There are several theories that have been put across by very many people over the past years. These theories have been used in the day to day’s activities in various ways. Despite the critiques made, which are mostly expected, these theories have come up with explanations that can be deemed to be very meaningful. Some of these theories are like the contingency theory.
This theory can at times be referred to as “it all depends” theory. This came up when it was realized that when all the contingency theorists were asked about something, their answers included, it all depends on one thing or another. This theory depends on the contingencies of a particular situation. The contingency theorists try to measure and identify the conditions under which several things occur(Schoech, 2006).
The theory came about when as a result of the criticisms that were pushed towards the classical theories such as Taylors’s scientific management theory and Weber’s bureaucracy theory. These theories failed because they did not put in place the management style as well as the organizational structure and admit that they were influenced by several aspects of the environment, which can be termed as the contingency factors.
This theory is very beneficial in that it keeps into account that human situations and practice keep changing and that they vary substantially. It thus offers a very useful approach that can model and predict the practice to fit into the current situation. Contingency theorymainly depends on a relationship between two different phenomena. If one phenomena exists, then the other one has to follow suit(Fiedler, 1964). For instance, if a person with a freewilling deposition finds a job that is well structured, then the person is likely to face a lot of problems in the job.
Contingency theory improves research by relating it to vary many variables. For example, research on task complexity or work complexity. Contingency theory allows one to make analysis on a given situation and make a determination on the variables that influence a particular decision in which one is concerned.This theory works to identify the commonly recurring situations and making observations on how different strategies and structures and behavioral processes function in all of the settings (Fiedler, 1964).
This theory has proved to be very efficient in that it has proposed and tested all the theories, particularly the most prominent ones that may be relating to the organizational environments, the structures,organizational strategies and characteristics and much more. In addition to this, the theory has been used by so many authors and thus it has been an underlying theme for building of theories and research(Schoech, 2006).
Despite this theory having so many strengths, it has also been faced by several criticisms. The theory is said to have failed to give an explanation of the reason why leaders with some leadership styles can be effective in the management of a particular organization and cannot be effective in others(Alimo-Metcalfe, Alban Metcalfe, 2005). It has also failed to give an explanation of the remedy that can be employed once there is a mismatch of the leader/ situation in the place of work. The theory has contributed effectively in helping people understand the issue of leadership but has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation about leadership and its effectiveness (Fisk, 2002).
Fred Fiedler’s research on the relationship existing between the effectiveness of a given leadership style and the situation at hand also faced some criticisms. This model was viewed to be a little bit rigid. Fielder assumed a fixed natural style of leadership and is closely related to the leader’s personality. He however did not put into consideration that not all situations will need an application of natural style of leadership. A leader thus needs to assess the need of a situation and thus adjust the leadership style so as to get the best results afterwards.
Contingency theory operates under the following ideas that counteracts the criticisms put across. First, it proposes that there is no best way that a company can be managed. Secondly,it states that organizations are basically open systems that require a careful management system so as to balance and satisfy the internal needs and also to be able to adapt to shift in environmental conditions.It also suggest that different types of organizations should be governed in different types of environment and that these organizations require different management systems to guide them. For an organization to be considered effective, it not only needs to be in a fit environment but also with its systems.
One great example of a contingency theory is the BP oil spill. BP was a company that was hardly in the spotlight in terms of the matters of environmental issues is concerned. It made headlines heavily after the oil spillage that occurred in April, 2009. This was specifically after the mismanagement of the situation that created a public impression that it had made very bad environmental decisions and evenworse solutions (Jim, 2011). BP was then forced to move between advocacy and accommodation so that it could be able to get itself out of the conflict. If we could look more closely, then it would become evident that BP was influenced more by external factors rather than the internal factors. The external public and the social environment were the main issues influencing the company.
At first, BP was on the advocacy side and tried to find a solution for the issue at hand. As time passed by, each of their set solutions failed and the public demanded faster action, BP moved towards accommodation(Jim, 2011). They went ahead to find a solution to fix the problem as quickly as possible. It is thus evident that there is an interrelationship between the cases in the example given. One situation led to the other. If the company was not faced by an oil spill problem, it would have not been on the spotlight. If it has not been pushed by extreme external pressure, they would have responded quite slowly. Contingency theory is thus evident in the example quite clearly.
Below is a sample of a management contingency model(Carlisle, 1976). At the circle’s center, the purpose and the goals represent the agency. The management depends on the agency’s purpose and goals as the primary internal contingency. The technology used, the people hired, the organization’s structure as well as the task performed are influenced heavily by the agency’s goals.
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