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Management Theories and their relevance in 2022

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

List of management theories

Introduction to theories

Management has only existed as a named discipline for around 100 years, but clearly, the elements of the subject have been around since the beginning of human history. Much of management has arisen through conquest and the use of military terminology of strategy/ tactical is used. There is no single way of explaining management and organisational theories as they are a group of related theories.

Management theory can be described as a theoretical means of understanding the organisation and its people and how the organisation's structure works to increase effectiveness. The early theorists divide into main groups, the practising managers or classical and the social scientists who emphasise human behaviour, motivation, communication and leadership styles.

The initiator of classical/ scientific theory in 1900 was pioneer F.W Taylor, typically defined as Taylorism. Classical theory was concentrated on using people well and concentrating on efficiency in the workplace to increase productivity which later laid the work for Gantt charts to be developed.

On the other hand, Fayol, a pioneer of organisational theory focused on managers rather than workers, where he derived 14 principles such as the unity of command and direction.

In around 1925 Human relations theory was introduced which was centred around treating people well and when people are happy they work better which was pioneered by Elton Mayo. Moreover, system theory pioneered by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, have in mind that organisations have to become part of the greater environment such as civil engineering firms are all part of the built environment.

And finally, around 1975 the contingency theory was introduced which looked at organisational effectiveness and looked at the best way to manage the organisation based on the task and manager fit. Pioneers of contingency were Lawrence and Lorch and Burn and Stalker.

Classical theory

Classical theory was all about the efficiency of workers and the argument that managers must manage, and workers must do the work (i.e. inhuman approach) which is derived as one way of formal communication in a formal hierarchical organisation structure. Taylorism is about the division of work and getting people to do what they were good at by methods and procedures used for coordination and control of work. It emphasises on careful selection of workers and inducing and training the worker by the scientific method. Taylorism believed in the rational-economic needs concept of motivation.

Classical theory is based on determining the efficiency of production through work observation and time measurements where efficiency can be measured and improved. As developed by Weber a bureaucracy that exercises authority and power included the division of labour based on routines and defined tasks, authority hierarchy with a clear chain of command, formal selection of people, formal rules and regulations for operating procedures and impersonality which means everyone must obey the rules and controls.