Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model In A Nutshell

The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model was created by David Nadler and Michael Tushman at Columbia University.  The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is a diagnostic tool that identifies problem areas within a company. In the context of business, congruence occurs when the goals of different people or interest groups coincide.

Understanding the Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model

For example, congruence can occur between shareholders and management through the implementation of attractive salaries and incentives. Appropriately compensated, management becomes more motivated in growing the company and the resultant share price.

However, congruence is not always present. The presence or absence of congruence explains why some organizations thrive while others fail to turn a profit

The four elements of the Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model

To help determine the causes of underperformance, management must first identify key performance drivers.

The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model assigns key drivers to four categories:

  1. Task – or the work carried about by employees. What are the tasks or processes being carried out regularly? What steps are being taken to maximize task efficiency and efficacy? Is the work meaningful or fulfilling and if not, what are the challenges in making it so? 
  2. People – do the employees possess the requisite skills or knowledge? Does the business tend to hire staff with a certain personality type? Are they suitably compensated? These questions must be asked of every employee, from upper management to process workers.
  3. Organizational structure – encompassing the standardization of policies, processes, procedures, and systems. How many levels of management are there between executives and employees? To what extent are decision-making capabilities assigned? Here, it is also helpful to consider the physical structure – how many business units are there? Are divisions product, region, or function-based? Are they centrally located or do they occupy several locations? 
  4. Culture – one of the hardest categories to define yet also the category most critical to success. Culture refers to tangible aspects such as values, vision, and leadership style. But it also includes intangible aspects of employee-management relations. In other words, how much trust do the employees have in management? What level of engagement or support is offered to decision-makers? Are the ethics of management expectations sound?

Analyzing the interaction of the four categories

Next, arrange the categories into six pairs and analyze the interactions that occur between each:

  1. Work and people. Are employees skilled enough to carry out the work? Is the work aligned with employee needs or expectations? How could this relationship be improved?
  2. Work and structure. Does organizational structure support the nature of the work? How could policies or procedures affect the quality of work?
  3. Structure and people. Is structure creating an ideal work environment where employees are engaged and fulfilled? If not, why not?
  4. People and culture. How do people influence culture, and vice versa? Is there a general feeling of contentment or unease? Are employee beliefs and values aligned with those of the organization?
  5. Culture and work. Does culture support or detract from work performance? Can improved culture result in more efficient work?
  6. Structure and culture. Do structure and culture work harmoniously? For example, an innovative culture that favors speed and collaboration may clash with a hierarchical structure where cumbersome decision making is confined to upper management.

Building and maintaining congruence

The basic premise of the Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is that a business can only achieve high performance when the four categories are congruent.

In other words, categories only reach congruence if decision-makers reach their desired output.

At this stage of the process, caution must be exercised. A single change that is made to one category pair may negatively impact one or more other pairs. As a result, each incongruence should be analyzed in detail to identify gaps and adjust where necessary.

It is important to note that Nadler and Tushman’s model does not provide a means of solving congruency problems. Decision-makers will need to choose a third-party diagnostic tool specific to the category pair where the incongruence exists.

Key takeaways

  • The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is a performance evaluation tool based on the degree of congruence between four key categories: task, people, structure, and culture.
  • Nadler and Tushman argue that high performance in a business is contingent on all four categories being congruent. All inputs must contribute to a desired final output.
  • The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model identifies incongruences but provides no support in addressing them. Decision-makers must use specific diagnostic tools to complete the whole process.

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Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"