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Historical Perspective of the Classical Theories of Management

By mbuguadan Nov 03, 2013 2370 Words
Historical Perspective of the Classical Theories of Management

Today's managers have access to an amazing array of resources which they can use to improve their skills. Unlike todays managers, those Managers in the early 1900s had very few external resources to draw upon to guide and develop their management practice. But thanks to early theorists like Frederick Taylor,  Max Weber and Henri Fayol among others. Managers began to get the tools they needed to lead and manage more effectively from their work. Fayol, and others like him, are responsible for building the foundations of modern management theory.

Classical Schools of Management
One of the first schools of management thought, the classical management theory, developed during the Industrial Revolution when new problems related to the factory system began to appear. Managers were unsure of how to train employees or deal with increased labor dissatisfaction, so they began to test solutions. As a result, the classical management theory developed from efforts to find the “one best way” to perform and manage tasks. This school of thought is made up of two branches: Classical Scientific and Classical Administrative, described in the following sections. Classical scientific Theory

The classical scientific branch arose because of the need to increase productivity and efficiency. The emphasis was on trying to find the best way to get the most work done by examining how the work process was actually accomplished and by scrutinizing the skills of the workforce. The classical scientific school owes its roots to several major contributors, Among them Frederick Taylor Frederick Taylor is often called the “father of scientific management.” Taylor believed that organizations should study tasks and develop precise procedures. As an example, in 1898, Taylor calculated how much iron from rail cars Bethlehem Steel plant workers could be unloading if they were using the correct movements, tools, and steps. The result was an amazing 47.5 tons per day instead of the mere 12.5 tons each worker had been averaging. In addition, by redesigning the shovels the workers used, Taylor was able to increase the length of work time and therefore decrease the number of people shoveling from 500 to 140. Lastly, he developed an incentive system that paid workers more money for meeting the new standard. Productivity at Bethlehem Steel shot up overnight. As a result, many theorists followed Taylor's philosophy when developing their own principles of management. Henry Gantt, an associate of Taylor's, developed the Gantt chart, a bar graph that measures planned and completed work along each stage of production. Based on time instead of quantity, volume, or weight, this visual display chart has been a widely used planning and control tool since its development in 1910. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, a husband‐and‐wife team, studied job motions. In Frank's early career as an apprentice bricklayer, he was interested in standardization and method study. He watched bricklayers and saw that some workers were slow and inefficient, while others were very productive. He discovered that each bricklayer used a different set of motions to lay bricks. From his observations, Frank isolated the basic movements necessary to do the job and eliminated unnecessary motions. Workers using these movements raised their output from 1,000 to 2,700 bricks per day. This was the first motion study designed to isolate the best possible method of performing a given job. Later, Frank and his wife Lillian studied job motions using a motion‐picture camera and a split‐second clock. When her husband died at the age of 56, Lillian continued their work. Basic ideas regarding scientific management developed from their work. They include the following: Developing new standard methods for doing each job

Selecting, training, and developing workers instead of allowing them to choose their own tasks and train themselves Developing a spirit of cooperation between workers and management to ensure that work is carried out in accordance with devised procedures Dividing work between workers and management in almost equal shares, with each group taking over the work for which it is best fitted

Classical Administrative Theory
Whereas scientific management focused on the productivity of individuals, the classical administrative approach concentrates on the total organization. The emphasis is on the development of managerial principles rather than work methods. In the late 1800s, Max Weber disliked that many European organizations were managed on a “personal” family‐like basis and that employees were loyal to individual supervisors rather than to the organization. He believed that organizations should be managed impersonally and that a formal organizational structure, where specific rules were followed, was important. In other words, he didn't think that authority should be based on a person's personality. He thought authority should be something that was part of a person's job and passed from individual to individual as one person left and another took over. This non-personal, objective form of organization was called a bureaucracy. Weber believed that all bureaucracies have the following characteristics: A well‐defined hierarchy. All positions within a bureaucracy are structured in a way that permits the higher positions to supervise and control the lower positions. This clear chain of command facilitates control and order throughout the organization. Division of labor and specialization. All responsibilities in an organization are specialized so that each employee has the necessary expertise to do a particular task. Rules and regulations. Standard operating procedures govern all organizational activities to provide certainty and facilitate coordination. Impersonal relationships between managers and employees. Managers should maintain an impersonal relationship with employees so that favoritism and personal prejudice do not influence decisions. Competence. Competence should be the basis for all decisions made in hiring, job assignments, and promotions in order to foster ability and merit as the primary characteristics of a bureaucratic organization. Not “who you know”. Records. A bureaucracy needs to maintain complete files regarding all its activities.

Fayol’s management principles
Henri Fayol was born in Istanbul in 1841. When he was 19, he began working as an engineer at a large mining company in France. He eventually became the director, at a time when the mining company employed more than 1,000 people. In 1916, two years before he stepped down as director, he published his "14 Principles of Management". These principles are explained as follows: Division of work: - This principle implies on dividing the total task into compact jobs and thus allocating them to different individuals which promotes specialization and efficiency in both technical and managerial level. It helps to acquire speed and accuracy in performance.

Authority and responsibility: - Authority means to give order and power to exert obedience whereas responsibility means obligations to perform work in the manner directed and desired but they must also keep in mind that with authority comes responsibility.

Discipline:- Discipline implies obedience, respect and establishment and regulations which are essential for smooth running of all organizations for good supervision and built in system of reward an punishment  Unity of command: - Subordinates should receive orders from single supervisor at a time and all employees should be accountable to that supervisor. More superior leads to confusion, delay and so on. Unity of direction: - Teams with the same objective should be working under the direction of one manager, using one plan. This will ensure that action is properly coordinated towards achievement of a common goal. eSpirit de corps : - This term comprises of two principles namely union is strength and team spirit is most essential. There should be cooperation and team work among members of the organization. The managers should always make effort to ensure harmony among the

Equity: - Subordinates should be treated with justice, equity and kindness so that there can not be nepotism and favoritism while selection of workers, treating the workers which helps to promote friendly environment between superior between superior and subordinates.  Centralization: - This principle refers to how close employees are to the decision-making process. Centralization and decentralization should be proportionately decided.  Scalar chain: - It refers to chain of superior ranging from top to low ranks in a management Employees should be aware of where they stand in the organization's hierarchy, or chain of command.. All communication should flow the established chain of command. Order: - It refers to arrangement of resources in the organization. It implies right place for everything. The workplace facilities must be clean, tidy and safe for employees. Everything should have its place. Stability of tenure: - Personnel planning should be a priority. It takes time to learn and get a job therefore a reasonable time should be provided to all employees for securing better results and guarantee of service. Stability of employees promotes team work, loyalty to the organization  Initiative: - It means eagerness to initiate action in work related matters without being asked to do so . Employees should be given the necessary level of freedom to create and carry out plans.  Remuneration of personnel:- Employee satisfaction depends on fair remuneration for everyone .The remuneration payable to employees should be fair and reasonable .management must ensure a fair reward for the work and decide the equitable method of calculating wages. This includes financial and non-financial compensation.

 Superiority of organizational interest: - Personal interest must be discarded and general interest must be maintained. Organization is bigger than an individual .therefore the interest of the organization must prevail upon the interest of an individual and this includes managers.

The behavioral management theory
This theory tries to explain human behavior at work. It looks at the conflict, motivation, dynamics, productivity and expectations of humans and their work behavior.

Behavioral theory relies on the notion that managers will better understand the human aspect to workers and treat employees as important assets to achieve goals. Management taking a special interest in workers makes them feel like part of a special group. The theorists who contributed to this school viewed employees as individuals, resources, and assets to be developed and worked with — not as machines, as in the past. Several individuals and experiments contributed to this theory. Elton Mayo's contributions came as part of the Hawthorne studies, a series of experiments that rigorously applied classical management theory only to reveal its shortcomings. The Hawthorne experiments consisted of two studies conducted at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company in Chicago from 1924 to 1932. The first study was conducted by a group of engineers seeking to determine the relationship of lighting levels to worker productivity. Surprisingly enough, they discovered that worker productivity increased as the lighting levels decreased — that is, until the employees were unable to see what they were doing, after which performance naturally declined. A few years later, a second group of experiments began. Harvard researchers Mayo and F. J. Roethlisberger supervised a group of five women in a bank wiring room. They gave the women special privileges, such as the right to leave their workstations without permission, take rest periods, enjoy free lunches, and have variations in pay levels and workdays. This experiment also resulted in significantly increased rates of productivity. In this case, Mayo and Roethlisberger concluded that the increase in productivity resulted from the supervisory arrangement rather than the changes in lighting or other associated worker benefits. Because the experimenters became the primary supervisors of the employees, the intense interest they displayed for the workers was the basis for the increased motivation and resulting productivity. The experimenters became a part of the study and influenced its outcome. This is the origin of the term Hawthorne effect, which describes the special attention researchers give to a study's subjects and the impact that attention has on the study's findings. The general conclusion from the Hawthorne studies was that human relations and the social needs of workers are crucial aspects of business management. This principle of human motivation helped revolutionize theories and practices of management. Abraham Maslow, a practicing psychologist, developed one of the most widely recognized need theories, a theory of motivation based upon a consideration of human needs . His theory of human needs had three assumptions: Human needs are never completely satisfied.

Human behavior is purposeful and is motivated by the need for satisfaction. Needs can be classified according to a hierarchical structure of importance, from the lowest to highest. Maslow broke down the needs hierarchy into five specific areas:

Physiological needs. Maslow grouped all physical needs necessary for maintaining basic human well‐being, such as food and drink, into this category. After the need is satisfied, however, it is no longer is a motivator. Safety needs. These needs include the need for basic security, stability, protection, and freedom from fear. A normal state exists for an individual to have all these needs generally satisfied. Otherwise, they become primary motivators. Belonging and love needs. After the physical and safety needs are satisfied and are no longer motivators, the need for belonging and love emerges as a primary motivator. The individual strives to establish meaningful relationships with significant others. Esteem needs. An individual must develop self‐confidence and wants to achieve status, reputation, fame, and glory. Self‐actualization needs. Assuming that all the previous needs in the hierarchy are satisfied, an individual feels a need to find himself. Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory helped managers visualize employee motivation. Douglas McGregor was heavily influenced by both the Hawthorne studies and Maslow. He believed that two basic kinds of managers exist. One type, the Theory X manager, has a negative view of employees and assumes that they are lazy, untrustworthy, and incapable of assuming responsibility. On the other hand, the Theory Y manager assumes that employees are not only trustworthy and capable of assuming responsibility, but also have high levels of motivation. An important aspect of McGregor's idea was his belief that managers who hold either set of assumptions can create self‐fulfilling prophecies — that through their behavior, these managers create situations where subordinates act in ways that confirm the manager's original expectations. As a group, these theorists discovered that people worked for inner satisfaction and not materialistic rewards, shifting the focus to the role of individuals in an organization's performance.


Abraham Maslow. Available online: George Elton Mayo’s Hawthone Experiments. Available online: http://accel
Saleemi N.A. 2011. Principles and Practice of Management Simplified. . Revised edition.
Saleemi Publications LTD. Nairobi

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