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.
CLASSICAL V. HUMAN RELATIONS
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 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, noticed a phenomenon known as soldiering, (Bartol et al, 2006). Bartol et al (2006) describe soldiering as “deliberately working at less than full capacity”. Taylor (1985) believed that by applying a science of management based on four principles he could decrease soldiering. Taylors four principles of scientific management are: 1. Scientifically study each part of a task and develop the best method for performing it. 2. Carefully select workers and train them to perform a task using the scientifically developed method. 3. Cooperate fully with workers to ensure they use the proper method. 4. Divide work and responsibility so management is responsible for planning work methods using scientific principles and workers are responsible for executing work. Another pioneer of scientific management was a close associate of Frederick Taylor's, Henry L. Gantt (Darmody, 2007). Gantt introduced the Gantt chart which was a graphical aid that helped to plan, schedule and control. He also developed a unique pay incentive system which rewarded workers and supervisors who reached a standard in an allocated time (Bartol et al, 2006). •
Bureaucratic management encourages the view that an organisation needs to act rationally and not on the subjective whims of managers or owners (Perrow, 1972). It focuses on written procedures and formal rules (Holt, 1999, p.137). This approach to management draws largely on the work of German sociologist Max Weber (Bartol et al, 2006). Weber's work emphasized the need for clear passages of communication, clear specifications of authority and responsibility and clear knowledge of whom is responsible to who (Perrow, 1972). •
Administrative management focuses on how managers can better coordinate an organisation's internal activities (Bartol et al, 2006). Henri Fayol is the most widely recognised contributor to administrative management ( Breeze 1981; Breeze and Miner 1980; Crainer 2003). Henri Fayol identified five major functions of management:...
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