Basic approaches that have evolved over time to improve productivity

Human Relations Contributors

Chris Argyris

Immaturity / Maturity Theory

The fact that bureaucratic/ pyramidal values still dominate most organizations, according to Argyris, has produced many of our current organizational problems.

While at Yale, he examined industrial organizations to determine what effect management practices have had on individual behavior and personal growth within the work environment.

Personality changes

According to Argyris, seven changes should take place in the personality of individuals if they are to develop into mature people over the years.

  • First, individuals move from a passive state as infants to a state of increasing activity as adults.
  • Second, individuals develop from a state of dependency upon others as infants to a state of relative independence as adults.
  • Third, individuals behave in only a few ways as infants, but as adults they are capable of behaving in many ways.
  • Fourth, individuals have erratic, casual, and shallow interests as infants but develop deeper and stronger interests as adults.
  • Fifth, the time perspective of children is very short, involving only the present, but as they mature, their time perspective increases to include the past and the future.
  • Sixth, individuals as infants are subordinate to everyone, but they move to equal or superior positions with others as adults.
  • Seventh, as children, individuals lack an awareness of a "self," but as adults they are not only aware of, but they are able to control "self."

Argyris postulates that these changes reside on a continuum and that the "healthy" personality develops along the continuum from "immaturity" to "maturity.

Chris Argyris immaturity maturity continiuumThese changes are only general tendencies, but they give some light on the matter of maturity. Norms of the individual's culture and personality inhibit and limit maximum expression and growth of the adult, yet the tendency is to move toward the "maturity" end of the continuum with age.

Argyris would be the first to admit that few, if any, develop to full maturity.

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