A big name in the field of Conflict Management, Rensis Likert was born on August 5, 1903 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His father, George Herbert was an engineer. Likert graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1962 and in 1964, he married Jane Gibson who worked as a consultant and editor. The couple had two daughters, Elizabeth and Patricia.
Continuing his studies in New York, Rensis Likert graduated from Columbia University in 1932 with a Ph.D. Around this time, he also began his teaching career as an instructor at New York University, New York. By 1935, Likert had become and an assistant professor. For a year after this, Rensis Likert was a member of the faculty at the Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. He was then titled the head of the Division of Program Surveys, Bureau of Agricultural Economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. It was also during this time that Likert served as the research director for Life Insurance Agency Management Association (1935-1939). During World War II he was director of the Morale Division of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (1944-1946). In 1946, Likert returned to the University of Michigan where he was a professor of sociology and psychology until 1970. In 1971, Rensis Likert was named professor emeritus. During his time at Michigan University, Likert also served at the Survey Research Center as its director (1946-1948). Also around this time, Likert formed his own company in Ann Arbor, Rensis Likert Associates. The company’s work was mostly related to management styles and systems in relation to survey research.
Not only did Rensis Likert led a successful teaching career, he was also a writer, contributing to substantial publications such as the Internatinal Encyclopedia of Neurology, Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology. His writing career produced six books mostly about the subject of management. Some of his most widely read books include Morale and Agency Management, 4 volumes, with J.M. Willits, 1940-41, and The Human Organization: Its Management and Value, 1967. Rensis also co-authored with his wife, New Ways of Managing Conflict (1976), published by McGraw-Hill.
Some prestigious positions held by Rensis Likert include being on the board of directors of the American Psychological Association, past president of the American Statistical Association, and a member of the national Academy of Public Administration. During the course of his career, Rensis has been subject to many prestigious awards including the Paul D. Converse Award from the University of Illinois (1955), the James A. Hamilton Award (1962), awards from the Organization Development Council and the McKinsey Foundation for his book New Patterns of Management (1962), a human relations award from the Society for the Advancement of Management (1968), a professional achievement award from the American Board of examiners of Professional Psychologists (1968), outstanding achievement awards from the American Society for Training and Development (1969) and the American Association for Public Opinion Research (1973).