The Evolution of Management Thought

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The basis of what we regard as classical organizational theory grew out ancient management thought. From there, the behavioral school emerged partly because the classical approach did not achieve sufficient production efficiency and workplace harmony.


The first third of the 20th century featured two separate managerial approaches. The scientific management approach of Taylor, Gilbreth and the other engineers and that of the behavioral scientist led by Munsterberg, Maslow, and Mayo. They each differ from one another. Scientific management relies upon managers to make decisions. It tries to develop a best, standard method for performing each job. It selects workers with appropriate abilities and trains them according to the standard method developed. It seeks to help workers by planning work, eliminating interruptions, and providing wage incentives. The behavioral management addressed the human dimension of work. Behavioral theorists believed understanding motivation, conflict, expectations, and group dynamics improved productivity. They viewed employees as individual resources and assets to be developed. It was possible for both concepts to be applied to the same company at the same time. Organizations were not limited to only one. They usually practiced some combination of the two but often leaned more one way than the other. Nevertheless, each management theory is not necessarily mutually exclusive in practice.
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