“Classical Management” comprises three different approaches:
– Scientific Management (associated with the work of F W Taylor);
– Bureaucratic Management (hierarchical structure associated with the work of M Weber);
– Administrative Management (associated with the work of H Fayol).
The “Human Relations” approach is associated with the work of E Mayo and F Roethlisberger. Immediately, we can see a difference between the ideas of Taylor and Fayol and those of Mayo as they are even classified differently. In order to explain how these managerial ideas differ, I will first explain what those ideas were.
Taylor developed the four scientific principles of management:
1. Development of a true science
2. Scientific selection of the worker
3. Scientific education and development of the worker
4. Intimate and friendly cooperation between management and workers.
The focus was on the individual rather than the team, aiming to improve efficiency through production-line time studies. Each job was broken down into its components and the quickest and best methods of performing each component were designed. There could be only one best way of maximising efficiency, developed through scientific study and analysis. Rewarding productivity was encouraged as money was seen as the one true motivator. Employees did the physical labour and management did the organising and planning. Through standardisation, worker specialisation and tight managerial control, Taylor promised increased efficiency. Although Taylor’s methods did not allow scope for individual workers to excel or think for themselves, they were widely adopted.
Fayol laid down 14 principles of management to be applied in any situation:
1. Specialization of labour. Specializing encourages continuous improvement in skills and the development of improvements in methods.
2. Authority. The right to give orders and the power to exact obedience.
3. Discipline. No slacking, bending of rules.
4. Unity of command. Each employee has one and only one boss.
5. Unity of direction. A single mind generates a single plan and all play their part in that plan.
6. Subordination of Individual Interests. When at work, only work things should be pursued or thought about.
7. Remuneration. Employees receive fair payment for services, not what the company can get away with.
8. Centralization. Consolidation of management functions. Decisions are made from the top.
9. Scalar Chain (line of authority). Formal chain of command running from top to bottom of the organization, like military
10. Order. All materials and personnel have a prescribed place, and they must remain there.
11. Equity. Equality of treatment (but not necessarily identical treatment)
12. Personnel Tenure. Limited turnover of personnel. Lifetime employment for good workers.
13. Initiative. Thinking out a plan and doing what it takes to make it happen.
14. Esprit de corps. Harmony, cohesion among personnel.
Fayol divided managerial activities into five functions:
The emphasis was on rational, central planning, looking at the whole picture, managing from the top down. Like Taylor, Fayol looked upon organisations as machines, viewed money as the one true motivator and emphasised maximum efficiency and productivity through standard operating procedures.
Mayo’s Hawthorne studies are a landmark in management thinking. They followed preliminary illumination experiments, which studied the affect of light on productivity. The Hawthorne studies examined the affect of fatigue and monotony on productivity and experimented with the introduction of rest breaks, changes in work hours, temperature and humidity. Two key aspects of the Human Relations Approach are employee motivation and leadership style. Mayo learned that:
– Job satisfaction is increased through employee participation in decisions, rather than through short-term incentives;
– Leaders are able to positively influence employee motivation and productivity by showing concern for employee relationships;
– Work groups establish their own informal group performance norm, what it considers to be a fair level of performance, punishing those who perform above and below the norm;
– Pay can only motivate lower-level needs, once they are satisfied, non-monetary factors such as praise, recognition and job characteristics motivate human behaviour.
Classical Management (CM) attempted to apply logic and scientific methods to management of complex organisations. Human Relations Management (HRM) focused on working relationships to improve productivity.
Fayol and Taylor both emphasised the production process and adjusted humans to this process, whereas Mayo emphasised the coordination of human and social elements in an organisation through consultation, participation, communication and leadership.
CM emphasised the work of the individual, HRM viewed work as a group activity.
Although moving in the right direction, Mayo merely replaced “rational economic man” with “emotional social man”, shifting the blame for poor performance from structural to personal attitudes and emotions.
Both approaches mistakenly held that there was “one best way” to manage all organisations.
Relevance of Classical Management theorists today
Taylor’s work saw the introduction of time studies, work studies and industrial engineering, making an important contribution to the central procedures of many organisations. The modern assembly line is just one legacy of Scientific Management. Its efficiency techniques are applied to many non-industrial tasks, such as fast food service through to training surgeons.
However, Taylor’s methods did not allow scope for individual workers to excel or think for themselves. Innovation is vital in order to maintain a competitive edge. Taylor’s belief that workers are solely motivated by money has since been proven wrong. Furthermore, his methods emerged from a negative bias against workers, whom he viewed as lazy and uneducated. Nowadays, the extent of command and control over workers that Taylor believed necessary would never work. For one thing, people are better educated nowadays! Taylor’s methods were also hostile to trade unions and labour organisations, which are widespread nowadays and were heavily relied upon during the 1990s to gain workforce stability, helping attract foreign investment.
On the other hand, some of Taylor’s theories still ring true today, such as:
– increased output leads to fewer workers;
– poor incentive schemes and hourly pay rates that are not linked to productivity result in inefficiency (the introduction of Benchmarking confirms such an approach);
– poor job design leads to poor performance.
The concept of separating planning from execution is still in use to some degree, however, workers are now considered to know best how to do their own job and are encouraged to think for themselves.
Fayol’s ideas about central planning set the basis for many modern management techniques, such as Management by Objectives and PPBS. However, motivation is considered a key element in modern management.
A third approach to Classical Management is the Bureaucratic approach of M Weber. The hierarchically structured organisation that emerged from CM still bears much relevance today and is widespread amongst large corporations and government departments. However, a mixture of hierarchical and inter-departmental coordination is now considered the way forward.
Contemporary management builds on the Classical and Behavioural approaches and goes beyond them. The Systems approach of “different strokes for different folks” finally put the “one best way” theory to bed and has dominated modern organisational analysis since the 1980s. The Contingency approach views the organisation as an organism, segmenting as it grows, each segment specialising in knowledge and activity, all of which must cope with their external environment and integrate harmoniously.
The main difference between Classical and Contemporary approaches is the modern belief that it is futile to search for “one best way” to manage an organisation. Instead, managers must take into account the internal and external environment and match the appropriate management practices to the surrounding circumstances for an effective outcome.
In my own work, I find myself using a combination of Classical and Contemporary approaches to management. The hierarchical structure is necessary to a certain degree. For one thing, the prospect of promotion motivates staff to do better. However, teamwork definitely gleans better results from the workforce as a whole. Worker specialisation has its uses when certain jobs require particularly high efficiency and speed, however, if used on a permanent basis they would lead to monotony and dissatisfaction. Workers tend to produce good ideas about how best to do their own jobs, however, the policy of the organisation as a whole is often separated from the motivation of individual workers, indicating the need for managerial planning, organisation, coordination, command and control. Balance is key.