Assignment on
Action Theory

Submitted To:
Prof. Muhammad Ramzan
Submitted By:
Shahid Abbas
BC11-252
E-MORNING
HAILEY COLL...
Introduction ................................................................................................................
Action Theory
Introduction
In sociology, social action refers to an act which takes into account the actions of and
reacti...
Most of the social action and Interpretivists perspectives deny the existence of a clear
social structure that directs hum...
qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not
just what, where, when. Examples: Participant Obse...
Later Contribution
Action theory by Luhmann and Parsons
Parsons established action theory in order to integrate the study ...
Instrumental action
Actions which are planned and taken after evaluating the goal in relation to other goals, and
after th...
deepest aspirations. When aspirations are not fulfilled there is internal unrest. It is often
difficult to be productive i...
is continually perpetuated and is ingrained in a culture. Customs usually last for generations.
A habit is a series of ste...
business, but can also see how their own job is making a relevant contribution to the
business. Action theory also provide...
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ACTION THEORY OF MANAGEMENT BY SHAHID ABBAS KAHLON JUTT

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ACTION THEORY OF MANAGEMENT BY SHAHID ABBAS KAHLON JUTT

  1. 1. Assignment on Action Theory Submitted To: Prof. Muhammad Ramzan Submitted By: Shahid Abbas BC11-252 E-MORNING HAILEY COLLEGE OF COMMERCE, UNIVERSITY OF THE PUNJAB LHR
  2. 2. Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 2 Founder ......................................................................................................................................................... 4 Later Contribution......................................................................................................................................... 5 Action theory by Luhmann and Parsons ................................................................................................... 5 Types of action .............................................................................................................................................. 5 Rational actions ................................................................................................................................. 5 Instrumental action............................................................................................................................ 6 Affectional action.............................................................................................................................. 6 Emotion:............................................................................................................................................ 7 Rational choice.......................................................................................................................................... 7 Traditional actions ............................................................................................................................ 7 Importance in management ......................................................................................................................... 8 1
  3. 3. Action Theory Introduction In sociology, social action refers to an act which takes into account the actions of and reactions of individuals (or 'agents'). According to Max Weber, "an Action is 'social' if the acting individual takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby oriented in its course. The basic concept was primarily developed in the non-positivist theory of Max Weber to0020observe how human behaviors relate to cause and effect in the social realm. For Weber, sociology is the study of society and behavior and must therefore look at the heart of interaction. The theory of social action, more than structural functionalist positions, accepts and assumes that humans vary their actions according to social contexts and how it will affect other people; when a potential reaction is not desirable, the action is modified accordingly. Action can mean either a basic action (one that has a meaning) or an advanced social action, which not only has a meaning but is directed at other actors and causes action (or, perhaps, inaction Structuralism is a top-down, deterministic perspective that examines the way in which society as a whole fits together. Functionalism and Marxism are both structuralist perspectives: as such, they both perceive human activity as the result of social structure.Giddens “Theory of Structuration” (1979) sees structure and action theories as two sides of the same coin: structures make social action possible, but social action creates the structures. He calls this the „duality of structure‟. Critics of Giddens, such as Archer (1982) or (1995), argue that he placed far too much emphasis on the individual‟s ability to change social structure simply by acting differently. Interestingly, although Weber believed that sociology was a study of social action, he also advocated the combination structuralist and interpretative approaches in his general approach to research. Max Weber believed that it was social actions that should be the focus of study in sociology. To Weber, a „social action‟ was an action carried out by an individual to which an individual attached a meaning. Therefore, an action that a person does not think about cannot be a social action. E.g. an accidental collision of bicycles is not a social action as they are not a result of any conscious thought process. On the other hand, a wood cutter cutting wood has a motive, an intention behind that action. It is therefore „a social action‟. Social action sociologists reject the views of structuralist. However, Weber acknowledges the existence of classes, status groups and parties, but challenges Durkheim‟s view that society exists independently of the individuals who make up society. Phenomenology and ethnomethodology deny the existence of any sort of social structure. 2
  4. 4. Most of the social action and Interpretivists perspectives deny the existence of a clear social structure that directs human behavior. However, those who do believe in a social structure see it as being shaped by individuals. Weber referred to two types of understanding:„Aktuellesverstehen‟, which is direct observational understanding.And „erklärendesverstehen‟, where the sociologist must try to understand the meaning of an act in terms of the motives that have given rise to it. To achieve this type of understanding you must put yourself in the shoes of the person whose behavior you are explaining to try and understand their motives. In social action theory, Weber believes that bureaucratic organizations are the dominant institutions in society. Weber believes that bureaucracies (institutions) consist of individuals carrying out rational social actions designed to achieve the goals of bureaucracies. Weber views the whole development of modern societies in terms of a move towards rational social action. Thus, modern societies are undergoing the process of rationalization. Weber argues that all human action is directed by meanings. He identified various types of action that are distinguished by the meanings on which they are based: Affective or emotional action – this stems from an individual‟s emotional state at a particular time. Traditional action – this is based on established custom; people act in a certain way because of built-in habits: they have always done things that way. Rational action – involves a clear awareness of a goal. One of the main studies of social interaction within the education system is „Learning to Labor – how working class kids get working class jobs‟ by Paul Willis. Willis attempted to discover the meanings the „lads‟ gave to their actions and to those of others. Interpretive studies of the family seek to explore its role as one of the key groups within which we share our experience of the social world. In this way, it is similar to the functionalist view. However social action theorists are concerned with individual roles within the family as opposed to the family‟s relationship to wider society. Using an interpretivist approach, Berger and Kellner (1964) argued that individuals need to make sense of and create order in the world around them in order to avoid anomie. They also argued that in an increasingly impersonal world, the role of the private sphere of marriage and the family is essential for self-realisation of the individual, i.e. making sense of their social world. The main weakness of the interpretivist approach when researching the family is the tendency to ignore wider social structure. For example, both Marxists and Feminists argue that the way in which roles are constructed in the family is not merely a matter of individual negotiation, but a reflection of how power is distributed in wider society. The social action perspective is to examine how and why particular individuals and groups are defined as „deviant‟ where deviance can be defined as “behavior that does not follow the norms of a particular social group.” Such a definition may impact their future actions within society. Becker (1963) believed that the way in which he interpreted „deviance‟ was that an act only becomes deviant when others perceive it as such. Interpretivists or social action theorists use qualitative research methods to gather an indepth understanding of human behavior and the reasons behind such behavior. The 3
  5. 5. qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when. Examples: Participant Observation (either overt or covert) and unstructured interviews. The social action theory gives researchers a better understanding of actions behind human behavior, be they „traditional‟, „affective‟ or „rational‟. However, the social action theory tends to ignore wider social structure. There are also notions that research is biased due to the subjectivity of researchers, thus results are, at least partially 'fictional' accounts. It would seem that as social action theory is generally subjective, it is not as „solid‟ as structuralist approaches where research is based on facts. Founder The social action theory was founded by Max Weber. There are two main types of sociological theories; the first is the structural or macro theory while the other is social action, interpretive or micro perspectives. At the two ends of the argument as to which is a better theory are Durkheim, the founding father of functionalism, and Weber, the mastermind behind social action theory. As the „micro‟ name suggests, social action perspectives examine smaller groups within society. Unlike structuralism, they are also concerned with the subjective states of individuals. Very much unlike a structuralist perspective, social action theorists see society as a product of human activity. 4
  6. 6. Later Contribution Action theory by Luhmann and Parsons Parsons established action theory in order to integrate the study of social order with the structural and voluntaristic aspects of macro and micro factors. In other words it may be described as an attempt to maintain the scientific rigor of positivism, while acknowledging the necessity of the "subjective dimension" of human action incorporated in hermeneutic types of sociological theorizing. Parsons sees motives as part of our actions. Therefore, he thought that social science must consider ends, purposes and ideals when looking at actions. Parsons placed his discussion within a higher epistemological and explanatory context of systems theory and cybernetics. System theorists such as Niklas Luhmann and Talcott Parsons can be viewed as at least partially antipositivist. Parsons however was not against positivism as such but against the absolution of positivism. Parsons shared positivism's desire for a general unified theory, not only for the social science but for the whole realm of action systems (in which Parsons included the concept of "living systems"). Where Parsons departed from the positivists was on the criteria for science. Thus, at least for the social sciences, Parsons maintained that a full and meaningful theory had to include the question of "ultimate values, which by their very nature and definition, included questions of metaphysics and for this and for other reasons, Parsons theory stands at least with one foot in the sphere of hermeneutics and similar spheres of thinking, which somehow become relevant when the question of "ends" need to be considered within systems of action-orientation. Types of action Rational actions Actionswhich are taken because it leads to a valued goal, but with no thought of its consequences and often without consideration of the appropriateness of the means chosen to achieve it ('the end justifies the means'). Value rational or instrumentally rational social action is divided into two groups: rational consideration and rational orientation. Rational consideration is when secondary results are taken into account rationally. This is also considered alternative means when secondary consequences have ended. Determining this mean of action is quite hard and even incompatible. Rational orientation is being able to recognize and understand certain mediums under common conditions. According to Weber, heterogeneous actors and groups that are competing, find it hard to settle on a certain medium and understand the common social action; 5
  7. 7. Instrumental action Actions which are planned and taken after evaluating the goal in relation to other goals, and after thorough consideration of various means (and consequences) to achieve it. An example would be a high school student preparing for life as a lawyer. The student knows that in order to get into college, he/she must take the appropriate tests and fill out the proper forms to get into college and then do well in college in order to get into law school and ultimately realize his/her goal of becoming a lawyer. If the student chooses not to do well in college, he/she knows that it will be difficult to get into law school and ultimately achieve the goal of being a lawyer. Thus the student must take the appropriate steps to reach the ultimate goal. Another example would be most economic transactions. Value Relation is divided into the subgroups commands and demands. According to the law, people are given commands and must use the whole system of private laws to break down the central government or domination in the legal rights in which a citizen possess. Demands can be based on justice or human dignity just for morality. These demands have posed several problems even legaformalism has been put to the test. These demands seem to weigh on the society and at times can make them feel immoral. The rational choice approach to religion draws a close analogy between religion and the market economy. Religious firms compete against one another to offer religious products and services to consumers, who choose between the firms. To the extent that there are many religious firms competing against each other, they will tend to specialize and cater to the particular needs of some segments of religious consumers. This specialization and catering in turn increase the number of religious consumers actively engaged in the religious economy. This proposition has been confirmed in a number of empirical studies. It is well known that strict churches are strong and growing in the contemporary United States, whereas liberal ones are declining. For Iannaccone‟s religious experience is a jointly produced collective good. Thus members of a church face a collective action problem. Strict churches, which often impose costly and esoteric requirements on their members, are able to solve this problem by weeding out potential free riders, since only the very committed would join the church in the face of such requirements. Consistent with the notion that religious experience is a collective good, Iannaccone et al. show that churches that extract more resources from their members (in the form of time and money) tend to grow in membership. Affectional action Actions which are taken due to one's emotions, to express personal feelings. For examples, cheering after a victory, crying at a funeral would be Affectional actions. Effectual is divided into two subgroups: uncontrolled reaction and emotional tension. In uncontrolled reaction there is no restraint and there is lack of discretion. A person with an uncontrolled reaction becomes less inclined to consider other peoples‟ feelings as much as their own. Emotional tension comes from a basic belief that a person is unworthy or powerless to obtain his/her 6
  8. 8. deepest aspirations. When aspirations are not fulfilled there is internal unrest. It is often difficult to be productive in society because of the unfulfilled life. Emotion is often neglected because of concepts at the core of exchange theory. A common example is behavioral and rational choice assumptions. From the behavioral view, emotions are often inseparable from punishments. Emotion: Emotions are one's feelings in response to a certain situation. There are six types of emotion: social emotions, counterfactual emotions, emotions generated by what may happen (often manifested as anxiety), emotions generated by joy and grief (examples found in responses typically seen when a student gets a good grade, and when a person is at a funeral, respectively), thought-triggered emotions (sometimes manifested as flashbacks), and finally emotions of love and disgust. All of these emotions are considered to be unresolved. There are six features that are used to define emotions: intentional objects, valence, cognitive antecedents, physiological arousal, action tendencies, and lastly physiological expressions. These six concepts were identified by Aristotle and are still the topic of several talks. Macro institutional theory of Economic Order: Nicole Biggart and Thomas Beamish have a slightly different approach to human habit then Max Weber. Whereas Weber believed economic organization is based on structures of material interest and ideas, institutional sociologist like Biggart and Beamish stress macro-institutional sources of arrangements of market capitalism. Micrological theories of economy consider acts of a group of individuals. Economic theory is based on the assumption that when the highest bidder succeeds the market clears. Microeconomics theories believes that individuals are going to find the cheapest way to buy the things they need. By doing this it causes providers to be competitive and therefore creates order in the economy. Rational choice Theorists, on the other hand, believe that all social action is rationally motivated. Rationality means that the actions taken are analyzed and calculated for the greatest amount of (self)gain and efficiency. Rational choice theory although increasingly colonized by economist, it does differ from microeconomic conceptions. Yet rational choice theory can be similar to microeconomic arguments. Rational choice assumes individuals to be egoistic and hyper rational although theorist mitigates these assumptions by adding variables to their models. Traditional actions Actions which are carried out due to tradition, because they are always carried out in a particular manner for certain situations. An example would be putting on clothes or relaxing on Sundays. Some traditional actions can become a cultural artifact Traditional is divided into two subgroups: customs and habit. A custom is a practice that rests among familiarity. It 7
  9. 9. is continually perpetuated and is ingrained in a culture. Customs usually last for generations. A habit is a series of steps learned gradually and sometimes without conscious awareness. As the old cliché goes, “old habits are hard to break” and new habits are difficult to form. Importance in management Action theory is synonymous with business improvement and is a methodology of managing the operational actions that managers and staff need to do to drive better business performance and achieve "business excellence". In all operational areas it is management's job to remove obstacles and stimulate actions so that “the things employees do” have a positive impact on the performance of the business. Action theory is therefore about improving the day-to-day operational management, efficiency and productivity of a business (any business). Financial accounting systems are by nature historical, so if management only relies on these systems then they are normally operating in "catch up" mode. Action Theory introduces pro-activity and is a system for taking non-financial business initiatives, setting targets, and then tracking the improvements that result. In creating this pro-active management environment, Action theory then permeates through the whole organization. Action theory focuses on the operational management elements of a business that approaches business improvement in a remarkably simple and logical way. Action theory can be applied to any size of business. Small to medium sized businesses (SME‟s) will see Action theory as a whole-of-business system whereas larger businesses may implement Action theory with a divisional or departmentalized focus that can be later consolidated into an overall Action theory system covering the entire business. For example a larger business may start with the Information Technology function and create Action theory for IT that has an impact right across the business. Action theory can be applied to support any major cross-functional areas of a business. It is a strong endorsement for Action theory that The Australian National Institute of Accountants are now implementing it to help them run their business better, and are now taking initiatives to introduce it to their 15,000+ members. Action theory can be applied to any organization where the CEO wishes to systemize and improve the operational management of the business. It helps the CEO better manage the critical "operational" areas of the business. It also helps all staff better manage and perform in their own day-to-day "actions". Action theory directly aligns all staff actions with those of the business so that staff can not only get a better understanding of the 8
  10. 10. business, but can also see how their own job is making a relevant contribution to the business. Action theory also provides staff access to all of the information and tools they need to do the best job that they can. So Action theory improves business management from both the business process perspective and the people perspective. 9

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