Compare and contrast the management theories of Frederick Taylor, Henri Fayol, Elton Mayo and Douglas McGregor. In what sense(s) are these theories similar and/or compatible? In what sense(s) are these theories dissimilar and/or incompatible? How would a contingency theorist reconcile the points of dissimilarity and/or incompatibility between these approaches?
The twentieth century has brought in a number of management theories which have helped shaped our view of management in the present business environment. These emerging theories have enabled managers to appreciate new patterns of thinking, new ways of organising and new ways of managing organisations and people. Over the years these different theories have enabled the study of trends that have taken place in the management field. The major management viewpoints- which include the classical, behavioural and contingency approaches- have assisted in the formation of the contemporary twenty-first century management theory and techniques (S. C. Certo & S. T. Certo, 2006). Although, there are significant differences among all these approaches they seem to be unified by the efforts of improving an organisation’s efficiency in terms of proper human resources management. Furthermore, the dissimilarities seen in these approaches are due to the always changing organisations and environments which demand new management practices and techniques be applied to maintain the efficiency of an organisation.
The classical approach to management was the result of an effort to develop a body of management thinking and the management theorists who participated in this effort are considered the pioneers of management study. The classical viewpoint emphasises efficiency in managing work and organisations in order to increase production (S. C. Certo & S. T. Certo, 2006). The classical approach to management can be categorised into three areas: scientific, administrative and bureaucratic management. Frederick Taylor, known as the father of scientific management, developed his theories by concentrating on improving the inefficiencies he had observed in the working environment and introducing more ‘scientific’ methods of working (Taylor, 1960). Taylor was concerned about the discrepancies between management and the labour force regarding the distribution of profits, “neither side seemed to agree on what constituted a fair day’s work” (Hagen, 1988, p. 46). Frederick Taylor, using systematic analysis, decided to study the possibility of finding a ‘better way’ to perform certain work tasks.
In 1911 Taylor published The Principles of Scientific Management, a book in which he promoted the development of management through the application of scientific selection and training of workers, and the division of tasks and responsibilities between workers and management (Kermally, 2005). Therefore, scientific management was a theory based on producing workers’ effectiveness to run an organisation with as much efficiency as possible; his purpose was to exploit economies of scale in order to increase productivity. Moreover, Taylor drew a line between intellectual and manual labour, where managers were responsible for planning work methods and workers were responsible for executing such work. According to Hagen, “Taylor went beyond this, forbidding workers to think for themselves” (Karlöf & Lövingsson, 2005).
Taylor’s scientific management is widely criticised as it can lead to worker resentment, poor quality, repetitiveness and malingering. However, one cannot deny the fact that he did draw attention to the importance of selection, training, compensation and motivation, which are areas directly relevant to managing people in today’s environment (Hagen, 1988, p. 46). In addition, scientific management should be analysed keeping in mind the period in which it emerged; a period when a vast portion of the population were performing repetitive labour work based on the ideas and skills...
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