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Particularly Those of Bureaucracy and Scientific Management, Are Generally Considered as Rather Old Fashioned and Out of Date, and of Little Relevance to Work and Organisation Today.

Topics: Management, Organization, Economy Pages: 7 (2313 words) Published: March 4, 2011
BUS 2019

Essay 1:

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particularly those of bureaucracy and scientific management, are generally considered as rather old fashioned and out of date, and of little relevance to work and organisation today.

Ryan Foreman


This essay will discuss the relevance of the ideas of classical theorists in today’s work and organisations. I will evaluate why these ideas gained popularity when they were published by looking at the influences that classical theorists were surrounded by at the time of their development. I will then focus on bureaucracy and scientific theories, by looking at the organisations and countries that have adopted this style and how a negative reputation has been developed, after this I will discuss the advantages of these theories. After covering the basics of classical theories I will then discuss if these theories are still relevant in modern day organisation and work, this involves looking at the changes which have occurred since the time of classical theories, specifically looking at the change in the market, then moving onto new laws which have been passed, in particular how these changes have affected how businesses are managed particularly when dealing with employees, how globalisation has changed the day to day running of businesses and the different factors necessary for consideration and then speak about my personal experience in modern work and organisation. Finally, I will evaluate how modern work and organisations have changed contextually since the period that the classical theories were developed in.

The classical theorists that I am going to focus on are, Henri Fayol and his theory of management, Max Weber and his theory of bureaucracy and Fredrick Taylor and his theory of scientific management. All of these theorists proposed a “one best way” to manage; moreover all of their theories were published in the early 20th century.

Henri Fayol (1841 -1925) published his theory in 1916 which was based upon his experience in business. However this experience is only based on the mining industry which he worked in his whole life. He distinguished management from other organisational activities achieved by defining 5 obligations of a manager: planning and forecasting, organising, coordinating, commanding and controlling.

Max Weber (1864 – 1920) was a German philosopher and sociologist, he introduced the term bureaucracy into organisations; he suggested that people in organisations have their own well-defined tasks and responsibilities, a good hierarchical structure, organisation develop their own rules and procedures to their tasks, employees occupy positions that on the basis of judgement by others and employees motivation is the achievement of organisational goals.

Fredrick Taylor (1856- 1915) was an American mechanical engineer and was arguably the biggest influence on scientific management. He believed that efficiency, standardisation and discipline would come off a result of such as a clear distinction of roles. He also advocated scientific selection to identify the correct person for a job, jobs should be simplified so that jobs should involve the minimum amount of actions and it was management’s responsibility to find out the ‘one best way’ of completing every job.

As mentioned before, all of these theories were developed early in the 20th Century, shortly after the industrial revolution. I believe this had a major influence on the ideas of classical theorists (Brooks, 17) “Much of the early work on organisational theory comprised a distillation of managerial experience”. This demonstrates how there were no previous theories on management they had to use their experience and research from industry. As the industrial revolution had just come to an end the secondary sector had the highest market share (1)”The economy was more notably based upon trade and manufacturing: manufacturing represented 28 per cent of output.” As the three...
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