Management Theory

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Good morning everybody,
Today the topic for our debate is “work can be dehumanizing rather than fulfilling.”To which I am in favour of as I believe that work is depriving employees of human qualities such as individuality, compassion, civility and is making it mere mechanical and routine and not enough creative, satisfying or making employees happy to be at work. I would like to start off by quoting the founding father of sociology, Karl Marx, who, in his Economic and Political Manuscript reflects from a worker’s point of view.

“[Work] is not part of his nature, … consequently he does not fulfil himself in his work but denies himself, has a feeling of misery, not of well being, does not develop freely a physical and mental energy, but is physically exhausted and mentally debased. A worker therefore only feels at home in his leisure, whereas at work he feels homeless. His work is not voluntary but imposed, forced labour.”

According to Marx, when people feel alienated, work is external to the worker. Max Weber, another ‘founding father’ and a German sociologist agrees with Marx and goes on to say that it results mainly from lack of autonomy at work. For example, there has been a long standing culture where employees are conditioned not to ask questions, answer back, or question management authority; this results in increased organizational rigidity and inefficiency as employees are dissatisfied with their jobs and show low levels of commitment towards their organization.

This type of centralization approach to work with a chain of command affects the morale of the employees. Hence work due to alienation and centralization is dehumanizing rather than fulfilling.

As I understand the main point of your argument was that workers feel alienated due to centralization in organisations. I disagree with that statement as I believe that work being centralized wouldn’t hold true at present times. The concept of work is changing rapidly with the advent of technology. Malone in his book “The Future of Work”argues that the cheap cost of communication for example e-mail, instant messaging, the Internet—is creating a new type of organizational structure. This organization of the future will be decentralized, the term defined as "participation of people in making the decisions that matter to them." Decentralization brings with it increased productivity and better quality of life. It encourages motivation and creativity, allows many minds to work simultaneously on the same problem and accommodates flexibility and individualization. Moreover, with the introduction of soft HRM as coined by Guest and Storey which is based on McGregor’s Theory Y principles, employees are treated as the most important resource in the business and a source of competitive advantage. This has been equated with Walton’s concept of “High Commitment Work System”, which is aimed at eliciting employee’s commitment through high levels of trust by valuing the employees as an asset to the organization. The strategies of organizations now align with their workforce management. Hence, I conclude that with the growing emphasis on soft HRM work is more fulfilling rather than dehumanising.

By highlighting the key point of your argument that work environment has changed with the introduction of soft HRM, I argue that the fact that employees are treated as source of competitive advantage leads to the exploitation of employees. Guest and Storey, while explicitly acknowledging the dichotomy of Soft and Hard HRM, incorporate both in constructing their own HRM Theory. This shows that Hard HRM is an important aspect which is emphasized by the fact that it is practised by majority of organizations. As quoted by Storey and Legge, Hard HRM stresses on the quantitative, calculative and business strategic aspects of managing the headcount resource. Hence reiterating that employees are just a resource to be exploited for the maximum benefit of the organization. The...
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