Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Underlying Forces of Organisational Control on Administrative Behavioural Theoretical Insights

Written By

Kofi A. Boateng

Submitted: September 25th, 2018 Reviewed: September 4th, 2019 Published: March 4th, 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.89522

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Control, for a long time, has been a constitutive aspect of organisational sociology. However, much of the scholarly account on the concept has overlooked a critical character of discretion in organisational discourse. By meticulous application of Herbert Simon’s theory of administrative behaviour, this theoretical piece reveals the interesting dynamics of organisational control to bring the enduring significance of discretion in the control of subordinates at work. The analysis draws on the idea that control is not merely about the predetermination of goals that are achieved at the lower level. In views of this, the research advances a primary conceptualisation of control as double-edged model, adding the application of discretion that, occasionally, makes subordinates lead and encourage vital control practices that drive the life of the organisation.


  • control
  • rationality
  • authority
  • training
  • organisational loyalty

1. Introduction

Instances of organisational control exist in varied manifestations [1, 2], and its appreciation in view of mediated interaction [3] can be driven by a motely of underlying themes in administrative behavioural analytical perspectives. However, scholarly views on control in terms of administrative behavioural theoretical insights appear to have been overlooked in the mainstream human resource management (HRM) literature [4]. Some of the sociological theories that readily come to mind to possibly offer explanations into the phenomena under investigation now are institutional theory [5, 6], agency theory [7, 8], structuration theory [9], actor-network theory [10], and information processing theory [11], among many others.

Figure 1.

The authority triad based on Chester Barnard’s [31] analysis of the concept.

Particularly, structuration and institutional theories have the possibility of assisting in shedding lights on the routines and norms of sanction against both organisational and individual actions over a stated period. Usually, these theories provide some form of assistance, nevertheless, in giving extensive interpretation and analysis of the purposeful orientations and psychological reinforcements necessary to appreciate the individual and organisational undertakings in their application of systems of technology. Structuration theory in its basic formulation indicates restricted sense to address issues of technology use [12]. On the other hand, institutional theory has the inclination to over-accentuate the even patterns that exemplify predictable organisational praxis unless exogenous factors induce a transformation of the status quo [13]. By virtue of these elucidations, these theories are hardly ever substantial in their ability to give the real-world outlook instrumental to stimulating our thoughtful consideration into a realistic understanding of individual and organisational behaviour in their categorical versions of functional complexity.

For example, vital matters like organisational recognition, identification and loyalty, the instrumental role of authority, the psychology undergirding administrative decisions, channels of communication and the manner of efficiency hardly get any worthy attention from the theory of administrative behaviour. Notwithstanding this, it would be appropriate to suggest that administrative theoretical framework has the capability to challenge our current stock of knowledge and understanding on individual and organisational behaviour in everyday experience, especially from the standpoint of control in contemporary organisational interactions. Consultation on certain technology-oriented theories could not be relied upon to offer any encouraging attraction despite their near-balanced attention to behavioural and technology issues within the sphere of control in administrative behaviour. By the same account, socio-technical theory (STT) and task-technology fit (TTF) theory could not be applied as both theories have a very limited way of contributing to control and its varied implications for organisational configuration (see, for example, [14, 15, 16]).

However, given the rationale of this scholarly piece—to understand control and its manifestations and ramifications from the standpoint of administrative behaviour in contemporary organisational discourse—I have decided to apply the theory of administrative behaviour [17] to this compendium. The reasons for this stance are not far-fetched, to enable an extensive exegesis on the issues meant to be explicated.

Firstly, the theory of administrative behaviour provides a far superior explanatory power for doing a detailed discussion and analysis of organisational control in collaborative engagements. Secondly, the theory of administrative behaviour has a better explanatory power by means of the diverse thematic ideas that are well situated to offer the hands-on use and the additional repercussions for control. Worker, customer loyalty and discretionary actions are some of the occurrences of the associated consequences of contemporary organisational discourse in accommodating the subtleties of organisational control. Thirdly, administrative behaviour is relevant to afford philosophical and psychological commitment and understanding crucial to formulating ideas that intimately account for the inspiration driving the appropriation of mediated artefacts in daily organisational interactions.

In other words, the psychosomatic and theoretical models found in the theory make it not only exemplary but also practical in projecting a thorough execution of organisational control in organisational discourse. Last, but not least, applying administrative behaviour in a fundamentally diverse organisational milieu can give a typical test to the appropriateness of the theory and, probably, demonstrate its shortcomings on studies related to control in organisational discourse from the viewpoint of administrative behaviour.

In what follows, I introduce the theory of administrative behaviour and demonstrate how elucidation of its primary precepts and indispensable concepts leave us with no doubt as to its significance in articulating control from the standpoint of modern organisational interactions in administrative behaviour. In the pursuance of this objective, the epistemological path plus a sketch of administrative behaviour are showcased by means of a discourse on the elementary and cross-disciplinary ideas from which the theory originated. The mechanisms of organisational influence are elaborated by teasing out such themes as the exercise of authority in organisations, and the structural constituents of authority. That provides the opportunity to further consider the triangular structure of authority with respect to responsibility, coordination and specialisation, all analysed as the various categorical versions of control in administrative behaviour. The rest of the paper reflects the vital importance of training in securing individual and group commitment to the course of the organisation. Lastly, the psychology of administrative behaviour is scrutinised to highlight such principles as rationality, organisational loyalty and routinisation of work as a consideration of future research directions on the subject of control in administrative behaviour.


2. Philosophical foundations of administrative behaviour

The history of administrative behaviour is traceable to Herbert Alexander Simon, who coined the expression to describe the practices persons embrace to work in organisations. To be put simply, Simon investigated the multifaceted purposes of firms through the administrative behaviour template. The justification and drive that led to the theory of administrative behaviour (TAB) can be associated with Simon’s original work on decision-making in organisation. Simon’s determination to clarify—in intensely brief way—the practices linked with the administration of people and the cherished procedures relevant to the working of organisations prior to their existence foreshadowed the theory of administrative behaviour. Roundly persuaded that satisfactory terminology was not forthcoming in the field of the suitable schemes for reasoned treatise on organisations; Simon pursued an academic expedition that investigated the constructs worthy of support to organisational sociology.

With this academic expedition, Simon firmed up the means of target formalisation and task assignment procedures plus genuine organisational performance. The control of subordinate actions emphasises, though obliquely, the manner of administrative behaviour in varied situational scenarios. Nevertheless, with the overriding attention the setting of goals and their achievement receive in the theory, it is appealing to understand control as being relegated to the peripherals. Perrow [18] made references to this view in his suggestion that the notion underscores unassuming subordinate control in terms of their interactions in information exchange, norms and standards as well as in preparation. This tool of control is accentuated by stipulating the procedures for realising determined aims, however, contradictory to a person’s (the individual under control) knowledge of likely alternative decision choices.

Administrative behaviour theorises the idea that determinations with ‘higher value component’ originate from the highest level of the structure of the organisation while subordinate at the bottom part make decisions rich in factual content [19]. The top-end choices stresses the what, but the factual content underscores the how part of subordinate judgements. Altogether, this dualistic nature of decision-making presents a bird’s eye view of the concept of administrative behaviour. Thus, the entirety of decisions in organisations is a mixture of value premises (beliefs of all the means necessary) and factual premises (the practical situation). In this scenario, the real and applications of administrative behaviour are shown [20].

Choice of ends’ and ‘choice of means’ constitute the chief tenets of administrative behaviour as Simon espouses to signify the nature (what) and functions (how) of decisions, respectively. Organisational actions at the highest managerial level are manifested via consensus building or fiat decisions connected with choice of ends. In this scenario, goal-led decisions characterise choice of ends since it determines obvious conditions for realising certain organisational aims at the top level of management. Choice of means connects with the resulting subordinate judgement driven by realistic and emergent occurrences. Simon identifies the realistic and emergent circumstances that confront subordinate decision-making at the point of performance as ‘the observable world and the way in which it operates’ ([17, 19], p. 55).

It is the very uncertain character of the observable world that encourages subordinate discretionary decisions in the course of performance. The rationale could be that value premises might be inconsistent with factual premises at the moment a performance is necessary, as factual premises are driven as well as inspired by situations completely directed by nascent and uncertain forces. Nonetheless, the final subordinate action is also inspired by the inclusive intentions of the organisation [19], as aberration from these unequivocal objectives in terms of the controlled (the subordinate) may induce sanctions or punishment from the organisation’s upper level.

As per the techniques of organisational decision-making, it seems lower level employees and their bosses run on two ever-opposing wavelengths of decision-making. However, the final purpose of these decision-making functions is the attainment of a shared aims of the organisation. To this end, the complete organisational hierarchy ‘can be viewed as a congealed set of means-end chains promoting consistency of decisions and activities throughout the organisation’ ([21], p. 46). Simon [22] articulated the making of decisions and managerial processes by which advance determination of goals and the establishment of control schemes motivate sensible organisational behaviour. Simon discounted Henry Fayol’s idea of ‘economic man’ and substituted it with ‘administrative man’, who is somewhat aware of all the possible options of his choices and so is ready to go with those that produce satisfactory approval.

To him, the notion of optimisation is quite misrepresentative as the prospects of attaining the utmost possible result seems characteristically elusive. Drawing on March and Simon’s [23] considerations on bounded rationality, Simon shows the parameters in the intellectual talent of decision-makers. Simon championed the use of ‘uncertainty’ in organisational decision-making due to the real impossibility to derive total and complete information at any particular period during the decision-making process. While this may not be altogether a new idea, it is fair to consider that Simon initiated that notion and that later won him the 1978 Nobel Prize in this field.

The notional devices that Simon applied to comprehend the cosmic system intersects with a broad gamut of disciplines, such as, administrative theory, public administration, political science, organisation theory, economics, psychology, sociology, philosophy, computer science and cognitive science [4]. Reconsideration of the principled impression of making decision with particular allusion to reasonableness took a substantial share of his time. Consequently, rationality became the underlying logic in almost all the fields of enquiry he was related to because the idea encircled and occupied the broader structure of society. Hence, his efforts to dilate on rationality predictably got him to varied theoretical perceptions on economics, philosophy, psychology, sociology and politics. The relationships involving information, decision-making and technology appeared to be Simon’s key research attention during the final part of the 1950s [24].

Notwithstanding Simon’s multi-layered-disciplinary orientation to administrative behaviour, problem-solving and decision-making, he did not restrict his allegiance to any one specific discipline. To be sure, he indicated in a discussion cited in ([4], p. 583) that ‘If you see any one of these disciplines dominating you, you join the opposition and you fight it for a while’. The core of Simon’s influence was on problem-solving and decision-making in the specific aspects of individuals, organisations and societies. For example, Simon’s [25, 26, 27] cases are of such works. ‘Logical positivism’, explained simply by Simon as possessing a similar meaning as empiricism ([19], p. 68), is apparently the crucial recurring argument in the work of administrative behaviour. Administrative behaviour has at its centre the searching of perceptible organisational consideration driven by the rigours of organised approaches. In view of this, subjects like philosophy, the social sciences and mathematics are practically considered along with the study of administrative behaviour [28].


3. Control in organisations

Control in administration invariably denotes shaping the character of the governed, transforming and guiding their operations to be favourable and aligned with the ambitions of group and the firm’s aspirations. The foregoing logic demonstrates, as it does, at least, three central ideas, namely, authority, training and organisational loyalty, that profoundly undergird the workings of organisational control. Each of these fundamentally affects and encroaches on personal engagements resulting from different situational exigencies. When social agents become formal members of an organisation, the organisation is confronted with the problematic situation of how to modify the members’ behaviour consistent with the overall organisational frame of its activities. A couple of internal and external influences by way of stimuli are applied to deal with these behavioural checks. These are ‘the stimuli with which the organisation seeks to influence the individual and the psychological “set” of the individual, which determines his response to the stimuli’ ([19], p. 432).

Influencing the organisational agents places their character on a commonly recognised form in two basic categorical forms. The sets of influence are qualified as ‘internal’ and ‘external’ and each category drives, to a more or less degree, all the main means by which organisational dominance is achieved, namely, authority, training, identification or organisational loyalty and communication.

3.1 Authority orientation in organisations

Among the means of influencing personal and group actions and leading behaviour in organisations, authority seems to be the one that evidently and principally sets apart the behaviour of individuals as actors within the organisation from that of their behaviour outside of it. Authority identifies the official structures for the organisation on which the other expressions of organisational influence depend. It is pertinent we firm up a sense of what authority represents, as far as its explanation so as to set up the frame for the various manifestations of its effect within the organisational setting. To this end, Simon purely submits authority as ‘the power to make decisions which guide the actions of another’ ([19], p. 179). However, in the interest of thorough analysis and more all-inclusive understanding of the notion of authority, drawing on Barnard’s view provides enhanced and enriched explication.

Barnard’s view suggests a clarification that affords a necessary association that highlights the actual essence of authority within the context of the organisation. The account provides a hint of the frontiers for the impression of suitable personal organisational behaviour contingent on a crucial level of relationship. This relationship portends substantial logical reasoning for appreciating mediated control in ICT-driven interactions as instructions or guidelines designed for the realisation of organisational aims largely shift from the upper part of organisational ladder to those at the bottom level of the organisational structure. The lines of authority can also start from one department to another, not essentially in a hierarchical order. Prior to an individual’s familiarisation with the numerous dominant instructions, they must have been provided with clear guidelines pertaining to the conditions placed on their conduct. The settings and conditions delineating such conduct and the terms by which they are showcased must be unfailing, and be consistent, with the complete desires of the ideals of the organisation.

A parallel interpretation of authority is theorised by Simon that noticeably portrays the subject-object duality of authority. The subject-object duality underscores the senior/junior spectacle intrinsic to authority relationships, which Simon expounds as mainly hinging on ‘objective and behaviouristic terms’.

The shared expressions of desired behaviour between the boss and the subordinate account for the presence of authority. Thus, the subordinate must recognise and perform legitimate directives of the superior for authority to triumph. Perrow succinctly conveys this idea when he considers that in a situation where a subordinate declines to carry out legitimate instructions from an authority above, the superior loses their authority ([18], p. 71).

The rational supposition from the preceding quote indicates that in a circumstance where the desires and anticipations of the superior are not adhered to, authority would not be deemed to exist. The behaviour configuration of the subordinate on other hand is affected by specific considerations for engaging in some form of operation. Consequently, the matter of discretion is brought into the decision-making processes of the subordinate before undertaking a given assignment. Thus, the subordinate subjects his private agenda by projecting the wishes and command of their superior as a basis of his action ([19], p. 179).

To Chester I. Barnard’s mind, authority flourishes on two primary levels, namely, the subjective and objective phases. While the subjective phase involves the ‘personal, the accepting1 of a communication as authoritative, the latter relates to the character in the communication by virtue of which it is accepted’ ([19], p. 163). Chester’s objective-subjective dichotomy on authority supports a vital analytical device for this piece as it provides a comprehensive means to appreciating the foundations and functions of organisational control. It offers superior clue that shared influence is intrinsic and essential to any control commitments. Subordinates must be ready to embrace guidelines and instructions for goal-centric results to be obtained. By a similar account, superiors should be able to embrace and encourage the proposals and creativeness of subordinates in the interest of stated organisational goals. A scenario where a subordinate declines to obey reasonable orders issued from a superior undercuts the true pillars on which authority rests. The maintenance of authority is subject to the dominant ideas of the people whose decisive goal is to have specific operations undertaken for their joint advantage.

For authority to be purposeful, it is crucial to guarantee the relevant involvement in terms of private efforts aimed at common targets. There should be the presence of structured individual efforts inextricably linked with prompt dynamic interests at any stated period with the aim of maintaining the reliability of the prevalent organisational authority insofar as instructions lie within the purview of, what Chester labels as, ‘zone of indifference’. By zone of indifference, Barnard [29] attempts to illustrate a situation where lower ranked employees incontestably accommodate the guidelines or directives for carrying out a goal-oriented duty. Disparities exist in the zone of indifference. The disparities reveal diverse forms of broadness and narrowness subject to the extent to which inducements exceed the ‘burdens and sacrifices’ that describe a person’s loyalty and attachment to the organisation.

Authority possesses bi-modal source, all of which seem to complement rather than contest with the technological and social components. The establishment of authority in an organisational environment is, therefore, dependent on these same technological and social apparatuses. There is a reciprocal shaping of both social and technological components in the expression of authority. For example, technology is as vital in putting structures of authority in place and effecting behaviour just as much as the social (human) devices in the realisation of expected behaviour and motivating predetermined results. Both work hand-in-hand as each has its field of operational emphasis. In view of this, individuals aver their allegiance to human authority systems in pretty much the same way as they submit to the demands of technology-led cooperative and control systems. Controlling group, varying private behaviour and influencing organisational objectives and requirements imply modifying the mechanisms that convey the demands for the performance of certain operations. With these analytical notions of authority, it is possible to delineate the nature of authority through which these features manifest as well as the procedures that underlie its operations.

3.2 Structural apparatus of authority

Authority can be said to rely on three basic stakes of operationally interlocking equivalents of responsibility, specialisation and coordination [29]. It is compelling to accentuate the role of each of these structural apparatuses and explore how they, together, operate in concert to offer some novel insights into the appreciation of control. It is vital to highlight this dimension as it assists to widen the scope by which social agents, with motley organisational agendas can purposefully be understood. Each of these dimensions of authority merits some consideration in turn, because controlling the activities of subordinates by means of both output and behavioural expectations, demands a significant degree of responsibility, specialisation and coordination. Responsibility defines performance expectations, specialisation clarifies the degree of discretion and coordination stipulates the synchronisation of individual (superior and subordinate) endeavours. Now I turn attention to focus on how these concepts become implicated in control in organisational discourse from the viewpoint of administrative behaviour.

3.2.1 Responsibility

A primary aim of authority that appears to win the attention of administrative behaviour enthusiasts is its purpose to assert group and individual acceptance of the principles of standards of behaviour established by those at the upper levels of authority [30]. Responsibility suggests the power of a ‘particular private code of morals to control the conduct of the individual in the presence of strong contrary desires or impulses’ ([31], p. 263). To a greater extent, a particular conduct is administered by diverse private codes. Such codes could be high, simple low, complex, sketchy or comprehensive, based on a person’s ethical status. Logically, general tendencies exist whereby people act in consonance with private interests and contrary to determined organisational ideologies. In view of this, ‘elaborate set of sanctions may be evoked and applied against the recalcitrant member’ ([19], p.187) upon contravention or disobedience to established instructions, rubrics, standards and recognised principles in the carrying out of specified operations. In Barnard’s view, the clash of codes of behaviour has serious repercussions. The risk or enduring fear occasionally present in the use of disciplinary tools can go as far as to offer people some opportunity to engage in manoeuvres favourable to their private agenda.

In Gaus’ view [32], it is almost assuredly unconceivable to think about authority in the administration of organisations without encouraging its analogous considerations on the structures that invite different grades of the hierarchy of organisations to justify their operations.

3.2.2 Coordination

Essentially, coordination aims to guarantee a cohesive sense of purpose towards a shared direction [33]. In other words, the particular application of coordination is ‘the adoption by all the members of the group of the same decision, or more precisely, of mutually consistent decisions in combination attaining the established goal’ ([19], p. 190). The duty of compliance with a mutual command and objective makes communication a challenge to, and a crucial aspect of, coordination. Coordination advocates the incorporation of the various ‘islands of automation’ to accomplish the overall efforts of the organisation. ([34], p. 511). Varied private and team events are unified to attain a common organisation-inspired ends. Communication is the vital factor that secures that functional differences are synchronised to reflect the collective contributions of all the participants in the organisation. From a philosophical viewpoint, authority functions as a harmonising device [35]. Authority endorses the establishment of command structures and communication channels by which individual commitments are coordinated towards the attainment of a common aim. The communication avenues strengthen interdependences among different organisational entities [36]. Coordination could be evident in two deeply separate types, in the form of procedural and substantive. Procedural coordination tries to highlight a sketch of the extensive amplification of the actions and associations of the members in an organisation, while substantive coordination connects with the functional endeavours of the firm.

In Simon’s view, the delineation of the chains of command with directives establishing the constraints on individual agents epitomises procedural coordination, although schemes for the creation of specific goods and services characterise substantive coordination. The core of coordination buttresses the conviction that allows people in a harmonised entity expect the probable conduct of their associates. To realise the highest degree of coordination, Gulick recommends the execution of a couple of primary pragmatic necessities.

By organisation, that is, by interconnecting the sub-categorisation of job roles by assigning them to people who are connected in a line of authority. The rationale is for purposeful coordination of work by the orders of bosses to subordinates, moving from the top to the bottom of the whole enterprise.

3.2.3 Specialisation

Specialisation as an expression of authority inspires the vital worth of administrative proficiency, the spirit of which resides in the awareness that organisational entities differ in their expertise, experience, proficiency, capability and appeal. This belief is informed by the propensity of specialisation to enhance output by boosting profitability [37]. Crucial to specialisation is the notion of division of labour in which ‘the work of the organisation is subdivided, so far as possible, in such a way that all processes requiring a particular skill can be performed by persons possessing that skill’ ([19], p. 189). Specialisation has its attendant continuous reciprocal fine-tuning by agents in collaborative efforts. Barnard [29] sketches five dynamically interconnected benchmarks by which specialisation gets implicated in constituting organisational activities, which include specialisation by location, time, expertise, artefacts and methods. None of these separations avoids the part technology plays in carrying out and underlining the particular demands of their corresponding operations.

Specialisation by location connects with the terrestrial area where job is undertaken. Spatial organisation of job by way of accommodation, air-conditioning, compartmentalisation, etc. offers a notion of individuality for finishing certain tasks. Time-induced specialisation is necessary for arranging the procedures and patterns of composite operations, principally in places where work is done in the mode of day-and-night to offer accelerated and premium service. The coordination test for the period of synchronisation at which work is completed has repercussions for promptness and stability in the course of work. Lost time, unobtainability of the relevant resources at the appropriate moment and engaging in things in an unsuitable manner are some of the real-world problematic scenarios to time-led specialisation.

Know-how as an expression of specialisation underscores the vitality of entities in organisation that performs various specialised tasks. Training and selection processes are led by proficiency and readiness to adhere to uncompromising time timetable of structured arrangements so as to ensure the needed practical skill [38]. Specialisation is also evidenced in the devices and objects applied to complete a given task. In this case, certain accoutrements and technological artefacts may be favoured ahead of others in certain task performance, such that the processes may result in various effects of the final outcome. For example, telephone may be desired for instantaneous response on unmediated interaction to email. Lastly, aspect by means of which specialisation can take place is the processes or modalities that agents apply for the attainment of their operations. The efficiency of such process-inspired specialisation is subject to the adroitness and the expected flexibility of agents involved.

The following figure (Figure 1) is initiated as a proxy to Barnard’s exposition on the functional nature of authority.


4. Training in organisational influence

Training offers one of the means that assists organisations to effect the character, practice and attitude of their staffs. As a style of organisational stimulus, training changes social agents ‘from the inside out’ ([19], p. 13) and as such, shapes their choices and judgements sympathetic to the functional competence and administrative fidelity. Key to this notion is the system of indoctrination, which gets employees to do away with unhelpful conduct and features while instantaneously picking up other traits and abilities that come between them and productive output [39] via learning. Accordingly, training stresses the importance of developing capacity. Getting employees ready to handle the challenging exigencies linked with given tasks is a crucial component of training. The notion of training could be to diminish the regularity with which directions and rules are given to guide subordinate behaviour. In this case, training ‘prepares the organization member to reach satisfactory decisions himself, without the need for the constant exercise of authority or advice’ ([19], p. 13). Logically, even though training assumes a substitutive control mechanism by which to shape the judgments and choices of employees, it could also be considered as, what I call, a discretion-granting channel. Reinforcing the discretion-granting construct, Simon directs our focus on the point that minimal supervision is necessary after the time of training.

Perfecting the specifics for carrying out a given duty with the slightest degree of faults and blunders is the trademark of, and the logic driving, many training arrangements in organisations. Training, thus, encourages a certain extent of delegation of duty as a vital link of shaping character at different levels of the organisational ladder. The decentralising process conditions the context for employee thinking and activities, driven by wide structural instructions designed to inform and pattern behaviour at the subordinate level of the organisational structure. Training understood in this sense is a prospective basis for encouraging consistency and dependability [40] plus imbuing poise and courage in worker decision-making in terms of their acceptable operational efforts.

Regardless of its promise to diminish the extent of mistakes, coupled with the assertions of reinforcing the ideals of requisite variety to certify dependability among social agents, training is thought to be the source of several unsatisfactory circumstances [40]. Without a doubt, training fails to uncover all the likely circumstances that social agents are expected to experience in the normal period of their legitimate tasks. It is plausible to concur with Weick that training packages in many situations fail to match up with the factual situational happenings that real-life settings provoke [41]. The ensuing struggle between training experience and exposure to actual exigencies may cause even competent staffs to recoil and cling to deep-rooted behaviour [42] much to the detriment of organisational strategizing.

This could be troubling, and could therefore condition the awareness and determination of social agents with unfriendly repercussions, typically the prospect of undesirable outcomes on objectives and proficient performance. Again, when training is fruitful, familiarity through experience brings little certainty for employees to deal with the fleeting and changeable forms of work the moment they take up the demands of their tasks. Put bluntly, employees are barely offered an identical setting they received for their training ‘once they actually operate the system’ (Weick, p. 332). The ramifications of this scenario could be irritatingly unsatisfactory and occasion work-associated tension by harming the emotional balance of employees thus placing them in a situation less able to cope with impending challenges.

Directing attention on training in the control of employees in administrative behaviour could be a definitive means of accepting the essential antecedents and consequences of the rationale training occasionally fails to achieve its ideals. This failure can act as a true source for probing into the perceptual narrative meant for this unpleasant situation. It could also highlight an operational realignment of the forces that condition the facilitating environment for effective training efforts. It could also mark a preliminary point for studying the crucial dimension of technology mediating artefacts in deciding their usefulness in training arrangements. On account of this, the necessary relationships can be recognised between the difficulties connected with reality and the ordered nature of training settings. This would lead to a legitimate call for the motivating factors of the strategic management of training approaches to fit organisational control strategies. Against this situation, some form of validity would be brought to bear on the evidence of mediated control in collaborative work environments.


5. The mindset of administrative behaviour

To appreciate the relevance of administrative behaviour to this essay to any substantial mark, it is critical that the appropriate cognisance is afforded to the degree to which the mentality of the individual gets accounted for in the entire realm of organisational operations. This is meant to envision how the organisation modifies and alters their attitudinal trajectory. Giving some thought to this part of the theory is vitally important because one of the primary jobs organisations undertake is to ‘place the organization members in a psychological environment that will adapt their decisions to the organisation objectives and will provide them with the information needed to make these decisions correctly’ ([19], p. 92). The mindset of administrative behaviour is befitting for analysing control in mediated interaction due to the fact that notions such as rationality and organisational loyalty can be applicable to different motivations for control in organisational interaction. Ways by which these can be ascertained are the idiosyncratic explanations for the application of mediated interaction and the degree to which these same mediated interaction exercises encourage employee loyalty or disaffection.

5.1 Rationality

Rationality is considered a basic and significant frame in administrative theory. And it is relevant to link it with mediated control to figure out the kind of forces that drive the choices and actions of subordinates in undertaking their given obligations. It should be pointed out in advance that paying attention to rationality is not meant to illustrate employees, as is habitually supposed, as primarily logical, an understanding that overshadowed much of economic theory. To be sure, rationality should be encouraged to mirror the entire conclusions reached by social agents in situations connected with their precise organisational commitments even though such ultimate decisions may be inaccurate to the ‘objective bystander’. In other words, rationality in this situation has more of a strict application than its conventional dictionary implication of ‘agreeable to reason: not absurd, preposterous, extravagant, foolish, fanciful or the like, intelligent and sensible’ ([43], p. 2).

Furthermore, rationality in this instance is not only regarded as a preserve of humans, material agency [44, 45] can also be ascribed as rational to the extent that ‘structural arrangements within organisations are conceived as tools deliberately designed for the efficient realisation of ends … Rationality resides in the structure itself, … – in rules that assure participants that evaluate performance and detect deviance, in reward systems that motivate participants are selected, replaced, or promoted …’ ([46], p. 78).

In view of this, rationality is generalised to embrace organised systems of processes and directions intended to permit the sound advancement of flow of work from a process or condition to another. Rationality in this study, fundamentally, reinforces control in its claim. Rationality appears to encompass three crucial cognitive processes of intuition, reasoning and perception. These cognitive processes are contingent beliefs, opinions and preferences and that commonly motivate and drive individual action. At least one of the primary cognitive processes is stimulated in arriving at conclusion before carrying out a preferred course of action. Rationality can then be deployed to appreciate flexible activities as far as mediated control. Accordingly, rationality concerns itself with the practice of ‘means-end’ series of arrangements or levels of objectives. The means-end angle illustrates the technology or material component part of rationality. The technology bit, which, as a matter of convenience, can be designated as system, projects the incorporation of behaviour by which the sub-entities in the whole system work to disclose the general purpose for which the system was intended. Rationality requires evaluating calculated choices for obtaining the crucial goal. It should be feasible to advise consistent with Simon [19] that rationality is dependent on ‘useful purpose’ for an individual or organisation in undertaking a given exercise.

In rationality, mindful or determined act and unplanned activity become obvious in the thought processes of making decisions. However, an inadvertent act can be considered once the particulars for performance have been learned to the extent that it becomes programmed and automatic to the individual. Behaviour can be altogether subjectively and objectively rational based on the dimension of scrutiny. Subjective rationality underscores the belief pattern and inclinations of the individual while objective rationality emphasises the perceptions ascribed to the intrinsic value of the decision depending on the result of the completed task. This perception suggests that even though some particular medicines cannot treat a certain type of ailment, the truth about its efficacy makes it objectively rational. From a subjective orientation, the belief that a medicine can cure a disease is adequate and indubitable evidence of its disease-curing competencies. The preceding analysis offers the basis for outdooring ‘qualifiers’ to illuminate the almost baffling difficulties linked with the notion of rationality.

To start with, objective rationality claims the suitable behaviour for ensuring the greatest advantage in a specified condition. Furthermore, subjective rationality points to attaining the maximum rewards from the viewpoint of the people concerned. Yet still, conscious rationality identifies a scenario where the outcome and mean tension is a cognitive course. Finally, deliberate rationality situates a scenario that individuals totally occupy their psychology in exemplifying a certain behaviour. It must be pointed out that altogether these distinctions of rationality can show up in contemporary organisations. It can soundly be argued that there is the prospect for social agents to undertake operations without the consciousness of the fundamental aim for their action. Rationality in an organisation involves the systems of structures and procedures for amending and inspiring tolerable behaviour together with the techniques and methods for their creation, thus making rationality altogether a process and consequence of individual, group and organisational commitment. The rationality of the individual member in the organisation can have an enduring consequence for their loyalty within the framework of the organisation’s endeavours.

5.2 Understanding organisational loyalty

It is vitally important to recognise the means by which social agents progressively, albeit fairly reliably, become associated with the issues of the organisation. Fundamentally, the organisation’s aims are enforced on individuals in the course of administering authority and control. Regarding organisational discourse from the viewpoint of administrative theory could shed light on crafting a conceptual outline that could shape our opinions of mediated control. Administrative theory assists in the clarification and explanation of the means by which individuals get to be assimilated and turn out to be deeply attached to the organisation in unalloyed loyalty. This loyalty to the organisation, as Simon suggests, derives its origins from a couple of different patterns of behaviour of individuals. Tendency in the direction of an obligation to ‘the service of the organization’ and an ‘attachment to the conservation and growth of the organization itself’ ([19], p. 278). The course through which employees in organisations acquire ‘organisation personality’ pretty unlike their individual personality is …through his subjection to organizationally determined goals, and through the gradual absorption of these goals into his own attitudes … ([19]).

The aforementioned quote entails a means whereby the organisation apportions explicit roles to individuals and recommends the principles, beliefs, choices and facts against which their judgements, choices, decisions and actions in the organisation should be moulded and recognised. Minimising the options within which a person’s actions are to function, the organisation—to a logical degree—restricts the tests and possibilities of his judgements and actions to a manageable extent. Forfeiting a person’s own predilections plus subduing one’s private values in an attempt to follow organisational demands may be mentally trying. It provides the scenery of two divergent forces drawing the individual apart, each requiring similar attention.

The vigorous tussle can lead to the individual preferring either his private inclinations, morals, decisions or largely overlooking the training in respect to the requirements of his role. However, Simon notes that as soon as the frame for actions and decisions has been determined, a person is left with but one ‘best’ alternative that mirrors the values of the organisation and situational exigencies. Ignoring the prospect of accounting for a person’s intentions in the final decision-making and ultimate action could diminish any hints of discretionary choices of the individual in matters of their benefits.

Admitting the limits on his own exposition, Simon observes that there are occasions when a person might not work to the benefit of the organisation, whereby ‘personal motives reassert themselves, and the organisation, to that extent, ceases to exist’ ([19], p. 283), at that material period when the judgement and the probable consequent action are considered. As a result, the individual trades the scale of values of the organisation for their private one as the crucial benchmark for the relevance of his decision. A considerable and leading avenue of administrative behaviour by which a person mentally joins their emotions with the purpose of the organisation is identification. Identification can result in a condition by which ‘a person identifies himself with a group when, in making a decision, he evaluates the several alternatives of choice in terms of their consequences for the specified group’ ([19], p, 284).

It seems reasonably sound to report that identification is a needed tool for group solidarity. The psychological devices for explicating the identification experience, per Simon’s view, goes under three separate groupings of personal interest in organisational success, transfer of private-management psychology and focus of attention. These distinctions are taken one after the other to demonstrate their corresponding zones of logical concentration. Individual interest in the triumph of the organisation as a result of loyalty to it thereof is driven by personal motivations. Personal motives are not the only reason for a person’s established relationship with the organisation but also ‘the growth, prestige or the success of the organisation itself’. These afford sufficient chances for enhanced compensation, upgrade, manpower progression plans and the application of superior obligation so that a person looks over and above the difficulties and unfavourable situations linked with his job functions. In view of this, a more profound sense of engagement grows with troubling conditions to attain the complete specified goals of the organisation.

The shift of private-management thinking empowers the individual in the organisation to recondition their mentality and regard the organisation as theirs. The transfer in mental attitude drives people in the organisation to employ such personal pronouns as ‘my’ unit, ‘my’ group, ‘my’ business, etc., a suggestion that they have a stake in the worries of the organisation as well as in its ambitions and beliefs. The application of these grammatical constructs also serves the indication that organisational members possess a shared fate since they possess a communal sense of ‘ownership’. Focus of attention, as a tool of mental proof of identity, leads the administrator’s endeavours at those beliefs and those people within the organisational outfit who are expected to be not obliquely affected by the administrative agenda. In short, focus of attention reassures the subordinate to modify what they do towards the goals and targets of the organisation.

Considered against these viewpoints, identification provides an operative means for regulating persons and groups in the organisation so as to build their welfares, desires and individual proclivities in the direction of the organisation’s general targets. The planned tools of the organisation for identification permit for extensive redesign of the organisation to normalise and guide the operations of persons known to be contributors to the full organisational processes. Therefore, this promotes rationality to go further than the constraints brought upon it by a diminished span of attention.


6. Final thoughts

As a lens for analysing the dynamics of administrative behaviour from the standpoint of organisational mediated control, this write-up has considered the diverse and searching views offered by administrative behaviour on the matter at hand. The piece surveyed the mechanics of organisational influence, emphasising the approaches by which authority is constituted and applied. Training was observed as a tool for both influencing behaviour on the one hand and an avenue for permitting discretionary opportunities on the other, all aimed at facilitating enhanced job performance and organisational efficiency.

The closing segment then concentrates on the psychology of administrative behaviour by drawing comprehensively on such notions as rationality and organisational loyalty and how they impact shared collaborative endeavours in technology-mediated control. Together, these interweaving impressions disclose the variety of understanding probable to be acquired by examining some of the critical facets of administrative behaviour. The philosophical explanations put forward by the theory of administrative behaviour etched naturally from the discussions of Herbert A Simon proffer a favourable and thorough framework for probing mediated control from the viewpoint of organisational discourse. It remains the wish of this piece to have an empirical data the juxtaposition of which should tease out the different dimensions by which organisational efficiency, allegiance, meaningful interaction and dynamic relationship between the organisation and its external world are brought to bear on its normal operational endeavours.


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  • Italics in the original

Written By

Kofi A. Boateng

Submitted: September 25th, 2018 Reviewed: September 4th, 2019 Published: March 4th, 2020