Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)
Hall H. Logan
Herman S. Napier
Second Committee Member
Doris M. Cook
Unity of command, classical organization theory, Henri Fayol, disunity of command
This study reports on three separate laboratory experiments designed to test the validity of the principle of unity of command. This principle of classical organization theory had its popular beginning with Henri Fayol and is based on common sense and experience, but has apparently never been scientifically tested using objective measures of performance. The null hypothesis was stated as follows: "There is no significant difference in the performance or morale of individuals who work under conditions of unity of command and individuals who work under conditions of disunity of command".
Subjects in each experiment performed tasks under controlled conditions in which the independent variable was the presence of unity of command for the control group and disunity of command for the experimental group. The dependent variable was performance on the experimental tasks and a measure of the subjects’ morale as evidenced by scores on a semantic differential scale. Significance of difference between the control group and the experimental group was determined by the t test at the .05 level of significance.
In the first experiment, the null hypothesis was not rejected. There was no significant difference in the performance of the control group and the experimental group. There was also no significant difference in the morale, as measured by the semantic differential scale, of the two groups.
In the second experiment, there was no significant performance difference between the control group and the experimental group. The morale, as measured by the semantic differential scale, was shown to be significantly higher for the experimental group than for the control group.
In the third experiment, the control group’s performance and morale were significantly greater than that of the experimental group.
The findings of these experiments imply that while the principle of unity of command may be a useful general guide to organizational practice, it should not be considered as a universal absolute or as a dictum to be followed rigorously in organizations.
The principle may be necessary in many cases, but it should not be considered as sufficient for attaining organizational effectiveness.
Wilson, J. M. (1971). Some Laboratory Experiments to Test the Unity of Command Principle. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/3333
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