APPROACHES TO ORGANISATION AND
Organisational behaviour is a discursive subject and much has been written about it. The study of organisations and management has therefore to proceed on a broad front. It is the comparative study of the different approaches that will yield benefits to the manager. The study of organisations, their structure and management is important for the manager. Identification of major trends in management and organisational behaviour, and the work of leading writers, provide a perspective on concepts and ideas discussed in more detail in other chapters.
After completing this chapter you should be able to: ■ identify major trends in the development of organisational behaviour and management thinking;
■ contrast main features of different approaches to organisation and management;
■ evaluate the relevance of these different approaches to the present-day management of organisations;
■ explain the relationships between management theory and practice; ■ assess the value of the study of different approaches to organisation and management;
■ recognise the relationship between the development of theory, behaviour in organisations and management practice;
■ establish a basis for consideration of aspects of organisational behaviour discussed in subsequent chapters.
‘It is often claimed that what leading writers say is an important part of the study of management and organisational behaviour. Others say that all these different ideas are little more than short-term fads and have little practical value.’
What do you think? What role does management theory have in helping us solve problems we face in our organisational lives today?
PART 1 THE ORGANISATIONAL SETTING
THE THEORY OF MANAGEMENT
A central part of the study of organisation and management is the development of manage- ment thinking and what might be termed management theory. The application of theory brings about change in actual behaviour. Managers reading the work of leading writers on the subject might see in their ideas and conclusions a message about how they should behave. This will inﬂuence their attitudes towards management practice. The study of management theory is important for the following reasons: ■ It helps to view the interrelationships between the development of theory, behaviour in organisations and management practice.
■ An understanding of the development of management thinking helps in understanding principles underlying the process of management.
■ Knowledge of the history helps in understanding the nature of management and organ- isational behaviour and reasons for the attention given to main topic areas. ■ Many of the earlier ideas are of continuing importance to the manager and later ideas on management tend to incorporate earlier ideas and conclusions. ■ Management theories are interpretive and evolve in line with changes in the organis- ational environment.
As McGregor puts it:
Every managerial act rests on assumptions, generalizations, and hypotheses – that is to say, on theory. Our assumptions are frequently implicit, sometimes quite unconscious, often conﬂicting; nevertheless, they determine our predictions that if we do a, b will occur. Theory and practice are inseparable.1 Miner makes the point that the more that is known about organisations and their methods of operation, the better the chances of dealing effectively with them. Understanding may be more advanced than prediction, but both provide the opportunity to inﬂuence or to manage the future. Theory provides a sound basis for action.2 However, if action is to be effective, the theory must be adequate and appropriate to the task and to improved organ- isational performance. It must be a ‘good’ theory.
DEVELOPMENTS IN MANAGEMENT AND ORGANISATIONAL BEHAVIOUR...