The ideas of the classical theorists, particularly those of bureaucracy and scientific management, are generally considered as rather old fashioned and out of date, and of little relevance to work and organisation today.
The classical school of management is thought to of originated around the turn of the current century and dominated management thinking into the 1920's. It had one main focus and this was on the efficiency of work processes, either through bureaucratic management that focuses on rules and procedures, or scientific management which concentrates on the one best way in which a job can be done. It is now commonly considered by modern theorists that these ways of management are outdated and not completely relevant to organisations in this day and age. This essay will look to examine wether this is actually the case, through the use of personal experiences and case studies of other people and companies. Traditionally these theorists saw employees and their needs or wants as being secondary to the needs of the business, this has been seen as one of the main reasons for these theories to become outdated. However they can still be argued as useful because they introduced the theory of management and provided ideas for the development of future management.
When the phrase bureaucratic management is mentioned we usually relate this to Max Weber, a German socialist who's research into management structure formed this theory of management. There were 6 key elements of his theory and was usually used within large businesses, mainly because of the hierarchal attributes of the theory which allowed a structured chain of command. It is for reasons such as these that businesses today use these management theories despite the fact that there are other more in depth and comprehensive models. Bureaucratic businesses today generally uphold a culture that the job or role description, is often more important than the individual who fills it. (Handy, C 1993) Individuals are usually selected for performance of a role, they are not selected for skills they have that aren't relevant or for progression within the company. (Handy, C 1993) It is reasons like these that classical theories of management are being branded as outdated, employees have no job satisfaction, no desire to achieve and most importantly no morale or want to work. As a result work efficiency can drop along with quality and production rates (Noon & Blyton 1997). Some can argue however that without the existence of a bureaucratic structure it would be very difficult to co-ordinate with and control the activities of the highly skilled workers that are involved in complex tasks. (Blackler 1995) However through the development of post-bureaucratic forms of organisations, these issues are slowly being developed and overcome with the 'emergence of a new breed of self-motivation, professional "portfolio employees"' (Handy, C 1994). An example of this was conducted within a telephone bank in the UK over a 9 month period. Here they focused on the activities of a project-based team of IT staff working on assignments that were constantly changing and adapting, forcing them to change the way they work constantly without a definite structure behind them, this theory relies mainly on the self-motivation of the employees, enforced by a want to work for the company. (Hodgson 2000)
Bureaucratic management is not the only theory that is heavily criticised for being dehumanising, scientific management is often viewed this way too. The main theorist here is Frederick Taylor, he presented an idea that for every procedure that needed doing within a business there was one best way of doing this, through the application of a scientific method (Grey, C 2009). By applying this theory it was said that you could maximise employees output and prosperity for the employer whilst still keeping everyone happy. Taylor based most of his research around a steel works company, here he...
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