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Principles of Management

17.7 Management by Objectives: A Planning and Control Technique

Principles of Management17.7 Management by Objectives: A Planning and Control Technique
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  1. Preface
  2. 1 Managing and Performing
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 What Do Managers Do?
    3. 1.2 The Roles Managers Play
    4. 1.3 Major Characteristics of the Manager's Job
    5. Key Terms
    6. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    7. Chapter Review Questions
    8. Management Skills Application Exercises
    9. Managerial Decision Exercises
    10. Critical Thinking Case
  3. 2 Managerial Decision-Making
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Overview of Managerial Decision-Making
    3. 2.2 How the Brain Processes Information to Make Decisions: Reflective and Reactive Systems
    4. 2.3 Programmed and Nonprogrammed Decisions
    5. 2.4 Barriers to Effective Decision-Making
    6. 2.5 Improving the Quality of Decision-Making
    7. 2.6 Group Decision-Making
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  4. 3 The History of Management
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 The Early Origins of Management
    3. 3.2 The Italian Renaissance
    4. 3.3 The Industrial Revolution
    5. 3.4 Taylor-Made Management
    6. 3.5 Administrative and Bureaucratic Management
    7. 3.6 Human Relations Movement
    8. 3.7 Contingency and System Management
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Chapter Review Questions
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
  5. 4 External and Internal Organizational Environments and Corporate Culture
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 The Organization's External Environment
    3. 4.2 External Environments and Industries
    4. 4.3 Organizational Designs and Structures
    5. 4.4 The Internal Organization and External Environments
    6. 4.5 Corporate Cultures
    7. 4.6 Organizing for Change in the 21st Century
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  6. 5 Ethics, Corporate Responsibility, and Sustainability
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 Ethics and Business Ethics Defined
    3. 5.2 Dimensions of Ethics: The Individual Level
    4. 5.3 Ethical Principles and Responsible Decision-Making
    5. 5.4 Leadership: Ethics at the Organizational Level
    6. 5.5 Ethics, Corporate Culture, and Compliance
    7. 5.6 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
    8. 5.7 Ethics around the Globe
    9. 5.8 Emerging Trends in Ethics, CSR, and Compliance
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Chapter Review Questions
    13. Management Skills Application Exercises
    14. Managerial Decision Exercises
    15. Critical Thinking Case
  7. 6 International Management
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 Importance of International Management
    3. 6.2 Hofstede's Cultural Framework
    4. 6.3 The GLOBE Framework
    5. 6.4 Cultural Stereotyping and Social Institutions
    6. 6.5 Cross-Cultural Assignments
    7. 6.6 Strategies for Expanding Globally
    8. 6.7 The Necessity of Global Markets
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Chapter Review Questions
    12. Management Skills Application Exercises
    13. Managerial Decision Exercises
    14. Critical Thinking Case
  8. 7 Entrepreneurship
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Entrepreneurship
    3. 7.2 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
    4. 7.3 Small Business
    5. 7.4 Start Your Own Business
    6. 7.5 Managing a Small Business
    7. 7.6 The Large Impact of Small Business
    8. 7.7 The Small Business Administration
    9. 7.8 Trends in Entrepreneurship and Small-Business Ownership
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Chapter Review Questions
    13. Management Skills Application Exercises
    14. Managerial Decision Exercises
    15. Critical Thinking Case
  9. 8 Strategic Analysis: Understanding a Firm’s Competitive Environment
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 Gaining Advantages by Understanding the Competitive Environment
    3. 8.2 Using SWOT for Strategic Analysis
    4. 8.3 A Firm's External Macro Environment: PESTEL
    5. 8.4 A Firm's Micro Environment: Porter's Five Forces
    6. 8.5 The Internal Environment
    7. 8.6 Competition, Strategy, and Competitive Advantage
    8. 8.7 Strategic Positioning
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Chapter Review Questions
    12. Management Skills Application Exercises
    13. Managerial Decision Exercises
    14. Critical Thinking Case
  10. 9 The Strategic Management Process: Achieving and Sustaining Competitive Advantage
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Strategic Management
    3. 9.2 Firm Vision and Mission
    4. 9.3 The Role of Strategic Analysis in Formulating a Strategy
    5. 9.4 Strategic Objectives and Levels of Strategy
    6. 9.5 Planning Firm Actions to Implement Strategies
    7. 9.6 Measuring and Evaluating Strategic Performance
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  11. 10 Organizational Structure and Change
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Organizational Structures and Design
    3. 10.2 Organizational Change
    4. 10.3 Managing Change
    5. Key Terms
    6. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    7. Chapter Review Questions
    8. Management Skills Application Exercises
    9. Managerial Decision Exercises
    10. Critical Thinking Case
  12. 11 Human Resource Management
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 An Introduction to Human Resource Management
    3. 11.2 Human Resource Management and Compliance
    4. 11.3 Performance Management
    5. 11.4 Influencing Employee Performance and Motivation
    6. 11.5 Building an Organization for the Future
    7. 11.6 Talent Development and Succession Planning
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  13. 12 Diversity in Organizations
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 An Introduction to Workplace Diversity
    3. 12.2 Diversity and the Workforce
    4. 12.3 Diversity and Its Impact on Companies
    5. 12.4 Challenges of Diversity
    6. 12.5 Key Diversity Theories
    7. 12.6 Benefits and Challenges of Workplace Diversity
    8. 12.7 Recommendations for Managing Diversity
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Chapter Review Questions
    12. Management Skills Application Exercises
    13. Managerial Decision Exercises
    14. Critical Thinking Case
  14. 13 Leadership
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 The Nature of Leadership
    3. 13.2 The Leadership Process
    4. 13.3 Leader Emergence
    5. 13.4 The Trait Approach to Leadership
    6. 13.5 Behavioral Approaches to Leadership
    7. 13.6 Situational (Contingency) Approaches to Leadership
    8. 13.7 Substitutes for and Neutralizers of Leadership
    9. 13.8 Transformational, Visionary, and Charismatic Leadership
    10. 13.9 Leadership Needs in the 21st Century
    11. Key Terms
    12. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    13. Chapter Review Questions
    14. Management Skills Application Exercises
    15. Managerial Decision Exercises
    16. Critical Thinking Case
  15. 14 Work Motivation for Performance
    1. Introduction
    2. 14.1 Motivation: Direction and Intensity
    3. 14.2 Content Theories of Motivation
    4. 14.3 Process Theories of Motivation
    5. 14.4 Recent Research on Motivation Theories
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  16. 15 Managing Teams
    1. Introduction
    2. 15.1 Teamwork in the Workplace
    3. 15.2 Team Development Over Time
    4. 15.3 Things to Consider When Managing Teams
    5. 15.4 Opportunities and Challenges to Team Building
    6. 15.5 Team Diversity
    7. 15.6 Multicultural Teams
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  17. 16 Managerial Communication
    1. Introduction
    2. 16.1 The Process of Managerial Communication
    3. 16.2 Types of Communications in Organizations
    4. 16.3 Factors Affecting Communications and the Roles of Managers
    5. 16.4 Managerial Communication and Corporate Reputation
    6. 16.5 The Major Channels of Management Communication Are Talking, Listening, Reading, and Writing
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Chapter Review Questions
    10. Management Skills Application Exercises
    11. Managerial Decision Exercises
    12. Critical Thinking Case
  18. 17 Organizational Planning and Controlling
    1. Introduction
    2. 17.1 Is Planning Important
    3. 17.2 The Planning Process
    4. 17.3 Types of Plans
    5. 17.4 Goals or Outcome Statements
    6. 17.5 Formal Organizational Planning in Practice
    7. 17.6 Employees' Responses to Planning
    8. 17.7 Management by Objectives: A Planning and Control Technique
    9. 17.8 The Control- and Involvement-Oriented Approaches to Planning and Controlling
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Chapter Review Questions
    13. Management Skills Application Exercises
    14. Managerial Decision Exercises
    15. Critical Thinking Case
  19. 18 Management of Technology and Innovation
    1. Introduction
    2. 18.1 MTI—Its Importance Now and In the Future
    3. 18.2 Developing Technology and Innovation
    4. 18.3 External Sources of Technology and Innovation
    5. 18.4 Internal Sources of Technology and Innovation
    6. 18.5 Management Entrepreneurship Skills for Technology and Innovation
    7. 18.6 Skills Needed for MTI
    8. 18.7 Managing Now for Future Technology and Innovation
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Chapter Review Questions
    12. Management Skills Application Exercises
    13. Managerial Decision Exercises
    14. Critical Thinking Case
  20. References
  21. Index
  1. Describe management by objectives as a philosophy and as a management tool/technique; describe its effects.

When people are personally committed to their organization’s plans, those plans are more likely to be accomplished. This truism is the philosophy underlying management by objectives.

Management by objectives (MBO) is a philosophy of management, a planning and controlling technique, and an employee-involvement program.60 As a management philosophy, MBO stems from the human resource model and Theory Y’s assumption that employees are capable of self-direction and self- control. MBO also is anchored in Maslow’s need theory. The reasoning is that employee involvement in the planning and control processes provides opportunities for the employee to immerse the self in work-related activities, to experience work as more meaningful, and to satisfy higher-order needs (such as self-esteem), which leads to increased motivation and job performance (see Exhibit 17.16). It is hypothesized that, through involvement, employee commitment to a planned course of action will be enhanced and job satisfaction will be increased.

A chart depicts the effect of management by objectives, M B O on employees.
Exhibit 17.16 MBO and Its Effect on Employees (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC-BY 4.0 license)

Although there are many variations in the practice of MBO, it is basically a process by which an organization’s goals, plans, and control systems are defined through collaboration between managers and their employees. Together they identify common goals, define the results expected from each individual, and use these measurements to guide the operation of their unit and to assess individual contributions.61 In this process, the knowledge and skills of many organizational members are used. Rather than managers telling workers “These are your goals”—the approach of classical management philosophy—managers ask workers to join them in deciding what their goals should be.

After an acceptable set of goals has been established for each employee through a give-and-take, collaborative process, employees play a major role in developing an action plan for achieving these goals. In the final stage in the MBO process, employees develop control processes, monitor their own performance, and recommend corrections if unplanned deviations occur. At this stage, the entire process begins again. Exhibit 17.17 depicts the major stages of the MBO process.

A diagram illustrates the four major stages of the management by objective process.
Exhibit 17.17 The Management by Objective (MBO) Process (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC-BY 4.0 license)

The Theory of MBO

MBO has the potential to enhance organizational effectiveness. The following four major components of the MBO process are believed to contribute to its effectiveness: (1) setting specific goals; (2) setting realistic and acceptable goals; (3) joint participation in goal setting, planning, and controlling; and (4) feedback.62 First, as we saw earlier, employees working with goals outperform employees working without goals. Second, it is assumed that participation contributes to the setting of realistic goals for which there is likely to be goal acceptance and commitment. Setting realistic and acceptable goals is an important precondition for successful outcomes, especially if the goals are difficult and challenging in nature. Finally, feedback plays an important role. It is only through feedback that employees learn whether they should sustain or redirect their efforts in order to reach their goal, and it is only through feedback that they learn whether or not they are investing sufficient effort.

Thus, from a theoretical perspective, there are several reasons why MBO should produce a positive impact on employee performance, motivation, commitment, and job satisfaction. In the next section, we briefly look at what the research tells us about the effectiveness of MBO programs.

The Evidence

In both the public and private sectors, MBO is a widely employed management tool. A recent review of the research on MBO provides us with a clear and consistent view of the effects of these programs. In the 70 cases studied by Robert Rodgers and John Hunter, 68 showed increased productivity gains, and only 2 showed losses.63 In addition, the increases in performance were significant. Rodgers and Hunter report that the mean increase exceeded 40 percent.

While the results are generally positive in nature, differences in performance effects appear to be associated with the level of top management commitment. In those cases where top management is emotionally, intellectually (that is, top management espouses the value and importance of MBO), and behaviorally (top management actually uses MBO themselves) committed, the performance effects tend to be the strongest. The weakest MBO effects appear when top management does very little to “talk the value/importance of MBO” and they don’t use the system themselves, even as they implement it for others.64 This evidence tells us that “the processes” used to implement MBO may render a potentially effective program ineffective. Thus, not only should managers pay attention to the strategies used to facilitate planning and controlling (like MBO), they should also be concerned with how they go about implementing the plans. MBO requires top management commitment, and it should be initiated from the top down.65

Research shows that an MBO program can play a meaningful role in achieving commitment to a course of action and improving performance. In fact, research clearly documents instances where MBO programs have increased organizational effectiveness. Still, there have been failures. After reviewing 185 studies of MBO programs, one researcher concluded that they are effective under some circumstances but not all.66 For example, MBO tends to be more effective in the short term (less than two years), in the private sector, and in organizations removed from direct contact with customers. These factors also affect the success of an MBO program:

  • The intensity of upper-level managers’ commitment: Half-hearted commitment to an MBO system is associated with a higher failure rate.
  • The time element: Is there enough time for employees to learn how to participate in an MBO process, that is, to learn how to set meaningful goals, develop good action statements, and develop effective monitoring systems? Is there enough time for employees to learn how to assume responsibility in a new context? Is there enough time for employees and managers to collaborate in a joint planning and controlling process?
  • The legitimacy of the system: Is it integrated into an overall philosophy of management? Or does it seem like a gimmick to seduce employees into being more productive?
  • The integration of employees’ goals: Are goals for each employee integrated well enough into the goals of their larger work unit?

To be truly effective over the long haul, MBO programs probably need to be coupled with some type of gainsharing program (that is, programs whereby organizations share some of the financial gains accrued from the ideas, productivity improvements, and cost savings that stem from employee participation). Based on his extensive observation of involvement-oriented organizations, Edward E. Lawler III notes that information, knowledge, power, and rewards are four key components of an effective and sustained high involvement.67 Typically, MBO systems don’t provide mechanisms through which employees share in the economic gains that may accrue to the organization as a result of their expanded role and responsibility. In light of the conditions that influence the effectiveness of MBO programs, management is challenged to provide an appropriate context for the design and maintenance of an effective MBO system.

Concept Check

  1. What is management by objectives?
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