Identify specific characteristics of the contingency approach of management.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The overriding trait of the contingency approach to management is its flexibility.  The situational approach to management argues that there can be no universal approach to managing in the modern setting.  Globalization, mutable conditions of the marketplace, and the diversity in the workforce on multiple levels prevents the embrace of one philosophy.  The contingency approach suggests that there needs to be an examination of current situations and dynamics. Proceeding from understanding this point becomes one of the model's traits.  Each situation presents an entirely new set of conditions that have to be navigated.  The trait of asking questions, seeking to better understand what model will work in which situation, and not being wedded to a singularly exclusive philosophy are traits of the contingency approach to management.

Organizational theory and leadership are areas that are impacted the most in the contingency approach to management. The willingness to embrace what other organizations have done if it fits the circumstances becomes a reality in the contingency management model, as opposed to theoretically driven models that focus on the theory more than the specific conditions that govern its success. The willingness to embrace questions and avoid inflexibility are vital traits for the model of contingency management to work best.  

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The contingency approach to management is the belief that there is no single set of rules that apply to companies in general. With this theory, business leaders must understand the unique needs of a given situation and make decisions that best apply to that situation. Therefore, two similar businesses may have very different ways of operating due to differences in personnel, the different needs of their clients, or different expectations of a given job task. Managers will respond to the needs of each situation as they arise instead of having a given set of guidelines to follow.

This approach to management puts a great deal of pressure on managers who, by definition, must react to each situation differently. Failing to respond properly could lead to the demise of a given project.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. One advantage is that companies will likely be able to adjust job responsibilities as needed, increasing the likelihood that a project will be successfully completed. One disadvantage is that the company will need to respond to a troublesome situation almost immediately after it arises. Because the company is not planning ahead for problems, there could be a lack of qualified people in place if an unexpected problem arises.

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