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Scientific Management Theory

Discuss about the Management Theories for Organization or Business.

Management theory refers to set guidelines on how an organization or business can be managed. Management theory explains how an organization management can use various principles to assist in the accomplishment of the set goals and various ways of motivating employees for improved work standards. There are several theories of management, and this task will focus on three historical theories of management which are: a scientific theory of management, bureaucratic management theory and human relation theory of management. The main focus is on the scientific theory and how it compares with other two theories of management (Miller, 2011, p.152).

Scientific management theory was founded by Frederick W. Taylor. Taylor was an engineer and an American Inventor. He had two significant works which were shop management in 1903 and the scientific management principles in 1911. Taylor worked in a steel industry in the early years of his career where he observed inefficiencies among the steel workers whom he came in contact with. This triggered his interest in improving the workers' productivity. He discovered that scientific methods would help improve the workers' productivity greatly. Scientific methods of management emphasized on the performance of tasks to the optimum and making the jobs easier such that training would help the workers perform the tasks they specialized into the best. Before scientific management, skilled artisans were hired to perform the work. They had the freedom to decide how to perform the tasks assigned to them. Scientific management changed this established system of work performance and introduced that skilled crafts could be converted into easier jobs which unskilled workers would perform after undertaking training (Pike, 2013, p.247).

During his work in the steel industry, Frederick Taylor observed that workers operated below their capacity on purpose a phenomenon referred to as soldiering, which he attributed to the following three causes.

  • Workers believe that they would lose their jobs if they increased their productivity since the jobs would become eliminated causing only a few of them to remain in the jobs.
  • Lack of incentives encourages decreased productivity if the workers will be paid at the same wage rate despite how much is produced making an assumption that the worker will make the employer believe that the slow pace is the one required for a given task. Employees avoid working at a faster pace since they fear it will become the set standard.
  • Much effort of employees was wasted due to reliance on the rule-of-thumb methods instead of work methods that are optimal which can be determined by the study of the task scientifically.

To solve the challenge of soldering and to increase efficiency, Taylor conducted experiments to establish the performance level which was best for different jobs and the necessary requirements to attain this performance. He came up with the following four principles of scientific management.

  • Replacement of rule- of -thumb methods of work with those methods whose basis is studying the task in a scientific way.
  • Developing, training and selecting each employee scientifically rather than leaving them to train themselves passively.
  • Cooperate with the employees to make sure that the methods of work developed scientifically are being adhered to.
  • Sharing the work almost equally between the employees and managers, such that the managers can plan the work using the principles of scientific management and the performance of the task can be done by the workers.

Although scientific principles of management increased productivity, they had some drawbacks. Work monotony was increased, and job dimensions which were crucial such as task identity, skill variety and task significance were lacking. In many cases, the workers accepted the new ways of work although in some cases they were not acceptable. Despite these drawbacks, scientific management helped in changing the way tasks were performed and its principles are applicable even today (Rosenbern, 2016, p.11).

Bureaucratic Management Theory

Bureaucratic management refers to an organization system which is formal and whose basis is roles and hierarchical levels which are defined clearly with the aim of maintaining effectiveness and efficiency. Max Weber was the founder of bureaucratic management theory whose main focus is establishing lines of authority and control which are strong by using hierarchies to divide organizations. The following are the characteristics of bureaucracy according to Max Weber.

  • Activities which are regular are in a fixed way distributed as official duties.
  • The ability to give commands necessary for the discharge of these tasks is in a stable way distributed and is controlled by rules which may be placed at the official's disposal.
  • Trained employees are required for the performance of these duties hence only workers with the required skills can be hired.

Bureaucratic management theory compares and contrasts in several ways with the scientific management theory. The similarity is that they belong to the early classical school of thought and they aim to increase managerial efficiency by defining organization structure and management. However, the contrast occurs because the bureaucratic management theory focuses on formal processes, specialization, and hierarchy while scientific management theory emphasizes efficiency and improvements of work methods (Gassman, 2016, p.56).

Human relations theory.

This theory was founded by Elton Mayo in the 1930’s. He was an American sociologist, and he discovered that the human factor in the places of work was neglected in the classical theories of management. To prove the importance of employees in an organization, he began his experiments widely known as the Hawthorne studies. He identified that workers prefer being part of a supportive team that contributes to growth and development which motivate them to increase their productivity which results in high quality of work.  He identified the following principles of human relation approach;

  • Human beings need appreciation and recognition apart from financial gains
  • Employees are human beings and hence should not be treated like machines. Managers are supposed to consider the emotions and feelings of employees.
  • Informal relations are important in organization hence they should be encouraged by the managers.
  • Job satisfaction and job security should be given to workers by the management.
  • Conflicts and misunderstanding should be avoided at all costs in an organization.

The scientific management theory and human relations theory are similar in that they both focused on the best way to bring productivity in the organizations. The two theories contrast in certain ways. Scientific theory view employees as work machines and incentives can be used as a motivation for improved productivity while human relations theory emphasizes that other factors rather than financial gains are necessary so as to motivate employees to improve their productivity. Another contrast is that scientific theory belongs to the early classical school of thought while human relation theory belongs to the neoclassical school of thought.

Management theories are very relevant in the organizations today. Most principles and guidelines used in the workplaces borrow richly from these theories. Bureaucratic theory of management which focused on hierarchy and formal processes has helped in the easier administration of organizations since the management is structured such that there is a chain of command from the top management to the bottom. The employees can report any issue to their supervisor who forwards it to the top management hence any problem that may arise is easily detected. The scientific theory of management has been responsible for constant improvements in organizations. It has led to good job definitions, improved business operations and application of just in time manufacturing which has led to efficiency in the workplace. Human relations theory has contributed greatly to the improvement of organizations in that employees are viewed as important assets in the organization. They are offered favorable working conditions such as leaves, bonuses, and opportunities to improve their skills among others. These factors motivate workers which lead to improved work performance which contributes positively to the organization (Manmood, 2012, P.648.).

Human Relations Theory

Many organizations have benefited from the application of the management theories. Two such organizations are The British Airways and California State University. In 1981, British Airways engaged a new chairperson who helped restructure the company. Before then the company was running in an inefficient way, and valuable resources were being wasted. The chairperson introduced a chain of command such that the supervisor would monitor the employees work. Training was also significant to improve the skills of the workers. Employees’ welfare was considered, and they were motivated in other ways rather than incentives. This application of the theories of management led to tremendous growth of the organization. In the California state university, they were having a challenge with their IT system. The system change which normally happens on the main campus has to pass through its 23 satellite campuses where it serves many students and employees. This made the university management to institute a change system which is automated so as to make automatic changes to the whole system. This made them apply human factor and structure the organization such that the roles of employees were defined to minimize confusion. This has led to work efficiency in the university since the IT system can easily be coordinated.

From the above, this paper arrives at the conclusion that management theories have contributed greatly to improve the work performance of organizations which has led to increased growth. The organizations are well structured for better management and employees are viewed as important assets in any organization.


Anheier, H.K., 2014.Non-profit Organizations: Theory, Management, Policy. Routledge.

Armstrong, M. and Taylor, S., 2014.Armstrong's Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice: Kogan Page Publishers

Chokar, J.S., 2013.Culture and leadership across the world: Routledge.

Gassman, O. 2016.Exploring the role of popular management theories. (pp.47-76). Springer International Publishing.

George, G. 2015.Expanding context to redefine theories: Africa in management research. Public management review, 11(01).

Manhood, Z., Basharat, M., 2012.Review of classical management theories. International of social sciences and education, 2(1).pp. 512-5120.

Miller, K.D. 2011.Testing management theories: Critical realist philosophy and research methods. Strategic management journal, 32(2) pp.139-158.

Myers, M.D. 2013. Qualitative research in business and management. Sage.

Pike, S.D., 2013.Destinations, marketing, and management. Theories and application. Tourism Management, 3(4), pp.247-248.

Robbins, S. and Coulter, M., 2012. Management.

Rosenbern, J., and Ferlie.E.2016.Applying strategic management theories in public sector organizations: Developing a typology. Public management review, 18(1), pp.1-19.

Van, D. 2015. Performance management in the public sector. Routledge.

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