Theories of management under the classical school Essay

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Theories of management under the classical school

This school flourished from the late 1800s through the 1920s and is associated with the Industrial Revolution. This is the time when society moved from agrarian to industrial. Management, though the word was not then used in the sense that we use now, was all about increasing production and improving productivity among workers.

Among the first to study what would one day come to be known as management was philosopher Mary Parker Follett. After graduating from Radcliffe in 1898, she began authoring a series of papers on business conflict, authority, power and the place of an individual in the society and the group (or organizational behavior). Follett was one of the first women invited to address the London School of Economics. US President Theodore Roosevelt made her his personal consultant on managing non-profit, non-government voluntary organisations. Many consider her to have laid the foundation of management study.

Under the classical school, you have three different approaches to management that were developed in three industrialised countries: Scientific management in the US, administrative management in France and bureaucratic management in Germany.

Scientific management in the US: Frederick W Taylor, a mechanical engineer, is referred to as the father of scientific management and is considered one of the leaders of the efficiency movement (This was a major movement in industrial nations in the early 20th century that sought to eliminate waste in all areas of the economy and society by developing and implementing best practices). He suggested a series of measures all aimed at increasing productivity. Every step of the production process was carefully analysed to increase efficiency.

What did Taylor propose? One, that it was important to determine the best way to carry out a task or to co-ordinate it. It was equally important to ensure that you select your employees according to the position. There is no
one-size-fits-all. For instance, a news reader may not be able to go out and get a political story even though she can do a very good job of telling it and co-ordinating with different reporters. Taylor also proposed that more wages or incentives meant more productivity.

Later theories, of course, said that only money was not enough for a worker to give his best which we will deal with later. But that is not to negate Taylor’s influence. In fact, the credit of devising a detailed job description and sophisticated employee selection and training must go to Taylor.

Administrative management in France: Henri Fayol, a French mining executive, studied the entire organization to make it more efficient. He proposed that there were five primary functions of management and 14 principles of management.

Primary functions

To forecast and to plan: It is not enough for a manager to ensure that the process flows unhindered, but he also has to plan for any eventuality. For instance, what if I fall ill? Who will carry out my functions and he will train a person for such an eventuality. When this is not spelled out, you have people refusing to take orders and each one doing their own thing (two senior sub-editors).

To organise: To ensure that the whole process is carried out with clockwork precision and to do this, you need the right people in the right place and the right tools.

To command and direct: It is the duty of management to tell employees what to do and what their function in the company is. Also, they have to communicate company policies to all staff.

To coordinate: Ensure that different sections or departments complement each other’s work. For instance, a reporter takes the trouble to do a story on
how a real estate company has encroached land on M G Road. To get a fair story, the reporter has to get a quote from the real estate company. What does the company do? It calls up the marketing department and tells them that if a negative story is carried, they will never advertise with the company. So, to avoid a waste of resources, the company has to spell out its policies to ensure that different units are not working at cross-purposes.

To control (French word controller meaning to get feedback about a process to make the necessary adjustments)

14 Principles of management

1.DIVISION OF WORK: Work should be divided among individuals and groups according to specialization to ensure that effort and attention are focused on special portions of the task. Fayol presented work specialization as the best way to use the human resources of the organization. 2.AUTHORITY AND RESPONSIBILITY: The concepts of authority and responsibility are closely related. Authority was defined by Fayol as the right to give orders and the power to exact obedience. Responsibility involves being accountable, and is therefore naturally associated with authority. Whoever assumes authority also assumes responsibility.

3.DISCIPLINE: A successful organization requires the common effort of workers. Penalties should be applied judiciously to encourage this common effort. 4.UNITY OF COMMAND: Workers should receive orders from only one manager. 5.UNITY OF DIRECTION: The entire organization should be moving towards a common objective in a common direction.

6.SUBORDINATION OF INDIVIDUAL INTERESTS TO THE GENERAL INTERESTS: The interests of one person should not take priority over the interests of the organization as a whole.

7.REMUNERATION: Many variables, such as cost of living, supply of qualified personnel, general business conditions, and success of the business, should be considered in determining a worker’s rate of pay. 8.CENTRALIZATION: Fayol defined centralization as lowering
the importance of the subordinate role. Decentralization is increasing the importance. The degree to which centralization or decentralization should be adopted depends on the specific organization in which the manager is working.

9.SCALAR CHAIN: Managers in hierarchies are part of a chain like authority scale. Each manager, from the first line supervisor to the president, possess certain amounts of authority. The President possesses the most authority; the first line supervisor the least. Lower level managers should always keep upper level managers informed of their work activities. The existence of a scalar chain and adherence to it are necessary if the organization is to be successful. 10.ORDER: For the sake of efficiency and coordination, all materials and people related to a specific kind of work should be treated as equally as possible. 11.EQUITY: All employees should be treated as equally as possible.

12.STABILITY OF TENURE OF PERSONNEL: Retaining productive employees should always be a high priority of management. Recruitment and Selection Costs, as well as increased product-reject rates are usually associated with hiring new workers. 13.INITIATIVE: Management should take steps to encourage worker initiative, which is defined as new or additional work activity undertaken through self direction. (Eg 3M. In 1974, 3M scientist Art Fry came up with a clever invention.

He thought if he could apply an adhesive (dreamed up by colleague Spencer Silver several years earlier) to the back of a piece of paper, he could create the perfect bookmark, one that kept place in his church hymnal. He called it the Post-It Note. What you might not know is that Fry came up with the now iconic product (he talks to the Smithsonian about it here) during his “15 percent time,” a program at 3M that allows employees to use a portion of their paid time to chase rainbows and hatch their own ideas. It might seem like a squishy employee benefit. But the time has actually produced many of the company’s best-selling products)

14.ESPIRIT DE CORPS: Management should encourage harmony and general good feelings among employees.

Having said this, Fayol realised that management principles must be flexible enough to accommodate changing circumstances. His functions and principles are widely used in contemporary business organisations today.

Bureaucratic management: In Germany in 1947, sociologist Mark Weber focused on another aspect of productivity – organizational structure. He said that a hierarchy or a bureaucracy would help to achieve the highest level of production. He called for a clear division of labour and management, a system of seniority, a strong central authority and a careful selection of workers. It led to the organisational flow charts of today, job descriptions and guidelines for promotion and advancement.

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