The Classical/Modernist approach was appropriate to the time in which it was developed but it is no longer suitable to the needs of contemporary organisations and change Introduction
The aim of this paper is to understand if the classical and modernist approach has a place within modern organisations. First, an understanding of both approaches will be carried out, identifying key ideologies and theories these approaches may contain. Then, a discussion on the literature surrounding the suitability of these approaches with modern day organisations. To finish, a conclusion will take place summarising the main points and understanding the possible limitations. The classical approach
The classical approach was born in a time where the western world experienced a high level of industrial growth, where business was synonymous with trade (Hester and Gerrie, 2008).It was a time where business competitiveness by America was growing, but Europe struggled to stay ahead with the changes seen in the business world’s size and complexity (Burnes, 2009). A widely accepted management approach was needed by the turn of the twentieth century, in order to replace an inconsistent ‘rule’ approach previously seen (Burnes, 2009). A heavy theme that occurs with the organisational classical approach theory is that power and control comes from a sense of knowledge. Therefore, managers should only have this control (Burnes, Cooper and West, 2003). Key academics who underpin the classical approach and who have developed the theory into a management control system are F.W Taylor, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Henri Fayol. An understanding of their key ideas and influences are described below. F.W. Taylor, an academic in the classical approach school of thought was an influential figure in the scientific management approach (Parker and Ritson, 2011). Britain and Europe was struggling to stay ahead of competition, because of ineffective management, government and businesses activity (Burnes, 2009; Parker and Ritson, 2011). A reason to this ineffective control in Britain’s business environment was a lack of scientific approach to control and leadership (Parker and Ritson, 2011). Standardization in human engineering was a key area in which F.W Taylor tried to develop a ‘best way’ (Taneja, Pryor and Toombs, 2011; Parker and Ritson, 2011). A clear, bullet point procedure and process should be in place so management and employees know what needs to do and when (Taneja, Pryor and Toombs, 2011). This approach was seen to be effective, cheap and successful and used in businesses such as Ford, with the logo ‘any colour as long as it is black’ (Taneja, Pryor and Toombs, 2011). Adam Smith and Karl Marx developed the division of labour factor into the classical approach. Division of labour, in terms of production, is separation of the operations as a whole and each worker having to completing a different part of that operation (Searle, 2009). Baloglou (2010) explains that division of labour under Adam Smith’s research lead to employees being more skilled in what they are producing, the end product being to a higher standard, time being saved in production and also the increase in production levels.
Henri Fayol, a key player in the movement of the classical approach, categorises the role of management as organising, commanding and controlling employees (Fells, 2000). He explores the concept of unity of command and states that this is a key principle of management (Yoo, Lemak and Choi, 2006).Unity of command can be described as employees or departments only being managed by one source (Finkelstein and D Aveni, 1994). It is understood, that division and centralisation or decentralisation can enhance this principle of unit of command (Finkelstein and D Aveni, 1994). To add further insight, this contributes to the paternalistic attitude this theory holds, the fact that employees need to be told what to do and when to do it (Hester and Gerrie, 2008). The...
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