Managers can look at past managerial methods in order to make decisions that will best suit themselves and help their organisations, as well as giving their organisation a competitive advantage (Boddy D. , 2005). In this essay I will be arguing against the proposition that knowledge of management history is irrelevant to modern practice. To show that management history is important for modern managers, I am going to discuss and focus on a number of historical management techniques and theories and how they can be useful. I will talk about how these management techniques and theories are relevant with modern management. The first approach I will look at is the classical approach. Too elaborate on this theory I will split it in to two areas; the scientific management theory and the administrative principals. Firstly I will discuss the scientific approach; where I will talk about Frederick Winslow Taylor and his theory on the importance of workers being trained and the importance of the selection process (Bartol & Martin, 1994).
The next branch is the administrative approach involving theorist Henri Fayol and how his theories have been well respected and become a big part of modern management today. To finish off my argument I will be talking about the behavioural side of management by relating to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Through looking into these methods I hope to give the reader a good understanding as to why I believe historical management has had a big impact on modern management today and will continue to do so in the future. The first discussion will be based around the classical approach, an approach to management that is seen as a way of managers making decisions based around economic concern. There are three main areas within the classical approach, these being scientific management, administrative principles and bureaucratic organisation.
However, throughout my argument I will be focusing only on two of these approaches, thus being the scientific approach and the administrative principals. The two main theorists who are heavily involved in these consist of Frederick Winslow Taylor, whom was the founder of scientific management and Henri Fayol whom has had a big influence on the administrative principals. I will also mention Mary Parker Follet whom has also had a big impact on the administrative principals. (Schermerhorn, Davidson, Poole, Simon, Woods, & Chau, 2011). I have chosen to focus only on these two areas of classical management as they are well related to my argument that historical management is relevant to modern management. The first approach I will be discussing is the classical approach, where we will first be talking about scientific management. The man behind the scientific management theory is known as Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylor’s main contributions to management thought and practice have come through his idea of the scientific management theory and approach.
In 1911, Frederick Winslow Taylor published his work, ‘the principles of scientific management.’ These principles described how applying the scientific method to the management of workers could greatly improve productivity through the analysis and synthesis of workflows. It is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows, improving work productivity (Schermerhorn, Davidson, Poole, Simon, Woods, & Chau, 2011). To back my argument that management history is important for modern managers we see Henry Ford come into the picture. The ideas of Taylor were continued through well-known car manufacturer Henry Ford who went on to replace his workers with machinery, generally when it came to doing things such as heavy lifting (Daft, 2005).
Scientific management has four guiding action principles, these being; to develop a ‘science’ for every job that includes rules of motion, standardize work processes and appropriate working conditions. Also to carefully select workers with the right abilities for the job, to carefully train them and give them proper incentives to cooperate with the job ‘science’ (Schermerhorn, Davidson, Poole, Simon, Woods, & Chau, 2011). Frank Gilbreth whom worked as a bricklayer put Taylors ideas into place and created a method that allowed the number of movements to lay a brick reduce from 18 to 2 therefore going on to increase the rate from 120-350 bricks (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006). Taylors work is still being used in modern day and his concepts are well thought of, his ideas are clearly seen at the roots of management today. Scientific management has proven to be a very beneficial way for companies to develop and improve their approach towards business (Helms & Cengage, 2006).
The next part of the classical approach I will be talking about is the administrative principals. The administrative principal’s approach to management came about from a man named Henri Fayol. Most management textbooks published today acknowledge Fayol to be the father of the administrative theory (Daft, 2005). Fayol was a French mining engineer, whom gradually worked his way up the ranks until he was manager of up to 10000 employees for over 30 years. The administrative principles involved issues such as departmentalization, span of control, exceptions to routine, and hierarchy. An example of the administrative principals being used in modern management can be seen through major fast food franchise McDonalds. The efficient production of their fast food is crucial towards customer satisfaction and organisation success therefore Fayol’s principles come in use for this systematic type of organisational structure.
Here we see another part of historical management being used in a very successful franchise within the modern era. Mary Parker Follet was also a contributor to administrative principles. Follet believed that growth and success would come from the direct interaction between members of the organisational groups achieving common goals and objectives. She also displayed a general understanding of groups and showed commitment to human co-operation, creating ideas that are still relevant today (Schermerhorn, Davidson, Poole, Simon, Woods, & Chau, 2011). The next part of my argument belongs to that of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow has identified 5 important needs that individuals should aim to require in order to positively influence their contribution within the workplace. Maslow’s theory is often represented as a pyramid, with the larger, lower levels representing the essential needs, and the upper levels representing the need for self-actualization.
The first need starts from the bottom of the table, this being psychological. Psychological needs are our basic needs, needs such as food and water. Safety needs are next, expressing an emphasis on the need for security and protection. Self-belongingness is the next need and falls under the category of social needs and feeling as though you are a part of something, a community, or group of some type. This is then followed by self-esteem needs which will mean you are given respect and recognition for your work, leaves the employee with a sense of competency. The last need of all and the highest need in Maslow’s theory is self-actualisation. This need looks at employees achieving self-fulfilments and goals, on the completion of certain tasks employees allow themselves to grow in confidence by using their abilities to their full extent (Davidson, Griffin, Simon, & Woods, 2009).
Maslow believes that the only reason that people would not move well in direction of self-actualization is because of hindrances placed in their way. These days we are beginning to see Maslow’s theory in many businesses as a way of motivating employees. Managers are using Maslow’s theory within the work place to help give their employees motivation and something to work towards and achieve, it is a tool managers use to help point employees in the right direction (Davidson, Griffin, Simon, & Woods, 2009). A prime example of this is volunteers working for non for profit organisations. With the fact that there is no money involved in volunteer works it is important for these volunteers to have the Maslow’s theory approach merged into their business setting as well as a part of their work ethic. This is vital in order to feel as though they are reaping rewards from the hard work they are putting in, as in volunteer work, money is non-existent.
Managers also now tend to change and mix up the way they are motivating employees by giving different rewards and motivation stimuli in order to keep volunteers and employees happy to stay with the organisation (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006). As I have stated, it is clear too see that the two types of classical approaches discussed both have an impact on modern management. With Frederick Winslow Taylor and his theory of scientific management we can see that an important aspect is to obtain maximum wealth for both the employee and the employer. The example of Frank Gilbreth and his techniques used with bricklaying help us understand that positive outcomes come from Taylors theory and we are able too see that his theory has not gone un noticed and is infact a part of modern management. The same goes with the next part to classical management, this being the administrative principals. We again see administrative principles being applied to modern management.
Our example based around this theory being major fast food franchise McDonalds. ‘The efficient production of their fast food is crucial towards customer satisfaction and organisation success.’ McDonalds is one of the largest franchises in the world today and will continue to be for years to come, and it is worthy proof showing the administrative principals involvement within such a successful franchise within modern management. The last theory I discussed was that thought by Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. This theory is a vital part of one’s mind and can help achieve a certain degree of self-belief within an employee as well as a manager or employer. It is a useful tool for managers to keep employees motivated and feel as though they are achieving. Throughout this essay I believe I have been able to support my argument as to why I believe that historical management is relevant to modern management.
Bartol, K. M., & Martin, D. C. (1994). Management. Michigan: McGraw-Hill series in management.
Blake, A, M. (2010) One hundred years after The principles of Scientific Management. One Hundred Years after The Principles of Scientific Management, 1-9
Boddy, D. (2005). Management an introduction 3rd edition. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.
Daft, R, S. (2005). Management second pacific rim edition. Florida: Dryden press.
Davidson, P., Griffin, R. W., Simon, A., & Woods, P. (2009). Management 4th Australasian Edition. Milton: John Wiley & Sons Australia.
Hatch, M. J., & Cunliffe, A. L. (2006). Organization Theory. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
Helms, M. M., & Cengage, G. (2006). Chain of Command Principle Retrieved 22 August, 2011, from http://www.enotes.com/management-encyclopedia/chain-command-principle
Schermerhorn, J. R., Davidson, P., Poole, D., Simon, A., Woods, P., & Chau, S. L. (2011). Management (4th Asia-Pacific ed.). Milton, Queensland: John Wiley and Sons.