Critically Evaluate the Classical and Human Relations Approaches of Management Theory

Topics: Management, Organization, Organizational studies Pages: 6 (1664 words) Published: February 17, 2012
Critically evaluate the classical and human relations approaches of management theory. Your essay must clearly define the term “management theory” and include industry examples to illustrate your answers.

In order to define the term management theory and to critically evaluate classical and human approaches it is also important to discuss what shaped the thinking of management theory development.

In seeking to define management one must also define the word theory. Theory is defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, 9th edition, edited by Della Thompson as" a supposition or system of ideas explaining something". On the other hand, Management definition is deemed to be broader in terms of its application. Several and well established authors such as Lurrie J. Mullins, Ernest Dale, Gerald A Cole, all echoed the view that there is no generally accepted definition of management considering the various theoretical approaches on which management germinated.

For example Henri Fayol (1961) cited in (Gerald A Cole, Management theory and Practice) defined management as to manage is to for cast and plan, to organize, to command, to coordinate and to control. Another definition by Terry and Rue cited in (Ernest Dale, Management: Theory and Practice, 6th edition, saw management as a process or form of work that involves guidance and direction of a group of people toward organizational goals or objectives. Furthermore Naylor cited in (L .J. Mullins, Management and Organizational behavior, 7th edition) defines management as the process of achieving organizational objectives, within a changing environment, by balancing efficiency, effectiveness and equity, obtaining the most from limited resources, and working with and through people.

In respect of the above definitions, management theory is about applying ideas in order to get things done through people, utilizing the processes as mentioned above to effect changes in individual behavior and that of the organization to meet is objective. Having looked at the definition of Management theory, a brief overview of how management developed is as follows; the term management began to emerge during the industrial revolution in America and Europe around 18th Century. Before then the economies of America and Europe relied on the primary sector which constituted of agriculture, forestry and mining activities. Growth in these primary sectors resulted in trade/market expansion alongside technological developments which encouraged individual entrepreneurs to invest in new factories. This ushered the beginning of the industrial revolution and with it came the need to improve upon work methods, quality and productivity. (

This need to improve on methods of work, quality and productivity is evidenced in an address by President Roosevelt calling for national efficiency and for men of enterprising competence. (F W Taylor Principles of Management Theory - Harper and Row, 1991)

Additionally, changes in the structure and management of existing and new industries, departure from traditional methods such as handcrafting to mechanization and the search to achieve maximum efficiency through resourceful use of materials and reducing waste lead to the emergence of individual thinkers who developed theories on how organizations should be managed in order to achieve its objectives. Chief amongst the theories that arose was the classical and the neo- classical known also as human relations approach.

Classical organizational theory was a combination of the scientific, bureaucracy and administration. Scientific Management theory advocated by F W Taylor (1856-1915) looked at how production could be improved and undertook studies by bringing together appropriate machines and people. He then set upon observing the production process to determine the most efficient way of workers doing a job. Taylor also believed that workers could be encouraged to work...

References: F W Taylor Principles of Management Theory, Harper and Row, 1991 [online] Available at
Ernest Dale (1969), Management: Theory and Practice, Copyright 1993, Carlos C.Lorenzana & Rex Book store [online] Google books
General Theories of Administration, Retrieved September 26, 2000, [Accessed September 2011]
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