What are the characteristics of the contingency viewpoint of management?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Contingency based management essentially is in constant flux. This style of management holds that no single style is better than others but that they are all valuable in different situations. Essentially, the model holds that in the event of an emergency or if your primary management style breaks down, you have a secondary approach, and you can keep cycling through management styles until you find one that is successful.

Primarily, to be successful, the roles must be very well defined between manager and employee, because the relationship may shift while transitioning between management styles, so it is best to have them set in stone beforehand. Additionally, the objectives must be well defined as well because as each management style comes and goes, the approach to find a solution will change, but the objective must remain the same. Finally, the manager needs to be well-versed in different management styles to be able to appropriately incorporate them into their leadership.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Contingency viewpoint management, to put it quite simply, dictates that different situations will inevitably call for different approaches when managing a team. Often times managers will attempt a fair and fool-proof system by adopting rigid guidelines to leadership that they see as "one-size-fits-all" solutions to any possible problem. Contingency viewpoint, however, maintains that solutions that will work in one context may be completely useless in another, and vice-versa, depending on several factors such as employees, jobs, and levels of accountability.

Contingency theory acknowledges that there is no one best way to lead an organization, and even a situational "best way" is subject to change. Operating under this sort of management style requires varying positions of leadership with various traits that will be better suited to different situations.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The contingency management approach holds that there are a variety of styles of management and there is no style that is better than the rest. The rationale focuses on the situation, which forces the manager to seek the correct way or style to manage. Thus, the manager is responsible for matching the right style to the right situation. The manager also needs to know their style of leadership in order to accommodate and work with the rest of the employees.

To ensure the management system works, the roles of each member of the organization should be clearly defined, which enhances the level of accountability. In this case, the manager can objectively evaluate the members based on their tasks and deliverables. A good working relationship between the manager and the rest of the staff is essential in a contingency system because it places the manager in control of the organization.

In summary, an organization based on contingency management

  • Applies different approaches based on the situation it is facing
  • Is focused on creating synergies between the different members of the organization
  • Is aimed at adapting to the different circumstances
  • Appreciates diversity because it results in new ideas and new ways of getting things done
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The contingency viewpoint of management involves a manager weighing many different possibilities when solving an organizational problem. This process appreciates the constantly changing environment in which a problem is solved, as well as the dynamic needs of management and employees. When coming up with possible solutions, a manager considers many variables, including the makeup of the workforce, the organizational culture of the company, the company's size, the company's environment, and other factors. The advantage of this type of solution is that it can produce solutions that are specific to the problem, rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. As the manager has considered many factors in producing the solution, the solution has a better chance of being feasible. The disadvantage of this process is that it can require a great deal of effort and time to produce customized responses to different types of problems that arise in an organization. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team