Rensis Likert (1903–1981) was an organizational psychologist who began his career at the US Department of Agriculture and then at the Institute for Social Research at the Univer- sity of Michigan. After retirement he established the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). Likert is remembered for two intellectual contributions. One was research-based, the Likert Scale that evaluated activities on a scale from 1 to 7 and that continues to be used widely in social science research comparative scales.
His other contribution was the concept of System 4 that divided organizations into four categories.8 These were intended to describe the characteristics of management styles un- der different circumstances:
• System 1: exploitive authoritative. Management operates by fear. Communication comes from the top down. Responsibility is held tightly by senior managers who do not trust subordinates. Workers do not feel comfortable about discussing job-related issues with those higher in the hierarchy.
• System 2: benevolent authoritative. Management controls are shared more widely in the organization. Subordinates again do not feel comfortable about sharing views with higher-ranking personnel, but the feeling is less extreme than in System 1.
Team work is not a feature. Motivation is linked to rewards. • System 3: consultative. Communication travels in both directions, but upward
relationships are cautious. Confidence in subordinate employees is stronger than in System 2 but is not complete. Some discussions about aspects of the workplace are discussed between supervisors and subordinates.
• System 4: participative group. Communications are natural and frequent in both directions. Teamwork is encouraged. The supervisor has considerable confidence in subordinates, and the reverse is also true. Responsibility for achieving organizational goals is widely dispersed.