Management Perspectives

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Management Perspectives

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Assessment of the Classical Perspective

leadership and management courses, executive leadership training programs or leadership development programs -The classical perspective served to focus serious attention on the importance of effective management and helped pave the way for later theories and approaches.  Many of the concepts developed during this era, such as job specialisation, time and motion studies and scientific methods are still in use. On the other hand, these early theorists often took an overly simplistic view of management and failed to understand the human element of organisations.  Upskill yourself when you enrol on one of BOTI’s leadership and management courses, executive leadership training programs or leadership development programs.

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The Behavioural Management Perspective

Early advocates of the classical management perspective essentially viewed organisations and jobs from a mechanistic point of view – that is, they essentially sought to conceptualise organisations as machines and workers as cogs within those machines. Even though many early writers recognised the role of individuals, these management pioneers tended to focus on how managers could control and standardise the behaviour of their employees.  In contrast, the behavioural management perspective placed much more emphasis on individual attitudes and behaviours.

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The behavioural management perspective was stimulated by a number of writers and theoretical movements. One of those movements was industrial psychology, the practice of applying psychological concepts to industrial settings.  Hugo Munsterberg (1863-1916), a noted German psychologist, is recognised as the father of industrial psychology.  He suggested that psychologists could make valuable contributions to managers in the areas of employee selection and motivation. Industrial psychology is still a major course of study at many colleges and universities.  Another early advocate of the behavioural approach to management was Mary Parker Follett.  Follett worked during the scientific management era, but quickly came to recognise the human element in the workplace.  Indeed, her work clearly anticipated the behavioural management perspective, and she appreciated the need to understand the role of human behaviour in organisations.  Her specific interests were in adult education and vocational guidance. Follett believed that organisations should become more democratic in accommodating employees and managers.

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The Hawthorne Studies

Although Munsterberg and Follett made major contributions to the development of the behavioural approach to management, its primary catalyst was a series of studies conducted near Chicago at Western Electric’s Hawthorne plant between 1927 and 1932.

The research, originally sponsored by General Electric, was conducted by Elton Mayo and his associates. The first study involved manipulating illumination for one group of workers and comparing their subsequent productivity with the productivity. of another group whose illumination was not changed.  Surprisingly, when illumination was increased for the experimental group, productivity went up in both groups.  Productivity continued to increase in both groups, even when the lighting for the experimental group was decreased. Not until the lighting was reduced to the level of moonlight did productivity begin to decline (and General Electric withdrew its sponsorship).  Another experiment established a piecework incentive pay plan for a group of nine men assembling terminal banks for telephone exchanges.  Scientific management would have predicted that each man would try to maximize his pay by producing as many units as possible.  Mayo and his associates, however, found that the group itself informally established an acceptable level of output for its members.  Workers who over produced were branded “rate busters,” and under producers were labeled “chiselers.” To be accepted by the group, workers produced at the accepted level.  As they approached this acceptable level of output, workers slacked off to avoid overproducing.

Other studies, including an interview program involving several thousand workers, led Mayo and his associates to conclude that human behaviour was much more important in the workplace than researchers had previously believed.  In the lighting experiment, for example, the results were attributed to the fact that both groups received special attention and sympathetic supervision for perhaps the first time.  The incentive pay plans did not work in determining output because wage incentives were less important to the individual workers than was social acceptance.  In short, individual and social processes played a major role in shaping worker attitudes and behaviour.

 

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Human Relations

The human relations movement, which grew from the Hawthorne studies and was a popular approach to management for many years, proposed that workers respond primarily to the social context of the workplace, including social conditioning, group norms, and interpersonal dynamics. A basic assumption of the human relations movement was that the manager’s concern for workers would lead to their increased satisfaction, which would in turn result in improved performance. Two writers who helped advance the human relations movement were Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor.  In 1943, Maslow advanced a theory suggesting that people are motivated by a hierarchy of needs, including monetary incentives and social acceptance.  Maslow’s hierarchy is perhaps the best-known human relations theory.

Meanwhile, Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y model best represents the essence of the human relations movement.  According to McGregor, Theory X and Theory Y reflect two extreme belief sets that managers have about their workers. Theory X is a relatively negative view of workers and is consistent with the views of scientific management. Theory Y is more positive and represents the assumptions that human relations advocates make.  In McGregor’s view, Theory Y was a more appropriate philosophy for managers to adhere to. Both Maslow and McGregor notably influenced the thinking of many practicing managers.

 

Theory X Assumptions

  1. People do not like work and try to avoid it.
  2. People do not like work, so managers have to control, direct, coerce, and threaten

employees to get them to work towards organisational goals.

  1. People prefer to be directed, to avoid responsibility, and to want security; they have

little ambition.

 

Theory Y Assumptions

  1. People do not naturally dislike work; work is a natural part of their lives.
  2. People are internally motivated to reach objectives to which they are committed.
  3. People are committed to goals to the degree that they receive personal rewards when they reach their objectives.
  4. People will both seek and accept responsibility under favourable conditions.
  5. People have the capacity to be innovative in solving organisational problems.
  6. People are bright, but under most organisational conditions their potentials are underutilised.

 

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Contemporary Behavioural Science in Management

Munsterberg, Mayo, Maslow, McGregor, and others have made valuable contributions to management.  Contemporary theorists, however, have noted that many assertions of the human relationists were simplistic and inadequate descriptions of work behaviour.  Current behavioural perspectives on management, known as organisational behaviour, acknowledge that human behaviour in organisations is much more complex than the human relationists realised.  The field of organisational behaviour draws from a broad, inter-disciplinary base of psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, and medicine.

Organisational behaviour takes a holistic view of behaviour and addresses individual, group, and organisational processes. These processes are major elements in contemporary management theory.  Important topics in this field include job satisfaction, stress, motivation, leadership, group dynamics, organisational politics, interpersonal  conflict, and the structure and design of organisations.

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Assessment of the Behavioral Perspective

The primary contributions of the behavioural perspective relate to ways in which this approach has changed managerial thinking.  Managers are now more likely to recognise the importance of behavioural processes and to view employees as valuable resources instead of mere tools. On the other hand, organisational behaviour is still imprecise in its ability to predict behaviour and is not always accepted or understood by practicing managers. Hence, the contributions of the behavioural school have yet to be fully realised.

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