Approaches to management, as embodied in The Human Relations and Scientific Management schools of thought, were only relevant to management in the early 20th century, when they first hit the headlines, and have no relevance to management in the early 21st century”
Discuss using appropriate, referenced theory, and real-world examples to support your argument.
In this essay it will be argued that elements from the approaches to management, as embodied in the in the Scientific Management schools and human relations schools of thought, have not only been updated to remain relevant, but in cases have been merged together to form management theory for the 21st century. In this essay works by theorists such as G. Ritzier, P. Drucker, Stern, Peters and Waterman, and W. Ouchi will help me to back up my argument. In section one of this essay I will outline the main principles of Scientific Management and Human Relations theories. In section two, I will discuss the elements of scientific management that are still relevant to the 21st century, and outline the problems scientific management poses in the 21st century. In section three I will show how Human Relations management has remained relevant to the 21st century, and how it has been integrated with scientific management to influence management theory in the 21st century.
Section 1 - The main principles of scientific management and human relations management
Merkle(1980) cites Frederick Winslow Taylor as the starting point for scientific management; Taylor devised his theory whilst working as a foreman in a factory, it was published in 1911. Taylors work highlighted a tension between management and employee. Employees were not working as hard as they could, a factor Taylor coined as soldiering. Managers did not like soldiering as it meant wages were being paid for workers who were not producing as much as they could, as a result the business ended up with high labour costs. Management at the time however didn’t have an idea of how much work a worker should be able to do in a day. This is where Taylor came in, he thought that soldiering was caused by management not knowing what a fair days work was. To solve this he needed to find out what a fair days work, Taylor analysed the different ways of production in the factory and began to come up with the most efficient way of completing a task, and by extension how much output the ideal worker could achieve. This use of analysis became known as Scientific Management. His mantra was to separate tasks into small parts, and dictate the quickest way to carry them out.
Taylor’s view was that management were far more intellectually superior to the worker and therefore were responsible for determining the most efficient way of carrying out a task, which the employees then implemented. Taylor believed that he could get the workers to follow his method of thought by paying them more money for increased productivity, which he termed the ‘piece rate system’, he believed that financial incentive was the sole motivating and that this would irradiate soldiering.
Out of Taylorism came Fordism, another popular scientific management school of thought, Fordism is credited with introducing Taylorian principles to an assembly line. Fordism relied on managers defining the task and then workers doing them, like Taylorism, however all tasks were synchronised towards producing a product; this was one of the first examples and models of mass production on an assembly line (Hall, 1996, pp282-84)
The origins of Human Relations management lie in the Hawthorne experiments conducted from 1924 to 1932 at the Western Electric Company. Andrej Huczynski and David Buchanan (2001. pp281) explain that the original aim of the experiment was to see if there was a difference in productivity, using scientific management, with the effect of lighting. However the results were so confusing there were plans to abandon the experiments – until George Elton...
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