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Classical Management Theories

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Classical Management Theories

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  • Feb. 22, 2007
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Successful management requires an understanding of the fundamental concepts of effective management techniques and principles. In order to gain such insight, and manage effectively and efficiently, managers must develop an awareness of past management principles, models and theories. From the turn of the 20th Century, the need for a formal management theory was growing evident; organisations required a system to guide managers in an attempt to improve productivity and efficiency of workers. This urgency for a theory saw the development of six major management approaches, the focus of this essay will be on two of the classical management theories; the scientific management theory and the human relations movement. The contributions of both these theories will be examined, followed by an analysis of the similarities and differences that these two theories propose. The last point will see a discussion of the relevance that these two theories have in modern managerial practice.

Scientific management was developed in the early 1900's and fronted by Fredrick Winslow Taylor. Robbins, Bergman, Stagg and Coulter (2006) describe scientific management as:
The use of scientific methods to define the "one best way" for a job to be done.

The objective of Scientific Management was to ensure that maximum productivity was achieved for both the employer and employee. (Dwyer, 2005) Scientific Management is essentially an authoritarian approach that breaks up the "thinking" and "doing" responsibilities to the manager and worker respectively. (Morgan, 1986). The main philosophies arising from the Scientific Management approach include; an emphasis on experimentation, research, and timed studies, as opposed to "rule of thumb", management and labour co-operation in order to ensure economic efficiency, emphasis on individualism, and the simplification of tasks to reduce learning problems and time. (Mohanty and Sethi, 1996) The underlying assumption of the Scientific...