Posted: June 14th, 2021

Management Theories Scott Straughan

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Investigate the development of management as a theory and discipline. Asses the relevance of these theories to modern day managers and identify the key management skills that will be of importance to the manager of the millennium.
For the purpose of this essay modern day manager shall mean managers of the present day. Management skills are skills that managers need to be good at there work.
In this essay I will be investigating management theories at the start of this century, then looking at the progression of management up until the present day, this will include research carried out by a number of people which gave growth to HRM as we know it today. I will then identify key management skills in these theories and assess their relevance to today”s management, I will also identify the management skills required in today”s workforce.

At the turn of the century there were a lot of important developments in management. Oil companies (standard oil trust) and (u.s. steel, the first 1 billion dollar company) were rapidly expanding. Smaller and medium sized companies had to improve efficiency in order to survive against the big giants.
Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) began to look at the measurement of work, he broke down each task to find out how long it would take, he then planned ahead for numbers of workers wanted and what training they would need, he then decided what wages the workers were worth accordingly to what they accomplished. At the same time Henry ford (1896-1947) reduced his chassis assembly time from twelve and a half hours to ninety three minutes through using these methods. Managers were starting to plan ahead more to increase efficiency, as competition increased researchers began to look at other ways of improving efficiency even more, they started to look at the working environment.
Elton mayo (1880-1949) carried out the ‘Hawthorne experiments”, they looked at relationships in the workplace and working conditions. Mayo found that peoples needs and attitudes had much more of an influence on productivity than the efficiency of the production line itself, this was called the human relations approach and is widely used today. The Hawthorne experiments looked at four areas :-
2. The relay assembly group experiments
The purpose was to increase productivity. The illumination experiments looked at lighting and heating, mayo found even in poor working conditions productivity was still higher than average, the workers were working harder because someone was taking an interest in them. The relay assembly group experiments took six female workers and gave them there own separate areas to work in, they were given regular breaks and freedom to talk. The person who studied them also worked as their supervisor, the workers were consulted before any changes were made, and productivity was massively increased, again due to the fact someone was taking an interest in them.
The bank wiring group studies involved fourteen male workers and was very similar to the relay assembly group experiments. Finally he carried out the interviewing program, this involved interviewing every worker (21,000 in total), they were asked about their opinion of the company they worked for and their attitudes towards their managers, the results were closely analysed afterwards. Mayo had found a way to increase productivity through better working relations and better working conditions. Productivity increased as a result of the following :-
Due to better working relations groups of workers worked harder, but what about personnel motivation
During the war most of the young men were fighting, managers had to keep up with an incredible demand, they were given older retired workers and women, women had never been widely employed in factories before this time.
Managers looked to researchers to get the maximum effort out of workers. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) argued people do not just work for money, but for basic needs such as shelter, food for survival, and higher needs such as self esteem and confidence. This is called Maslows hierarchy of needs, Maslow describes fives types of needs arranged in a hierarchy, Maslow assumed people always wanted more, one level should be the motivator to the next.
1. Physical needs – basic needs such as food, water, shelter, air, rest, and sex.
2. Safety needs – freedom from fear of threats, security and stability (pensions and healthcare)
3. Social needs – the need for acceptance within a group, friendship, love affection and comfort when feeling down.
4. Esteem needs – the need for achievement and recognition, respect for yourself. Managers can achieve this through training and development.
5. Self actualisation needs – the need for a person to achieve their full potential, accomplishment and growth.
Not everyone meets these needs through work, some might gain them through social activities with friends, and an activity such as playing in a football team may achieve this. However some people are happy after achieving the first level and are not motivated to the next level, while others strive to improve themselves, this was the flaw in Maslows theory. More researchers began to look at HRM, there was still a lot to be discovered, Maslow had started the work and now more people were following in his footsteps, they started to look at positive thinking and the way management treated workers.
Douglas McGregor (1906-1964) looked at traditional management styles compared to newer ones, these were called theory x and theory y. He found old methods assumed people did not want to work, had to be closely supervised and did not take much pride in their work, this was called theory x, theory y was completely the opposite and argued people did want to work and got a lot of satisfaction from taking pride in their work.
McGregor argued “if you treat workers as responsible and intelligent people who want to work, that is the way they will behave”. He also looked at achievers and successful people and suggested these people took responsibility for their work and set themselves moderate achievable goals, low achievers came from poor cultural backgrounds, poor education and felt they could not achieve any goals they set, they could however be achievers through training and development.
we have looked at the development of management from the early 1900″s up until present day. All management styles traditional or modern focus on efficiency and productivity. Traditional management includes bureaucratic management which relies very much on rules, procedures, discipline and hierarchy, this causes a clear division between workers and management and causes low productivity. Scientific management focused on the “one best way” to do a job and did not take into account that workers know how to do their work better than management, again this method causes low productivity.
Modern day managers have regular meeting with staff to discuss any problems they have, and identify help where it is needed. This is Japanese style management e which emphasizes on HRM and increasing productivity, modern management still uses a lot of traditional theories though. Technology is rapidly changing management with the introduction of computers, global communications and the Internet. The skills a modern day manager needs are changing as rapid as technology, the workplace is becoming more informal where we socialise as well as work.
Traditional management was strict with rules and authority which workers were afraid of, there was no contact between management and workers and it seemed they both had completely different goals to achieve. Companies now work together as a teem with a common goal of increasing profit. Modern day managers are flexible to meet employees needs, they motivate and encourage workers to succeed, they have confidence, charisma and are patient. Managers should posses counselling skills and nurture there workers, this is a more feminine approach and are called soft skills. Do modern day managers bear any relevance to traditional skills
Although traditional management styles seem prehistoric compared to today they are still relevant, Maslows hierarchy of needs can be compared to the corporate ladder, more people choose careers instead of just a job. Mayo”s Hawthorne experiments eventually led to laws being made on working conditions (Health and safety at work act). McGregor”s theory x and theory y, all managers now assume people want to work and take pride in it to. If asked which is the most relevant I would argue Maslow, most people can relate to his theories as the corporate ladder and I feel it is widely used now as a personnel motivator for employees.
As the millennium approaches managers are forming even closer links with employees with the use of soft skills. Companies invest a lot of money in training of staff and can receive grants from the government for this purpose, appraisals are now widely used to coach and motivate staff. Managers are empowering workers more to supervise themselves and be responsible for their own workload, this is partly because more people are working from home with new technology. Business is now thriving thanks to the work of researchers at the start of the century.

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