Paternalistic relationship definition

Paternalistic Leadership Guide: Definition, Qualities, Pros & Cons, Examples

paternalistic relationship definition

Paternalistic leadership is a managerial approach that involves a Learn about the relationship between paternalistic leadership and. In the patient-doctor relationship, paternalistic model refers to the act in which .. It is usually defined as maximizing total benefit and reducing suffering or the. Paternalism definition: Paternalism means taking all the decisions for the group of employees, etc. in a manner suggesting a father's relationship with his.

On the other hand, in non-Western cultures, such as the Japanese and Chinese business culture, the paternalistic leadership style has tended to be favored and dominant. According to academics, like Jariya, the connection with philosophies such as Confucianism, which emphasizes family and social harmony, the paternalistic style is considered appropriate and effective. According to academics such as Aycan et al. The findings were mentioned in a literature review by Ekin K.

Pellegrini and Terri A. Their article Paternalistic Leadership: A Review and Agenda for Future Research examined closely the different studies done on the leadership style in separate cultures.

Differentiating yourself from a group norm is often considered a shameful act to do. The strong emphasis on security also means employees are more willing to follow a leader that provides this extra security. Due to the above, paternalistic leadership is viewed in a rather different context in the non-Western and Western culture. In this section, we will explore the core framework of paternalistic leadership style, before analyzing the two core theories of motivation that drive the framework.

The core framework When it comes to leadership, a few core elements guide the way in which different leadership styles organize and manifest. The decision making power — Who has the power to decide? The legitimacy of rule — Where does the power come from?

The leader has the final say in making decisions and consultation is not required, as the leader is expected to make choices that benefit the subordinates. The subordinates are treated as an extended family and in a sense have a more partner-like relationship with the leader than in autocratic model, for example.

The leader puts the wellbeing of the subordinates at the centre of decision-making and tries to ensure people are treated fairly. Nonetheless, the power ultimately lies in the hands of the leader. The legitimacy of rule relies on loyalty and trust. Since the organization is considered a tight-knit unit, what is best for the organization tends to be equated with what is best for the employees and the leader.

The framework requires complete trust in the leader on the part of the subordinates. Paternalistic leadership often expects the subordinates to work for the organization for a long time out of loyalty and respect.

Paternalistic leadership and subordinate motivation To understand the construct of the paternalistic framework, you must study different motivational theories. He examined the relationship between the leader and the subordinates, drawing up his motivational theory during experiments at the Hawthorne factory. The experiments separated workers into groups, with Mayo manipulating the environmental conditions and observing how this influences employee productivity.

The changes occurred in things such as working conditions and Mayo expected productivity levels to decline, as conditions became worse. The ability to work in a team.

The experiment required more consultation and the subordinates at the factory began to provide regular feedback. The improved communication between the leader and the subordinates boosted motivation. Increased leader involvement in personal lives. All the above points tightly fit the framework of paternalistic management. The organization works as a group, the leader has an open and communicative relationship with the subordinates, and the leader is increasingly involved in the lives of the employees.

Instead, the motivation is driven by a sense of community and caring. Employee motivation and productivity are influenced by social factors, instead of environmental factors or financial benefits. Dr William Ouchi devised the theory during the s by examining the rise of the Asian economies, especially in Japan. The key idea of his theory was that leaders could guarantee employee loyalty by providing them with a stable job and focusing on the wellbeing of the employee, both in terms of professional and private satisfaction.

The basis of the theory lies in the dominance of Japanese companies during the s. The organizations tended to have the highest productivity at the time and according to Ouchi, this was down to the focus on partnership and group work. In his book Theory Z: Rather, the secret was the management style. Subordinates are interested in creating close relationships with leaders and their peers. Subordinates need support from leaders and they want the leader to show interest towards their wellbeing, not just at work, but also in their personal lives.

What Is The Meaning Of Paternalism?

Subordinates can be autonomous, as long as the leader looks out for their wellbeing and supports them. In essence, the theory believes in the idea that because communication in paternalistic leadership is essential and since the leader makes decisions based on what is good for the subordinates, the decisions are driven by consensus, even when the leader ultimately makes the decisions.

As we will discuss below, paternalistic leadership has certain characteristics of Theory X. Due to this behaviour, the leader should yield the ultimate power and provide the employees with the motivation to work, i.

In essence, theory Z is a combination of these two styles. Benevolent and exploitative paternalism The final core element that must be discussed in relation to paternalistic leadership is the idea of the two ends of the spectrum. According to Pellegrini and Scandura, paternalistic leadership and research surrounding it has focused on both benevolent and exploitative forms of the framework. Paternalistic leadership in essence is about finding the balance of authoritative and benevolent behavior.

While the leader is the one with the power, he or she is also more caring and interested towards the workers, as this can guarantee the subordinates remain loyal. Therefore, the framework can show qualities of more authoritative or exploitative behavior, or on the other hand, be a benevolent force.

Overall, it is possible for the leadership to manifest in an exploitative manner or result in a more benevolent system. A leader can start to become blind with power and make decisions, which are not benefitting the subordinates, but rather him or herself.

On the other hand, there can be a deep consultative element, as described by Ouchi, which means paternalistic leadership is more of a participative than authoritarian model of leadership. The core characteristics Paternalistic leadership is among the leadership styles that require plenty of the leaders. The type of leader that can successfully pull of this management style has to showcase the characteristics of influence, the ability to empower people, compassion, decisiveness and good organizational skills.

Instead of simply telling people what to do and ensuring subordinate compliance through coercion and the fear of punishment, a paternalistic leader must ensure subordinates understand he or she is acting on their behalf. Since the leader must guarantee the subordinates trust him or her, the emphasis must be on ensuring they respect him or her.

Influence can be manifest in a few different ways. You can be influential through superior communication skills, which captivate subordinates and get them on your side. On the other hand, you can show your influence through your extensive knowledge. By showing your expertise, you create respect among subordinates and they value your opinion, as they can see you know what you are doing. You need to show confidence in your communication and have an energetic approach to things, even when they seem mundane.

You need to start using expressive language and become stern in your articulation.

paternalistic relationship definition

Aside from improving influence through communication, you can boost your ability to impact other people through knowledge. Not only does knowledge provide you confidence in your speech and action, it sows the seeds of trust among subordinates.

As a leader, you want them to succeed and grow, just as a parent would want their children to succeed. In similar fashion to a parent, you must empower the people around you to achieve their goals and grow, both professionally and as a person. But empowering other people is not always an easy task, especially in a business environment. It requires a careful balance of micromanagement and full autonomy. Create an environment for open and honest communication and feedback.

Provide incentives for subordinates to seek self-improvement. Reduce risks and failure by creating better checks and balances, while using possible failures as learning opportunities.

Do not keep all the information to yourself, but share information with your subordinates. Make sure roles are clearly defined and subordinates know what is expected of them.

Ensure everyone is accountable for his or her actions. Thank your subordinates for the effort they put in for accomplishing tasks. Compassion can actually be taught, according to scientific research. Compassion meditation is not a difficult thing to do. You can find a minute guided routine by signing up online with the Centre for Healthy Minds. Not only does it require knowledge and expertise from the leader, but the ability to make sound decisions also asks for decisiveness.

As a paternalistic leader, you cannot contemplate on the decisions forever and you must be able to pick your approach and continue marching forward. The ability to make quick decisions and to live happily with the consequences might seem easy, but ask any leader and they will tell you otherwise.

As much as you think you are prepared for making those difficult calls, when you are presented with two bad or two good options, the indecisiveness can easily creep in.

Set clear goals for everything you do. If you know what you actually want to achieve, you can make informed decisions. Create timelines for taking action. Having a deadline for the decisions makes you more accountable. Delegate and remove the meaningless decision in your life. Did you know, for instance, that Barack Obama only uses brown or blue suits to avoid having to decide on the color of the suit every morning?

Be open to ideas and information. Decisions are generally easier when you are informed and aware of different implications.

How do you strengthen your organizational skills? According to Regina Leeds, a guru in organization and the author of One Year to An Organized Life, recommends always breaking everything down into smaller chunks. Instead of seeing the big picture, which is naturally crucial as well, try to break down your tasks, goals and processes into smaller portions. Prioritize the essential things to work through and worry about the others later.

Create routines that make it easier to stop having to worry about certain things.

Paternalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

How to establish a position as a paternalistic leader? The above lists the key qualities paternalistic leaders showcase. But how do you turn these qualities into trust and loyalty?

First, you need to establish clear guidelines regarding the workplace and the specific mission.


It is essential the subordinates are aware of what is allowed and what is not. Talk about the objectives with your subordinates to ensure they understand the common goal you are working towards. Provide them with the opportunity to voice any possible concerns and if they need help, provide enough support.

You want the subordinates to feel appreciated and valued. Another important part of creating a paternalistic leadership framework is your commitment to consistency.

To be sure it is not always easy to distinguish between legal moralism and moral paternalism. If one believes, as Plato does, that acting wrongly damages the soul of the agent, then it will be possible to invoke moral paternalism rather than legal moralism.

Normative Issues Is there a burden of proof attached to paternalism? Does the paternalist or anti-paternalist have to give a reason for their action? As we have seen the analysis of paternalism seems to cut both ways.

It is an interference with liberty which might be thought to place the burden of proof on the paternalist. It is an act intended to produce good for the agent which might be thought to place the burden of proof on those who object to paternalism.

It might be thought, as Mill did, that the burden of proof is different depending on who is being treated paternalistically. If it is a child then the assumption is that, other things being equal, the burden of proof is on those who resist paternalism. If it is an adult of sound mind the presumption is reversed. Suppose we start from the presumption that paternalism is wrong. The question becomes under what, if any, circumstances, can the presumption be overcome?

Essentially it is the view that the fact that an act is intended to be beneficial for a person, and does not affect or violate the interests of others, settles the question of whether it may be done. Only a view which ignores the means by which good is promoted, and the ethical status of such means, can hold this. Any sensible view has to distinguish between good done to agents at their request or with their consent, and good thrust upon them against their will.

paternalistic relationship definition

So the normative options seem to be just two. Either we are never permitted to aim at doing good for others against their wishes, and in ways which limit their liberty, or we are permitted to do so. Why might one think that at least the state may never do so?

One might think so because of various beliefs about the impossibility of in fact doing good for people against their will or because one thinks that although possible to do good it is in fact inconsistent with some normative standard which ought to prevail.

With respect to the impossibility question one might believe either that it is not possible to do any good by acting paternalistically or that although it is possible to do some good the process will almost always produce bads which outweigh the good. If one thought that almost always more harm than good is done by the state when it acts paternalistically this raises the question of whether we can distinguish the conditions in which rarely more good than harm is done and build that into our guidelines.

If this is possible, and allowing paternalism in these exceptional cases does not create further harms which outweigh the good produced, then we should sometimes be paternalists.

But one might believe that the question of whether more good than harm is produced is not simply an empirical one. It depends on our understanding of the good of persons. If the good simply included items such as longer life, greater health, more income, or less depression, then it makes it look like an empirical issue.

One might believe that one cannot make people better off by infringing their autonomy in the same way that some people believe one cannot make a person better off by putting them in a Nozickian experience machine one in which they are floating in a tank but seem to be having all kinds of wonderful experiences.

Kantian views are frequently absolutistic in their objections to paternalism. On these views we must always respect the rational agency of other persons. To deny an adult the right to make their own decisions, however mistaken from some standpoint they are, is to treat them as simply means to their own good, rather than as ends in themselves. In a way anti-paternalism is already incorporated into Kantian theories by their prohibition against lying and force—the main instruments of paternalistic interference.

Since these instrumentalities are already denied even to prevent individuals from harming others, they will certainly be forbidden to prevent them from harming themselves. Of course, one may object to the former absolutism while accepting the latter. If one believes that sometimes paternalism is justifiable one may do so for various kinds of theoretical reasons.

The broadest is simply consequentialist, i. So one might prevent people from taking mind-destroying drugs on the grounds that allowing them to do so destroys their autonomy and preventing them from doing so preserves it. Note that if the theory of the good associated with a particular consequentialism is broad enough, i. A different theoretical basis is moral contractualism. On this view if there are cases of justified paternalism they are justified on the basis that we all of us would agree to such interference, given suitable knowledge and suitable motivation.

So, for instance, it might be argued that since we know we are subject to depression we all would agree, at least, to short-term anti-suicide interventions, to determine whether we are suffering from such a condition, and to attempt to cure it. Or we might agree to being forced to wear seat-belts knowing our disposition to discount future benefits for present ones.

The justification here is neither consequentialist nor based simply on the preservation of autonomy. Rather either kind of consideration may be taken into account, as well as others, in determining what we would reasonably agree to. Libertarian Paternalism In recent years there has been a new, influential, strand of thought about paternalistic interferences. It has been referred to as New Paternalism or Libertarian Paternalism. It is influenced by research in the behavioral sciences on the many ways in which our cognitive and affective capacities are flawed and limited.

The first theorists to emphasize these findings for making social policy were the Nudgers—Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler They argued that since people were such bad decision makers we should nudge them in the direction of their own desired goals by orchestrating their choices so that they are more likely to do what achieves their ends.

The claim is that, unlike traditional paternalism which rules out choices by compulsion or adds costs to the choices by coercion ,nudges simply change the presentation of the choices in such a way that people were more likely to choose options that are best for them.

In addition they argue that any arrangement of choices will make some choices more or less likely so that some decision about the choice architecture is inevitable. Here are various examples of Nudges. These were given in the earliest discussions of nudging and have tended to be the ones focused on.

In order to influence students to make healthier food choices as they pass the cafeteria options place the healthy foods at eye level and place the less healthy choices higher or lower than eye level. Sometimes the nudge involves putting the healthful food earlier in the line. Given that many employees often fail to enroll opt-in in retirement plans, employers make the default automatic enrollment in such programs, allowing employees to easily opt-out.

Such programs have been shown to increase savings rates. Employees are are asked to commit now to having a portion of their salary increase in subsequent years put directly into their pension plan. People are loss averse, and thus more willing to forgo a raise in take-home income then they are to actively re-direct the additional funds they have already received to their retirement accounts each year.

Using smaller plates in a cafeteria cuts down on the amount of food consumed. In order to get drivers to slow down on a sharp turn the lane lines are painted closer together than usual. This creates the illusion for the drivers that they are driving faster than they actually are and they slow down as a result. The initial examples above served as the focus of much of the early literature. The early critics attempted to distinguish interventions such as Cafeteria from interventions such as merely providing information.

It is clear from more recent writings that the category of nudges is intended to be quite broad. According to Sunstein all the following are nudges: Examples include the number of choices, whether the choice is opt-in or opt-out, the way in which alternatives are described or presented, the incentives attached to the choices, etc.

Their view is Libertarian because it preserves freedom of choice. No choice is eliminated or made more difficult. The choice set remains the same. No significant costs or incentives are attached to the choices the agent faces. Their view is Paternalistic because it seeks to promote the good of the agent being nudged. And it is the good as viewed by the agent herself.

We are not nudging towards ends she does not hold. Nudging is about means not ends. Their definition of Paternalism is very weak in the sense that it allows many more acts to count as paternalistic than would be under almost all traditional definitions of paternalism.

In terms of the analysis of Paternalism given in this entry is Nudging paternalistic? The first condition in the definition is: Nothing corresponds to this in the definition above.

Putting a warning label on a cigarette pack does not interfere with the liberty of autonomy of any cigarette smoker. Basically, the definition of paternalism in Libertarian Paternalism is focused solely on the fact that nudges are being used to make the agents being nudged better off. Whether this expansion of the definition of paternalism is warranted or not is a matter of what issues are being explored and whether such an expansion makes things clearer or more confused. There are nudges which are not paternalistic on their definition because the aim is to promote the general good—even if the chooser is not benefitted.

Nudging building managers to put in elevators with braille buttons, influencing people to contribute to Oxfam by putting up pictures of starving infants, are examples where the good to be promoted is the welfare of people other than those being influenced.

However one comes out on the issue of whether the definition of paternalism is useful or not we turn to the more important issues about whether, and in what circumstances, nudges are justifiable ways of influencing persons to make certain choices.

As with any policy intervention, either by the state or by private organizations, there are possible misuses to worry about. Perhaps there are slippery-slopes to be avoided. Perhaps proponents of nudging over-estimate the amount and seriousness of faulty reasoning by agents; mistakes that nudgers wish to harness to promote the agents welfare.

Perhaps they are mistaken about what agents really value when they claim people prefer health to more sugary beverages. But these objections are not objections to nudging but to the misuse of this type of behavioral intervention. Are there objections to the very nature of nudging itself? There is one feature of many nudges that must be considered which, although not intrinsic to the concept of a nudge, is often present in the background as a crucial feature.

One author actually links these background conditions to the definition of Libertarian Paternalism. Libertarian Paternalism is the set of interventions aimed at overcoming the unavoidable cognitive biases and decisional inadequacies of an individual by exploiting them in such a way as to influence her decisions in an easily reversible manner towards the choices she herself would make under idealised conditions.

It is because of cognitive bias to doing nothing to change the status quo that there are relatively fewer opt-outs than might be expected.

paternalistic relationship definition

Given this background, there are at least three objections that have objected to features intrinsic to some—by no means all—nudges. The first is that nudging often occurs without the nudged being aware they are being nudged. The second is that nudging often works by harnessing defects in the thinking of those being nudged. The third is that some nudges besides those subject to the first two objections are forms of objectionable manipulation.

In the Cafeteria example the students are aware that food has been placed at different levels of eyesight. In that sense the nudge is transparent to them. It is not like subliminal messaging in which they are not aware of messages directed to them.

Let us call nudges which are transparent in this sense narrow nudges. This did increase the rate of payment. Most workers questioned about the painting either had not noticed it at all or made no connection with the issue of payment. In the cafeteria example while aware that the food is on different levels the students are not aware that the placing of the food has been done in order to promote a certain end—eating more healthy foods. The placement of the food is not random, nor motivated by aesthetic considerations.

It is deliberate and motivated by a particular set of considerations. Some nudges are more transparent in the sense that it is obvious they have been deliberately introduced and their motivation is also clear. Call these broad nudges.

There is some evidence that making nudges broad does not interfere with their efficacy. A recent study in the context of end-of-life care showed the effect of a default is not weakened when people are told that a default was chosen because it is usually effective Lowenstein et al. Note that there could be an even more transparent feature of nudges—call them very broad nudges.

This would be when the mechanism by which the nudge influences is made public as well. Suppose we presented an opt-out set up and said 1 we are doing this to increase participation in the retirement program, and 2 if this is effective it is because people have a tendency to stick with the status-quo. Nudges which are neither narrow nor broad—such as subliminal messages to movie-goers to buy fruit instead of popcorn—might be an effective way of encouraging consumption of healthier food.

But they seem to have a morally dubious character. Even if the facts are that such messages have rather weak efficacy we object to their by-passing any possibility to avoid or resist them. Sunstein has put forward what he calls a transparency condition: Choice architecture should be transparent and subject to public scrutiny, certainly if public officials are responsible for it.

At a minimum, this proposition means that when such officials institute some kind of reform, they should not hide it from the public…If officials alter a default rule so as to promote clean energy or conservation, they should disclose what they are doing.

The government could announce in advance that they are going to use subliminal messages on television programs to promote health.

Sunstein believes that this would satisfy his transparency condition but that it might be objectionable on grounds of manipulation. It remains open for discussion how to formulate a norm which is closer to the intuitive idea of transparency, to distinguish various sense of transparency—such as narrow and broad—and to debate whether such transparency is a necessary component of legitimate nudges. Must, for example, the public utility which hopes to encourage energy conservation preface its informational message about the average consumption of your neighbors with the fact that they are sending this information because they think it will encourage conservation?

Does it have to disclose they believe it may do so because people have a tendency to conform to what their neighbors are doing? Why is transparency required? One possible objection to non-transparency is that it interferes with the autonomy of those influenced. Another issue concerning autonomy is whether it is affected by both intentional and unintentional nudges.

Are the choices more autonomous in this case than in a case in which the food is placed in exactly the same way but deliberately in order to affect the choices? Consider the cafeteria example.

The reason we place the healthy foods at eye level is because there is a tendency to choose what is at eye level over options that are not. The thought is that nudgers can harness this tendency by putting healthy foods at that level. Since the positioning of foods is not a rational ground for choosing nudgers use this non-rational tendency so that healthy foods are chosen.

Note in this case we get both a lack of transparency and the harnessing of non-rational tendencies. Some argue that taking advantage of our non-rational tendencies, even for good ends, is objectionable.