Management Theory & Practise

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As a concept management has been around for millennia with examples tracing from the pyramids of ancient Egypt to the 6th century BC writings of Sun Tzu in the military strategy book ‘The Art of War’ (Tzu, Approx 500 BCE). Management has evolved constantly providing new frameworks and theories for modern day organizations to be functional, dynamic and innovative. Over the years many different management theories have been applied to a vast range of companies operating in different sectors. Even though many experts agree that to be a successful manager it is not vital to have studied the science of management (Grey, 2005), it has been seen to be the foundation to gain access into the upper echelons of the management hierarchy. Studying the previous theorists that have become household names and understanding their assumptions on management makes it possible to gain an understanding of how problems have been tackled in the past and how managers have dealt with their issues. The following looks at more historic management theories and will determine how they link to the modern approaches. The concept of ‘scientific management’ by Frederick W Taylor (1911) is an important part of organisational management history. When it was first introduced in the 1920’s America the manufacturing and production industry was flourishing. (Mintz, 2012) The essence of Taylor`s theory can still be found as the base of modern adaptations and it bears credit to its importance in mainstream management. There are a number of important details analysed in Taylors work as well as key methods in which he used to maximise organisational performance: The most influential one has been the specialisation of jobs. Taylor argues that if workers are trained on one task only, the repetition of the work will allow them to become experts in their specific role, thus enabling improved performance. Breaking down the tasks not only maximises efficiency but also separates the mental and manual labour. (Taylor F. W., 2005). A very controversial assumption of Taylor has been his approach to the individual worker. He thought workers were lazy and operated at a slow pace in order to ‘avoid a full day’s work’ (Taylor F. W., 1911). As he himself has been born into a wealthy family he did not hold respect for those he felt were below him due to status and wealth. (Cengage, 1998)

The particular elements of his approach worked, it can be sought that from his writings, the scientific management approach yielded results in not only the companies Taylor deployed them in with his experiments but in other organisations specifically outside of America that embraced his system too. Particularly in the late 1920’s because of the depression ‘Hard times were good for business’ (Nelson, 1992) so Taylors strict work regimes improved turnover for struggling business’s in Britain, France, Italy and Germany. Britain in particular adopted Taylor’s methods in the field of engineering over a number of years scrutinising the methods used (Whitston, 1997). If these practises advocated would be deployed today, they would be unsuitable or even illegal within the developed world, purely due to the sheer disregard of the workers needs and emotions. By further analysing the background of Taylor’s theory it shows that there was an economic boom in the USA during the 1920’s. The GDP of America rose from approximately 500 Billion Dollars to 800 Billion Dollars between 1920 and 1930 (Blanchard, 2003). Therefore by being relatively unrivalled by any other country in the world America was given a platform for Taylors uniform work methods and order of work sequences (Hatch, 2006) to thrive as well as be embraced. The aforementioned issues with the theory were a lack of employee motivation and pay for performance leading to an alienated workforce (Hatch, 2006). More critically some theorists have argued that the regimes of this work methodology have proven counterproductive as well as harmful to the...
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