The Classical And The Behavioural School Of ThoughtCompare and contrast between the classical school of thought and the behavioural school of thought. What major lessons can be drawn in studying these theories and concepts?
According to Agha Hasan Abedi, ‘the conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work’.
Management does not have any fixed definition as such, however different views of management are given by different authorities. If we look up the dictionary for the definition of management, we will find clues to the real meaning of management.
‘Management’ in Old French ménagement is ‘the art of conducting, directing’ and in Latin, ‘manu agere’ means ‘to lead by the hand’. This describes management as a process of leading and directing an organization.
A classic example of management is our daily routine. If we analyze our routine, it will show us how we plan our day from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to bed. We are in total control of how we spend our time. So the more productive our day is, the better we are at managing our time and hence our lives.
Management has greatly evolved in the last century. To understand the process of the evolution of management better, we take the example of car production. As we can see, car production has changed significantly over the years. Before the 1900’s, labourers worked in small groups to hand-build cars with parts that had to be altered and customized to fit together. This kind of small-batch production was very costly. A substantial amount of time and effort used to be taken to manufacture a single car. As a result, only a few cars were produced by workers in a day. Thus, managers of early car companies needed better techniques to increase efficiency i.e. to reduce costs and sell more cars.
In1913, Henry Ford revolutionized the car industry. He opened the Highland Park car plant in Detroit. Here, the growth of mass-production manufacturing was initiated. This system made the small-batch system obsolete overnight. In mass production, each individual worker performs a single task along a production line. Ford wanted to determine the most efficient way for each individual worker to carry out an assigned task. This resulted in each worker performing one specialized task, such as bolting the door or attaching the door handle. Ford’s new approach to management increased the efficiency to such an extent that by 1920, the prices of cars were cut down by two thirds and they were able to sell more than two million cars per annum. Ford Motor Company became the leading car company in the world, and many competitors rushed to implement the new mass-production practice.
This was bad news for other car companies. As a result, the CEOs of Chrysler and GM had to take a step ahead in the process. They not only replicated the Ford approach, but they also modified it by adopting a new scheme. Clients were now being offered a wide range of cars to select from. This new strategy became such a hit that Ford was forced to close down for seven months in order to restructure the manufacturing system and hence, expand the product range.
Due to Ford’s partial vision of the changing car market, his company lost its competitive advantage.
This case study of the evolution of global car manufacturing suggests that changes in
management practices occur as managers, theorists and researchers look for innovative ways to boost organizational efficiency and effectiveness by performing the principal management tasks: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling resources.
We will now discuss how management branched itself into various approaches.
The Industrial Revolution gave a thrust in the development of various management theories and principles. Pre-classical theorists like Robert Owen, Charles Babbage, Henry R. Towne made contributions that eventually led to the recognition of management as an important aspect of investigation. This led to the surfacing of different approaches to management such as the classical, behavioral, quantitative and modern approaches.
The classical management approach had three most important branches: The Scientific Management Theory of Taylor, The Administrative Theory of Fayol and The Bureaucratic Organization of Weber Scientific management laid emphasis on the scientific study of work techniques to get better worker efficiency. Bureaucratic management dealt with the qualities of a perfect organization that functions on a rational basis. Administrative theory discovered principles which were used by managers for the synchronization of the internal activities of organizations.
The behavioral approach emerged primarily as an outcome of the Hawthorne studies. Mary Parker Follet, Elton Mayo and his associates, Abraham Maslow, Douglas McGregor and Chris Argyris were the major contributors to this school. They emphasized the importance of the human element which was ignored by classical theorists in the management of organizations.
The quantitative school of management was a result of the research conducted during World War II. The quantitative approach to management involves the use of quantitative techniques such as statistics, information models, and computer simulations to improve decision making.
Modern management approaches respect the classical, behavioural, and quantitative approaches of management. However, successful managers understand that although each theoretical school has its limitations, each approach offers valuable insights which can increase the manager's options problem-solving and in achieving organizational goals. Successful managers work to extend these approaches to meet the demands of a dynamic environment.
Let’s now look into our two main topics of discussion which are the scientific and the behavioural approaches to management.
The scientific school of thought started with the need to increase productivity and efficiency. It focused on trying to find the best way to get the most work done. This was done by examining how the work process was actually completed and by analysing the skills of the workforce.
This approach owes its roots to several major contributors including Frederick Taylor, Henry Gantt, and Max Weber and Henry Fayol.
Frederick Taylor, often known as the ‘father of scientific management’ believed that organizations should study tasks and develop clear-cut procedures. His most renowned theories were the ‘Time and Motion Study’ and the ‘Piece Rate’ system.
Henry Gantt developed the Gantt chart, a bar graph that measures planned and completed work along each stage of production based on time instead of quantity, volume, or weight.
In the late 1800’s, Max Weber believed that organizations are better off if they are managed impersonally and that a formal organizational structure was crucial to the success of an organisation. In other words, his belief was that authority should not be based on a person's personality, rather it should be something that is a part of an individual's job.
Henri Fayol developed 14 principles of management based on his management experiences. These principles provide current-day managers with general guidelines of management. Although research has created controversy over many of his principles, they are still extensively used in management theories.
As management research sustained in the 20th century, questions regarding the interaction and the motivation of an individual within organizations started arising. Management principles developed during the classical period were not at all useful in handling management contingencies but could not also explain the behaviour of individual employees.
The behavioural management theory, often called the ‘human relations movement’ addressed the human dimension of work. Behavioural theorists thought that a better understanding of human behaviour at work such as motivation, conflict and expectations enhanced productivity. Several individuals and experiments contributed to this theory.
Mary Parker Follett stressed on setting up common objectives for the employees of an organization. She encouraged managers to let employees participate in making decisions. She focused on the importance of people instead of techniques — a concept that was way before her time. As a result, she was often not taken seriously by management scholars of her time. But times change and innovative ideas from the past suddenly become meaningful. A lot of what managers do today is based on the principles which Follett ascertained over 80 years ago.
The concept of the ‘informal organization’ was introduced by Chester Barnard, President of New Jersey Bell Telephone Company. He felt that informal organizations provide essential communication functions for the entire organization which in turn helps an organization in accomplishing its goals.
Elton Mayo is known as the founder of the ‘Human Relations Movement’. His contributions came as apart of the Hawthorne studies, a series of experiments that strictly applied classical management theory only to expose its limitations.
The conclusion from the Hawthorne studies was that human relations and the social needs of workers are key aspects of business management.
Abraham Maslow developed one of the most widely recognized need theories, a theory of motivation based upon the reflection of human needs. Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory helped managers visualize employee motivation. This principle of human motivation helped revolutionize theories and practices of management.
Douglas McGregor was greatly influenced by both, the Hawthorne studies and Maslow. He believed that two basic kinds of managers exist. One type, the Theory X manager, has a negative view of employees and assumes that they are lazy, unreliable, and incapable of taking responsibility. On the other hand, the Theory Y manager assumes that employees are not only reliable and responsible, but they also have high levels of self-motivation.
We shall now bring out the differences and similarities between the theories of the Scientific School of Management and the Behavioural Management Approach.
According to Taylor, management could be improved if it was seen as a science. Taylor assumed that the only motivator for workers to do their job was money. He believed that increasing the financial reward of workers would enhance productivity and maintain job satisfaction.
Taylor believed that there is ‘one best way’ of doing a job and it’s the manager’s duty to find it. This meant that manager had to analyse the job of the worker and also, the targets had to be set specifying what is to be done and how it is to be done and a reward had to be predetermined for the amount of work done.
Taylor came up with certain principles of management which would assist the employers as well as the employees to achieve maximum prosperity and productivity. This included scientific investigation of each worker’s job, scientific selection of the worker, scientific training and development of the worker and division of work.
The Human Relations school of management was developed as a result of the findings of the Hawthorne experiments. In the experiment, Mayo explained that in a team of six individuals cooperating with each other to complete a task, the team felt self-motivated as they were participating freely, and were happy that they were working without force from the top or limitation from below.
According to Mayo, the organization must understand and value the emotions of workers to achieve its objectives. The Movement held that a workers’ main concern is satisfaction of his social needs, rather than monetary needs.
The results of the Hawthorne Experiments revealed that ‘social bonds within working groups were so strong that group interests were often placed above individual financial rewards’.
Such inferences led to the demise of the ‘economic man’ shown by Taylor and the rise of the ‘social man’ shown by Mayo.
The above information reflects that both the schools had their own ideas, principles and views. Some of the prominent points of differences are discussed as follows.
The scientific management approach highlighted a concern for task (output). While the Human Relations Movement stressed on a concern for relationships (people).
Under scientific management, the function of the leader was setting the job and enforcing it on the worker whereas under the human relations movement, the leader just had to was to facilitate cooperation and coordination among the employees.
Taylorism avoided ‘informal groups’, but the human relations supported their existence. Scientific management solely focused on the growth of the organization while the human relations movement maintained a constant dedication to the individual growth and development of the worker.
According to Taylor, the sole motivator for a worker was ‘monetary incentive’ whereas Mayo felt that satisfaction of social wants of the workers like communication and sense of acceptance was the driving force of the organization.
Even though both the schools of management were so different from each other in their approach, they shared one common ground which was that ‘increased productivity’ was their ultimate goal.
Thus, it can be concluded that The Scientific Management Theory and The Human Relations Movement Theory both aim at organizational excellence through
increased efficiency and hence, this excellence can be achieved if either of the two theories is applied or both.
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