Goal Displacement & Goal Distortion

Goal Displacement & Goal Distortion

Meaning of Goal Displacement

Goal displacement may take place unconsciously, unintentionally and may not be public announced. In other words, official goals remain unchanged, organizers purse goals different from the state and ones. When an organization substitutes some other goals for its legitimate goals, or pursues a goal to which it was not created or for which resources were not allocated or seeks a goal which is not serve, displacement of goals is said or have occurred. The reasons for goal displacement may be summarized as below:

Reasons for goal Displacement:

  1. Treating means as ends-

    When real ends are ignored and means are treated as ends, the goal displacement takes place. For instance, if an educational institution was established to impart knowledge and training, but in due course some powerful organizers started to use this institution to employ their kith and kens and draw government grants to use it for their benefit, the primary goal of education has been displaced by providing employment to their own people and seeking government grants to use in their own interest, which were only means.

  2. Iron Law of Oligarchy-

    Michaels advanced iron law of the oligarchy, as one of the reasons of goal displacement. In complex organizations, power inevitably falls into the hands of a few as mass participation is impossible and a few people command power and in fluence because of their high status and technical specialization. In order to remain in power and control, these people want to maintain status quo. They try to eliminate potential rivals, ignore primary objectives and retain their power at any cost.

  3. Too much emphasis on Rules and Regulations-

    When managers start attaching too much importance to the adherence of rules and regulations (which are only means) ignoring the real ends (particularly when they are long range and intangible), the goals are displaced. Often it is so because the managers are unwilling to face new situations and wish to play safe and avoid risk. Often, they seek shelter under the rules to save their own skin even at the cost that the real goal is defeated. For example, denial of an essential expenditure by the manager, simply because there is no fund in the budget for that expenditure, although that denial may result in tremendous loss, has caused displacement of goal because of too much emphasis on adherence to the rule that no expenditure should be incurred unless budgeted. Merton observed that displacement of goals due to strict adherence to the rules occurs mainly at the executive level, while displacement of goals turning means into ends and ends into means occurs at top level when they develop vested interests.

  4. Diversion of attention from goals due to informal discussions-

    Employees in the organizations often waste their time and energy in discussing their personal problems like promotion or transfer, or general problems like pay revisions, which divert their attention from real goals.

Goal Distortion : Meaning and Need:

Goal distortion means lack of clarity or lack of mutual understanding or wrong interpretation of goals. Distortion of goals occur in the organization due to a variety of reasons as stated below:

  1. Over emphasis on tangible and short run goals-

    People in the organizations usually tend to emphasize tangible, measurable and short run goals as compared to intangible non-measurable and long-run goals. For Example an educational institution may have ‘imparting necessary knowledge, as short run objective and character building of students as long run objective. If the performance of a teacher is repeatedly judged on the basis of the result of the students, he would start ignoring long-term, objective of character building and concentrate attention only on imparting knowledge.

  2. Bottlenecks and distortions in communication-

    Goals are also distorted when they are not properly understood or communicated. This may happen when there are bottlenecks, delays, distortions or leakages in the communication system or the information is coloured due to different perceptions and vested interests of the individuals.

  3. Internalization subunit goals-

    When people in the organization start considering their individual interests superior to the general goal of the organization, it leads to the goal distortion. Similarly when departmental executives over-stress upon their sub-unit goals, ignoring its impact on overall organizational goals it results in goal distortions. Some departmental executives in an attempt to build empires and increase their power and influence undermine the organizational goals.

  4. Remote view of overall goals at lower levels-

    Goals are highly general and non-operational at top level and highly specific and operational at lower level. The people at lower level cannot see the ‘big picture’ of the organization. They are totally unaware and oblivious of overall organizational objectives. There are several units, sub-units and levels of organization making a means ends chain. People at lower level are more concerned with immediate goals and tend to emphasize such goals. They ignore overall goals due to the remoteness of their relationship with top management. Serious distortions of organizational goals take place when they are communicated to the lower levels in a complex organizational hierarchy through a long chain of people having different back-grounds, skills, environment duties responsibilities, interests, authorities; viewing only a portion of the chain and interpreting the goals according to their own judgment and perception.

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