Compare and Contrast approaches to management

Management over the years does not have a generally acceptable definition. The subject has received different views from authorities on management. Follet (1941) defines management as “getting things done through people”. Follet’s definition underpins the ultimate aim of all the management theories, processes, approaches and styles that have been developed over the years. That is, the achievement of goals through others. Most if not all managers are faced with the daily task of planning, making decisions, managing resources and personnel. The task is always very tall and therefore the need to achieve the set target from beginning to end with people.

Some of these theories put across over the years are administrative management, human relations management and scientific management.

This paper will discuss at length the praise and disgust of scientific management and the human relation management theories. Having defined what management in general is. The emphasis will be on how each school of thought gets the job done and how the work environments as well as employees are managed at the work place. The relevance of both schools of thought would be established with clear examples and at the end a conclusion and an opinion of the writers position on the two theories.

The principles and theories of scientific management have been around since the 1800s but the real breakthrough came in the early 20th century. Frederick Winslow Taylor made this breakthrough during the industrial revolution when he developed the main principles of scientific management. Wren (2005) reiterates that Taylor set out to resolve industrial issues with his ‘Time and Motion Study’ and the ‘Piece Rate System’. Due to the magnificent contributions made by Taylor to Scientific Management, the term “Taylorism” was coined. Taylor is regarded as by many management authorities and historians as the ”Father of Scientific Management”. Wrege and Greenwood (1991) as well as Wren (2005) have all attested to the fact that this is written on Taylor’s epitaph.

Taylor’s principles of scientific management influenced other school of though. Donnelly (2000) offered that the human relations management or movement as some authorities will choose to call it was founded by Elton Mayo. Donnelly (2000) further adds that Mayo, a Director of Industrial Research at Harvard University was involved in the famous ‘Hawthorne Studies’ which led to an alternative style of management regarded as the Human Resource Movement. As the name suggest, the whole ideas was to fight or push for the employees’ right at the work place.

Ritzer(……….) defined Scientific Management as a process where technology (nonhuman) exerts more control over the employee. Huczynski and Buchanan (2001) resented that the main targets of scientific management were control, efficiency and predictability. Donnelly (2000) presented that Scientific Management generally involves the employee’s physical efficiency in the work place.

Pugh (1996) offered that production in Tailor’s day was more of a disincentive for higher productivity instead of facilitating increased productivity. The old ‘Rule of Thumb’ coupled with workers limitation of output known as ‘Systematic Soldiering’ were observed by Taylor in his studies as the barriers to increased productivity. Donnelly (2000) observed that the main objective of management is to maximize profit for the employer as well as enabling the worker to increase their earnings. To achieve this, Tsuneo and Wren (2002) agree with Taylor that management and basic processes can be improved when seen as a science. A clear example is the introduction of hands free kits and the computer into call centers. This has helped to reduce the stress of holding the telephone with one hand whiles typing or writing with the other. Taylor equipped with the believe that there is only one ideal method of production that can generate the best results, therefore pushed forward certain principles of management with a double edged effect to help both employers and workers to achieve higher productivity and earnings respectively.

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Pruijt (2000) suggest that these principles are fundamental to Taylorism.

Richardson (2005) offered these principles as:

the dichotomy between an idea formation and completion or execution of these ideas.

In other words, division of labor where managers take up the responsibility of job analysis, specification, design, knowledge and prescription of appropriate tools for the job whiles the employee on the other hand only concern themselves with the completion of the task. Braverman (1974) observed that these basic production knowledge originally possessed by the worker was reduced to guidelines, laws, procedures, formulae and rules of production by managers

the use of methods scientifically proven to determine the most ideal way of production.

This means that there exist an ideal way of producing something and if found to be efficient, it needs to be adopted to replace current methods.

the scientific selection of suitable persons for those jobs.

the training of the employee to achieve efficiency in the execution of the job.

and monitoring of workers job to ensure that procedures are strictly followed and efficiency is achieved through high performance culminating in appropriate domino effect.

Parker (1986) reiterates that Taylor’s ambition was to gain total control of the job schedule of the employee. As established in the above points. Prujt (2000) suggest that the context for these principles to be achieved would be through component homogeneity and reshuffling of logistics. The biggest supporter of scientific management was Henry Ford. He introduced the assembly line of production which meant that the employee job is timed to the speed of the production line.

Clark, Chandler and Barry (1995) stated that Mayo carried out series of studies but the four that stood out are the illumination experiments, the relay assembly test room, the interview program and the bank wiring observation room experiment. Agarwal (2002) presents that the human relations movement was developed after the conclusion of the Hawthorne experiments. The experiment which brought together six persons who without force from managers or impediment from employees below them, unreservedly and of their own volition cooperated in the experiment as a team.

Mayo identified in his conclusions that an organization can only achieve its goals when it recognizes the emotions of the employee and respects their pleasures of needs that are non-monetary. The key points held by the human relations movement have been enumerated by the following authorities;

Donnelly (2008) maintains that employees have as their concern the satisfaction of their needs which are non-monetary in nature. Therefore, it could be said that pay and conditions are not enough motivators for a person at work.

Sridhar (2008) offered that managers of organizations should as matter of priority provide their employees with psychological needs as this affects productivity levels in the long run

Graham (2008) also holds the view that companies or organizations are co-operative social entities.

From the above, it could be said that individual or employees are motivated by excellent and friendly relationships at the work place and should not be seen in isolation because they all belong to a group. The fulfillment of their social needs helps them to retort greatly to work-groups than controls from management.

Scientific management presents that;

The only motivation for the employee to execute his task was money. Taylor reiterates that employees deliberately device ways of cutting down task assign them and describes them as lazy people who could only be motivated by what he calls “economic incentive”.

Therefore, if an organization is to achieve increase in job satisfaction and productivity, wages paid to workers should be at premium.

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Graham (2008) reiterated that there is only ‘one best way’ and must be discovered by the manager.

Donnelly (2000) argued that Labor should be divided in a way that analysis planning, design and selection should be done by managers whiles execution is carried out by workers without complains. To achieve this, Taylor introduced the “differential system” which had the pull and push effect on the employee, either coming down from the top or climbing up. It could be presented that if the employee would be rewarded for their achievements, so would they be punished for failures in that respect.

The human relation school of thought holds that money is not the only motivation for employees as exhibited by the Hawthorne Experiments made manifest. Informal groups or social networks at work places often becomes stronger and push for group interest than individual financial benefits. Hersey (2001) argues that these groups can become commanding forces in achieving the company’s goals once they see that in line with their own personal goals.

As established earlier, one can deduce that the “economic man” depicted by Taylor as lazy and only money conscious has been replaced by the “social man” who likes to associate with others. In this wise, the employee’s output is determine by their acceptance in the group aligned with the high regard they have for the other members of the group. Moreover, if the other members of the group produce as a group norm, the employee would follow.

From the above discussions it is unmistakable to note that in comparism both scientific and human relations management propounds different thoughts, views and principles for the management of the employee, his job and the workplace.

On the other hand, the existence of key dissimilarities makes both schools of thought very different in practice. Hersey 2001 presents that the employee under Taylorism is seen as central to the organization with regards to output whiles under human relations management the emphasis is on correlation as the central focus of the organization.

Scientific management did away with correlations and groups at the work place with the deliberate isolation of the worker as far as possible from his mates. In sharp contrast, the human relation management held that the survival of these relationships and groups would encourage coordination, correlation and communication.

Job knowledge under scientific management was held by the managers who set criteria and make them obligatory for the employee whiles under the human relations management, the manager or leader is regarded as a facilitator, coordinator and provider for the employee in areas such as personal development, welfare and benefits. Donnelly (2008) refers to this manager as a communicator both within and between departments.

The individual’s welfare and development under scientific management received little or no attention in the growth drive of the organization. This was because their performance was externally controlled by managers. Under human relations management, dedication, facilitation and coordination were maintained with the individual in his quest for development. In doing this, the organization also achieved its growth targets.

The employee under scientific management was regarded as ‘human machine’ whose only motivation was money. Adair (1998) in support of the human relations movement reiterated that the employee is motivated when he or she is satisfied and therefore works effectively. This presupposes the fact that worker satisfaction is paramount under human relations management.

Opponents of human relations movement believe that the sole motivator of the employee is money or ‘monetary incentive’. Therefore under Taylorism, the worker was seen as an ‘economic man’. Mayo believed that if the social needs of the individual for instance commutation and sense of belonging are met he becomes motivated to pursue the goals of the organization and therefore making him a ‘social man’.

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Besides the criticism of scientific management, its principles of deskilling of the worker and division of labor are still relevant in modern day organizations (Braverman, 1974). A clear example is McDonalds. The fast food giants with branches all over the world have managed to set preparation standards which are strictly adhered to. There are special appliances designed for toasting burns, spewing sauces and producing milkshakes, thereby avoiding time wasting and improving efficiency. Fries in every McDonalds are also cooked for 3 minutes at 175 degrees removed and salted. A buzzer often signifies to the employee to know when each task is completed. The uniforms worn by the staff and their managers are very different from each other.

Another industry where scientific management has been introduced is aviation. In airports today, luggages are labeled with barcodes and placed on conveyor belts. The sensors on the conveyor belt scan these codes and send the luggage to the appropriate plane.

Both examples above show in practice that Taylorism has been triumphantly implemented in these industries. It can be argued that without scientific management they would not have been efficient.

An example of human relations management in practice is Toyota. Ohno (1998) presented that Toyota’s philosophy is to achieve production efficiency, reduce waste with a clear commitment to respect for humanity. Besser (1996) offered that Toyota practices a flat hierarchy style of management where the employees engage in morning exercises, after work gatherings and wear the same uniforms. It is the company’s way of building a strong culture, where indemnification to groups within the organization helps them to believe in one common destiny. Failure and success of the group is borne by all. This is transferred by both the employee and management into the organization to help achieve goals. On the production floor, the employee operates and manages more than one machine. The employee under this system is trained as a multi-functional person. In effect, these lead to job satisfaction, security, commitment and employee empowerment. This practice is arguably oppose to Taylor’s assertion that employees should be kept apart as wide as possible and the avoidance of informal group.

Besides their differences, Binns (2002) asserts that both scientific management and human relations management shared assumptions. The writer believes that both Taylor and Mayo saw management as a science and cooperation between the workers and managers. They also aimed at increasing efficiency and productivity. The quantitative techniques of scientific management brought forward by Taylor are still relevant today in terms of an organization’s present operational analysis and control

The writer can therefore argue in conclusion that both schools of thought have some positive factors that an organization can implement to achieve success in an ever changing business environment of today considering productivity and employee welfare.

Scientific Management revisited

Did Taylorism fail because of a too positive

image of human nature?

Sigmund Wagner-Tsukamoto

Journal of Management History

Vol. 14 No. 4, 2008

pp. 348-372

How to manage your organization scientifically

Bill Richardson

The TQM Magazine

Volume 7 · Number 4 · 1995 · pp. 42-56

Portrayals of F.W. Taylor

across textbooks

Stephanie C. Payne

Satoris S. Youngcourt

Kristen M. Watrous

Journal of Management History

Vol. 12 No. 4, 2006

pp. 385-407

Repainting, modifying,

smashing Taylorism

Hans Pruijt

Journal of Organizational Change

Management, Vol. 13 No. 5, 2000,

pp. 439-451.

Origins of lean

management in


Excellence at

Toyota Motor

Manufacturing in

the United States

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