Classical Management Theory and Human Relations Theory

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The systematic development of management thinking is viewed, generally, as spanning from the end of the nineteenth century with the emergence of large industrial organizations. Management theories consist of two group—classical management theory and human relations theory. In this essay, the nature of the “Classical” and “Human Relations” approaches to management will be described at first and then bring out the differences and similarities between them.

The classical theory of management was formed in the early 20th century and based on a pyramid, formal structure. To be more precise, it puts an emphasis on technical requirements of the organisation, common principles as well as hierarchy of management. There are three well-established theories of classical management, such as Bureaucratic Organization of Weber, Administrative Management of Fayol and Scientific Management of Taylor. Weber features extensive and binding systems of rules, a strict hierarchical organizational structure. Fayol identified POCCC: plan organize command, coordination, control. Scientific management is a branch of the classical school of management and concentrates on the philosophies of economic rationality, efficiency, individualism as well as the scientific analysis of work. It arises in part from the need to expand productivity. This is due to the fact that the skilled labour was in short supply at the beginning of the twentieth century and augmenting the efficiency of workers was considered as the only way to increase productivity. As a consequence, Frederick W. Taylor, Henry L. Gantt, and the Gilbreths Frank and Lillian - devised the body of principles known as scientific management.

By contrast, as for the theory of human relations, it is to pay greater attention to social factors at work, leadership, the informal organisation and behaviour of people. The basic tenets of the human relations school emerged from a group of studies during the late 1920s and 1930s known as the "Hawthorne Experiments." These experiments revealed that groups can have a powerful effect on the way organisations work and people did not always do what employers wanted, nor did they always act in a way that was considered rational﹙Roethlisberger and Dickson:1939﹚. Besides that, Douglas McGregor examined credited theories on behaviour of individuals at work and has formulated two models which calls Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X demonstrates that average person has an inherent dislike of work and people must be coerced, controlled, directed, threatened with punishment whereas Theory Y claimed that physical and mental effort is as natural as play or rest and man will exercise self-direction for objectives to which he is committed.

Focusing on the similarities of the two theories, a significant point is that both of them consider increase productivity as ultimate goal. In addition, both believe in organizations as closed, changeless entities and they have discovered the one best way. Furthermore, human relations theory bears the same footprint of formal or instrumental rationality as that to be found in classical management. The last but not the least, both sought to control their teams even though one through human relationships while another one by avoiding human relationships. Even so, it should be pointed out that there are have some differences between them. Firstly, in Classical management theory, workers are regarded as "organizational machine" and motivated primarily by the prospect of high material reward. However, classical management theory embraces the idea that workers are not the kind of " economically motivated automatons " who are only pursue for money, but social people and have social psychological needs. Secondly, scientific managers were also accused of undermining individual initiative and freedom .By contrast, human relations was about ‘helping’ rather than exploiting the worker. Thirdly, According to Rose (2005) classical management is a...
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