making process, sensitivity training, Maslow’s theory of motivation – Hierarchy of needs (social needs, economic needs, survival, self-esteem and self-actualization needs) 


Definition of organisation – ‘a system of consciously coordinated activities or forces of two or more persons’ 

Weber – formal positional authority and Bernard says authority comes from ‘acceptance’ or orders by subordinates. (4 rules for this, study from book)

Persuasion as means of motivation, underplayed role of coercion, Incentives (monetary) work to a limit

Simon – ‘satisfying’ behavior concept i.e. satisfaction more important goal than maximization or ideal return

Bakke – (fusion process) Individual uses organisation (personalising process) for his goals, and organisation uses individual (socialising process) for furthering its own goals. 

Chris Argyris says that these 2 things should match upto a limit, so that individual don’t feel alienated. 

McGregor (Theory x and Theory Y) – (organisation X is rigid, strictly follows hierarchy, rules, regulations, vertical and single command, considers people as work-avoiding and not wanting to take decisions) 

(Organisation Y is just opposite of X having more free flow of information, horizontal communication, division of authority, considers man as self-actualizing and self-controlling, initiative, creativity, less manipulation)

Systems Approach 

This approach says that independent theories and concepts have developed in different fields of study, while having no co-relation with each other. So, Systems approach is to join all those concepts and provide a broad view of system as a whole. (knowledge integration) 

– some aspects or fields of organisation are – technical, structural, human and social-psychological. 

– System – ” A set or arrangement of things so related or connected as to form a unity of organic whole”. Types – closed (mechanical, and physical, high entropy, tendency towards disorganization) and open (biological and social, move towards higher level of organisation), boundary concept 

Relevance of Organisation Theory 

– studying complex public organisations (as a system) – 5 parts of it – objectives, environment, resources, components and management. 

– used by MP Follet, Chester Bernard and Herbert Simon in decision making concept. 

– situational theory (systems theory pertains to it), contingency (again systems approach) and traditional – “one best way” (Taylorism, bureaucracy, classical design theory etc. – good in every situation) 

Situational Theories – 

2 components (technology and environment) 

Technology – 

Definition – techniques used by organisations in work-flow activities to transform Inputs into Outputs 

1st experiment on use of technology on 100 firms which were categorised as Unit or small batch, medium production or large batch, and continuous production process (with more technological input in successive firm) 

– (a) Level of authority increased with technology, i.e from Unit to Process. 

– (b) Manager/personnel increases with more complex systems. 

– (c) Span of control of first line supervisor increased from unit to mass, and then decreased from mass to process. (very important for any organisation based on its level of technology use , i..e. small span or large span is regressive)

– bureaucratic type of organisation were those with more span of supervising i.e. mass production ones’ 

Importance – technology changes organisation design or else organisation changes or adopts different technology. 

Environment and Organisation – 

Operating environment – ‘Set of conditions outside the organisation that have direct impact on the day-to-day functioning of organisation’ (it generally again sets the stability level and complexity level in organisation – very simple concept as stable environment – complex and bureaucratic system based on fixed rules, and vice-versa)

Studies – (1st one) 

Two types of systems of management ‘mechanistic’ (everything sub-contracted, clear division, functional roles are defined interatction vertical between superior and subordinate) and ‘organic’ ( no breaking down of work, no specific area or power, more interaction laterally as well as vertically) (Same as theory X and Y – half of PUB AD is repetition of same things with different headings

2nd one 

Concepts of differentiation (division of organisation into subsystems i.e. structural division and partly behavioral), Integration(unity of effort among subsystems to achieve organisations task – could be done by plan or persuasion and adjustment according to stability of system) and again environment (sub sections are market i.e. sales, technical-economic i.e. production and scientific i.e. research and development functions) – Again since these experiments are on commercial ventures, so they are miles away from public departments working 😛 

Now, again the concept is that any work has to be first differentiated into subsystems and then integrated later. Environment will decide what are optimal conditions for doing it, and the level of achieving differentiation and integration will decide the effectiveness in end. 

Overview – (most important section of whole chapter, read fully again and again so no short notes of it) 😛

Closed and Open Models (CM and OM) – 

5 aspects of comparison (i) Social role of organisation (closed – bureaucracy inside, client outside the system, in open both are same, and organisational goals and society goal are embedded in each other)

  (ii) organisational view of man ( Similar to theory X and Y stated above, X is closed and Y is open system)

(iii) concept of organisational structure (closed – rigid, heavy formalism, hierarchical structure and ordered communication like secretariat and open – participative, free flow of communication, and flexible relations)

 (iv) concept of organisational order (closed system – order is imposed from top, and in open it grows out of human behaviour automatically)

(v) perceptions of the environment ( closed system – inward looking and finding stability inside the organisation considering external effects nil – like public protests have no impact on ears of government and Indian Bureaucracy while Open system – integrates itself with environment and reorders internal structure and operations in respect to environment) 

– organisations and environments keep changing, and they along with people try to survive and learn from their mistakes. 

That’s all the summary of this chapter 🙂 In end we can say that if Government doesn’t mend its ways like heavy corruption by congress government ministers during UPA 2 then public gives its verdict. So, be open system 😛