Issues Management Essay

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High Involvement Management

High involvement�management�is a term coined by Ed Lawler for an approach to�management�centered on employee involvement. It entails providing employees with opportunities to make decisions about the conduct of their jobs and to participate in the business as a whole. Job-level involvement means increasing the decision making that people have in their work and is thus equivalent to work enrichment or role empowerment. Organization-level involvement, or empowerment, means giving employees a role in decisions on strategy, investment, and other major organizational matters. High involvement�management�is conceived as an alternative to a control model, which is founded on job simplification, tightly defined divisions of labor, rigid allocations of individuals to narrowly defined tasks, and minimal employee participation in higherlevel decisions.

Conceptual Overview

High involvement�management�is, for Lawler, distinctive precisely because it includes organization-level empowerment and goes beyond a narrow concept of job redesign; it includes the organizational changes that are designed to support the job-level involvement. These include changes in supervisory roles and systems and in the allocation and determination of rewards. Without such organizational redesigns, job involvement may well fail, for example, if supervisors unilaterally usurp the decision-making authority that employees may have been given.

The underlying concept is that if workers are to be strongly involved in their organization and to care enthusiastically about its performance, then they need to be able to influence decisions. To do this effectively, workers also need to know about the goals and strategy of the organization, have the knowledge and skills to contribute to those goals, and be rewarded for using their skills to promote them. Consequently, Lawler's high involvement�management�model has four dimensions, respectively termed power, information sharing, developing knowledge, and rewarding performance. The power dimension is the fulcrum; it ensures that power is distributed to lower levels of the organization so that operational decisions are decentralized and employees have genuine opportunities to make suggestions and participate in strategic decisionmaking processes. The other three dimensions ensure that individuals have the right information, skills, and rewards to use their power in ways that contribute significantly to the organization's goals. Thus, high involvement�management�involves practices such as sharing information on quality, customer feedback and business results, organizational performance-related reward systems, and extensive training and development, the social and problem-solving skills required for high involvement working included.

In a similar vein, Richard Walton identified a high commitment approach to�management�centered on work enrichment, functional flexibility, and teamwork, and...

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