A Guide to Classical Management Theory
The classical management theory is a school of management thought in which theorists delved into how to find the best possible way for workers to perform their tasks. The classical management theory is divided into two branches, the classical scientific and the classical administrative. The classical scientific branch comes from the scientific mindset of attempting to increase productivity. During the height of the classical scientific theory, theorists would use almost mechanical methods towards labor and organization to achieve goals of productivity and efficiency. Some of the basic techniques of the classical scientific theory include creating standardized methods for a task and dividing work between employees equally. On the other hand, the classical administrative theory focuses on how management can be organized to achieve productivity. Henri Fayol, a leading figure in management theory, devised several management theories geared towards efficiency, such as creating a unified direction among managers, centralization, and discipline. Other management theories focused on building team confidence, such as establishing teamwork, using initiative, and equity. Strengths of Classical Management Theory
Current management organization and structure can find much of its roots from the classical management theory. One of the main advantages of the classical management theory was to devise a methodology for how management should operate. Management principles devised during this period can be seen as a foundation for current management behavior today, such as serving as a force of authority and responsibility. In addition, another benefit of the classical management theory is the focus on division of labor. By dividing labor, tasks could be completed more quickly and efficiently, thus allowing productivity to increase. Division of labor can be seen in many applications today, ranging from fast food restaurants to large production facilities. In addition, the classical management theory also gave rise to an autocratic leadership style, allowing employees to take direction and command from their managers. Flaws of Classical Management Theory
The main weakness of the classical management theory arose from its tough, rigid structure. One of the main principles of the classical management theory is to increase productivity and efficiency; however, achieving these goals often came at the expense of creativity and human relations. Oftentimes, employers and theorists would focus on scientific, almost mechanical ways of increasing productivity. For example, managers would use assembly line methods and project management theories that focused on efficient division of tasks. However, employers ignored the relational aspect in employees, in the process of trying to predict and control human behavior. In fact, the human relations movement arose in response to the classical management theory, as a way to understand the role of human motivation in productivity. Additional flaws of the classical management theory include a heavy reliance on prior experience. The theorists of this time only tested their assumptions with certain industries, such as manufacturing and other high production companies. However, in today’s environment, the rigid structure of classical management theory would not translate well in most companies. Many businesses realize the importance of improving employee motivation and behavior, and implement departments devoted solely to improving human relations. Advantages and Benefits of the Classical Management Theory
by Julianne Russ, Demand Media
Classical management theory was introduced in the late 19th century. It became widespread in the first half of the 20th century, as organizations tried to address issues of industrial management, including specialization, efficiency, higher quality, cost reduction and management-worker relationships. While other management...
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