History of Management Thought

Management has grown in leaps and bounds from a virtually trivial subject in the past centuries, to one of the most essential topics. Management has developed into a robust and revolutionary force on which our modern society relies for material support and national well-being. Management, as a theoretical discipline, goes back only to the end of the 19th century, when the 1st large industrial company was started, and the challenges of coordinating and managing numerous people in the search for a common set of objectives first became evident.

History of Management Thought

Management experts have grouped the diverse ideas into three basic approaches:

1. The classical approach to management theory

The attempt to understand work, and just how employees can be made more efficient & productive, marked the beginning of the study of modern management. This initial research produced theories, concepts, and practices which are referred to as classical approach. The classical school writers such as Frederick W Taylor, Henri Fayol and Lyndall Urwick decided to evaluate the corporate organisation in terms of its purpose and structure.

The classical approach has two perspectives: scientific management and classical organization theory. Scientific management focuses on the difficulties of lower level managers managing the everyday problems of the staff. Classical organization theory focuses on the challenges which top-managers face in managing the organization as a whole.

Scientific management places emphasis on the technical specification of each individual’s job and on the ability of monetary rewards to encourage each job holder. Tasks are standardized wherever possible. Employees are rewarded and punished. This approach works well for companies with assembly lines and other mechanistic, routinized activities.

Classical organization theory specializes in the management of organization and has two key objectives: To develop basic principles that can guide the creation, design and maintenance of big organizations and to find out the basic functions of managing organizations.

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The behavioural approach to management theory

The Behavioural approach considers the social and psychological aspects of human behaviour in organization. The behavioral approach stressed employee perceptions and behaviors and group processes, and acknowledges the importance of behavioral processes in the organization. The behavioural approach has two branches: human relations approach and behavioural science approach. Read more about behavioural approach to management

The management science approach to management theory

Management  science  approach makes use of  mathematical  and  statistical  approaches  to  solve  management  problems. This approach focuses on solving technical instead of human behaviour problems. It began during World War II, as strategists attempted to use scientific knowledge and techniques to the complex problems of war. One of the main objective of this approach is to provide the management with quantitative bases for decisions.

Management science is mainly worried about how a business can manage itself with the goal to maximize productivity. Management science is also known as operations research, which basically explains the strategy management scientists take when functioning in a business setting. The management science approach discovers a difficult problem or process within a business’ operations. It then designs possible solutions.

A persistent disadvantage of the classical, behavioural and quantitative approaches is that they give more importance on one aspect of the organisation at the cost of another. But, it is hard to understand which aspect is most functional, constructive and suitable in a given scenario.

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