An Unmanaged Pursuit of Management
Throughout my life I've always had trouble deciding what I
really wanted to do when I grow up. I
still do. As far back as high
school, or even before, I always envied my friends who seemed to know exactly
what they were going to do in their life's work when they grew up:
One of them (Lou Doyle) very early wanted to be a doctor (and he is), one
(Joan Samson) wanted to be a teacher (and she has been for most of her adult
life), one (Kelley Carr) wanted to be a dentist (and still is), one (Bob Ryder)
wanted to be an engineer (and has always been one since graduation from
college), and so on. Alas, I was
never blessed with any certainty about what I wanted to bepartly because I
was interested in many different things but a master of absolutely none, and
partly because I simply hated to make a choice and close out other alternatives.
Hence, as the title of this story indicates, my life has been composed
largely of a series or string of unplanned, unanticipated,
andfrequentlyextremely fortuitous events.
Consequently, writing about it is an exercise in retrospective sense
making in the truest sense of that concept.
As I describe the various meanderings of my life in the
pages that follow, I think that several themes will emerge.
(Even if they don't, I've decided to make the data conform to what I
think are those themes!) First and foremost is the fact that I am a product of a
middle-class, middle-west upbringing.
Even though all of my professional years have been spent in California,
my roots and basic character formation were anchored in my first eighteen years
growing up in a college town in Indiana. Secondly,
since I've always felt I was never endowed with any particularly strong talents
in specific areas of endeavorswhatever overall talents I possess have,
unfortunately, been spread rather thinly over several areasI have had to make
up for this fact by sheer dogged persistence:
Persistence in the pursuit of certain short-term goals or objectives that
I've set for myself from time to time. (Perhaps this explains one of my later
deep interests, namely, motivation "what energizes, directs, and
[especially] sustains behavior. For
certain, it also explains my firm belief that performance is a function of
ability times motivation.) Even though I've tended to have this stubborn
streak of persistence, I've also had, as contradictory as it sounds, an urge
to maximize variety in my life. This
in turn has sometimes led to a desire for change for the sake of change.
So, I guess I would have to say that this desire for variety, which has
led to a certain restlessness at some periods, is a third theme that pops up at
various places in this account. A
fourth thread, as I look back on the past five or so decades, has been a
constant association with education.
Despite the best efforts of my parents, this association was never really
planned or anticipated, but it has been with me since the age of five.
Why it has turned out that I have been a sort of perpetual student and
have had my life so intertwined the educational process is something of a
mystery to me, but a fact nevertheless. Another
constant has been a strong sense of enjoyment of working with others.
Although at any given point in
time I can be as independent and lone-wolfish as the next
person, my natural tendency is to want to work together with colleagues on some
collective task. I know that I
think better when I am actively engaged in intellectual give-and-take with
others rather isolating myself for any extended period. Furthermore, and important for me, I find it just a lot more
fun to strive to accomplish something that represents a team or collaborative
achievement. The final theme that
has dominated my life over the years has been lucksheer, unadulterated
good luck. I won't elaborate on that motif here, but I will identify in various
later places in this treatise those occurrences of luck that have contributed
tremendously to my life and my professional career.
So much for a prologue.
Now, on to what happened and, hopefully, if I can muster a modest degree
of insight, why. As I look back, my
life so far seems to have been dividedlike Caesar's Gaulinto three parts:
the formative years, the Berkeley years, and the Irvine
The Formative Years
As I have indicated, my early life was dominated by the
fact that I was born and grew up in a small-to-medium size college town in the
heart of the middle-west. That town
was West Lafayette, Indiana, on the banks of the Wabash. I was the last of three boys to be born to my parents. (As my
next older brother was some eleven years older than me, I later as a teenager
remarked to my father that I must have been something of an after-thought;
in his usual candid manner he replied: You were.)
My early childhood years in the 1930s in West Lafayette
consisted of the typical midwest boyhood activities, mostly involving some kind
of sports-type activity or games with other neighborhood friends after school
and on week-ends. Come rain or shine, we were outdoor playing ball.
The major event of my early childhood was spending half a year in London
with my parents in the latter half of 1938, less than 12 months before World War
II started. I was eight at the time, just old enough to realize the significance
of the various historical landmarks we visited throughout Great Britain and, for
a month, on the Continent. That total experience of being abroad and living and
traveling in a quite different environment than the U.S. middle west had a
profound influence on me. Ever since, I have been (a) a confirmed
internationalist, and (b) an avid travel enthusiast.
By the time I had reached high school my four prominent
interests were girls, sports, journalism and schoolworkin that order.
Although my athletic talents were modest at best, my proudest moments in
high school were earning letters in football and track. (In the case
of the latter sport, I ran the 440-yard dash and was lead-off on the mile relay
team. It seemed that before each
race I was always complaining to the coach that I had some minor
ailmenttwisted ankle, swollen toe, cold, etc. because he wrote in my
graduation-year yearbook: Porter, if you ever told me you were totally
healthy before a race, I would have been really worried!)
My journalistic interests had been kindled by my father, who was a
college professor in biology. These interests led to working my way up to be the editor of
my school paper in my senior year in high school. They also led to a then-hobby
that probably no one else in the entire country had: since 10 or so I had
acquired a collection of one or more different newspapers from each of the
cities we had visited on vacations or other trips. Since my parents liked to travel, that meant that I had
acquired a large stack of papers from around the U.S. by the time I had
graduated from high school. (To
illustrate the extent of the traveling we did as a family when I was growing up
and my own travel in my first several years in college, by the time I was 21 I
had visited every one of the then-48 states.)
My academic studies in high school had progressed rather well, such that
I was eager to go on to college when I graduated in 1948.
Given my strong interests in journalism at the time, and
also given that I did not want to live at home while I was going to college (too
confining), I chose Northwestern University even though most of my high school
friends were electing to stay in West Lafayette and attend Purdue.
My choice of Northwestern (N.U., as it was referred to by students)
turned out to be a great decision on my part, looking back in retrospect.
It was the right distance from home, the education I received was
first-rate, and I made a lot of good friends during my four years in Evanston. Although my initial reason for deciding to go to N.U. was
because of its highly-rated Medill School of Journalism, I decided in my second
year of college that I didnt really want to have to write every day for a
living. (How ironic, as it has turned out, since my ultimate career
involved writing almost every day for a living.) I switched to psychology at the beginning of my junior year,
but not before the two years of being in the journalism school with its
intensive writing exercisesand even more intensive feedback on that
writinghad considerably improved and sharpened my composition skills.
(This had not been achieved without a certain amount of pain, since my
weekly required papers in J-school often came back with a great amount of blood
[red ink] all over them.)
By my senior year at Northwestern I was reluctantly having
to face up to what I was going to do when I graduated. (Gee, don't know,
was my typical response when asked the question by my friends.)
Early in that year, my chief undergraduate mentor in psychologyand the
very model of what a professor should beBenton J. Underwood, called me aside
and said he wanted to talk to me about applying for graduate school in
psychology. Until that moment, I had not really thought about the possibility of
entering graduate school and becoming a professor myself, even though that was
my father's own occupation. Underwood
told me in no uncertain terms that I should only apply to certain schools (his
personal list of the best psychology programs at that time) and not others.
Thus, I applied to Yale, Stanford, Wisconsin and Indiana, and was accepted by
all four (no doubt because of Underwoods very helpful letters of
recommendation). Even as far back
as those days I had always had a desire to spend some time in California, so I
was strongly motivated toward attending Stanford.
However, I heard from Yale first and, since the acceptance was coupled
with the most generous of the financial support packages, I decided to go there.
Again, it turned out to be a wise choice, but I am sure that I would have
been happy at any of the other three schools, too.
Also, during my senior year at N.U., I took a psychology honors class
from Carl Duncan and for my class project conducted a verbal learning
experiment. Out of this project,
and with great assistance from Prof. Duncan, came a co-authored
publicationNegative transfer in verbal learning that was
subsequently accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Psychology. This
was my first-ever publication, and to say that it had a positive motivating
effect on my desire to become, if possible, a scholar, would be a considerable
understatement. (My concurrent
thought: "Well, at least I
have one publicationbut, will there ever be a second one?)
In the fall of 1952, I arrived in New Haven.
My first challenge was not, however, my first-year, Ph.D.-level classes
in psychology. Rather, it was the
necessity of passing reading exams in two foreign languages, a (then) Yale
Graduate School requirement to be met no later than the end of the first year.
Fortunately, I had taken enough German at Northwestern to pass that exam
without too much difficulty; French, however, was another matter, but by a lot
of cramming during the summer preceding my entry I was able to squeeze a pass
out of the exam taken early in my first semester.
What a relief, since I had visions of spending my whole first year at
Yale bogged down in a miasma of French language courses while I was struggling
to get started on my psychology graduate studies. At any rate, I escaped that fate and was able to concentrate
on matters at hand relating to psychology.
I had gone to Yale on my (and the Yale Psychology
Departments) assumption that I would be concentrating in the area of
experimental psychology. But, just
as in my undergraduate years, my interests began to shift once again.
While I found my courses and my research assistantship work for Fred
Sheffield and Neal Miller to be both interesting and intellectually stimulating
and challenging, I came to the conclusion that if I continued to pursue that
subfield of psychologyexperimental psychologyI would end up spending too
much of my time in laboratories, frequently isolated from the real world
of other people. Regrettably for me, I did not come to this conclusion until
near the end of the third of my (eventual) four years at Yale.
What to do? I was too far along to shift totally my subfield within the
Yale program, so I ended up doing a human learning experiment involving
the administration of an adversive stimulusa very mild, tingling electric
shock administered to the wristto study its effect on recall of verbal
materials. This study was designed
with great assistance and encouragement of Fred Sheffield, to whom I have always
been grateful for his help in this regard.
Meanwhile I had been serving as a research assistant in the animal
learning laboratories of the widely-renowned psychologist Neal Miller; from him
(through both the assistantship and his courses that I took) I learned the
fundamentals of the scientific method in a way that has stood me in good stead
ever since. Nevertheless, I still
faced the issue, in my fourth year at Yale, of my gradually changing interests
and what to do about them. I turned
to one of Yale's most famous psychologists of that or any other time, Carl
Hovland, and asked him for his advice since he was highly familiar with
experimental psychology but more oriented toward social and industrial
psychology. I told him of my
possible interest inbut total lack of knowledge ofthe latter field, so he
suggested a reading course with an adjunct professor (Paul Burnham).
Thus somewhat tentatively launched in what basically would be my future
field of professional endeavor, I proceeded to read a series of basic texts in
industrial psychology throughout that final year at Yale.
It was not exactly an in-depth introduction to the field, but it at least
got me started.
As an aside, and to demonstrate what I said at the
beginning of this autobiographical piece about my inability to decide what I
really wanted to do when I grow up, I had in my first year at Yale flirted
with the possibility of transferring from the psychology program to either the
Harvard MBA program, about which I had learned from a friend, or to the Yale Law
School. Although I seriously
considered both possibilities, especially the one closest at hand (Yale Law
School), I never took the ultimate step of applying.
To this day, I think that I could have been just as happy in my
professional life if I had in fact carried through with either possibility (on
the rather vane assumption that I would have been accepted).
I have no regrets about passing up these could-have-beens, but
likewise never have I subsequently devalued them as once-viable options.
As I approached the latter part of my last year at Yale in
the spring of 1956, I was again faced with the somewhat fearsome problem of what
I was going to do after I graduated, a problem similar to the one I had faced
four years previously when I was preparing to finish up at Northwestern.
The only difference was that this time it merely involved the question of
what was I going to do for a living.
With the end, so to speak, rapidly approaching, I was the beneficial
recipient of one of the many lucky breaks I have received over the years: A
highly desirable job possibility appeared almost out of thin air around March of
that year. Edwin Ghiselli, one of
the country's premier industrial psychologists, and at that time also chairman
of the psychology department at UC Berkeley, wrote to Hovland saying that
Berkeley had a faculty opening in the area of industrial-social psychology
and, furthermore, they wanted someone who was broadly-trained in psychology
in general, and not someone who was narrowly trained only in industrial
psychology. Since I more than fit the latter part of that job specification
and to a degree fit the first part, Hovland wrote back and suggested me as a
possibility for the position. Within
a few weeks I was being interviewed by Ghiselli who was on the East coast on
other business, and a few weeks after that received a telegram that would
forever change the course of my life. It
said: Department votes unanimously to offer you position as Instructor in
industrial-social psychology at salary of $4296.
Congratulations. Please reply within a week.
It took me about five seconds to decide on my response, but I coolly
waited several days before sending my affirmative answer.
At least, for a couple of years I would not have to worry about how I
would obtain a paycheck, and I was going to a part of the
countryCaliforniathat had always had an attraction for me. Little did I
know, of course, that I would still be in California some 35 years later.
There was only one small problem: I would be teaching courses and doing
research in an area in I which I myself had never had a formal course!
The Berkeley Years
Before arriving at Berkeley in August of 1956, I had spent
the summer working for Bell Laboratories in New Jersey and New York City on a
project involving interviews of managerial and technical personnel regarding
sources of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. This project had been arranged through Hovland, who at that
time was a high-level consultant to AT&T.
It turned out to be an excellent experience for me both with respect to
honing my interviewing skills but also for getting me acclimated to real
organizational situations. It was a perfect transition phase between the
conclusion of my Yale years and the beginning of my Berkeley years.
I finished the Bell Labs project early in August and headed
west. On the way I stopped in West
Lafayette to buy a new car which I used to drive to California. Since this was
before the days of the Interstate system of highways, it took me five days,
during which time the only persons I spoke with were waitresses in diners and
motel clerks. I was glad to see
Berkeley, but was Berkeley equally glad to see me? As it turned out, I felt quickly accepted by my new
colleagues on the faculty in the psychology department and forthwith turned my
attention to preparing my first set of lecture notes for the first course I ever
taught anywhere, Industrial-Social Psychology.
Since, as noted, I had never taken a course in this area, I had no
available notes of my own. What to
do? I consulted with my other chief
colleague in addition to Ed Ghiselli in the industrial psychology area, namely,
Mason Haire. Since he was the only
person on the faculty who had previously taught the course, he seemed liked the
logical source of good notes. Unfortunately,
Mason told me that he lectured only from a very sparse set of notes, since that
was his preferred style. Mason was excellent with this highly extemporaneous approach,
but I knew that that would never do for me, at least in the first few years.
Although Haire had no available set of notes from which I could begin to
build my own, he directed me to a senior psychology major, Jeff Keppel, who had
been a student in his (Haire's) most recent class on this topic and whom Haire
knew had taken comprehensive notes. Luckily
for me, Keppel had indeed taken detailed notes which proved to be extremely
useful as I struggled in my preparation for my first few classes.
(Jeff and I became good friends; the following year he went on to
graduate school, subsequently going on to a distinguished career as an
experimental psychologist and expert in verbal learning and serving as a
long-time faculty member atBerkeley.) With
the help of Jeff's notes and my own reading of as many books in the area as
possible over the summer and that fall, I was able to keep about one lecture
ahead of where the students were in their reading.
Two good things happened as a result of teaching that first class:
one, I survived the course and even received decent student evaluations
of my frosh-like teaching; and, two, I met a student, Andy Moreland, with whom I
became a good friend and through whom I was later (the next summer) to meet the
girl who was to become my wife: Meredith
Moeller. (For the record, Andy went on to medical school and for the
past several decades has been an anesthesiologist in Santa Cruz.)
Almost my total first year existence at Berkeley was taken
up with preparing for my teaching assignmentsfor obvious reasons.
My need to feel at least acceptably prepared for each class, in the
context of my relative lack of familiarity with field, meant that little time
was left over to think about research let alone actually to carry out a research
project. Once again, fortune smiled
on me in the form of that prince of colleagues, Ed Ghiselli.
Toward the latter half of my first Berkeley year Ed dropped around my
office and said that he had some data that he had collected recently that he
hadnt yet had a chance to analyze or write up. Would I be interested, he asked, in looking at the raw data
and see if there was anything there, and, if so, to do an initial draft of a
co-authored manuscript? It was Ed's
gentle way of offering to help get me started on doing scholarly work in the
industrial-social psychology field. Of course, I accepted his offer with
alacrity and soon I had analyzed the data and prepared a first draft of a
manuscript that became my first publication in my newly-adopted field:
The Self-perceptions of Top and Middle Management Personnel, by
Porter and Ghiselli and published (in 1958) in Personnel Psychology.
(By that time, I already had five previous journal publications from my
undergraduate and graduate work, but all of them were related to issues in
experimental psychology.) That
article with Ghiselli helped shape my early interests in focusing in on
management and managers as the object of my research efforts.
I knew that my lack of formal training in industrial psychology and
related areas such as labor relations would probably preclude me from ever
gaining any sort of high-level expertise with respect to rank-and-file workers,
especially those in unionized work situations; hence, my decision to concentrate
most of my attention on management and managers. The right decision for me, as I
look back with hindsight.
My early years at Berkeley progressed well largely because
of the help and encouragement I received from Ghiselli and Haire. They became
close, personal friends and served, in effect, as my mentors.
If I have achieved any subsequent scholarly success in fields related to
industrial psychology, it is directly attributable to the tremendous influence
these two had on me at the beginning of my career.
They literally taught me the field, helped me formulate my views of
issues in the field, introduced me to major figures in the field, and provided
guidance that could not be equaled anywhere.
No junior faculty member could ever be as fortunate as to have two senior
colleagues of the caliber of Ed Ghiselli and Mason Haire.
As my first year at Berkeley drew to a close, I was well
into several incipient and small-scale research projects on which I hoped to
make progress in the next few months, especially before I had to start teaching
again in the second session of summer school in 1957. That particular summer teaching period turned out to be
fateful for me because my former student and now friend, Andy Moreland,
introduced me to a particular group of girls that were in the Berkeley environs
that summer. One of them, the most
attractive (of course), was the one that turned out to be the love of my life
and (about 10 months later) my wife, the aforementioned Meredith Moeller.
Fortunately, she had not been around
to attract me, and distract me, during my prior first year, because otherwise I
never would have been able to prepare my first-time lectures, read voraciously
in my field to catch-up, and try to launch some research efforts.
There would not have been enough time.
(Others could probably do all of those things simultaneously and still
have time for a lively social life, but I'm not that agile.)
Since, however, the chain of events that led to matrimony started after
my first year, I was better able to juggle the diverse set of activities that
occupied my second year at Berkeley. Meredith,
first as fianc and later as newly-married wife, was very understandingas
she has continued to be for the 33-plus years since then.
Because of the fact that I had arrived in the psychology
department at Berkeley as both the newest member of the faculty and also the
youngest (at 26), I had one great advantage:
no one really expected anything from me for a while.
Consequently, whenever I did something of modest note, such as making a
half-way cogent argument in a faculty meeting or getting an article accepted for
publication, everyone was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, however, one can
only be the newest and youngest for a very short period of time.
(I remember with dismay when an even younger faculty member was hired
during my second year.) This meant
that if I wanted to have the opportunity to stay at Berkeley it would be wise to
keep up an aggressive program of research.
This was what I wanted to do, and intended to do, anyway, so it was no
particular burden. (To be frank, during my Instructor and Assistant
Professor years at UCB I never thought much about tenure.
My view was that I was going to do what I was going to do, and if that
was enough, then fine. If
not, so be it. It would hurt my pride, no doubt; but I figured, perhaps
somewhat cavalierly, that there were plenty of other places to work, even if not
with the prestige of Berkeley, and I believed that I could be happy
professionally in any number of institutions. As things turned out, I never
actually had to test that belief.) The
one disadvantage of being the newest kid on the block was that the several
Ph.D. students that were already working on their degrees in industrial
psychology in the department were not exactly, and automatically, desirous of
working with me. They were very
friendly, but they correctly sensed that I could contribute relatively little to
their knowledge of the field. In
fact, when I arrived in 1956, all of the doctoral students obviously were way
ahead of me in this regard. Given
this situation, I turned to working with a couple of new, entering students
after I had been there for a couple of years. Fortunately, they were not as
aware of my relative newness to the field (nor to the faculty).
Thus, due to our reciprocal naivete, as it were, I was able to begin
my first intensive work with doctoral students, a challenge and pleasure that I
have enjoyed ever since.
Following my first article in the organizational
(industrial psychology) field with Ghiselli, I had proceeded over the next
couple of years to write several articles (#s 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12 on the
attached bibliography) that utilized the extensive data set that had been
collected originally by Ghiselli for other purposes relating to the development
of his Description Inventory. My
interests were in understanding the structure of organizations, particularly the
management sector, and how that structure was related to the types of
individuals who were most likely to be found in the different component parts of
an organization. This in turn led
me to thinking about how job attitudes might vary throughout the typical
organizational structure and the possible implications of those patterns of
attitudes. Due to the fortuitous
circumstances of the fact that the Ford Foundation had taken an interest in
business education issues relating to it, I was able, in 1959, to obtain a Ford
Foundation Faculty Research Fellowship. This
provided a relief from teaching responsibilities for the 1959-60 academic year
and furthermore allowed me to employ a graduate research assistant (R.A.), since
the department of psychology did not have the resources to provide such funds to
junior faculty. With these funds, I
hired my first R.A., Mildred Henry (now the president of a small college in the
San Francisco Bay Area). With
Millie's willing and tireless help, I was able to develop a need satisfaction
instrument based on (but not testing) Maslow's need hierarchy theory.
Concurrently, and with the help of contacts provided by Mason Haire, I was able
to persuade the American Management Association (AMA) to help sponsor an
extensive study of the job attitudes, including need satisfactions, of a large
nationwide sample of managers and executives.
This was another piece of good luck, because this one single, but very
large, data collection effort provided the bases for a set of six future
articles, all published over a several year period in the Journal of Applied
Psychology, as well as a summary monograph (#28) Organizational Patterns
of Managerial Job Attitudespublished in 1964 by AMA.
In the later stages of this particular project, I was greatly assisted by
another graduate student R.A., I. R. (Bob) Andrews.
Meanwhile, also during this period, I worked on several other
smaller-scale projects relating to work group characteristics and behavior with
several other graduate students including Tom Lodahl (later to be the Editor of Administrative
Science Quarterly). Tom (who
was really Mason Haires student but whose dissertation I directed during
Haires sabbatical leave) and I had a lot of fun working together designing
and implementing a research study that was
carried out on small work teams at the United Airlines maintenance base
in South San Francisco just prior to the introduction of jet engines on
commercial aircraft (which goes to show how old Tom is, if not myself) .
One student who entered Berkeleys Ph.D. program in
industrial psychology in the late 1950s (1959, to be exact), but who only stayed
one year before transferring to Indiana University, was one Larry L. Cummings.
Through a combination of totally inadvertent circumstances, Larry and I
had little contact with each other during his Berkeley yearwe were both
total unknowns at that timeand only got to be very close and personal
friends around the time he was finishing his doctoral work at I.U.
The following year (1960) at Berkeley, however, another new Ph.D. student
entered the industrial psych program. This
person I also did not get to know during his first semester or so, but from that
time on we formed an intense partnershipin the best sense of that wordthat
persisted for many years after he received his degree in 1964.
That student was Edward E. Lawler, III. By the beginning of Eds second year in the program we
found that we had strong common interests in a number of intriguing intellectual
issues in our field. Furthermore,
we also found that we had a number of other common non-work interests,
particularly sports (I'll never forget, for example, watching Loyola of Chicago
win the 1963 NCAA basketball championship game on TV in Eds recreation room
in his home) and bridge, among others. We
first published together in 1963 in an article (#21) on Perceptions Regarding
Management Compensation, and two years later our third co-authored paper
(#30) was one that was published in the Psychological Bulletinit had
been a joyous moment when we two relative rookies received the acceptance letter
for that article from the editoron Properties of Organizational Structure
in Relation to Job Attitudes and Job Behavior. That literature review article gained a certain amount of
subsequent visibility and was an important early career boost for both of us.
It was during Eds last year or so at Berkeley that we
began to formulate our ideas regarding the variables that act together to
determine motivation and job performance. Our initial thinking was mightily
influenced by the publication of Victor Vrooms classic book, Work and
Motivation, in the spring of 1964, because we immediately saw that Vics
explication of an expectancy theory approach had great applicability to our own
data and ideas. We proceeded to
spend much of the summer of in many discussions about how we might extend the
theory in ways that made sense to us and about which we
had collected previous data that could be analyzed from that perspective.
Thus was born the so-called Porter-Lawler model of motivation.
It took us another two years or so to develop the model fully and to test
with our data set some of the relationships between and among its variables, but
the end result was our jointly authored book, Managerial Attitudes and
Performance, published by Irwin in 1968.
Our two names have been linked ever since, though Ed, of course, has gone
on to establish a highly prominent and visible position in our fieldquite
independent of our early joint collaborationsthrough his numerous and
extremely valuable contributions. Regrettably,
I don't have the space to go on in more detail about Eds many abilities and
attributes, but I will mention one that stands out for me, and one that has a
certain relevance to our motivational model:
Ed Lawler, far and away, is better at converting effort to outstanding
performance than anyone I have ever met in my entire life.
At this point I need to backtrack to note one other major
is project on which I worked during my Berkeley years (in the period between
1956 and 1967). In 1960, primarily
through Mason Haires initiative, the threesome of Haire, Ghiselli and Porter
submitted a research proposal to the Ford Foundation to undertake a
cross-national study of managerial
job attitudes. The proposal was
funded, and we proceeded to carry out the study in 1961 and 62. Data were
collected in situ in various countries by ourselves singly or jointly and
with the help of several other colleagues around the world, most notably Frank
Heller (who, at that time, was working in Chile for an agency of the United
Nations). Not the least
of the benefits of this project was the fact that each of the three principal
investigators got to live abroad for a period during that time.
In my case, my wife and I decided to spend a six-months period in
Copenhagen, where I could concentrate on data collection activities in
Scandinavia and Germany. With our
then-two-year-old daughter, we lived in a penthouse suite atop a modern
apartment building on the outskirts of Copenhagen that was rented for the grand
sum of $108 a month. We never had it so good, before or since.
The experience provided a chance to learn about another culture as well
as to participate in an active way in our research project. As luck
(again) would have it, on one of my data forays to Germany, I happened to arrive
in Berlin two days after the East German government began the construction of
the wall in August of 1961. Watching
the wall actually being built brick by brick and block by city block has made
for an unforgettable experience. (The
fact that it suddenly started to come down on November 9, 1989, exactly on my
wife's birthday, added a coincidental conclusion to my personal Berlin Wall saga
begun some 28 years earlier.) By the finish of our data gathering efforts we had
obtained extensive questionnaire responses from more than 2,000 managers from 14
countries in Europe, Asia and South America.
Our findings were published in book form by Wiley in 1966, the title: Managerial
Thinking: An International Study. While some of our data analyses could be
considered somewhat primitive by todays standards, many of our findings and
conclusions have in fact held up rather well for these past 25 or so years.
A number of other large-scale cross-national studies of managerial
attitudes have been conducted since the publication of our book, of course, but
we took a small amount of pride in being one of the earliest group of
researchers to carry out this type of study in our field.
Besides, we had a lot of enjoyment in just doing the study and working on
Before closing out the account of my years at Berkeley, a
few other facets that were especially memorable for me during that 11-year
period might be worth noting. One
was my rejection for membership in (then) Division 14the Division of
Industrial Psychologyof the American Psychological Association. (Division 14 later was re-named the Division of
Industrial-Organizational Psychology and even later came to be called by its
current name, the Society of Industrial-Organizational Psychology.)
I had applied for membership in 1959, but had received a politebut
firmnote from the Membership Committee saying that my application had been
denied because there was insufficient evidence that I was committed to this
particular field (despite the fact that I had already had two articles published
in the field, three more in press, and had been recommended by two senior
members of the Division, Ghiselli and Tom Harrell of Stanford).
I did get admitted two years later, and I must say that I permitted
myself a small measure of self satisfaction when I later was elected president
of the Division in 1975, sixteen years and some 40 journal articles and two
books after having been turned down for not demonstrating that I really was
actively involved in this field. (This trail of events might help to explain
some of my interest in studying motivated behavior.)
A second experience, of a different type, was serving
during the early 1960s, as the Faculty Representative to the student
government. My confidence in my
effectiveness in this role was somewhat shaken by the eruption of the Free
Speech Movement in the fall of 1964, and the subsequent arrest of several
hundred students for invading Sproul Hall and effectively closing down the
university for several days. Aside
from that minor incident that affected the Berkeley campus for the next 10
years or so, I found the experience of being in the faculty representative role
to be fascinating and even enjoyable at times. It cemented my belief that
university service is an integral part of any faculty member's basic set of
Still another, and clearly more consistently enjoyable,
vignette from those years was the series of touch football games in which I
participated on Sunday afternoons every few weeks each fall. For the record,
some of the other players included Stan Nealey (now at the Battelle Institute in
Seattle), Ray Miles (now professor and former dean of the
business school at Berkeley) and Ed Lawler.
We were all young and vigorous, but I was a 5-10 pygmy among those
6-3-or-so tall giants. I made up
for lack of height with what I considered blazing speed, but Ray always used to
say of me: He's small but slow.
(I think he was kidding, but maybe he wasn't.)
Last but by far not least among events of my Berkeley
years: our two children, Anne and
Bill, were born there at the end of the '50s and early in the '60s.
As young children, they made sure that their father did not lose track of
what the real meaning of life is all about.
The Irvine Years
In the Fall of 1965 I had received an invitation from Don
Taylor, then chair of the Department of Industrial Administration at Yale, to
spend the 1966-67 academic year as a visiting professor at Yale in that
department. Although this
represented a very appealing proposition for a number of reasons, especially
because Ed Lawler was now at Yale as a junior faculty member, it was not an easy
decision for me. This primarily was
because I was heavily into a number of research activities at Berkeley and also
because I was enjoying working with the then current set of graduate students,
including Karlene Roberts and (from the School of Business) Ed Miller and Vance
Mitchell. Nevertheless, the
opportunity to go to Yale for a year was too attractive to turn down and, in
addition, it would provide Ed and me a setting where we could work together in
close proximity (down the hall, so to speak) to finish up our manuscript on Managerial
Attitudes and Performance. So,
together with my family (including, by now, two young children ages seven and
four, I made plans to spend from September of 1966 to June of 1967 in New Haven.
In the spring of 1966, however, as we were making travel
preparations, my friend Scott Myers, then employed as an industrial psychologist
on the staff of Texas Instruments, invited me to spend the intervening summer
months between Berkeley and Yale in Dallas at TI. I accepted his invitation, and
the resulting three-month working interlude turned out to be especially
informative and interesting. Most
of my time was spent interviewing a number of TI managers and executives
regarding various facets of their jobs and their views about managing, as well
as having the opportunity to observe first-hand a number of TIs advanced (for
those days) human resource practices.
The year at Yale was all that I had hoped it would be. Ed
and I completed our book manuscript work as well as wrapping up several research
papers on which we had been working. One of the major delights of the year was
getting to know one Richard Hackman, who had only recently arrived to join the
Industrial Administration faculty. (The department, incidentally, chose that
year to change its name to Administrative Sciences, and it was to become
the forerunner of todays School of Organization and Management.)
Among other activities that year, Richard and I formulated and conducted
a research study of expectancy theory predictions of work effectiveness,
and this experience showed me what a superlative scholar Yale had hired when
they had recruited this brand-new Ph.D. psychologist from the University of
Illinois. Also around Yale that year was another young faculty member who became
a good friend, namely, Tim Hall. Furthermore, Chris Argyris had become
department chairman and this allowed me to get to know someone whom I had
admired from afar for his pioneering work in our field but whom I had only met
one time previously. All in all, as
might be imagined, it was an exceptionally stimulating year and it had a major
positive impact on my subsequent career.
One other event, however, happened that year that had even
greater impact: I made a fateful
decision to leave Berkeley and go to a two-year old university, UC Irvine.
It would take too long here to go into all of the details regarding the
reasoning behind my decision. Many people, including my wife, were perplexed by
this decision. Suffice to say, it was agonizing. I was just being promoted (during the 1966-67 year) to full
professor at Berkeley and had greatly enjoyed my work and all of the friends we
had made in the psychology department and elsewhere around the campus.
Thus, there were absolutely no push reasons.
The pull reasons were several but not all fully explainableeven
to myself. Probably the biggest factor was simply a sort of inexplicable
feeling on my part that it was time to (in the words of John Gardner)
repot myself. I had been at
Berkeley for eleven years (counting the visiting year at Yale) and had achieved
far more than I ever expected or even had hoped for.
But, I was restless, and this brand new campus with its infant Graduate
School of Administration (GSA), held a sort of frontier allure for me.
I had been thinking for several years that a business/management school,
whether at Berkeley or elsewhere, might be a better home, as it were, for my
interests. Management as an
area of study and object of research seemed more central to a business school
than to a psychology department. But, if a change to a management school, why
Irvine? (My good friend, Jack Miner, had said to me shortly after my move: I
can't understand why you would go thereits like buying a pig in a
poke; several years later, after he had visited me at Irvine, he recanted:
I see now why you moved to UCI.)
There were three specific reasons: Richard
Snyder, GSAs first dean, had done an effective job of recruiting me; second,
helping to build a new campus of the University of California (the umbrella
institution which I knew would insure high quality) was a challenge that I found
hard to pass up; and, third, the southern California costal area around Newport
Beach (which is contiguous with Irvine) had always impressed me as an especially
attractive place to liveand, I can now attest, it definitely is.
Nevertheless, despite these reasons that I gave to myself (and to
Meredith), the decision to leave Berkeleywhich I made around March of 67
during my year at Yalewas absolutely wrenching. Perhaps because it was so wrenching, I have never made
another permanent move.
Just after the six-day Arab-Israel war had finished in
mid-June of 1967, we departed New Haven by car for the Irvine campus to drop off
a large number of books and files I had taken with me to Yale the previous
September. We then would proceed
back up to Berkeley to sell our house before returning to the Irvine area to
look for housing. I mention this small detail of dropping off a set of books at
my new campus office on a few-days-visit to Irvine before returning for good
because of one particular incident that occurred at that time. I had asked the
dean's secretary if she could get someone to help me carry up a number of boxes
of books from my car. She said Sure, here's one of our master's degree
students, and he will be glad to help you. It was John Van Maanen. I don't
think either John or I realized that early July day of 1967 that we would
eventually be working together so closely during the next four or five years.
The transition from Berkeley to UCI went fairly smoothly
that first year for me, though it was not very easy on my family (since we had
no relatives or close friends in the region when we moved to the Newport
Beach/Irvine area). I was kept busy
in my new role as Associate Dean of the GSA (later renamed the Graduate School
of Management) as well as adjusting to my new surroundings and making all sorts
of new acquaintances. By the end of the 1967-68 year I had my feet more-or-less
on the ground and was able to start focusing more intensively on resuming my
research activities which had been interrupted, for all intents and purposes, by
the move. One problem, though, was that GSA did not yet have a Ph.D. program in
place. Since I was used to working closely with doctoral students, this seemed
like a fairly serious obstacle. Indeed, I was concerned enough to ask Jim March,
the founding dean of the School of Social Sciences at Irvine, what he thought I
should do. Jim, in his usual incisive manner, said: Well, just go out and
create them. It was then that I decided to work with what seemed to be the
most appropriate second year master's student available, Van Maanen, even though
at that time he did not appear to be terribly interested in my particular field
of interest relating to behavior in organizations.
John turned out, of course, to be quite helpful, and we found we did have
some common interests. The following year GSA started a Ph.D. program and John
was one of the first two admitted. (As a footnote, and to be true to the record,
I actually had argued in a faculty meeting against his admission, not because he
wasn't intellectually qualified, which he obviously was, but because I was
concerned that he didn't have sufficiently defined interests and was in danger
of becoming too much of a dilettante. So much for my skills in selection of
Since I've already mentioned John Van Maanen, this is as
good a place as any to talk about the remarkable string of doctoral students
that I have been privileged to be associated with as major advisor during my
years in GSA (GSM) at Irvine. In
recounting these names, the reader will again see evidence of my recurring good
luck. First, as noted, was Van Maanen. John was unlike any of the other
students I have had before or since, but he was someone who would put his own
unique stamp on the field. His doctoral dissertation study of the Seattle
Police Force training program was an especially insightful piece of work, in my
opinion, and my main contributions were simply to encourage him to do it and to
try to be as supportive as possible. Following
Van Maanen (who graduated in 1972), my next doctoral student at Irvine, Rick
Steers, was as different (from John) as two people can be.
Whereas John tended toward the impulsive with a devil-may-care attitude
toward life, Rick was careful, planful and seriousbut no less talented.
Just a different style. Rick
and I have collaborated on several articles during and since his doctoral years
and, as I write, the 5th edition of our edited text on motivation, Motivation
and Work Behavior, has just been published by McGraw-Hill. Concurrently with
Ricks period in the Ph.D. program there was another Rick, Rick Mowday, who
became my third Ph.D. product. The
two Ricks became friends and, of course, still are as colleagues on the faculty
at the University of Oregon. Rick Mowday early on showed a great deal of
promise, and my chief task, as I saw it, was simply to try to help develop his
potential. Rick M, as well as Rick
Steers, was at Irvine at the time that intense development was going on with
respect to a research program I had started several years earlier dealing with
organizational commitment. The three of us worked on several sets of data
we had jointly collected (along with several other students, including Bill
Crampon and Paul Boulian, and my great good friend and professional colleague
[then] at Sears Roebuck & Co., Frank J. Smith). Ultimately, Rick M.
and Rick S. and I published a book on our research on commitment, Employee-Organization
Linkages: The Psychology of Commitment, Absenteeism and Turnover (Academic
Press, 1982). The book was preceded in 1979, by an article on The Measurement
of Organizational Commitment in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, an
article that apparently has been heavily cited over the years.
Not a bad way to start an OB Ph.D. program from scratch at a university
less than ten years old. Just luck, however; sheer luck. But other good OB
doctoral students also came to Irvine in the 1970s. There is not enough space to list and talk about each one,
but among others Eugene Stone certainly deserves mention. Gene, as would not
surprise those who know him well, went through our program rapidly. He was
always steadily focused, always applying himself to the task at hand, and always
thinking about how to collect data to attack an interesting research problem.
Together, and with great initiative on Gene's part, we published several
articles dealing with job characteristics and their relationships to job
attitudes. Gene Stone was (and
still is) one of the best scientists I have had the pleasure to work with.
(My long mentor at Yale, Neal Miller, would have been thrilled to have a
student with Genes drive and understanding of the scientific process.)
In the late 1970s and early 1980s the continuing succession
of Ph.D. students with whom I worked included Bob Allen, Hal Angle, Dan Dalton
and David Krackhardt. The former
two and I wrote what is still one of my own favorite pieces, a chapter on The
Politics of Upward Influence in Organizations in the 1981 volume of Research
in Orqanizational Behavior. Bob and I, along with my then-colleague Patty
Renwick and two other graduate students, Dan Madison and Tom Mayes, had
previously published articles utilizing an interesting set of data that we had
collected dealing with perceptions of organizational politics in the managerial
ranks of a sample of electronic companies. This empirical research in turn
stimulated the Porter-Allen-Angle ROB conceptual chapter that put forth a
number of testable propositions regarding upward (political-type) influence in
organizations. The second author of
that chapter, Bob Allen, has always been an astute observer of management both
before and since he was a doctoral student, and the third author, Hal Angle, was
a simply outstanding doctoral student and a person who is one of the three best
psychologists qua psychologists that I have encountered as students over the
years. (The other two are Gene
Stone and Mordechai Eran [a former Ph.D. student at Berkeley who was then on
leave as a high ranking officer in the personnel section of the Israeli Defense
Forces]). Dan Dalton, though not my
advisee, and I worked together on several articles dealing with turnover, and it
was plain to see even then that Dan was headed for a productive scholarly
career. David Krackhardt was a
principal advisee of mine, and the two of us worked intensively on issues
relating to organizational commitment and turnover. For his dissertation, David
employed his (even then) expert knowledge of network analysis in studying what
happens to those who remain when colleagues leave intact work groups.
At the risk of overusing the word brilliant, David certainly fit
that label. Finally, in the late
1980s at Irvine I had the good fortune to work with someone who is sure to make
his mark on issues dealing with international aspects of behavior in work
organizations: Stewart Black.
Stewart was like Gene Stone in that he was highly focused and was able to
move through the doctoral program at rapid speed, and he is like Ed Lawler in
that he knows how to get things done. His
student colleague, Hal Gregersen, who graduated a year after Stewart at the end
of the 1980s, is also someone who has the potential to be a major contributor to
the OB field.
Even though much of my energy and efforts at UC Irvine has
been investedwith an abundance of pleasurable returnsin working with
doctoral students, I have also found some time to work on behalf of the
institution itself. For the first
five years I was at Irvine I served as Associate Dean of GSM, and then for the
following eleven years I was Dean (from 1972-83).
This stint as Dean was a very rewarding period for me in a personal
senseeven though it was an extremely difficult time for the campus, for our
school of management, and for me because of constantly tight budget and resource
constraints (the Reagan and Brown years).
One direct benefit of my deaning experience that I had not
anticipated was the opportunity to become involved in the American Assembly of
Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) by serving several terms on its Board of
Directors. This experience provided
me with an overview of university-level management education on the national
scene that I never would have been able to obtain as the dean of a single
school. The experience also at
least indirectly, to the opportunity of a lifetime:
to be able to have a major role in the first comprehensive, nationwide
study of management education that had been carried out in the U.S. in 25 years.
This project, which was co-directed with my good friend, Larry McKibbin
of the University of Oklahoma, culminated with the publication of our report by
McGraw-Hill in 1988: Management
Education and Development. The reason that the chance to take part in this
study was such an involving experience for me was because I had spent a good
portion of the preceding 15 or so years thinking about management education and
how to improve it, and here was an opportunity to visit over sixty different
universities and more than fifty companies and discuss with faculty members,
deans, and business executives what was right and what was wrong about the way
we were carrying out management education in our country.
No project I had ever done before, nor am ever likely to do in the
future, was so intensely involving for such a continuous period (two and a half
My time deaning, working with doctoral students and serving
on AACSB committees were not my only sets of activities during the years since
arriving at Irvine in 1967. As mentioned earlier, I had joined Division 14
of APA as far back as the beginning of the 60s and had become deeply involved
in that organization. In 1975,
after serving on its Executive Committee for several years, I was elected
President, a proud moment for me. An equally proud moment was 14 years
later when the (now) Society of Industrial-Organizational Psychology presented
me with the Distinguished Scientific contributions Award. (The fact that the presentation at the Annual Meeting held in
New Orleans in 1989 was made by my former student, Gene Stone, added greatly to
The other professional organization with which I have been
heavily involved over the years has been the Academy of Management.
I had joined the national Academy in 1966 and had chosen to become as
active as possible, since it was my belief this was going to be the primary
scholarly organization for those of us in the broad fields of management and
organizational behavior, and I wanted to be where the intellectual and scholarly
action was. (Little did I realize
back in the mid-60s what a relatively mammoth organization the Academy would
become.) In 1971 I was appointed the first Chairman of the Organizational
Behavior Division of the Academy and subsequently elected Academy President in
1973. For someone who has been long associated with this organization, it was
therefore a distinct and unforgettable honor to be selected with Herbert Simon
as the first recipients of the Academys Scholarly Contributions to
Management Award (now called the Richard D. Irwin Award) in 1983.
(I can still remember as clearly as if it were yesterday when Art Bedeian
called to tell me that I was to receive the Award. To say I was shocked would be
to put it mildly; I wasn't even aware that the Academy had recently instituted
There have been still other activities that have engaged my
attention and efforts over the years in relation to professional and educational
interests. There is not enough
space to go into all of them, but I will (again for the record) briefly mention
the following: service on several committees of the American Psychological
Association (including a task force involved in an unsuccessful attempt to
reorganize that organization); service as an accreditor for the regional
university accrediting association (the Western Association of Schools and
Colleges); member of the Graduate Management Admission Councils
(recent) Commission on Graduate Management Education; current (as I
write) member of AACSBs Accreditation Task Force charged with re-writing
AACSBs total set of accreditation standards; consultant to several publishing
companies (starting with Goodyear which merged into Scott, Foresman which merged
into, now, HarperCollins); and, capitalizing on my fantasizedbut totally
unrealizedathletic talents, current service as UC Irvine's Faculty Athletic
Representative to the NCAA.
As these last few pages probably demonstrate, and as I
emphasized at the beginning as one of the themes characterizing my life and
career to date, I seem to have a strong need to maximize variety in my life.
Regardless of what has, or, more likely, hasn't been accomplished, this
melange of activities has made for a great tripan unmanaged trip that has
largely been devoted to trying to understand what organized activity and its
management is all about. For one
who likes to travel, this trip has been a good one so farand it certainly has
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