Evolution of Management Thought

MGF1010 – Introduction to Management
Week 4: Evolution of Management Thought – II

Introduction of Topic & Learning Objectives
Lecture Objectives
1) Critically analyse the organisational behaviour (OB) approach and contemporary approaches to management, in particular
a) The Hawthorne Studies (Elton Mayo & associates) – OB
b) Contingency theory – contemporary
2) Understand the historical and cultural context of these theories and their applicability to contemporary
management practices
3) Examine the legacy and contribution of the Hawthorne Studies to the discipline of management
4) Explore current trends and issues relating to management
Last week…
• Ideas of
– Taylor: scientific management
– Fayol: roles and principles of management
– Weber: theory of bureaucracy
• They belong to the classical approach to management where emphasis is placed on rationality and efficiency
The evolution of management thought Organisational behaviour (OB) approach
• According to Mintzberg, management is about influencing action, often of ‘others’
• The study of management which focuses on actions (i.e. behaviour ) of people at work is
called OB
• A large majority of what contemporary managers do when managing people (e.g. motivating, leading, conflict resolution etc.) is directly attributed to OB OB approach (cont.)
• The Hawthorne Studies
– A series of studies in 1920s and 1930s that provided new insights into behaviour of groups in the workplace
– Initially undertaken by industrial engineers at Western Electric, an American electrical engineering &
manufacturing company
• The Hawthorne Studies – Pre-Elton Mayo
– Series of scientific experiments (i.e. control and
experimental groups)
– Examined the effect various illumination levels had on worker productivity
– Hypothesised that level of illumination and worker productivity was positively correlated
– However, results indicated no impact of level of illumination on worker productivity
– Raised questions as to ‘what’ influenced worker productivity OB approach (cont.)
• The Hawthorne Studies – Post-Elton Mayo
– Numerous experiments relating to job design, lengths of work day/week, introduction of ‘rest’ periods, individual vs. group wages etc.
– Findings indicated:
>Social norms or groups standards (e.g. group/peer
pressure) key to individual work behaviour
>People’s behaviour & attitudes are intertwined
>Money is less important than group standards,
attitudes and security
OB approach (cont.)
• The Hawthorne legacy – Muldoon (2012)
– Criticism:
>Did not discover anything new, ignored existing
>Impact due to affiliation with Harvard and being published during a period of economic upheaval
>Methodologically deficient (i.e. sampling bias)
>Did not consider influences outside the organisation
>Encouraged manipulative techniques to exploit workers – significant managerial bias designed to
undercut the power of unions OB approach (cont.)

• The Hawthorne legacy (cont.) – Muldoon (2012)
– Value:
> Research was scientific, statistically sophisticated, and provided rigorous detail in analysis undertaken
> Provided a more focused analysis of workers’ interactions within organisations
> Used sociological and psychological concepts to challenge foundations of economic theory – combined multiple
academic fields and provided impetus for cross-disciplinary research
> Offered management subtle means of control
> Critics recognize the importance and originality but
disagreed with its worldview
OB approach (cont.)
• Impact of the Hawthorne studies
– Shifted the attention of managers and researchers away from the
work itself (i.e. rationality and efficiency) towards the social setting
of workers and their individual attitudes
– Recognised that:
> there are many sources of individual job satisfaction and dissatisfaction
> there are different ways of supervising workers
> the group, especially informal, is important in work settings
> managers need good interpersonal skills
> social relationships at work are important
– Gave birth to the Human Relations Movement
OB approach (cont.)
• Human relations movement
– Based on the belief that a satisfied worker will be productive
– However, this was unsubstantiated as the views of those
within the movement were shaped by personal philosophy
than by evidence
> Maslow, McGregor
• Behavioural science theorists
– Scientific methods used to study OB
– Kept personal beliefs out of their work
> Herzberg, McClelland, Adams, Vroom (WEEK 8)
OB approach (cont.)
• As result of its influence on the human relations movement and behavioural science theorists, the Hawthorne studies laid the foundation for research in
– Motivation
– Leadership
– Group behaviour and development
– Other organisational behaviour topics
OB approach (cont.)
• Also referred to as the situational approach
• There is no one universally applicable set of management principles (rules) by which to manage organisations
• Organisations are individually different, face different situations (contingency variables), and require different ways of managing
The Contingency Approach
The Contingency Approach (cont.)
• Contingency Variables
– Organisation size
– Routineness of task technology
– Environmental uncertainty
– Individual differences

Current trends and issues in management
IT –
Current trends & issues in management (cont.)
• Which theoretical framework ( i.e. Taylor,
Fayol, Weber, Mayo or contingency) will
be more successful in coping with the
following trends and issues in
– Globalisation
– Ethics
– Sustainability
• Globalisation
– “…widening, deepening and speeding up of worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social
life…” (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt and Perraton, 1999, p. 2)
> Taylor – One best Way
> Fayol – Standardised functions and principles
> Weber – ‘ideal’ organisation that is bureaucratic
> Mayo – focus on the employee performing the job,
not the task itself
> Contingency – It all depends
Current trends & issues in management (cont.)

Current trends & issues in management (cont.)
• Ethics
– Rules and principles that define right and wrong
> Taylor – One best Way
> Fayol – Standardised functions and principles
> Weber – ‘ideal’ organisation that is bureaucratic
> Mayo – focus on the employee performing the job,
not the task itself
> Contingency – It all depends
Current trends & issues in management (cont.)
• Sustainability
– Meeting the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs
> Taylor – One best Way
> Fayol – Standardised functions and principles
> Weber – ‘ideal’ organisation that is bureaucratic
> Mayo – focus on the employee performing the job,
not the task itself
> Contingency – It all depends
• 100 years ago management thought, the written form, we understand today was virtually non
• Many ideas have emerged which influence
managers today
• All ideas are useful
• Different ideas are still emerging and will continue to emerge
• Managers today and of the future need to be open minded to new ideas
What does history teach us?

• While not acknowledged as a formal science, management has been used by people throughout history
• The systematic exploration of different management techniques began only in the early 20 th century
• There are a range of theoretical approaches to management
– Classical approaches based on functional reality
> Scientific management and general administrative theory
– Modern approaches based on social reality
> OB and the contingency approach
• Each has made significant contributions to management
• Management is not a static field, it will continue to evolve as contemporary environmental conditions such as ethics, sustainability, and globalisation challenge organisations and managers

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