Defining Management through Comparison of Classical Behavioral Theories


Management is essential to any company whether it be a person or a group of persons who represent it. However, fully explaining what the concept of management is proves to be difficult. Typically, the objective of management is to ensure the achievement of set goals through a strategic establishment of procedures that best utilize resources. Characteristically, these goals often relate to increased productivity or profit and even employee satisfaction. As industry expanded in the U.S., as a result of the Industrial Revolution, new theories on the organization and management of work developed and continued to be explored through the century. Many of these founding principles are still in place and have become inherent in the modern understanding of management. Most importantly, the theories of management science and classical behavioral management have been highly influential. Through an examination of the foundations and development as well as a comparison of the principles of these two theories; a better understanding of the concept of management will be attained.

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Around the turn of the 20th century, scientific management implemented, as the name suggests, a more scientific approach to management. Also know as Taylorism, scientific management was founded by engineer Fredrick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915). By definition, it was a system to gain maximum efficiency from workers and machinery ("Scientific management," 2000). Basing the theory's foundation on scientific law and the separation of mental and physical labor, Taylor established several principles: (1) developing a science of production; (2) carefully selecting and training workers; (3) connecting science and the worker; and (4) splitting responsibility between management and workers ("Taylorism," 2008). In his book, The Principles of Management (1911), Taylor stated:

To work according to scientific laws, the management must takeover and perform much of the work which is now left to the men; almost every act of the workman should be preceded by one or more preparatory actions of the management which enables him to do his work better and quicker than he otherwise could. (p. 26)

This fully expresses Taylor's main objective to the scientific approach to management; efficiency. According to Taylor, workers instructed to dedicate their time to specific tasks would eventually become highly specialized in that task, thus highly efficient. Furthermore, since workers handled the physical aspect of work, the management became responsible for the planning of their labor and other mental tasks. Having workers become highly efficient in their jobs was what Taylor believed as the "one best way" of performing a task. In order to arrive at these notions for this framework, Taylor conducted several studies and experiments at various industries during his time. One of his most noteworthy, the time-and-motion study, helped Taylor create efficiency guidelines for workers. Fundamentally, these guidelines determined standards for the length of time certain jobs take and the amount of resources or labor needed to complete those jobs. Then based on those guidelines, compensation would be determined. Assuming workers were motivated by money ("Taylorism," 2008), Taylor believed that productivity would then increase in order to acquire a higher wage. These guidelines were implemented into the workplace by setting daily quotas for workers and consequently basing wages on productivity towards those quotas. Therefore, if a quota was not fulfilled, a lower wage would be paid to that worker. On the other hand, if the quota was achieved or exceeded, the pay would be substantially higher (Halpern, Osofsky, and Stephen, 1989). As a result, this set up the first standard application of motivation for workers. It enticed them, through money, to work expeditiously and more efficiently. According to Encyclopedia of U.S Economics, when this method was introduced into U.S. Industry, manufacturers were able to boost productivity by 200 percent ("Scientific management," 2000). An increase in productivity, as a direct result of this new motivational method, was not only useful for workers, now being able to directly affect their own wages, but for management as well because money was not being wasted on inefficient workers. However, critics of Taylor argue that this was not beneficial to the common worker. By emphasizing the individual instead of a group, there was a lack of unity to work towards a common goal. Labor unions of the time were hugely unreceptive to Taylor's principles because they viewed the compensation and quota as a penalty for not working as opposed to motivation (Halpern, Osofsky, and Stephen, 1989). Although there is validity to these arguments, the groundwork that Taylor laid was beneficial in inspiring further research into the concept of management, in particularly, as a science.

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Another argument against the management science theory accused Taylor of failing to recognize the social and psychological needs of the worker and the discontent created when these needs are not met (Halpern, Osofsky, and Stephen, 1989). Eventually, this developed into a new theory of management called the human relations movement, also known as behavioral management. This theory emerged out of a series of studies known as the Hawthorne Experiments. Conducted in the 1920s through the early 1930s at Western Electric, the Hawthorne Experiments stimulated an increased emphasis on the social and informal aspects of the workplace (Kleiman, Barnett, 2006). Elton Mayo (1880-1949) is credited as being the initiator of this theory of management and of the Hawthorne Experiments. Altogether Mayo, along with other researchers, resolved several conclusions from these studies. First, that worker attitudes and behaviors directly affected production in the work place. Secondly, they found that the workplace as a social system had a profound affect on individual worker behaviors. Lastly, the style of supervision was an important factor in increasing workers' job satisfaction ("Management thought," 2009). According to these conclusions, management need not only be concerned with its workers behavior, but be conscious that they are also an important factor in it. This awareness created a new way of viewing the relationship of management and its workforce. Now, instead of merely overseeing worker responsibilities, management needed to assess and identify specific social and psychological needs and determine how to best satisfy them. Basically, managers needed to be equipped to diagnose worker behavior through interpersonal communication, motivation, and by leading ("Management thought," 2009).

Continuing a few decades later around the 1950s and 1960s, a theory considered to be a progression from the human relations movement called behavioral science moved into the forefront of management development. Behavioral science, also called organizational behavior management (OBM), focused on the use of conceptual tools to aid in understanding and predicting behavior in the workplace ("Management thought," 2009). Behavioral science utilized the rudimentary ideas from the human relations theory as its foundation. However, its contributions included a concentration on personality, attitudes, values, motivation, group behavior, leadership, communication, and conflict ("Management thought," 2009). Many researchers participated to these contributions including Abraham Maslow (1908-1970). Around 1943, Maslow began exploring the theory of motivation among workers. His studies proposed that motivation starts from a need that developed within an individual. Then, that need spurred the individual to set a goal. When the goal was achieved, the need was, in turn, satisfied (Anderson, 2006). Maslow identified and grouped needs into a hierarchy. According to Maslow, humans have five set of basic needs:

Physiological needs: These are the most basic of all human needs and include air, food, shelter, water, sex, and sleep.

Safety needs: This need category includes physical and psychological safety. Issues of personal safety and security of family, property, and employment are all included.

Love needs: Although Maslow originally labeled this as love, later interpretations expanded the notion and renamed it belongingness. Maslow stated that all individuals desire affection and a sense of belonging.

Esteem needs: Maslow argued that all individuals have a need for self-respect and the respect of others. This need category was divided into two subsidiary sets: (1) the need for strength, achievement, and adequacy; and (2) the desire for reputation and prestige, recognition, attention, and appreciation.

The need for self-actualization: Maslow described this as the need for individuals to do what they were meant to do, and argued that individuals could not be truly satisfied unless they became all that they were capable of becoming. He noted that a singer must sing and a poet must write if they are to be truly healthy and happy (Maslow, 2008, p 11).

These needs became widely used and adapted throughout studies of the concept of management. In fact, one of Maslow's students, Douglas McGregor ( ), took his theories of motivation even further. McGregor's studies were based on assumptions of human nature and human motivations, which he named Theory X and Y. Theory X supposed that people prefer to be directed, are not interested in taking responsibility; and are only motivated by money, benefits, and the threats of punishment. While Theory Y assumed that, instinctively, people are neither lazy nor unreliable and that they can be self-directed and creative if properly motivated (Anderson, 2006). These two theories mirror the ideas of management science (Theory X) and behavioral science (Theory Y). Furthermore, laying groundwork to the similarities they share as well.

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First, taking McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y analysis, by arguably disregarding the human nature aspect of these 2 theories, motivation was still a key factor and a correlation between the scientific approach to management and the behavioral approach. Understanding that whether the motivation came from compensation or through the desire for appreciation and recognition, the worker's need to be motivated was pivotal to a management's success. Ultimately, management science and behavioral management have several similarities if looking at the root of some of their principles. Primarily, both developed the notion of using science applications to management. Management science applied scientific timing methods and steps to set efficiency guidelines. While, behavioral management applied the psychological and social sciences to management. Secondly, both schools of thought utilized the concept of applying some form of motivation to workers. As stated before, management science used compensation based on productivity to arouse workers. On the other hand, the behavioral science examined the individual worker's personal needs for motivation. These needs extended from physical needs, such as water to more psychosomatic needs like the need of self actualization and fulfilling certain internal goals and desires through work. Although the type of needs vary, the concept behind motivation is definitely shared between these two theories.

In conclusion, the theories of management science and behavioral management grew out of a necessity. Taylor recognized a need to establish certain standards in industrial management to help both the worker and company. Through his idea of using scientific law to determine guidelines, he forever changed management. Derived from some of the shortcomings of management science, behavioral management based its principles on the needs of the individual workers in relation to psychology and sociology. Although both schools of thought vary immensely, they share some similarities. Most importantly, they share the fact that they had a profound affect on shaping modern understandings of management.