Issues of Participative Management


It could be hardly doubted that a leader is characterized not only by his or her traits and actions but also by the ability to employ the ideas and support from his subordinates. It is evident from the theory of charismatic leadership that is primarily focused on personal charisma can drive a manager toward risky decisions and possible failures. On the contrary, if the manager is capable of using both positive and negative input from his subordinates along with the delegation of some tasks, the company will increase its productivity and employees’ satisfaction with work. However, it should be noted that the fallacies in the implementation of the participative leadership style can cause numerous adverse outcomes. This paper aims to study the case, which is related to the mentioned issue, and to retrieve and explain the mistakes which were made, using the Vroom-Yetton model.


First of all, it is essential to provide some background for the case study and to set out several key ideas. Kathy McCarthy, the manager of a production department in Alvis Corporation, has read an article dedicated to the benefits of participative management for an organization’s productivity (Yukl, 2013). Since the manager liked the idea of improving the workplace conditions with the help from workers themselves, she decided to delegate two decisions: (1) the development of vacations schedules, and (2) the revision of production standards for new equipment (Yukl, 2013). However, the meeting, which was dedicated to the solution of these two problems, ended up in the manager’s failure to adequately delegate the tasks. The following sections will discuss particular aspects of the case.

Analysis of the Case According to Vroom-Yetton Model

As for the beginning, it is possible to notice that many researchers acknowledged the importance of the subordinates’ participation in the work of the manager and contributed to the development of the participative leadership theory. However, to analyze this case, it is proposed to use the Vroom-Yetton model. This contingency theory (which is also referred to as normative decision model) was developed by Vroom and Yetton to identify which decision procedures would be efficient in particular situations (Yukl, 2013). According to the model, there are five types of decision procedures: two varieties refer to autocratic decision-making, two other relate to the consultation with subordinates, and the last category describes the process of joint decision-making when the leader and followers form a group (Yukl, 2013).

Further, based on the decision rules which are provided by the model, it is possible to answer the question of whether the two issues under discussion were appropriate for group decision procedure. Concerning the first issue of vacation schedule, it should be stated that it is not suitable for collective decision-making. First of all, this issue represents the conflicting desires of different employees over the same vacation periods. It is possible to employ the second rule from the Vroom-Yetton model’s set of rules because (1) the quality of this decision is important (the productivity of the firm vastly depends on the appropriate staffing during the period of vacations), and (2) the employees seem not to share the same concern about the quality of the decision since they are preoccupied with their interests (Yukl, 2013). Therefore, this issue is not appropriate for the group decision-making procedure.

Concerning the issue with the revision of production standards, it is possible to state the first rule is most likely to be applicable. It is stated by the rule that if the decision is of high importance and subordinates possess the additional and relevant information which is lacked by the manager, an autocratic decision is entirely inapplicable (Yukl, 2013). In the situation under discussion, this aspect was revealed at the very end of the case, when the worker speaking for the group has explained that “the higher incentive pay restored their real income to its prior level” (Yukl, 2013, p. 133). Therefore, the employees, possessing additional information, we’re able to make an appropriate decision. Further, it is essential to discuss the mistakes in the use of participation, which were made by the manager, and to suggest possible ways of avoiding them (Yukl, 2013).

Mistakes in Using Participation and Means of Avoiding Them

This section will primarily dwell upon the discussion of the vacation schedule issue since it is the most controversial decision of Kathy McCarthy. The first mistake was touched upon in the previous section: it was the manager’s fallacy to put out the vacation schedule issue for the group decision procedure. It is evident that the majority of the workers have personal interests concerning the vacation period, and it should have been predicted that the controversy would emerge. Secondly, it was completely wrong for the manager to leave the meeting room and leave the subordinates on their own. It is possible to mention that the general taxonomy of participative management includes four primary decision procedures: autocratic decision-making, consultation, joint decision, and delegation (Yukl, 2013). However, the latter method is not included in the Vroom-Yetton model, and thus the manager was not able to give her subordinates “the authority and responsibility for making a decision” (Yukl, 2013, p. 106). Thus, the manager’s two main fallacies were retrieved and discussed, based on the case and theoretical materials.

Introducing the Participation. Was the Occasion Appropriate?

Finally, it is essential to discuss the question: were the issues under discussion an appropriate occasion for the introduction of participative management? It could be noted that the original intentions of Kathy McCarthy were partially caused by the fact that, according to several studies, women have a more participative approach in managerial decision-making (Khalid, Muqadas, & Rehman, 2017). However, it is argued that the vacation schedule issue was not appropriate for the implementation of the participation approach due to the presence of subordinates’ desires which made the decision-making process excessively difficult (Cheong, Spain, Yammarino, & Yun, 2016). Also, it is evident from the analysis that the issue of the revision of production standards was appropriate for a joint decision procedure to a considerable extent. Therefore, it is possible to observe that the manager has partially failed the implementation of the participative managerial style, but the overall approach would be beneficial for the firm.


Finally, it is possible to come to several conclusions, based on the conducted analysis of the case. First of all, it should be mentioned that participative management is a highly beneficial means of improving managerial decision-making and subordinates’ satisfaction. However, the particular case under discussion has revealed some fallacies which could emerge in the process of implementation. The case was analyzed according to the Vroom-Yetton normative decision model, and the mistakes which were made in using participation along with the appropriateness of its application were elaborated.


Cheong, M., Spain, S. M., Yammarino, F. J., & Yun, S. (2016). Two faces of empowering leadership: Enabling and burdening. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(4), 602-616.

Khalid, S., Muqadas, F., & Rehman, S. (2017). Women leadership and its mentoring role towards career development. Pakistan Business Review, 19(3), 649-667.

Yukl, G. A. (2013). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

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