PA 642 Fall 2010
During trying economic times, it is important to study how to organizations could be restructured for them to become more efficient; to accomplish more with less. As MPA students, we will be faced with such decisions in our professional careers; to combine, allocate and restructure our organizations to become more effective. In this paper, I will use three hypothetical fire stations which would be consolidated into one using the concepts from the Human Relations frame. I will mainly focus on the executive functions of the Fire Station and give more weight into explaining what my recommendations are to the executive to make this consolidated fire station more effective. I have specifically used the works of Chester Barnard, John French, Bertram Raven, Daniel Feldman, Robert Tannenbaum and Fred Massarik to build an argument for my scenario.
The concepts of authority and power are couple of the major components that need to be addressed in this scenario. Without establishing proper authority and defining power, it is impossible for an organization to be functional. In the interest of Authority, my first recommendation is as follows; There will be only one fire chief who is selected by seniority. The remaining two chiefs will be given ranks below the chief according to their seniority. Barnard argued that Management's authority rested in its ability to persuade rather than to command. He also emphasized that legitimate management authority is derived from the functional skills and not the hierarchical position. I am assuming that the more years you are with the Fire Station, the more functional skills that one gains. By selecting the Fire Chief and the Deputy Fire Chiefs according to their seniority would help them persuade their subordinates due to their high functional skills. According to Barnard, authority also rests on clear communication between the principal and the agent. He goes onto state that " since the efficiency of organization is affected by the degree to which individuals assent to orders, denying the authority of an organization communication is a threat to the interests of all individuals who derive a net advantage from their connection with the organization, unless the orders are unacceptable to them also." A subordinate would only accept an order only if he understands the communication and when he believes that it is not inconsistent with the overall goal of the Fire Station. I recommend that the subordinates are given a clear channel of communication with their immediate superiors to make sure they understand the directives given to them.
In order for the superior to become an effective leader, he must also exert influence and persuade subordinates. This is important in making the fire station cohesive and to make sure the organizational goals and mission is executed. The concept of "power" is quite complex and differs greatly depending on the context. Authors John French and Bertram Raven discusses this phenomenon thoroughly and gives the reader an insight into how this complex relationship operates. Power and influence is extremely important for my scenario of the fire station. I recommend that a well defined and hierarchical organizational structure is crucial to deliver effective service during an emergency. Subordinates must be clearly debriefed and given clear instructions on how to operate during an emergency; otherwise there will be chaos. To have this strong hierarchical structure, power is and influence is the key. French and Raven explains power and influence as a relationship between two agents; the agent who exerts power and the recipient of that influence who behavior is targeted to be modified or changed.
How legitimate is this new authority structure? Will it be accepted by the subordinates? According to French and Raven, legitimate power of superiors derives from internalized values in subordinates which dictate that the...