ORGL 500 – Organizational Leadership
February 6, 2013
The subject of this literature review is to identify the factors that characterize a dysfunctional organization and how leaders contribute. Multiple accredited scholars and researchers have suggested a variety of reasons for organizational dysfunction. I intend to address the fact that every article calls it something different and sites their own reasons based on the author’s original study or research project, or works created by other scholars. Regardless of the varying credibility of the information, there is a common theme running through the majority of them. I chose five articles that identified leadership as a primary element, with their own brand of contributing factors. The criteria I used in making my selections and determining the credibility of each work included the presence of evidence that significant research was conducted to justify the contents of the piece as opposed to only opinions. In addition, they all contributed in different ways to my understanding of the subject. More weight was given to the article Fixing Management’s Fatal Flaws by Longenecker and Fink due to the fact that they made a very straight forward case, they appeared to have conducted solid research, the factors were all-encompassing, and they made mention of the importance of considering failed practices and processes in addition to lack of attainment of desire outcomes as a definition of dysfunction, which I thought was very astute. This article focuses specifically on the contributions managers make to dysfunctional organizations while the others are more generic in describing general characteristics of the organization itself, with managers setting the tone for the environment. Longenecker and Fink (2012) identified what they refer to as ‘fatal flaws’, “a managerial performance deficiency that if left unchecked will lead to a manager’s demise by damaging and even destroying his or her ability to achieve desired performance outcomes in an appropriate and sustainable fashion” (p. 14). According to their studies on managerial downsizing, why managers fail to achieve desired results, and organizational failure, which consisted of a combined sample of more than 2,500 managers across a wide spectrum of US manufacturing and service industries, the affliction of these managerial flaws yields dysfunctional organizations and prevents desired results. These include failure to focus on results, inability to align actions with desired outcomes, possession of a toxic personality or ego, mismanagement of time, failure to remove barriers, failure to provide necessary resources, emotional unintelligence, failure to select and/or develop the right people, unwillingness to accept feedback, lack of personal integrity, and failure to effectively manage performance. Like many other works on this topic, the article suggests that by examining these flaws and addressing the issues that cause a leader and/or organization to fail, an organization can potentially turn the situation around and achieve success (Longenecker & Fink, 2012). The work prepared by Cameron, Whetten, and Kim (1987) attempted to explain whether dysfunction in organizations is associated with the state of being in decline as opposed to being stable or in growth mode. They studied 334 colleges and universities in varying stages of the organizational cycle to develop their conclusions. Although the attributes they describe are characteristic of organizations in decline, they found them also to exist in stable organizations as well. This study cites centralization of decision making, lack of long term planning, non-existence of innovation, scapegoating, resistance to change, high turnover, lowered morale, limited resources, fragmentation, loss of credibility, increased conflict, and inconsistency of cutbacks...