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Any management strategy adopted by a given organization or enterprise is always aimed at producing practical results in tandem with the existing organizational goals and objectives (Galie and Bopst, 2006). Several management theories and practices have been in place since time immemorial and always undergo improvements and optimization in order to give best results. The criteria followed when selecting a given management approach is influenced by several factors such as resource availability, organizational structures, operational costs and efficiencies, types and levels of diversifications, socio-economic factors, political and cultural factors, human resource development, international relations, among others (Ma, 1999).
The primary objective of this paper is to discuss the various management theories that have been in place since 1900 and the various factors that have influenced their evolution, and adoption in organizational management. For better understanding, a comparison of the organizational perspectives using the basic characteristics and properties of the mechanistic and the organic organizational designs shall be briefly highlighted in the paper.
Management theories provide logical theoretical frameworks applicable in the administration and general management of organizations and business enterprises. These theories basically act as a springboard or foundations that help guide enterprises toward achieving their set goals and objectives (Weymes, 2004, 85). In most cases however, the scientific management approach has been used a model in the managerial elements of organizations. In this case, organizations and business enterprises carry out systematic analysis of this model and modify most of its characteristic aspects in order to suit specific managerial requirements (DuBrin, 2006). Precautionary measures are usually put in place to ensure the fundamentals of this management strategy are upheld at all times.
For the last one century (period between 1900 and 2000), the management theory is said to assume a developmental and progressive nature that puts into consideration the emerging trends and needs (environmental and internal needs) of organizations through appropriate response and adaptation mechanisms. In this domain, there are several approaches namely the classical approach, the quantitative approach, the human resource approach, the systems perspectives, the contingency approach, and the information communication technology (ICT) approach.
The Quantitative Approach
In management, the quantitative approach revolves around maximum utilization of a group of techniques and methods to aid the decision making process. This approach is derived from the scientific model and is often referred to as operations research and/or management science. In operations research, several scientific and mathematical analytical tools are broadly applied in deriving optimal management solutions. Such quantitative tools include, but are not limited to linear programming, statistics, queuing theory, the game theory, network analysis, and decision trees. The managerial applications utilizing the quantitative approach include quality control, quality assurance and inventory control (DuBrin, 2006).
The Classical Approach
In management, the classical approach includes a general combination of both administrative and scientific management. In this regard, scientific management involves broad application of scientific techniques and approaches with the overall aim of boosting the productivity and general performance of individual workers in a given organization. Administrative management on the other hand revolves around appropriate use of best management practices in the structuring, reorganization and general management of the organization (DuBrin, 2006).
The Human Resource Approach
This model applies the psychological facet of human nature in organizational management. The approach puts more emphasis on people management through proper understanding of their mindsets and individual needs (Gomberg, 1985). Major characteristics of the human resource approach revolve around the Hawthorne effect which is basically the study of human behaviour in response to apparent attention from evaluators/auditors. Secondly, the human resource model utilizes various components of the McGregorââ‚¬â„¢s Theories X and Y, particularly in regard to human nature with specific reference to responsibility and work (Murphy, 2003).
Lastly, this approach incorporates the Maslowââ‚¬â„¢s hierarchy of needs, spreading out from the very basic wants to those intended for leisure and self-actualization. Manpower development approaches, organizational behaviour theories and human resource management are based on the fundamental principles of this theory.
The Systems Perspective
This approach creates an analogy between an organization and a system made up of several intertwined features and components (Murphy, 2003). There are several management theories applicable fro the systems perspective e.g. strategic management theories of collaborative and competitive advantage, the innovation and competence theory, the human resource management and organizational behaviour, the resource-based view i.e. the theory of competitive advantage, etc (DuBrin, 2006). The systems perspective is an imperative method since the interlinking and interaction of existing capabilities, systems and internal resources can be used to give a better explanation of the changing trends and responsive nature of organizations towards their surrounding environment (Murphy, 2003).
The Contingency Approach
This is a management tool that appreciates the fact that no single management tool can be regarded as the best practice to effectively manage people and work in every prevailing situation. Based on this perception, this approach encourages the management teams to fully analyse situational and individual differences before settling on a given approach or solution (DuBrin, 2006). The innovation and competence theory and the strategic management theories of collaborative and competitive advantage, coupled with the perspectives of industrial organization utilize the various elements of the contingency approach in optimization and in carrying out improvements. The contingency approach also puts into consideration the different organizational and environmental structures and needs that influence an organization, together with other factors such as resource availability and capabilities with respect to individual organizations (DuBrin, 2006).
The ICT (Information Communications Technology) Approach
This approach has been influenced by the technological advancements in the various fields of ICT, including the internet. The developments in this field have several positive impacts on the organisational behaviour and the general conduct of managers and workers. The management theories utilizing the ICT approach include the supply chain management (i.e. procurement, distribution, logistics & inventory theories), the strategic management practices and knowledge & technology management (Murphy, 2003).
Basic Characteristics of Types of Organizational Design
The table below summarizes the two extreme ends that can be applied in organizational design and management
Table 1.1: Basic Properties of Types of Organizational Design (Source: Derived from, Murphy, 2003, pp. 14)
Centres of Power/ Authority
Division of Labour
Interrelations within the organization
Use of Strict Rules, Regulations and Procedures
Primary objective / purpose
Responsiveness, Adaptability, Flexibility
Based on the above discussions, it can be deduced that several management approaches can be used when dealing with various situations. There is no way one single approach can fully satisfy all the needs and demands of the organization (Robbins, et al, 2006). Compromise and optimization of all the above approaches can be utilized in deriving the best management practice that is result oriented. In scenarios characterised by complex, uncertain, ambiguous and volatile conditions, it is quite in order to restructure organizations by adopting strategies that can best fit the challenges posed by the prevailing circumstances.