Management Style in the Non-Profit Sector in Ireland

By Connolly, Pauline | Irish Journal of Management, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Management Style in the Non-Profit Sector in Ireland


Connolly, Pauline, Irish Journal of Management


ABSTRACT

This paper examines the style of management in the non-profit sector in Ireland and it explores the extent to which the values of managers translate into the practice of management in Irish voluntary organisations. One of the most obvious manifestations of management practices is the style of management adopted in an organisation. One of the most influential contemporary writers on the subject, John Purcell (Purcell, 1987; Purcell and Grey, 1986), states that management style is 'the existence of a distinctive set of guiding principles, written or otherwise, which set parameters to, and signposts for, management action in the ways employees are treated and particular events handled' (1987: 267).

Using both quantitative data from surveys and qualitative data from in-depth interviews, the findings from this study indicate that managers' style is consensual, consultative and inclusive, and they are more people-oriented than task-oriented. Overall the data shows that there is a good 'fit' between managers' description of their management style and their values. The majority of managers described their most important values as universalism, spirituality, benevolence and self-direction, which find resonance with the caring, enabling, people-focused style of management in the non-profit sector in Ireland.

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which the values of managers in the non-profit sector translate into the practice of management in Irish voluntary organisations. One of the most obvious manifestations of management practices is the style of management adopted in an organisation. Style has been defined as 'the distinctive manner, pattern or approach of individuals or entities in doing something' (Fowler and Fowler, 1996). One of the most influential contemporary writers on the subject, John Purcell (Purcell, 1987; Purcell and Grey, 1986) states that management style is 'the existence of a distinctive set of guiding principles, written or otherwise, which set parameters to, and signposts for, management action in the ways employees are treated and particular events handled' (1987: 267).

Management style can, according to empirical studies (Park, 1996; Rees and Porter, 2001), be categorised on the basis of four determinants: firstly, how managers make decisions; secondly, how managers handle information; thirdly, how managers build social relations with other individuals in the organisation; and finally, how managers exercise control and motivate others. This study will use these categories to examine and discuss the style of management that respondents in the survey said they used.

In order to explore how managers' values translate into their management style, the question of what style of management is adopted by the respondents will be addressed. Managers' perception of their own style or approach to management, as well as their views on the style of management in the Irish voluntary sector as a whole will be explored. How managers' values impact on their management style will then be examined. Given the crucial role that values play in voluntary organisations, as suggested by the literature (Jeavons, 1992; Salamon et al., 1999), it is suggested that the style of management described by the respondents will be related to the values that they state are important to them.

Non-profit sector and the private sector

In focusing on the non-profit sector, there is a wealth of evidence that suggests that there are enough significant differences between the public and private sectors to merit the non-profit sector worthy of separate attention. Drucker (1973), a leading management theorist, commented that unlike the commercial sector, market behaviour does not influence the decision making of non-profit organisations. According to Drucker, non-profits' income is derived typically from multiple sources and is not related to performance, but rather to their fund-raising capacity and a budget. …

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