Contingency Theories in Management

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This essay sets out to show where the four popular management contingency variables of organisational size, routineness of task technology, environmental uncertainty and individual differences are reflected in the work of the manager that was interviewed. Using classical theories of Fayol, Mintzberg and Katz along practical examples from the managers’ day-to-day routine, this essay sets out to explain how these theories and functions impact upon how the manager applies the situational approach to management using the contemporary and widely accepted contingency theories.

The manager that was interviewed was Mr. Luke Jecks, the Director of Sales and Marketing within an Australian-based organisation in the private sector, Cellarmaster
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Fayol (1949, p.49) states “the best plans cannot anticipate all unexpected occurrences which may arise, but does include a place for these events and prepare the weapons which may be needed at the moment of being surprised.” In responding to unexpected occurrences, Mr. Jecks employs the disturbance-handler role, as Mintzberg (1994,p.57) explains that the “disturbance handler role depicts the manager involuntarily responding to pressures.” Mr. Jecks implements action plans to respond to unexpected downturns, for example, when sales are inexplicably falling. Conceptual skills, as outlined by Katz (1974) are also engaged by Mr. Jecks, as thinking “outside the box” when tackling the non-routine task, adapting marketing and sales strategies in response to fluctuations within the organisation. Along with the organisational size and task routineness contingencies, Mr. Jecks must also address the area of environmental uncertainty when managing the organisation.

The environment that the organisation is in is extremely volatile and every-changing, as many external forces such as customers, suppliers and competitors dictate how Mr. Jecks executes his decisional roles of the entrepreneur and disturbance handler outlined by Mintzberg (1975). As the organisation is within the retail sector, the wants, needs and demands of customers and suppliers change constantly, as well as the actions of competitors, all of which must be monitored and addressed in a timely manner effectively
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