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Introduction There are two main management theories and both have been around since early last century. Both of these theories still revolve around the use of the four main management functions but both in different ways. These theories have had supporters across many fields and both are still alive and well today. Taylor’s scientific management approach is used today in Australia’s manufacturing sector (through out my 13 years working in this field the scientific based approach was the most commonly used approach) and as we move towards a more casual work force (and it must be said a more flexible work force) it will become more common, as the behavioural management structure of socially based improvements (the Hawthorne theory) becomes harder to implement in a situation where employees are turned over quite quickly. As we move forward it remains to be seen which style or in fact whether a new style will lead the business community into the future, but one thing is for sure Taylor and Follett’s work will continue to influence management theories for years to come.
Over the past 140 years there have been two main streams in management theories, the scientific management theory and the behavioural management or administrative principles. Both over the last 100 years have had a major impact in the ways that managers and businesses operate their key components, the work and the worker.
The first, scientific theory involves separating planning and doing and then breaking down the individual movements required and eliminating unnecessary procedures. It was perhaps the greatest turning point in management thinking, its theories enabled managers to conduct real studies into the human efforts that go into each aspect of their work. It enabled us to study and perfect many different tasks from manual labour right though to delicate medical procedures. (Drucker p337, 1968)
The scientific theory was considered to be founded by Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) while working as an engineer for Midvale steel (Bartol 2003) around 1885(Drucker 1968). Taylor theorised “that all human work can be studied systematically, it can be analysed, it and can be improved by studying and fine tuning its elementary parts” (Drucker 1968).
Taylor devised a four part principles of management method 1. Study each part of a task and develop the best methods for performing it 2. Select workers with direct thought to the tasks they will have to perform and train them in the most efficient ways 3. Ensure the workers perform each task using the proper methods 4. Divide the planning and performing functions and delegate them to management and worker respectively (Bartol 2003)
While Frederick Taylor is credited as being the father of scientific management there were also many others working in the same field. Their theories along with Taylor's have helped shape scientific management. Frank .b (1868-1924) and Lillian .m (1878-1972) Gilbreths were also keen developers of this theory, The Gilbreths methods helped bricklaying but also had a far greater impact in the medical field helping to improve practices and save lives. (Samson 2005).Together the Gilbreths worked on such things as their 17 different movements approach (called therblig) and pioneered the use of motion picture cameras in industry situations. (Bartol 2003)
Over the years many people have both used and further developed the scientific theory (the most well known case is Henry Ford and his development of the assembly line although it was said in Drucker (1968) that he never heard of Taylor) Henry L. Gantt and his Gantt chart which is used across most industries today is just one example. The Scientific approach also had its problems as it creates a negative environment for workers (a good example of this is the Watertown army arsenal strike high lighted in Bartol 2003).
Drucker (1968) cited that the biggest problem with Taylor’s theory was “the divorce of planning from doing” in direct contrast, the behavioural management theory developed by Mary Parker Follett, Hugo Munsterberg, and Chester Barnard based its ideas around the group functions in organisations (Bartol 2003). They based their theories around the fact that “planning and doing are separate parts of the same job not separate jobs” (Drucker 1968).
Follett’s theory was that by empowering workers and reducing the organisational hierarchy it would increase productivity and citizenship within the organisation.
“A champion team will always beat a team of champions” (unknown)
This quote is driven into people of all ages playing sport across Australia and has a direct link to the theories of the early behaviouralists. Like the quote, Mary Parker Follett and her fellow behaviouralists theorised that workers being human would respond better to situations within a social work setting rather than the rigid working settings of a scientific based approach. One example of this is the Hawthorne effect where after three studies they found that surroundings, break times, light levels and pay didn’t have a huge impact on output, but they found that the social setting which the research created did have an effect and produced positive results. ( Bartol 2003)
The four management functions “The four major functions of management form the basic of the managerial process” (Bartol 2003)
Planning: in Bartol (2003) it describes planning as “the management function involving goal setting and deciding how best to achieve goals” This function involves a great deal of thought for both sides of the management theory spectrum; Planning is the first step to management because without having plans in place organisations are doomed. Taylor’s theories require a large amount of planning, not only for long term organisational planning and positioning but it also relies on management for the day to day planning. On the other hand behaviouralists moved towards management focusing on the long term plans and market position, and putting the responsibility of the day to day planning with the workers. While this all ‘could’ mean that Taylor and the scientific movement requires more planning it needs to be said that all businesses require great thought and effort when undertaking an organisational plan.
Organising: Samson (2005) describes organising as “the management function concerned with assigning tasks, grouping tasks into departments, and allocating resources to departments “ Again both scientific and behavioural management methods use this function just in different ways. While behavioural theorists organise groups to attack tasks the scientific method directs or organises individuals on what tasks to complete.
In Samson (2005) it states that many businesses are reorganising more towards a behavioural based structure. It could be said that with the re organising that Mary Parker Follett’s theories need that this would require more organising, but in truth the levels of planning and organising required for management based around the scientific methods are at a much higher level. Because of the removal of planning from the workers tasks being added to management, so in reality the scientific process requires a much more in depth approach to organising
Leading: Bartol (2003) “The process of influencing others to engage in the work behaviours necessary behaviours necessary to reach organisational goals” and, “The influence of managers is most clearly seen in the leader role. Formal authority vests them with great potential power: leadership determines in large part how much of it they will realize” (Mintzberg 1975) The leading function is one that is viewed differently by both theories. Taylor and his fellow scientific theorist struggled with this as Drucker (1968) points out. This is where one of the biggest oversights lay with their theory; their leading styles were based on obedience where as on the other hand Follett based hers on ‘power with’ ‘not power over’, encouraging employees to be a part of the process not just the
process (Samson 2005). This also helps employees to reach higher levels of organisational citizenship. Taylor relied on low levels of the leading function and based his approach on that the workers should follow and believed that productivity based bonuses were enough to promote this.
Controlling: “the management function concerned with monitoring employees activities, keeping the organisations on track towards its goals, and making correction as needed.” (Samson 2005) Planning and organising, cover the set up and implementation the leading function covers employee guidance and the controlling function works around the day to day, month to month and year to year operation of the organisation. Without monitoring an organisation, the worst can happen as happened to so many companies in the 1980’s (Samson 2005). Taylor’s theories provide for the management function to monitor the controlling situation from the input to output, and separating the planning from the doing. On the other hand Follett’s theory relies on each individual team or group to monitor its own outputs, and leaves management to determine how the organisation is in relation to the organisational aims and goals.
Bartol, K., Tein, M., Matthews, G., & Martin, D. (2003).management: a Pacific Rim focus (enhanced edition). Sydney: McGraw-hill.
Drucker, P (1968) the practice of management. Bungay, Suffolk, Great Britain: Richard clay, the Chaucer press, Ltd
Samson, D., Daft, R. (2005). Management: second Pacific Rim edition .Melbourne, Victoria: Thomson
Mintzburg, H. (1975). The manager’s job: folklore and fact. Harvard Business review, 68 (2), 163-176.