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Merton’s Role Theory Definition Essay

This theory is a sociological perspective that analyses the nature of different human activities. According to the theory, every society defines its roles and activities. Many societies treat each role as a duty or behaviour. People should be ready to complete most of their societal roles. Human beings also conform to this theory by behaving in a particular manner. This fact explains why people’s behaviours are usually “context specific”. Social norms and positions play a significant role towards reshaping such duties. Merton’s Role Theory goes further to analyse certain issues such as division of labor. Many individuals tend to approve their social roles. This practice makes such roles constructive, meaningful, and legitimate. Every social role that changes due to new technologies or cultural norms will become illegitimate. Individuals such as George Mead Herbert and Robert Merton pioneered this theory. These theorists believe that punishments, honors, and rewards are critical towards encouraging more actors to accept their behaviours.

The theory presents several assumptions. For example, human beings tend to define their roles and duties. Social learning equips individuals with appropriate skills in order to complete their roles. Such individuals also have numerous expectations about their roles. This situation also explains why many people act within their roles. Human beings can use this theory in order to understand how statuses can reshape different social interactions. It is agreeable that the Role Expectations (REs) of managers might vary significantly from those of their employees. This development explains why many leaders redefine their managerial styles. Organisational managers must identify the issues associated with different roles in order to achieve their goals.

Specific Examples Where I Encountered Role Strains and Conflicts

Many organisations experience numerous obstacles. It is the duty of every manager to analyse the challenges affecting his or her firm. I have encountered several role conflicts as an employee. To begin with, our manager wanted every employee to focus on his or her duties. This situation forced many employees in the company to become less effective. The above practice made it impossible for the company to achieve its goals. The company also failed to introduce new technologies in order to support its employees. Successful companies usually embrace the power of teamwork. This practice has the potential to address organisational difficulties. The strategy can also improve the level of performance.

Every employee at the company wanted to be part of an efficient team. This scenario resulted in different REs whereby our manager failed to equip us with the best ideas. This situation created new “role conflicts” at the company. Every employee wanted the company to hire a new manager in order to emerge successful. However, many leaders believed strongly that the firm was on the right path towards achieving its goals. The individuals at the company were having different hopes and expectations. The leaders did very little to address most of the issues affecting different employees. It was impossible to have any tangible goal. This situation forced many employees to look for new companies. These role conflicts explain why companies should train their leaders in an attempt to achieve the best goals. Business leaders should therefore embrace a positive organisational culture. New training sessions and empowerment strategies can play a crucial role towards promoting the level of performance.

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1. IvyPanda. "Merton’s Role Theory Definition." May 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mertons-role-theory-definition/.


IvyPanda. "Merton’s Role Theory Definition." May 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mertons-role-theory-definition/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Merton’s Role Theory Definition." May 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mertons-role-theory-definition/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Merton’s Role Theory Definition'. 22 May.

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