Management theory has evolved over time, reflecting changing views of how organizations operate and how best to manage them. The evolution of management theory can be traced back to the late 19th century when industrialization led to the need for more efficient and effective ways to manage large organizations.
The earliest management theories, such as scientific management, focused on improving efficiency by breaking down tasks into smaller components and optimizing each component for maximum efficiency. Later, management theories such as administrative management and bureaucratic management focused on the structure and hierarchy of organizations, and how best to coordinate and control them.
In the mid-20th century, management theories began to shift towards a more humanistic approach, with the emergence of human relations and behavioral management theories. These theories focused on the social and psychological aspects of work, emphasizing the importance of motivation, communication, and employee satisfaction in achieving organizational goals.
In the latter half of the 20th century, management theories continued to evolve, with the emergence of systems theory, contingency theory, and quality management. These theories emphasized the importance of understanding organizations as complex systems, and the need to tailor management practices to the specific context and environment of each organization.
Today, management theory continues to evolve, reflecting ongoing changes in the global business environment and the increasing importance of technology and innovation. The evolution of management theory reflects a growing understanding of the complexities of organizational management, and the need for managers to be adaptable and flexible in their approach to managing organizations.
Securing the necessary work behaviors from employees has been one of the major themes in management. The works of the “father of scientific management”, Fredrick Taylor (1911), defined a management approach for controlling workers in industrial organizations in order to extract required performances to maximize productivity.
This control strategy relied on the division of work into narrow, management-prescribed jobs that could be closely monitored for compliance.
A compatible management theory was developed by Weber (1947) (but not published until much later) at approximately the same time that Taylor (1911) was developing his ideas.
Weber introduced the bureaucratic management strategy that relied on strict job specialization and detailed organization rules as his answer to ultimate worker productivity.
Taken together, specialization and rules were to provide absolute predictability and standardization. For both Taylor (1911) and Weber (1947), the human element was seen as the main hindrance to productivity in their newly designed jobs and organizations. Their systems sought to minimize the variance in worker behavior. Management was seen essentially as a means of coercing, through control and economic incentives, a performance that would not otherwise be forthcoming.
Findings from what began as a classical scientific management experiment at the Hawthorne Plant of the Western Electric Company (around 1930) caused some management theorists to question the underlying tenets of scientific and bureaucratic management. Roethlisberger & Dickson (1939) concluded that productivity could be increased by meeting the social and psychological needs of the worker. In the human relations view, workers would get their needs satisfied by the informal (social) organization in spite of, and often contrary to, the controls of the formal organization. Unfortunately, the ideas the human relations approach fostered tended to oversimplify rather than balance management theory.
Two of the more prevalent ideas (which took on a life of their own) were that
(1) satisfaction is the direct cause of productivity and
(2) worker participation, as a way to make workers “happy”, is a panacea for all workplace problems.
Barnard (1938) integrated some of the foregoing ideas into a more modern theory of management. He saw the productivity of work organizations depending on the balance between organizational control and individual contribution. This coordinated effort would require the acceptance and cooperation of the workers. Katz (1964) added to this line of thinking when he suggested that organizations need three types of behavior in order to function effectively.
At a minimum, organizations need people to
(1) join and stay in an organization and
(2) to meet specific organizational standards of performance.
The third category of behaviors Katz (1964) proposed as necessary was cooperative and innovative behaviors that go beyond formally prescribed roles. He saw these as indispensable for a successfully functioning organization.