Scientific and Behaviorist Schools of Thought


Different individuals come together in an organization to work towards achieving the organizational goals. People in an organization work towards the same goal but perform in various ways. Thus, management is taking charge of different activities in an organization and guiding their efforts towards the same goal. Managers in an organization would perform functions such as planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling. But all the managers focus on earning a surplus. Managers would manage the workers in such a way that they would increase productivity efficiently and effectively. The organization also needs to learn to influence the behavior of the employees. A firm cannot only rely on providing their employees with financial incentives such as Salaries, Perquisites, Wages etc but also have to provide them with non financial incentives such as Promotions, Job Enrichment, Employee Empowerment etc. Hence many great managers have come up with different theories regarding this topic. Two popular ones are Scientific School of Thought by Frederick Winslow Taylor [1856-1915] and Human Relation School of Thought by Elton Mayo [1880-1949].

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Management is said to have a variety of definitions and few definitions quoted by people are as follows:

"Art of getting things done through people"

Mary Parker Follet

"Management is the process of designing and maintaining an environment in which individuals, working together in groups, efficiently accomplish selected aims."

Harold Koontz and Heinz Weihrich

"Management is defined as the process of planning, organising, actuating and controlling an organisation's operations in order to achieve coordination of the human and material resources essential in the effective and efficient attainment of objectives."

Robert L. Trewelly and M. Gene Newport

"Management is the process of working with and through others to effectively achieve organisational objectives by efficiently using limited resources in the changing environment."


There are different types of schools of management

The Classical Approach

The Neo-Classical Approach

The Modern Approach

The Classical approach includes Scientific Management, Administrative Management and Bureaucratic Management. The Neo-Classical approach includes Human relation approach, Behavioral approach and Operational research approach. The Modern approach includes System Theory and Contingency Theory.

This part of the essay would focus on scientific school of thought also known as "Taylorism" which comes from the Classical Approach. The name Taylorism arises from Fredrick Winslow Taylor, the founder of scientific management. "Scientific management means knowing exactly what you want one to do and seeing that they do it in the cheapest way possible." This approach focused on achieving the task in the most efficient and effective way possible. Maximum prosperity was to be the principle aim of any organization. According to Taylor, each employee should specialize in a particular job and should be given further training so that they can produce more and earn more. This would help prosper both the company and the worker. He believed that monetary reward is the only motivating factor for the workers in an organization. Taylor did not believe the management and workers should be separated, he always thought that they should work together and should be treated equally same. F.W. Taylor is also known as the "Father of Scientific Management". His main focus was on motion study and time study. The work methods designed by Taylor were to simply increase the productivity from the workers.

Scientific management is based on some of the following principles:

Firstly, Rule of Thumb method should be replaced with science approach. Each method should be evaluated and the best method therefore should be selected.

Secondly, Workers and managers should be able to work together and coordinate their work. There should be no dispute between them and each task should run smoothly in an organization.

Thirdly, Each worker in an organization should need the other. There should be cooperation among the top level and lower level of the organization.

Lastly, Development of Each and Every Person to His or Her Greatest Efficiency and Prosperity

F.W.Taylor conducted many experiments during his career, and some of the techniques of management specified by him are:

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Functional Foremanship

Standardization and Simplification of Work

Method Study

Motion Study

Time Study

Fatigue Study

Differential Piece Wage System

This part of the essay would talk about the Behavioral School of Thought which comes under the Neo-Classical Approach. This approach did not only focus on maximum prosperity of the organization but fulfilled the employee's needs also. According to Elton Mayo, the employee's needed something over and above financial incentives and that was the non - financial incentives. The behavioral science approach studied the attitude, behavior and performance of the individuals and groups in an organization.

The Human Relation Movement focused on cooperation and coordination among the employees not only to achieve the organizational goals but also to increase communication among the employees and fulfill their needs. The attention provided to the human resource was the salient aspect of the Human Relation Movement. Informal groups formed within an organization is proved to be most effective when decisions are to be made, as it unites all the members in the organization. The management should make sure to fulfill their safety/security needs, the basic physiological needs, affiliation needs etc.

Two important co-researchers of this school are F. J. Roethlisberger and William. J. Dickson who performed the famous Hawthorne Experiments. The main conclusion from the Hawthorne Experiments was that there are a number of factors on which the performance of the employee depends. Workers who receive special attention towards their needs increase productivity in the most efficient and effective way because of the attention given to them.

Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor are two personalities who contributed towards the Behavioral Science Approach. Abraham Maslow was known for his Hierarchy Needs Theory of Motivation and Douglas McGregor was known for Theory X and Theory Y.

Abraham Maslow is a well - known psychologist whose theory was based on human needs which are the following:

Firstly Basic Physiological Needs which meant that the organization should provide good enough salary to fulfill needs such as hunger, thirst, shelter, clothes etc.

Secondly Safety and Security needs which provides protection from social and emotional harm. The organization should provide stable income, job security etc to the employees.

Thirdly Affiliation and Belonging needs which means that they should feel the need of their presence.

Fourthly Esteem needs which help them get some amount of respect, status and recognition.

Last in the Hierarchy Self Actualization needs which is the most important need. It leads people in an organization to achieve what they want to become.

Douglas McGregor proposed two sets of worker assumptions.

Theory X, the first one assumes the average worker is lazy, dislikes work and will do as little as possible. Only through rewards and punishment would the manager be able to improvise the work.

Theory Y assumes workers are not lazy, want to do a good job and the job itself will determine if the worker likes the work. Manager should allow the worker to bring in their own idea and give them a platform to prove them self.

Scientific School of Thought and Behaviorist School of Thought have their own principles and approaches towards achieving the organizational goals.

While Scientific management focused on increasing output through financial incentives, Behavioral Science fulfilled social and economical needs to achieve the required output.

Taylor's policies focused on profit maximization but on short term, while Mayo's policies helped in achieving profits for long term basis.

There were a few criticisms to Mayo's principles, which proved that Taylor's principles were more effective. Mayo believed in satisfying each individual's personal needs which would become difficult for a company to achieve if the market standing is not good.

As against this, Taylor's principles were more rigid which would help to maintain discipline among the employees. Mayo believed that informal groups would help to make changes in an organization, but if informal groups would lead to rumors, then applying changes would be difficult. That is why Taylor believed that there should only be formal discussion among employees.

The principles formed by Taylor led to stereo typed workers which would make work environment boring, as against Mayo's technique which allowed workers to bring about new and interesting suggestions in method of working.

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Mayo's theories allowed discussion on grounds of making decision, but under scientific management, an organization should allow only the top level management to make all the decisions. The former allowed groups to be formed in an organization so that there can be group discussions and better decisions can be made, but the latter only allowed orders to be passed on to the lower level management.

Both the principles believed that there should be peace and integrity between the workers so that work can be done in the most effective way and so production can be increased.

Taylor and Mayo's theories believed that a company should be financially strong so that they can fulfill the financial needs of the workers so as to achieve the organization goals through maximum prosperity.

Taylor's principles ignored the concerns of the human resource while Mayo took that into consideration.

According to Taylor, the sole motivator for a worker was 'monetary incentive'. Therefore, the worker under scientific management was an 'economic man'. According to Mayo, satisfaction of social wants of the workers like communication and the sense of acceptance was the driving force of the organization. Therefore, the worker under the human relations movement was a 'social man'. Scientific management treated the worker as a 'human machine' and used the 'differential system' for motivation. While, the human relations movement held that the satisfaction of the worker was its main objective. According to the human relations movement, "satisfied workers are motivated workers and therefore effective workers".

Both the theories have their own advantages and disadvantages. Both these schools of thought hold the same importance when it comes to their application. So, it can be concluded that both the theories have different approach even though both aim towards one common goal. The scientific management theory and the human relations movement theory both aim at organizational excellence through increased efficiency. This excellence can be achieved if either of the two theories is applied or both. In light of the modern management scenario, a good manager is one who applies a blend of well-proportioned management theories into practice. Thus, Scientific Management and Human Relation can be seen as two wheels of the same cart and none is superior to the other.

(Hawthorne Effect, 2010)

(Management, 2010)

(Elton Mayo, 2010)

(Human Relations Movement, 2010)

(Scientific Management, 2010)

(The Principles of Scientific Management, 2010)

(Abraham Maslow, 2010)


(Scribd )

(School of Management Thought)


(Thoughts and Theories of Scientific Management)

(Hawthorne Theory)

(Evolution of Management Thought)