Likert’s Four Systems of Management

Cite this article as:"Likert’s Four Systems of Management," in The Business Professor, updated April 9, 2020, last accessed October 29, 2020,


What is Likert’s Four Systems of Management?

Likert’s four systems of management are categorized as follows:

  • Exploitative Authoritative System – Higher-level leadership is charged with the majority of the responsibilities in the organization. They make decisions and communicate them downward to subordinates. Subordinates are not involved in decision making. It is characterized by a lack of employee empowerment, trust, or confidence. Leaders use threats and fear to motivate performance. Management is highly task-oriented.
  • Benevolent Authoritative System: Authority and decision-making rest with higher-level management. The motivation for subordinate performance is based on rewards. This necessarily entails a higher level of trust and confidence in the subordinate. Communication flows both directions, but it is generally tailored to the leader’s expectations.
  • Consultative System – The leader seeks input from subordinates before making a decision. This demonstrates an increased level of trust and confidence in the subordinate. Subordinates are motivated by their participation in the process in addition to rewards for performance. Information flows well both directions.
  • Participative System – Subordinates actively participate in the decision-making process. The subordinate is motivated by her participation in the decision-making process and through rewards tied to results.

Likert identified seven variables in identifying and assessing these management styles:

  • Motivational Forces
  • Leadership Processes
  • Decision-making Processes
  • Communication Processes
  • Interaction-Influence Processes
  • Control Processes
  • Goal Setting Processes

He also identified key individuals in every organization called “linking pins” who participate in multiple groups and bring them together.

With these four systems of management, Likert studied seven variables Viz. Leadership, motivation, decision-making process, communication, interaction-influence, control process, and goal setting.

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