An Overview of Management Styles

For the most part, the development of management theories and practices has taken place during nineteenth and twentieth century’s, the growth of which was the consequences of the operations of different private and public sector organizations (Modern, 2004). Though it has not been long since the profound development in management principles and practices has flourished and emerged as a formal discipline, the subsistence of management and organized operations has been around for thousands of years (Robbins and Decenzo, 2005). In support of this, the authors have provided the example of Pyramids where the use of management and organized activities in their construction can be precisely assumed.

One of the pioneers of management writings, Follett (n.d. cited in Barrett, 2003: p.51), stated that management is

…the art of getting things done through people.

The relationship between superior and subordinates is highly conditional on how managers want employees behave and perform their jobs (Gennard and Judge, 2002), which accentuate the topic of management style (McConnell, 1993; Modern, 2004).

styles of management

Purcell (1987) points out that the term ‘management style’ is vague and often confusing, which need to be refined and clarified. The author defined Style as a unique set of principles, written or otherwise, which provide guidelines for the managers the way employees are to be treated and handled. As such, management style is closely similar to business policies that are in place to achieve strategic fit. According to Albaum et al. (1995 cited in Poon et al., 2005), Management style is

… a recurring set of characteristics that are associated with the decisional process of the firm.

Morden (2004:171) defined this characteristic as

… the approach taken by enterprise management to the supervision of the operational productivity, task performance, and work behavior of subordinates.

Fox (1971) labels it as an approach of carrying out a common relationship with fellow co-workers and subordinates, which is by and large done through participatory, supportive, bureaucratic manner through which the purpose of the organization is served (Mikhailitchenko and Lundstrom, 2006; Roskin, 1989).

According to Waddell and Waddell (2007), employees’ work behavior and performance in the workplace is highly influenced by the way they are supervised by their superiors, which accentuate the style of management (Khandwala, 1977). McConnell (1993) points out that the appropriateness and fittingness of a particular management style relies on numerous factors prevailing in the organizational environment and the existence and nonexistence of these factors are the determinants of what management style is to be adopted.

Four key dimensions of management styles have been identified by (Mikhailitchenko and Lundstrom, 2006) with which different styles of management can be compared:

Supervision style – This measures the extent to which managers take part in employees’ regular work flow;

Decision-making style – This measures the extent to which employees take part in management decision making process;

Information-sharing style – This measures the extent to which employees are able to access key company information and the amount of information flow within the organization; and

Paternalistic orientation – This measures the extent to which managers have an active involvement in employees’ non-work related issues.

According to Purcell (1987), for the clarification of to what extent management style is significant in employee relations, two dimensions of management styles have been recognized – Individualism and Collectivism. Individualism denotes the degree to which the rights and capabilities of individual employees are spotted on workforce policies. Collectivism denotes to what degree the voice of employees is encouraged in the management policy in terms of decision making. Roskin (1989) points out that the dimensions of management style that shapes the behavior of managers come into play in different situations based on the situational influence. They are task-centred, situation-centred & relationship-centred.

Task-centred – the extent to which managers see his role as accentuating directing, initiating, controlling and structuring type behavior (Fleishman et al., 1955 cited in Roskin, 1989);

Situation-centred – the extent to which manager sees his role as accentuating integrating, organizing, co-coordinating and synthesizing type behavior (Roskin, 1975 cited in Roskin, 1989);

Relationship-centred – the extent to which manager sees his role as accentuating trusting, listening, co-operating and encouraging type behavior (Fleishman et al., 1955 cited in Roskin, 1989).

Zeffane (1995: p.9) further identified four main sub-dimensions of management styles, which influence the style of management. They are –

• the degree of “emphasis on flexibility and adaptation”;

• the degree of “emphasis on rules and regulations”;

• the degree of emphasis on “hierarchy and role specialization” and

• the degree of “work-group discontinuity/change”.

Zeffane (1995) pointed out to the fact that one style does not fit for all organizations. Organizations need to be flexible and adaptive while embracing a management style taking into account various organizational & cultural variables and situational changes in order to be effective while ensuring and upholding organizational stability, consistency and continuity.



• Barrett, R. (2003), Vocational Business: Training, Developing and Motivating People, Nelson Thornes, Cheltenham.
• Fox, A. (1971), “Organizational Design and Management Style”, Personnel Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 12-20.
• Gennard, J. and Judge, G. (2002), Employee Relations, Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, Wimbledon.
• Khandwalla, P. (1977), The Design of Organisations, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, New York.
• McConnell, C. R. (1993), The Health Care Supervisor on Career Development, Aspen Publishers, Gaithersburg, MD.
• Mikhailitchenko, A. and Lundstrom, W. J. (2006), “Inter-organizational relationship strategies and management styles in SMEs: The US-China-Russia study”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 27, No. 6, pp. 428-448. • Modern, T. (2004), Principles of Management, Ashgate Publishing Group, Aldershot.
• Peters, T. and Waterman, R., (1982), In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-run Companies, Harper and Ross, New York.
• Poon, P. S., Evangelista, F. U. and Albaum, G. (2005), “A comparative study of the management styles of marketing managers in Australia and the People’s Republic of China”, International Marketing Review,Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 34-47.
• Purcell, J. (1987), “Mapping Management Styles In Employee Relations”, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 24, Issue 5, pp. 533 – 548.
• Robbins, S. P. and DeCenzo, D. A. (20030, Fundamentals of Management, Prentice Hall, NJ.
• Roskin, R. (1989), “Management Style and Achievement; A Model Synthesis”, Management Decision, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 17-22.
• Waddell, J. R. and Waddell, A. (1997), “Are your employees afraid of you?”, Supervision, Vol. 68, No. 9, pg. 20.
• Zeffane, R. (1995), “Organizational Commitment and Perceived Management Styles: The Public-Private Sector Contrast”, Management Research News, Vol. 18, No. 6/7, pp. 9-20.


Posted by: Farid Ahmed



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