Sample Business Paper on Limitations of the Managerial Prerogative

The managerial prerogative provides a scope of exercises in which a manager can engage in relation to employees, in their own interests and in that of the organization. While managers earn the rights espoused in the managerial prerogative by virtue of their position as managers, it is important that those rights are not abused since the violation of the managerial prerogative through actions tainted by the abuse of authority can result in the evaluation of those prerogatives under various regulatory tools, such as the collective bargaining agreements and company policy. Various limitations to the managerial prerogative exist, that help to ensure that the exercises covered within the prerogative are implemented in good faith and in the interests of the management and the organization as a whole.

The primary limitation of the managerial prerogative is that it has to be exercised in good faith. From the employee relations to the involvement of employees in organizational decision-making, managers have to make sure that all decisions are made without any ulterior motives. The managerial prerogative allows managers to make various decisions, such as employee placements/allocation of duties and disciplinary approaches to take in case of mistakes made by the employees. However, this cannot be done in contravention of the good faith requirement, such as when a manager has the intention of punishing another employee because of interpersonal misunderstanding that does not warrant such activity. Moreover, the call to practice democracy in management is also aligned to this good faith practice and to the managerial prerogative limitations. Cathcart suggests that democracy in the workplace means that the management can be trusted with making decisions that are financial astute and for the interest of the organization (611); and that in so doing, the employees directly affected by the decisions feel that they have not been left out of the decision making process. This can also be described as the concept of good faith, whereby decisions taken are not aimed at serving the self-interests of the managers, but for serving the interests of the organization, and are financially astute.

Another limitation to the managerial prerogative is that it should not be tainted with unfair labor practices. These practices are conventionally addressed through collective bargaining agreements, employee participation and adherence to labor laws and regulations. Essentially, these agreements and laws restrict managers from taking advantage of the managerial prerogative to engage in acts that are in contravention of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which include various provisions. These provisions guard against employee coercion or interference with employees, limiting the employees’ ability to engage in labor relations, retaliation following employee engagement in collective bargaining, refusing the employees an opportunity to bargain, and discrimination in any of the processes pertaining to human resource practices. Trade unions have traditionally been used by workers to participate in decision making in organizations, and the ability to use such platforms for employee involvement can help to eliminate the probability of unfair labor practices (Grugulis 89). Nevertheless, there have been concerns about organizational managements offering employees the opportunity for participation in unions that are in partnership with their firms. Such is considered a limiting move as the unions focus on conserving the relationship with the organization rather than noting and bringing to the fore the areas of challenges and difficulties; additionally, some unions exhibit declining membership due to this focus on relationship conservation, which mutes their voices in the public arena as a result of (Grugulis 91). Such practices not only give the management the opportunity to engage in unfair labor practices as part of the managerial prerogative, hence lifting the limitations on the prerogative.

The management prerogative must be exercised within the law. The law herein refers to the NLRA as well as to the collective bargaining agreements made by the employers and the employees. Managers have no discretion to violate the law on account of the managerial prerogative, and any such activity could be counted as law-breaking. The limitations set within the collective bargaining agreement also constitute part of the law that limits the managerial prerogative. Per the chapter ‘Participation and Work Place Democracy,’ employee participation in the workplace decision making is somewhat a façade that is difficult to attain. On the contrary, managers and employees are often left engaged in a hide and seek game of participation, whereby relatively insignificant decisions are left to employees while the major ones and made by the management: the management and the employees are often at a ‘participation conflict’ rather than partnership (Sievers 131-132). In such an environment, it is easier for the managerial prerogative to be encroached than not, and adherence to law and the collective bargaining agreement seems to be the only saving grace.

The final limitation on the managerial prerogative is that its exercise has to be consistent with the requirements of fair play and justice. The requirement for fair play and justice is aligned to the first limitation, which is on the exercise of the prerogative in good faith. Employees deserve to be treated with fairness and justice at all times. Grugulis (91-92) mentions trust as the underlying principle in employee partnership is trust. The collective agreements to which both the employer and the employee ascribe should be adhered to at all times; such agreements set out the prerogatives of the employees as well as those of the management, and the encroachment of either party into the other’s prerogatives results in mistrust. In such circumstances, managers should engage in conversations with the employees to ensure that the decisions made are fair to all and just. Encroaching into employee prerogatives without fairness or justice results in de-motivation and low productivity, and possibly even employee turnover.

Understanding the limitations of the managerial prerogative is imperative for effective management practice. These limitations are drawn from the law, collective bargaining agreements, and general fairness and justice expectations in management practice, and are aimed at ensuring that the exercise of the managerial prerogative does not border on the inhumane.

Question 4: Human Relations Thinking

The human relations thinking is a modern perspective to human resources that emphasizes on the role of the human factor in organizations. it is an extension of the findings of the experiments conducted by the Hawthorne researchers, and is aimed at encouraging the adoption of a more ‘human’ perspective towards employees rather than dependence on the mechanistic perspective that was common in the traditional capitalist environments. Therefore, the theory deviates from the past perspectives, and can be considered to be a break with the past.

Human relations thinking embodies various attributes and propositions in the consideration of employees in the workplace that create divergent views from those that were common in the past. The perspective, initiated by the discovery of the ‘human factor’ as a concept in employee management, has led to a regime in which employees’ needs are not only identified but were also met in different ways. This change itself reflects a deviation from the traditional ‘good guy’ ‘bad guy’ concept in which employees were assigned, by virtue of managerial perception of their behaviors, into either of the two groups (Grey 43). The mentioned traditional groupings seemed to have the implication that people do not change and that employees are unable to reflect different characters at different times. Accordingly, the realization that employees, just like other humans, have needs that when met can result in a shift in attitude and motivation, was the beginning of moving away from the traditional methods of employee management.

The human relations theory also reflects the values of personhood, in its entirety. The concept of personhood, as discussed by Grey, relates to the ideology that people have rights to be treated in particular ways, as well as to choose who governs them in various contexts (48). The deepening of the concept resulted in the deviation from the absolutist religion in which the social order was perceived to have been pre-ordained by God and that man had no capacity to change the social order (Grey 46). In the traditional economist system, this perception of religion, the absence of rights and the inability to choose who governs others were the characteristics associated with the workplace in which managers made all decisions and employees followed. On the other hand, human relations thinking presents a perspective characterised by deepened personhood that not only reflects the economic characterizations of Taylorism, but also combines elements of social and individual beliefs and challenges. Social problems, such as criminality, alcoholism and perversion, affect individual behaviors in the same way that individual traits such as attitudes, competencies and skills do (Grey 48). The realization of this fact, as is embodied in human relations thinking, helps to address managerial problems as they occur based on situational contexts.

Another feature of human relations thinking that shows its deviation from the traditional human relations theories is its focus on the legitimacy and authenticity of leadership and management. Through the new human relations theories, the intertwining of the concepts of legitimacy and authority drove the shift from the perception that cooperation is inevitable among employees to the realization that any kind of cooperation has to be created (Thompson and McHugh 49). The process for creating cooperation varies significantly depending on the perspective held by the management and the attitudes of the employees towards the management. The advent of human relations thinking for instance, led to the consideration of the concept as a gigantic phenomenon with no alignment with industrial reality (Thompson and McHugh 49). This consideration resulted in resistance to the adoption of the changing industrial relations perspective, and subsequently resistance and riots from employees. This chain of events made it possible for managers to understand employees as individuals whose consent and attention is needed in industrial decision making. Accordingly, these individuals have to be accorded the respect that they need, and their attitudes towards their roles recognized in the process of management (Thompson and McHugh 50). The shift from the traditional consideration of human resources as mechanistic to the contemporary consideration of the ‘human element’ in human resources is thus founded on the premises of perceived legitimacy and the need for created cooperation.

Social control in the management context is usually driven by the desire for power. Management in organizations implement certain rules and regulations that constrain the social environment of employees in a bid to not only control their ability to deliver the set objectives but also to ensure that they remain constantly subject to the authorities. With human relations thinking however, the manner in which organizational management pursues this kind of control reflects a stark break from the past. Human relations was initially considered to have been ineffective towards attaining the goal of portraying the conventional workplace as a social environment, and instead portraying it as a system of power characterized by class antagonisms (Braverman 145). However, this particular consideration could be the basis of social understanding, seeking control through dialogue and consideration of others, and use of unions for collective power and bargaining.

Human relations thinking has changed the contemporary workplace significantly, indication a significant deviation from the past perspectives about human resource management. As an extension of the findings of the Hawthorn Researchers, the human relations perspective has purposed to portray the workforce as people with feelings, attitudes and opinions, among whom cooperation has to be created and with whom dialogue can be attained. it has become possible to eliminate the traditional mechanistic considerations of the workforce towards a more humanistic consideration based on respect and mutual understanding through the consideration of various attributes of employees,


Works Cited

Braverman, Harry. Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. New York and London, Monthly Review Press, 1972.

Cathcart, Abby. “Directing Democracy: Competing Interests and Contested Terrain in the John Lewis Partnership.” Journal of Industrial relations, vol.  55, no. 4, 2015, pp. 601-620.

Grey, Chris. A Very Short, Fairly Interesting, and Reasonably Cheap Book about Studying Organizations. 3rd Ed. Sage Publications, 2012.

Grugulis, Irena. Employee Voice. In. Grugulis, Irena. A Very Short, Fairly Interesting, and Reasonably Cheap Book about Human resource Management. Sage Publications, 2017.

Thompson, Paul and David McHugh. Work Organizations: A Critical Approach. 4th Ed. Palgrave, MacMillan, 2009.

Sievers, Burkard. “Participation as a Collusive Quarrel.” Ethical perspectives, vol. 3, no. 3, 1996, pp. 128-136.