System 4 Management, Role Playing

Rensis Likert and his associates studied the patterns and styles of managers for three decades at the University of Michigan, USA, and identified a four-fold model of management systems.

The model was developed on the basis of a questionnaire administered to managers in over 200 organizations and research into the performance characteristics of different types of organizations. The four systems of management system or the four leadership styles identified by Likert are:

  • System 1 – Exploitative Authoritative: Responsibility lies in the hands of the people at the upper echelons of the hierarchy. The superior has no trust and confidence in subordinates. The decisions are imposed on subordinates and they do not feel free at all to discuss things about the job with their superior. The teamwork or communication is very little and the motivation is based on threats.
  • System 2 – Benevolent Authoritative: The responsibility lies at the managerial levels but not at the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy. The superior has condescending confidence and trust in subordinates (master-servant relationship). Here again, the subordinates do not feel free to discuss things about the job with their superior. The teamwork or communication is very little and motivation is based on a system of rewards.
  • System 3 – Consultative: Responsibility is spread widely through the organizational hierarchy. The superior has substantial but not complete confidence in subordinates. Some amount of discussion about job related things takes place between the superior and subordinates. There is a fair amount of teamwork, and communication takes place vertically and horizontally. The motivation is based on rewards and involvement in the job.
  • System 4 – Participative: Responsibility for achieving the organizational goals is widespread throughout the organizational hierarchy. There is a high level of confidence that the superior has in his subordinates. There is a high level of teamwork, communication, and participation.

The nature of these four management systems has been described by Likert through a profile of organizational characteristics. In this profile, the four management systems have been compared with one another on the basis of certain organizational variables which are:

  • Leadership processes
  • Motivational forces
  • Communication process
  • Interaction-influence process
  • Decision-making process
  • Goal-setting or ordering
  • Control processes

On the basis of this profile, Likert administered a questionnaire to several employees belonging to different organizations and from different managerial positions (both line and staff). His studies confirmed that the departments or units employing management practices within Systems 1 and 2 were the lease productive, and the departments or units employing management practices within Systems 3 and 4 were the most productive.


With the help of the profile developed by Likert, it became possible to quantify the results of the work done in the field of group dynamics. Likert theory also facilitated the measurement of the “soft” areas of management, such as trust and communication.

Role Playing

ole play can be defined as a technique in which people are presented wit a real or artificial environment and they are exposed with some find of case or situation and they need to exhibit the same in form of roles.

It is a spontaneous human interaction involving realistic human behavior under artificial or stimulated environment .It consists of interviews or series of interview in which the participants or the trainees are provided with a role brief and a s et of circumstances which they need to enact.

The trainee develops a strategy to how should he react or think in a particular situation and possible suggestive solutions for resolving the problem or analyzing the situation .He also learns and forecasts what the other party or as per the case may be what can be the other reaction. This technique thus not only leads to self learning about expected job outcome or to create a fit in the job but also helps in understanding others perception about the task or issue.

Objectives of Role play as a training technique

1) It helps in developing a better understanding of the job 

2) It helps in understanding how to handle a particular situation.

3) It helps in developing better understanding of the issue an better decision making 

4) It helps in anticipating reaction of other party 

5) It helps in developing communication, management development and leadership quality.

6) It helps in improvement of interpersonal relationship  

7) It helps in providing an insight to understanding behavioral patterns of others.

Salient Features of Role play as a training method for learning

  1. Learning by doing- Since in this the participant plays role as per the given circumstances   he learns practically and understands the demand or requirement of skill set to resolve or get the task done.
  2. Learning through imitation– while playing the new or the expected role the participant gets the feelings about the other persona and tries his best to include and accrue all traits of the given role. Thus he gets an opportunity to understand, analyze and reflect the other person perception and behavior.
  3. Learning through observation and feedback– This method helps in dual learning .The trainee not only learns and reinforces the concepts by self learning but also develops an understanding about a new role. This approach helps in building good decision making ability, management capacity and leadership overall.
  4. Learning though analysis and conceptualization– The role played by the trainee helps in analyzing the various skills involve din he role right from domain, conceptual, design or human skills and thus helps in designing a broader understanding and clear outlook towards task.

Reasons and areas for  selecting role play as training technique –

The trainer or the facilitator should be very logical and clear about the purpose of using this as a training technique .The success of role play depends on the role brief, set circumstances and the utility expected from he technique.

The areas where the trainer and get the trainees benefited with this method includes:-

To practice behavior   where new role needs to be assigned to individual or as on anticipated problem situation.

To analyze the problem situation and develop approach and technique to resolve it 

To learn insight into motivation and roles of others 

To develop new skills and insight on resolving problems 

To develop a holistic understanding of the job for present as well as future.

Benefits or outcome of role play as a training technique

  1. It helps in both cognitive and effective development of trainees and better learning by doing.
  2. It permits practice by repetition and helps in better reinforcement
  3. It also helps in improving human relation since it helps I developing empathy
  4. It helps in making people sensitive towards others
  5. It helps in better SWOT analysis of individuals and thus the feedback given helps in identifying and overcoming the deficiencies.
  6. It enables the role player to control his behavior and enact as if he is enacting in a real life situation
  7. It helps in bringing attitudinal changes in the employees as trainees
  8. It is a more practical approach than other technique since in this the learning by doing and feedback that whether a behavior reflected is acceptable or requires change can be given.

Essentials to be considered before selecting role play as a training technique

It is the responsibility of the trainer to identify the objective, need, experience of trainee, the issue or task for which this method is selected. The focus should be on maximum involvement of individuals as participants so that an overall exposure and understanding of attitude, skills, knowledge, behavior, expectation, need for improvement, emotional stability and required competencies can be identified.

Other important factor that determines the success of training method is the feedback provided by the trainer from time to time to the learner or the trainee so that he can inculcate the required knowledge and skills   on continuous basis.

Apart from this it is also important to see for what purpose and objective is the method used for e.g. for which level of employees as trainees the method is chosen and also for what skills whether analytical, domain, conceptual, leadership, human relation development or as per job demand skills need to be inculcated.

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