IAS Mantra Series : Public Administration


Topic 3 – Administrative Behaviour : Important Points


ERG – Content

Achievement – content

Goal setting theory – Process

  • Set goals
  • Low self-efficacy
  • High self efficacy
  • Feedback

Reinforcement theory – process

  • Addition to goal setting
  • Extrinsic factors also decide self-efficacy

Cognitive Evaluation – process

  • Addition to herzberg
  • Extrinsic factors affect intrinsic factors

Job design theory – content

  • Five characteristics of a job that motivate
    • Skill variety
    • Task identity: is the task complete
    • Task significance
    • Autonomy
    • Feedback
    • Depending on these 5 characteristics, first three bring sense of meaning to the job, autonomy brings responsibility, feedback brings knowledge
    • Based on this he gives the formula for motivation potential score
      • – avg of first three * autonomy * feedback
      • Higher the score, more the motivation

Social Information processing theory

  • Job design theory does not take into account the variability from individual to individual

Equity theory – process

  • Individual in jobs experience a sense of equity or inequity depending on their contribution and reward
  • When contribution < reward, inequity. Over paid inequity and underpaid
  • 4 types of process to establish equity
    • Self-insight: put yourself in other positions in the same organisaton
    • Self-outsight: other positions in other organisation
    • Other’s insight: compare with other people
    • Other’s outsight: compare with other people in other organisation.
    • They move towards equity in six ways
      • Change input
      • Change output
      • Change perception of self
      • Change perception of others
      • Change the reference point
      • Change the situation
      • Based on distributive justice
      • Revised on the basis of procedural justice later

Porter and Lauler (Potter and LOLer) – Process

  • Effort depends on the perception about performance
  • Effort need not necessarily lead to performance
  • For effort to convert to performance you should have the ability and role perception
  • Performance gives rewards
    • All rewards don’t motivate
    • There are intrinsic and extrinsic rewards
    • Only intrinsic motivate
    • This is called perceived reward probability
    • Performance gives you satisfaction. (performance depends on satisfaction is invalid)
      • So for him its a two way thing


  • Psychological state of highness or lowness
  • It is critical to efficiency of the org
  • Factors affecting morale
    • Personnel management techniques and processes
    • Human relations
    • Organisational environment

Decision making

 Garbage can model


was developed in reference to “ambiguous behaviors”, i.e. explanations/interpretations of behaviors which at least appear to contradict classical theory. The G.C.M. was greatly influenced by the realization that extreme cases of aggregate uncertainty in decision environments would trigger behavioral responses which, at least from a distance, appear “irrational” or at least not in compliance with the total/global rationality of “economic man” (e.g. “act first, think later”). The G.C.M. was originally formulated in the context of the operation of universities and their many inter-departmental communications problems…..

The garbage can model tried to expand organizational decision theory into the then uncharted field of organizational anarchy which is characterized by “problematic preferences”, “unclear technology” and “fluid participation”. “The theoretical breakthrough of the garbage can model is that it disconnects problems, solutions and decision makers from each other, unlike traditional decision theory. Specific decisions do not follow an orderly process from problem to solution, but are outcomes of several relatively independent stream of events within the organization.” (Richard L. Daft, 1982, p.139).

Four of those streams were identified in Cohen, March & Olsen’s original conceptualization:

  1. 1.     Problems

require attention, they are the result of performance gaps or the inability to predict the future. Thus, problems may originate inside or outside the organization Traditionally, it has been assumed that problems trigger decision processes; if they are sufficiently grave, this may happen. Usually, however, organization man goes through the “garbage” and looks for a suitable fix…. called a “solution”.

  1. 2.     Solutions

… have a life on their own. They are distinct from problems which they might be called on to solve. Solutions are answers (more or less actively) looking for a question. Participants may have ideas for solutions; they may be attracted to specific solutions and volunteer to play the advocate. Only trivial solutions do not require advocacy and preparations. Significant solutions have to be prepared without knowledge of the problems they might have to solve.

  1. 3.     Choice opportunities

…are occasions when organizations are expected (or think they are expected) to produce behavior that can be called a decision (or an “initiative”). Just like politicians cherish “photo opportunities”, organization man needs occasional “decision opportunities” for reasons unrelated to the decision itself.

  1. 4.     Participants

…come and go; participation varies between problems and solutions. Participation may vary depending on the other time demands of participants (independent from the particular “decision” situation under study). Participants may have favorite problems or favorite solutions which they carry around with them…

Why “garbage cans”? It was suggested that organizations tend to produce many “solutions” which are discarded due to a lack of appropriate problems. However problems may eventually arise for which a search of the garbage might yield fitting solutions.
Probably the most extreme view (namely that of organizational anarchy) of the Carnegie School. Organizations operate on the basis of inconsistent and ill-defined preferences; their own processes are not understood by their members; they operate by trial and error; their boundaries are uncertain and changing; decision-makers for any particular choice change capriciously. To understand organizational processes, one can view choice opportunities as garbage cans into which various kinds of problems and solutions are dumped. The mix of garbage depends on the mix of labeled cans available, on what garbage is currently produced and the speed with which garbage and garbage cans are removed.

Consider Some Questions:

  1. “ What really takes place in an organisation cannot be understood if one does not know what kinds of decisions are made, who participates in making them and what their exact role is”. Identify the context and elaborate on decision-making in organisations.
  2. DM is essentially problem solving in nature. Comment.
  3. Elaborate the different approaches to decision-making.
  4. What is the significance of decision-making in organisation? Why do administrators shirk their decision making job?
  5. Decision making is essentially problem solving in nature. Comment.
  6. Decision making is a cooperative activity. Comment.


Answer 1

  • Statement by Nigro

Answer 4

  • Simon regards it as the heart of management
  • The organisation’s nature and goals depend on the decisions taken by the management
  • It is through the decisions that one can understand what is happening in an organisation
  • Very important in public administration because it decides the public policy
  • Its a very important part but by no means the whole of it: the central point is the policy, decisions are only a means to it.
  • Due to the welfare nature of many public policies, the administrators need to take quick and most appropriate decisions.
  • Shirk because
    • Existence of excessive problems to solve
    • Lack of time
    • Lack of technical competence
    • Fear of going wrong

Answer 5

  • DM involves a conscious choice of one alternative from among a group of two or more behaviour alternatives.
  • To decide about a matter means to come to a conclusion about that
  • Hence, decision making may involve choosing the best course of action in a given situation or problem
  • It is in this sense that DM is problem solving in nature.

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