Pygmalion in Management

Topics: Self-fulfilling prophecy, Management, Pygmalion effect Pages: 4 (1042 words) Published: October 19, 2012
Pygmalion in Management




Pygmalion in Management


The following is the summary of the article Pygmalion in Management by J. Sterling Livingston in the July /August, 1969 Harvard Business Review. The manner in which managers handle their subordinates is mainly influenced by their expectation. Therefore, the article clearly points out that worker performance in a particular organization is directly related to the managers’ expectations .George Bernard Shaw in his famous play Pygmalion, the professor of phonetics confronts the challenge by changing the rowdy Cockney flower girl by the name Eliza Doolittle to surpass as a highly regarded member of upper-class society. “Pygmalion effect” largely functions through self-fulfilling prophecy, which negative or positive expectations regarding individual’s behavior, ability or performance that result in greater susceptibility for the behavior, ability or performance to manifest. Pygmalion effect allows employees to succeed in reaction to the manager’s message that they have the potential to succeed or are expected to succeed (Sterling, 2003).

Impact on Productivity

One of the key inclusive illustrations of the influence of managerial expectations on the aspect of productivity is well documented in research studies of organizational experiment carried out in 1961 by Alfred Orberlander, who was the manager of the Rockway District Office of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He was able to understand that excellent insurance firms grew faster as compared to poor firms in insurance industry. Furthermore, he found that new insurance firms do better in excellent insurance firms than in poor or average firms, despite of their sales ability. Though the productivity of the “super-staff” was enhanced significantly, it must be pointed out that the productivity of male employees in the lowest unit “who were not considered to have...

References: Sterling Livingston, J. (2003). Pygmalion in Management. Harvard Review Business, January 2003.
Tierney, P., & Farmer, S. M. (2004). The Pygmalion process and employee creativity. Journal of Management, 30, 413-432.
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