History of OB
Historically, different schools of thought have contributed to our understanding of the science and art of modern organisational behaviour and management. We will examine three major phases or schools of development during the beginning of this century. These phases include the Classical School characterized by scientific management and administrative theory that was prominent in the 1930s and 1940s. Second, we will consider the Behavioural school that rose to prominence in the 1920s with a profound influence on the field of HR today. Finally, we will consider the thoughts and ideas of the Systems and Contingency Approaches.
1. The Classical School
While managers have always been concerned about improving productivity of workers, little attention was devoted to a systematic understanding of how this could be done. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a growing number of engineers and managers realized that in addition to the machines, attention also needs to be given to the people operating the machines. This leads to time and motion studies being conducted where each task of a job was designed so that it could be performed in the most efficient manner possible. This approach was called the Scientific Management approach as it emphasized the human element in the production cycle. The most influential proponent of this approach was Fredrick Winslow Taylor (1947) who in his book, The Principles of Scientific Management, suggested many ideas to improve organisational efficiency. The scientific management school advocated that productivity could be increased through on the job specialization, planning and scheduling, proper recruitment and training, wage incentives, and by using standard operating procedures. Taylor is well known for his research that focused on scientifically analyzing the tasks performed by workers, where he tried to enable workers to achieve the maximum level of output, and in return, gain the maximum financial reward for...
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