Comparison of various managerial approaches


Management in its strictest sense has no one definite definition, as different scholars may have their definitions. Follet had said that “Achieving goals through others” is management Follet (1941). The concept of management has gone through different stages, as practitioners and scholars focus on what they believe to be the best way to practice management. This concept has led to the classification of management from different schools of thought.

Management approaches consist of classical theory, which comprises of Scientific Management attributed to Taylor (1890-1940), Administrative Management by Fayol (1841-1925) and the Bureaucratic Management expounded by Weber (1930-1950). The aims of these theories are to manage organizations and their workers, more efficiently. Other school of thought is the Behavioural School which also includes Human Relations propounded in the 1930s, which aims at understanding human behaviour in the organization. Major contributors of this theory include Maslow (1943), and Mayo (1933).

These writings aim to compare and contrast the Scientific Management and that of the Human Relations management, with examples from contemporary organizations, which still use some of their elements, in their day to day operations.

Scientific Management also referred to as the classical approach, had gone through significant changes since the period (1890-1920), during the time of industrial revolution. Frederick Taylor (1856-1915), which others consider as the “father of scientific management”, came in with this idea as the means to improve efficiency and increase productivity. Some of Taylor’s works were perfected by other pioneers like Gantt (1861-1919), Gilbreth (1868-1924) and Emerson (1853-1931). Taylor’s work was based on his “Time and Motion Study” which emphasized on the systematic way of solving management and production problems. This contribution was seen as the most important aspect of Taylor’s work, especially with the fact that management decision can be done through a systematic approach (Locke, 1982).Taylor also believed that by increasing industrial efficiency, production cost will be reduced, wages may rise and good standard of living would be afforded (LePore,2009).

During the industrial revolution, the sole objectives of entrepreneurs was to maximize profit “by analyzing work as a science that can bring about maximized productivity” Taylor (1915). Secondly, performance of an organization was measured through the productivity of men and machines.

Scientific Management approach came to eliminate the gap between men and machines, through procedures and strict supervision. Also in emphasizing on the need for innovation, Taylor argued that, every improvement in an organization, be it the invention of a new machine or better method, should increase the productivity of men and to reduce cost of production. Scientific Management is classified as the first attempt made to organize and manage organizations in a systematic way to maximize productivity. Even though, it had some significant success, it also suffered from various limitations, with agitation of workers from various departments, resulting in disputes, strikes, dissatisfactions from workers, and de-motivation.

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Elton Mayo (1880-1949) is considered as the founder of “human relation” neo-classical approach. Mayo based his work on the issue of psychological and social aspects of human and conducive work environments. Chester Barnard (1886-1961), Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933) are contributors to human relation management, as this also emphasizes that human beings are not best motivated by money but have other physical needs. They argue that by understanding organizational group dynamics would be able to increase productivity around work places.

Advocates of human relation, also argue that by “seeing employees as self-motivated, responsible, committed and creative members of the organization, and not to criticize them as irresponsible and lazy” McGregor (1960), productivity is bound to increase corresponding.

Nevertheless, the Human Relation approach created a benevolent and supportive organizational environment, through the stimulating of interest and the understanding of the psychological aspect of human behaviour. With a total diversion from Scientific Management approach, the Human Relation approach sought to recognize organization as an open system, with the attributes of communication, motivation, negotiation, collaboration and counselling of employees. Human Relation also “encourage practitioners to focus their attention on employees’ emotional needs” Mayo (1933).This approach came with some philosophy just like the Scientific Management approach, but the Human Relation approach, is based on analyzing the human behaviour and the concern of the well being of the workers.

Human Relation approach talks about the fact that, when workers develop along side with the organization, they become multi-skilled and also respond positively in the participation of decision making, in terms of contribution and also increase productivity.

In attention to establish a comparison between Scientific Management and Human Relation management approaches, the two approaches are being compared in similar terms. Both of, approaches aim at increasing productivity, efficiency and maximizing profit, but have different methods and procedures to achieving these goals through their principals.

Whilst Scientific Management deals with scientific selection of workers, and uses same idea in the training and development of workers, the best person to perform the job is selected, through this method. Workers then become more efficient in their area of work. In the same way, under Human Relation, there is job diversification in the form of job rotation, this can bring the best out of workers, and that job enrichment and empowerment are achieved. Again Advocates of Human Relation also believe that workers are not best motivated by money alone, but have other physicals needs like social needs, job security and companionship. Taylor however believed that workers motivation was based on monetary incentive only, of which its relevance should be based on performance related pay.

Scientific Management also support the co-operation with workers to ensure that work is carried out in the prescribed ways and methods. It also talks about workers being lazy and therefore the need for strict supervision. However Human Relation theory suggests that workers may work harder, so long as they believe that management feels concern about their welfare. This can be achieved through suggestion boxes, and social gatherings of which end of year parties can be an example.

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Human Relation theory consequently supported the formation of informal groups as this has influence on workers and in a way increases their will power to work. Whereas scientific Management, disagrees with proposition, for it believes that allowing the formation of informal groups will bring about the distraction and break the concentration of workers, thereby reducing efficiency.

Scientific Management has developed based on the potential of “specifying task” in smaller units while increasing productivity and efficiency. McDonald’s is a typical example of a Scientific Management approach system, because organizational structure is based on Taylorist principles, as there is a break down of labour, in the sense that jobs are simplified and rationalized (Leidner, 1993). Procedures are well defined in a precise manner, such that each production process is specified through a time period. For an example “Instructing operators to a precise time of cooking on all products and heating temperatures, for all equipment, this also proved that French fries can be cut and fried within nine to thirty-seconds. Men in charge of grills are instructed to put hamburgers down, thereby moving in specified direction and creating six rows of patties at each time period” (Ritzer 2000, p. 38).

McDonald is seen as an organization that employs Scientific Management in its chain of restaurant business and can be recognize in every branch. This same method is used to promote their staffs, cleaning of floors and the preparation of standards for food, which have made them to be the most successful Fast Food restaurant in the world (Peters and Waterman 1982, p. 173-174).

“According to Taylor organizations that introduced Scientific Management approach to management, as he prescribed were seen as the most meticulously organized corporations in the world” (Nelson, 1980).

Another good example will be “Call Centres” with, the help of advances in technology; Call Centres aim at providing clients with the best customer service, especially with the Telecom Industry. A Company like “Talk Talk” a Mobile Telecommunication Company in the United Kingdom ,where their daily activities are based on giving real-time online telephone support to client.

These kinds of organizations have systems installed, like “Nortel systems” that have the ability to monitor incoming calls and abandon calls, which departmental heads use as the basis for promoting and to also identify who is more efficient. However, employees who work at call centres are scientifically selected, based on their Telephone Manners and Communication Skills.

Human Relation theory, rather seek to create a benevolent and supportive environment in the organization, through understanding the human behaviour, of which can be accomplish through communication, motivation, counselling and collaboration with workers. Toyota, which has adopted this philosophy, operate on teamwork and group orientation, and with respect to maximization of efficiency, group formation and social gatherings, created a sense of fate, and believe that all share a common destiny with one another, that is “all will sink or swim together”. In spite of this, management and employees should have common interest towards the well being of the organization?

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Employees and managements believe that having a common goal or interests towards the well-being of the organization; can raise welfare, corporatism and also raise employee’s empowerment, job security, and employees’ commitment towards organizational goals and achievement (Besser, 1996).

Toyota also has “Non-monetary Awards” as a form of feed back to employees. This is often inexpensive tokens, like t-shirts, placards, recognition in corporate newsletter and praising employees for their contribution towards achievement (Besser, 1996).Members of “kaizens” are given tokens in the form of certificate and gift, instead of money, which serves as a reminder to members and their families as rewards. This has more impact than physical money spent on food. A member made a comment that his wife always encourages him to think of new ideas, so she would be able to purchase new items for the family (Besser, 1996).

This is a symbol of recognition and sharing of feelings of accomplishment that comes with the achievement which emphasis’s on team work, there is a high expectation in Toyota employees to exercise commitment and effort; “in the contribution of ideas to improve the quality, effectiveness and safety, towards work, thereby getting the job done well” (Besser, 1996).

Using Banks, will be another good example of Human Relation theory in the contemporary organizations. With the use of “HSBC Bank” as an example, will be their customer’s service department, as employees have the freedom to move round in solving client problems, thereby making them multi-skilled.

In conclusion it appears that contemporary organization in the 21st century aim at productivity, so efforts towards adopting a more appropriate approach to management, to improve their on business strategy.

With reference to management, as there is no “one best way” of organizing or managing, the appropriate form of organizing or managing depends on the type of task and the environment with regards of bringing “quality” to the organization. An effective contemporary organization depends on being able to achieve a balance between strategy, technology, human needs, and external environment.

Nevertheless, Human Relation provides that management should appreciate the importance of employees and their welfare needs, especially in motivation, communications and creation of informal groups as a form of encouraging the employees, to make them feel as part of the organization, which is important to organizational developments.

Whereas, advocates of Scientific Managements encourages the division of labour, strict supervision, selection of the “best man” to perform the job, which also emphasizes on the fact that humans are best “motivated” by money, and that people are mindless and need to be told what to do.

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