Question: Critique the three classical theories handled in class; and using examples explain how a manager can apply their principles in real managerial practice (20mks)
According to Aldag and Stearns, management is the process of planning, organizing and staffing, directing, and controlling activities in an organization in a systematic way in order to achieve a common goal (1991). Therefore, managers are individuals who are responsible for completing tasks that require the supervision of other members or organizational resources. There are different theories that help to explain management, however, this paper will seek to look deeper into the classical theories by critiquing them and explaining how a manager can apply their principles in real managerial practice.
The classical theories are categorized into three; theory of scientific management, administrative theory, and theory of bureaucracy. These theories were contributed to majorly by Fredrick Taylor, Henri Fayol, and Max Weber, respectively. In addition to that, all the three approaches share a common assumption that states that people at work act in a rational manner that is primarily driven by economic concerns (Schermerhorn, 2005).
Theory of scientific management
Scientific management emphasizes careful selection and training of workers and supervisory support and as mentioned above Fredrick Taylor is one of the contributors of this theory and is often called the father of scientific management. He noticed that many works had no elaborate structure on how they should work and that most of them worked in their own way which made them have lower performance and he further more believed that this could be corrected by ensuring that the workers were taught and guided by the supervisors on what to do. Fredrick As stated by Schermerhorn (2005), Taylor’s goal, was to improve the productivity of people in the work place.
In summary, some of the things that Fredrick Taylor stressed on are: determining important elements of a task in that managers should put into operation then most effective and economical way of performing a certain task or job. This is clearly seen in the time studies which measure task movements and eliminate any movement that does not lead to increased productivity (Aldag ; Stearns, 1991). Secondly Fredrick Taylor also talked of, scientific selection of personnel in that he did not believe that training was equal to competency hence someone who had the proper training would not necessarily be competent enough for a certain job. He believed that physical traits was a key factor when it comes to the tasks being carried out. Fredrick Taylor also emphasized on financial incentives where he said that in order to motivate workers, the mode of payment should be changed from hourly to produce related. Lastly, he believed that for work to be carried out effectively, there should be a functional relationship whereby work is divided between the managers, who are responsible for planning, directing, and evaluating the work process, as well as giving out orders, and the workers, who are responsible for performing the task at hand.
Fredrick Taylor’s work, despite having some benefits, faced resistance in some industries as workers feared that the implementation of his techniques would lead to increased layoffs and physical demands. This was especially because he believed that physical capabilities was a key factor in matching people to various tasks as opposed to only relying on their training. This meant that if his techniques were to be implemented, there would be greater physical demands and the workers who are not capable of carrying out tasks such as those would end up being laid-off. This leads to the second limitation which is unemployment. Laying off workers due lack of physical capabilities to carry out the job and by increased human productivity which means that less workers are needed, the rate of unemployment would gradually increase.
In addition to that, workers may end up feeling exploited because the wage received does not equate the increase in productivity. Many managers used Fredrick Taylor’s methods to increase their profit as they deprive workers of what they should rightfully earn (Juneja, 2018). Taylor however, argued and stressed that for his methods to be effective, managers should split the benefits from the increased production with the workers in an equal manner.
The idea of specialization brought about by Taylor made work monotonous and workers were not able to take initiative and be innovative in the workplace and hence many of them ended up losing interest in their jobs and deriving very little pleasure form what they did. This also led to increase in discrimination in that, workers were not allowed to voice their ideas or concerns and were only expected to follow orders from the manager. A sense of authoritarianism was also brought about because managers seemed to be the domineering individuals whereas the workers were expected to submit to the managers and follow through with the assigned tasks without questioning (Peash, 2016)
From the limitations about, the scientific management therefore, has to be implemented in the right manner so as to ensure that it leads to more benefits than limitations.
This theory focuses on the total organization and the attempts to develop principles that will direct managers to more efficient activities (Aldag ; Stearns, 1991). It also attempts to document and understand the experiences of a successful manager (Schermerhorn, 2005). One of the scholars who pioneered this theory was Henri Fayol. He stated his views on the proper management and outlined five rule of a manger which include planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling. He also believed that management could be taught and with the vision of improving it, he came up with fourteen principles which he found important in his managerial practice and which are often applied in management in the current times.
Some of the principles under this theory include:
Division of work which states that work should be divided according to the special portions of tasks which also brings up the aspect of specialization.
Authority which according to Henri Fayol entails the right to give out orders and the power to exert obedience.
Unity of command states that workers should receive orders from only one manager.
Unity of direction states that the entire organization should move in the same direction and toward a common objective.
Equity emphasizes that all employees should be treated as equally as possible.
Initiative states that manager should encourage workers to express self-direction when handling new or additional work activity.
These and other principles emphasized on efficiency, order, stability, and fairness.
Aldag, R. J. ; Stearns, T. M. (1991). Management (2nd ed). Cincinnati, Ohio: South Western Publishing Company.
Schermerhorn, J. R. (2005). Management (8th ed). New York, NY: John Wiley ; Sons, Inc.
Juneja, P. (2018). Criticism of scientific management. Retrieved from https://www.managementstudyguide.com/criticism_scientificmanagement.htm
Peash, M. R. (2016). Criticism of scientific management. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/mpeash1/criticism-on-scientific-management-literature-review-based-article