Changing Mindsets of Middle Level Officers in Government Organizations

Ramnarayan, S (2003) Changing Mindsets of Middle Level Officers in Government Organizations. Vikalpa, 28 (4). pp. 63-76.

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Abstract

This paper uses a simple system of classification for examining mindsets of middle level officers in government organizations. It proposes that a middle level officer may assume or take on a spectator mindset or an actor mindset. With a spectator mindset, the person may pick up a signal from the environment or get an idea for improvement but he/she does not act on that learning or insight. As a result, organizational learning does not occur and this is reflected by organizational inaction or inappropriate action. On the other hand, with actor orientation, the individual acts on his/her learning and this leads to the right organizational action.This paper proposes that spectator orientation is rooted in four major factors: organizational characteristicsnature of relations with superiorthe way work is performedthe nature of middle management role.When the organization is perceived as conflict-ridden, rule bound, having too many free-riders and not oriented to customer and stakeholder requirements, there is a tendency for spectator mindset to predominate. This mindset also results in hierarchical, impersonal, and non-appreciative relations with superior.The third factor that leads to spectator mindset is the way work is performed. When the emphasis is more on performing activities in a ritualistic mode rather than to have impact and when there is inadequate attention to linkage, integration, and people management issues, spectator mindset is more likely. Finally, the nature of roles at operating levels such as fragmentation and segmentation of functions and excessive preoccupation with fix-it type of activities can lead to spectator orientation. Any attempt to change the mindset has to therefore address these four important factors.This paper reviews some change experiments and experiences in governmental organizations in India to propose two broad approaches to bring about organizational and mindset changes: Transformational approach which aims to bring about new strategy, management processes, and approaches by creating a new equilibrium for the organization.Continuous improvement approach which focuses on small doses of incremental changes that affect only part of the organization by modifying ways and means of doing work. It builds on the efforts of organizational members.This paper discusses these two approaches in some detail and examines the factors that are critical for the success of each of these approaches. It looks at how these approaches can also complement and strengthen each other. There can be no two opinions on how important it is to change mindsets in government organizations. This paper is an attempt to review some recent change experiences to shed some light on this important issue.

Affiliation: Indian School of Business
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Ramnarayan, S
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Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The research paper was published by the author with the affiliation of Centre for Organization Development, Hyderabad.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Middle level officers, Transformational approach, Continuous improvement approach, Government organizations, Spectator mindset, Actor mindset
Subjects: Organization Behavior
Depositing User: Ilayaraja M
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2019 19:38
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2019 19:38
URI: http://eprints.exchange.isb.edu/id/eprint/1071
Publisher URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/0256090920030406
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