Evolution of management thought

Evolution of management thought and ideas

Table of Contents:-

  • Evolution of Management Thought
  • Approaches to Management Thought

Evolution of Management Thought

The study of the evolution of management thought has undergone significant changes over the years, continuously adapting to the evolving dynamics of the business world. Professionals aspiring to excel in their managerial roles should grasp the historical development of theories of management.

The early 19th century marks the point where we can trace the evolution of management thought, thanks to the significant changes in business operations brought about by the Industrial Revolution. In this era, management practices primarily aimed to optimize efficiency and productivity. Yet, with the rising complexity of organizations, there arose a demand for more sophisticated management approaches.

The roots of management thought and practices extend back to ancient times. Ever since people began living together in groups they have tried to organise their activities to achieve a certain level of efficiency and effectiveness. The nature of management principles includes universal applicability, dynamism, relative but not absolute limits due to human behaviour and the like.

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There is evidence of formal theories and practices of management. For example, the Sumerian civilization, which existed around 3000 B.C., had a highly organized tax collection system overseen by their priests. The construction of the pyramids is a tribute to the organization of human and material resources during the Egyptian civilisation.

Organisation of economic, social and political affairs in the Roman Empire may be termed as quite efficient even by today’s standards. Kautilya’s Artha Shastra provides a captivating description of how to administer the affairs of the State.

However, it was not until the early part of the nineteenth century that formal management theories began taking shape. The Industrial Revolution which brought about the development of the steam engine and other mechanised means of production, helped to promote awareness as regards the need for efficient management of the societal resources.

Approaches to Management Thought

There has been a flood of writing over the past few decades. In different periods different schools of thought emerged. Various approaches, research, and management analysis have resulted in much confusion as to what management is, what are its theories and how managerial events should be analysed. Harold Koontz called this situation “The management theory jungle”.

The major schools to the development of management thought can be classified into three major categories as given in the image:

Evolution of management thought

Classical Approach

The study of management became more systematised and formal as a by-product of the Industrial Revolution that took place from the 1700s through the 1900s. It was necessary to develop approaches to managing work and people to manage all the new factories that were a central part of the Industrial Revolution.

The classical approach to management encompasses:

  1. Scientific management,
  2. Administrative theory, and
  3. Bureaucratic management

The core of management knowledge lies within the classical school. Its key contribution is planning. organising, leading, and controlling. Many significant historical developments in organisations, such as the decentralisation of General Electric (GE) in the 1950s, were based on classical principles.

The classical school provides a systematic way of managing people and work that has proven useful over time and represents its major strength. Its major limitation is that it sometimes ignores differences among people and situations. For example, Fast-changing situations often render some classical principles for developing an organization unsuitable.

Classical theorists formulated principles for setting up and managing organisations. These views are labelled “classical” because they form the foundation for the field of management thought. The major contributors to the three schools of management scientific management, administrative theory, and bureaucratic management are Frederick W. Taylor, Henry Fayol and Max Weber respectively.

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Behavioural Approach

The behavioural science approach is an extension of the human relations approach. Elton Mayo and his team used simple research methods. However, researchers, like Abraham Maslow, Douglas McGregor, etc., used more complex research methods. These individuals go by the name “Behavioural scientists.” The behavioural science approach is also called the “Human Resource Approach”. It gives importance to the attitude, behaviour and performance of individuals and groups in the organisations.

The construction was based on the classical theory. The basic assumption of this theory is that the psychological and social aspects of the worker as an individual and his workgroup ought to be emphasised.

The main features of the human behaviour approach are as follows:

1) Since management is the process of getting things done by people, managers should understand human behaviour.

2) Increasing productivity through motivation and cultivating good human relations is the focus.

3) Motivation, leadership, communication, participative management and group dynamics are the central core of this approach.

The behavioural approach to management encompasses:

  1. Human relation approach
  2. Behavioural science approach

Among many individuals and social psychologists who have contributed to management are the Hawthorne experiment by Elton Mayo, Herzberg Motivation Theory and McGregor Theory X and Y, Likert (management systems and linking pin model), Howard Sheth model, Argyris (immaturity-maturity theory, integration of individual and organisational goals, and pattern of A-B analysis), Maslow need hierarchy theory, Blake and Mouton (managerial grid), Sayles (interpersonal behaviour), Bennis (organisational development), Fiedler (contingency model of leadership styles), Tannenbaum and others (continuum approach of leadership). Besides, notable contributions have come from those who have expanded a particular concept formulated earlier to make it more practicable.

Modern Approach

Modern management theory highlights the complexity of the organisation and individuals and the diversity of their needs, motives, aspirations and potentials. As a result, one-time status or universal management principles are impracticable. The complexities require intricate managerial strategies for dealing with people and organisations. As against the rational economic man of the classical theory and the social person view of neoclassical theory, the complex employee view is the premise of modern management theory. The contemporary approach to management was developed around the year 1950. This approach is an improvement in both the classical and neo-classical approaches to management. The modern approach includes the following:

  1. Quantitative approach
  2. system approach to hrm
  3. Contingency approach
  4. Social System Approach
  5. Decision theory approach
  6. Contribution of Peter Drucker

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