Classical Management Viewpoint of the Worker

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Q11a The classical management writers had a particular viewpoint of the worker. Discuss what this was. [12 marks]

a The evolution of management has been in existence since the construction of massive structures such as the pyramids in Egypt in the ancient days and the Great Wall of China during the Qing Dynasty period. It is thus evident how important the role of management and its application is globally and through the passage of time. The emergence of the classical approach occurred during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and Europe, as it became necessary to have a more formal approach to management. Production shifted away from the cottage industry as large complex organisations sprouted due to new forms of technology. The classical approach places emphasis on purpose, formal structure, hierarchy of management, technical requirements, and common principles of organisation in order to manage efficiently the higher amount of outputs from increased producitivity. (needs emphasis on the workers)

The classical management approach comprises of three theories namely- bureacratic management by Max Weber, Scientific management by Taylor and Administrative management by Henri Fayol. Max Weber is a German sociologist who defined an organisation as a well-defined hierarchy of authority and responsibility, following a system of rules and regulations where there is no confusion and conflicts. Under this formal hierarchy structure, workers abide by rules and follow accordingly without question. Official positions exist in their own right and jobholders have no rights to particular positions in the top management, since appointment of staff is based on qualification and competence. This will thus allow for a stable and well-defined job content such that work performance is based on the identified roles. However, the over-emphasis on rules and regulation only serves to dehumanise and demotivate the workers as workers’ initiation and creativity are being stifled. They become inflexible in responding to situations, and reluctant to innovate in time.

There are three types of legitimate authority identified by Weber- traditional, charismatic and rational-legal authority. Workers are required to accept those in authority that arises from tradition and custom. They must also be loyal and entrust their confidence in the personal qualities of the leader. Hence, there is no questioning of the authority since the workers are bounded by the rules and procedures of the organisation, and does not have any job movement in their job scope. Nonetheless, Weber see this approach as neccessary at that time in order to achieve stability in the organisation, where rules are implemented to increase efficiency and productivity even though it neglects the social needs of the workers.

Another writer who contributed to the classical approach is Taylor. He introduced the theory of scientific management where workers are viewed as “rational economic man” who are satisfied and motivated by high wages, and are willing to work diligently for the organisation. He was concerned with the efficiency of the working methods, and the question of how to organize different resources into efficient and profitable operations. He wanted to prevent “soldiering” which he believes arises due to the fallacious belief of the workers that any increase in output will result in unemployment, hence deliberately restrict their work-rate in order to stay in employment. Hence in order to overcome this problem, he came up with “a true science of work”, referring to the amount to be done by a suitable worker under optimum conditions. Workers are paid their wages according to their productivity. Workers are systematically trained and placed through careful selections, jobs designated for them. Through analysis of the “stopwatch exercise”, he was able to establish standard time and standard output of work. He argued that workers...
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