Schools of Thought

Schools of Thought

There are a number of different 'schools' of management thought that have been developed over the past century. The main 'schools' of thought are:

Classical Management.

This was developed by Henri Fayol and it emphasised the following factors as being essential to an effective management process:

a) The division of labour.

b) A wide span of control.

c) A tall organisational structure.

d) An authoritarian style of management.

Scientific Management.

This method was developed in the USA in the early part of the 20th century by Frederick Taylor, building on the earlier work of Henri Fayol.

Taylor also believed that a high division of labour was needed to produce more output, and he introduced a piece-rate style of payment for the workforce (this meant that the workers received an amount of money per 'piece' that they produced, thereby linking their pay to their productivity).

Taylor also worked very closely with Henry Ford in developing the world's first moving production-line for the model 'T' Ford car.

This method of management paid close attention to 'time and motion' studies, where each worker is timed when performing a task, and then this provides the basis for the worker's level of output per day (e.g. if it took a worker 2 minutes to perform a task, then this could be done 30 times per hour, and 240 times in an 8-hour day).

If the worker completed more than his designated number of tasks per day, then he would be eligible for a monetary bonus.

Taylor believed that efficiency and discipline were the two greatest features of a good manager and a good workforce, but what he failed to recognise was the high level of alienation and low levels of morale and motivation that this system produces in the workforce.

Human Relations Management.

The Human Relations 'school' of management thought looks beyond mere financial and productivity variables in deciding the best way to manage a workforce.

These managers believe that a worker's performance can be improved by being given praise and recognition for their efforts, that workers should be consulted in any decision that affects them, and that the leader should be democratic rather than autocratic.

Probably the most famous study of Human Relations Management was carried out by Elton Mayo between 1927 and 1932 at the Western Electric Company, at Hawthorne in Chicago, USA.

He studied a group of six female workers over this time, and tried to establish a link between their working conditions and their productivity levels. He changed many of the working conditions (e.g. hours of work, rest periods, lighting, heating), and he discovered that the level of output rose each time.

He concluded that the only factor that was needed to consistently achieve a high level of productivity was a strong level of social interaction and teamwork amongst the 6 employees. He called this the 'Hawthorne Effect'.

Neo-Human Relations Management.

There are a number of management writers and theorists who built on the earlier work of Mayo, agreeing that the way that employees are treated, and the praise and recognition that is given to them by their managers, can have a tremendous psychological effect on their productivity levels. The main writers in this field are Abraham Maslow, Frederick Herzberg and Douglas McGregor.

Abraham Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs' can be seen in the diagram below:

Schools of Thought

We first need to satisfy the basic requirements of continued existence (i.e. physiological needs). Once these needs are satisfied, then we seek to satisfy the higher level needs.

Until a lower order need is satisfied, you cannot progress onto a higher level need. Hence, once the lower level needs are satisfied, then further motivation for the employee can only come by giving them greater scope for using skill, initiative and creativity.

Most people reach the safety and social categories, some reach the ego category, yet very few reach the self-fulfilment category (and those that do reach it will not remain at it for very long).

As a result of this progression, the size of each of the sections in Maslow's hierarchy diminishes the higher they get, as fewer and fewer people reach them.

Applying this theory to employees, physiological needs include pay and working conditions, safety needs include Health & Safety protection and pension schemes, social needs include the need to work in a team and mix with others, and ego needs may include a company car, job title or size of office. Self-fulfilment needs will depend on the individual employee, whether he has achieved his full potential or not.

Frederick Herzberg carried out several studies of management and motivation and he attempted to identify the factors that motivate employees.

His most famous theory is called the 'Two-Factor Theory', in which he distinguished between what he called Motivators (which actually give an employee positive satisfaction) and Hygiene / Maintenance factors (which do not give positive satisfaction, but their absence will cause dissatisfaction).

Herzberg studied 200 engineers and accountants, who represented a cross-section of Pittsburgh industry. They were asked about events they had experienced at work, which had either resulted in a marked improvement or a marked reduction in their job satisfaction.

The motivators are concerned with the content of the job and include a sense of achievement, being given responsibility, using initiative and creativity, and being involved in decision-making. In other words, these motivators equate with the ego and self-fulfilment categories in Maslow's Hierarchy.

The Hygiene / Maintenance factors are concerned with the context of the job and include such items as pay, working conditions, supervision, company policy, bureaucracy ("red tape") and interpersonal relations.

For managers, the implications of Herzberg's work are that it is necessary to provide strong motivational factors, whilst at the same time ensuring that the negative, hygiene factors are minimised.

Douglas McGregor developed what he termed 'Theory X' and 'Theory Y' management styles. A Theory X manager is very authoritarian, assuming that employees need constant supervision, they will avoid performing their jobs if they can, they do not seek responsibility, they prefer to be told what to do, and they are really only interested in job security.

A Theory Y manager, on the other hand, assumes that employees wish to be given praise and recognition for their achievements, they like to be given responsibility at work, and they wish to use their imagination, creativity and initiative.

Contingency Management.

This management 'school' of thought was developed in the 1960s and, unlike the other theories, it believes that there is no single approach to management which will suit all businesses and all employees. In other words, some situations in a business will call for a more authoritarian management style (e.g. a crisis), whereas in other situations a more participative 'hands-on' approach to management will be required.

It is clear that the management and leadership styles that are adopted by a business and its management will have a measurable effect on the motivation level, the morale and the job satisfaction of the employees.

Today, it is very rare to find a business using management styles similar to Fayol and Taylor. Most businesses use elements of Human Relations management, since these theories tend to be preferred by all concerned (the managers, the employees and trade unions).

Nevertheless, the relationship between the management style that is used within the business and the level of motivation within the workforce is a subject of much debate within industry.

Most managers find that the situation that they are in and the people that they are dealing with will influence the style of management that they use.