Classical vs Human Relations Approaches to Management

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This essay compares and contrasts the “Classical” and “Human Relations” approaches to management. It focuses on how these approaches are similar and compatible and looks at their differences and incompatibilities. It then explores how systems theory and contingency theory can reconcile the incompatibilities between the approaches.

The essay is structured as follows. First, the essay shall explain the nature of the “Classical” and “Human Relations” approaches to management. Then, it will explore their similarities and dissimilarities. This section will be followed with an introduction to systems theory and contingency theory and how they can reconcile the dissimilarities and incompatibilities between the approaches. The essay shall finish with some concluding remarks.

Management emerged as a field of study over 100 years ago (Holt, 1999, p.137). The 'Classical' management functions appeared at the turn of the century (Carroll and Gillan,1984). The 'Human Relations' viewpoint came about in the 1920's and 30's (Holt, 1999, p.137).

Classical Management
Classical management is a result of the early attempts to formalize principles for a growing number of professional managers (Jeliniek, 2005). Henri Fayol (1841 – 1925) and Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 – 1915) are seen as two of the forefathers of classical management (Parker and Ritson, 2005; Parker and Lewis, 1995). Classical management is comprised of three directions to management: scientific, administrative and bureaucratic (Bartol et al, 2006). •Scientific management is the focus on the scientific study of work methods to improve worker efficiency. Taylor is viewed as one of the chief contributors to the scientific branch of classical management (Bartol et al, 2006). The scientific management school of thought reflected an engineer's ideology of work (Parker and Lewis, 1995). Taylor, while working as chief engineer for Midvale Steel,...
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