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Differences in scientific management and human relations theory management with respect to modern management theory

Discuss about the Scientfic Management and Human Relations Theory.

The theme behind the scientific management movement is to increase the productivity by the means of improvement in the methods or practices followed by the workers. The motive behind the introduction of scientific management by the theorists was that the business should be effective enough in order to foster efficiency in the work operations.  This will increase the production level of an organization. It lacks the presence of empathy or human emotions in its theory. Requirements of an organization were given more preference than the requirements of an individual. Inventory tracking, routine slips were some of the outcomes of this method of management in the U.S. during the 20th century (Bauer, 2012).

Human relations management movement tried to cover up the missing point of  scientific management . Along with aiming for improving the level of output, it also aimed for human relations. This theory focuses on individual wants rather than the wants of a business.  

Apart from the growth of an organization, the theory made a point for individual’s personal growth and development.  Modern management theory is the mixture of  movement. It aims for both – productivity as well as human development. It emphasizes on increasing the quality of techniques used for productivity as well as understanding the relation of workers and the management. In today’s world, we find the practice of modern management irrespective of the size and nature of the business (Mayo, 1945). 

The theme of the management theories:

Scientific management believed in increasing the level of output because it was the urgent need of 20th century. For this, the followers of this management theory started ignoring the essence of human needs. Whereas, human relations theory management evolved due to the loophole of scientific management. It aimed more on human needs and development. Productivity and human development both are important for an economy to survive. The absence of either of the elements will not survive in the long run. Thus, modern management theory’s theme works for both the principle of increasing the productivity via modern techniques and personal development of workers (Weber, 1947).

It is one of the limitations of scientific management that the theory can be used to misuse the manpower.  With the sole emphasis on productivity, humans were also presumed to be a machine whose only aim is to increase the output of the business. This thought has led to exploitation of workers by making them work for a longer duration at lesser wage rate or even ignoring their health conditions. Human theory management understands the importance of workers and it believes that to enhance the productivity one should also enhance the productivity of the workers. Modern management theory neither aims for sole exploitation nor over emphasizes on human development. It succeeds in maintaining a balance between personal development and productivity (Mayo, 1945).

Exploitation of workers

During scientific management practice, management faced the issue of quality because the working style was manual in nature. This led to the scope of human error in the level of production. The output level was increasing but with the compromise of quality. While during human theory management practice, due to mechanical system of working, the quality used to suffer because of inbuilt issues of machines. Modern management practice affirms the blend of the mechanical and manual form of working so that neither the quality of product nor the efforts of labour are compromised (Guest, 1987).

The choice between the quality of worker and quantity of output:  

During the early 20th century, due to the differences in the supply and demand of goods, scientific management was introduced by the theorists with the aim to at least curb this problem. They chose quantity upon quality. While by the end of 20th century, it was realized that apart from the output, human development is also important. It chooses quality over quantity. Modern management practice chooses both, quality and quantity. Even if it is a mid-size or a large firm, we find the focus of management on both the alternatives (Bratton & Jeff, 2012).  

During the early 20th century, the followers of scientific management theory had focused only for imparting training in order to increase the productivity of a business. This made the workers well trained. By the end of the 20th century, the followers of human relations theory had focused on training the workers in order to strengthen the human resource management, both on the professional as well as on the personal level. The system lagged in maintaining its focus on the productivity level. Modern management practise focuses on training an individual both, for his personal development as well as training him in order to get the best work done out of him. This, in turn, made the workers effective and efficient (Hunter, 1983).

Setting up of objectives:

Both the theories aim for setting up of objectives for the business as well as for the human workforce in their own manner. Their aim is quite common prima facie, i.e. to be effective in their working style. Modern management theory also shares the common base with this two management practice. It has been evolved on the basis of these two theories with an ultimate aim to manage the workforce and operations in an effective and efficient manner.

Mechanical vs Manual working pattern

In order to keep the workers motivated, both the theories conducted research and found out the best possible way of their time in order to elevate the productivity level of an organization. Motivation was the sole purpose which lies behind the discovery of these two types of management theories. Thus, motivation stands out to be the common point between the scientific management and human relations movement theory or practice. It acts as one of the basic tenets of management and thus, modern management theory and practice also uses the concept of motivation for increasing the productivity as well as the development of the employees or workers (R.Dixon, 1991).

Whether it was scientific management theory or human relations movement theory, both have managed cultural constraints in their own manner. They did not allow affecting their basic aim to get influenced due to cultural constraints in the organization. Be it the early 20th century or the end of the 20th-century era, the workforce worked together to carry out their respective management’s purpose. Similarly, modern management theory or practice also pays equal importance to the cultural constraints. It makes sure that neither the productivity level nor the quality of workforce gets affected due to cultural barriers. For an organization, all the workers or employees are equal in the eyes of the management (Bauer, 2012).

Scientific management as well as human relations movement theory both played their respective role in making their own contribution to the economy. Whether it was bridging the gap between supply and demand in an economy by increasing the productivity or making effective human resource management, these were marked as significant contributions in their time. Modern management theory and practice also contributes to the economy by adding to the level of productivity as well as adding to the human workforce of a country. Both the quality and quantity has been emphasized so that the economy grows in all directions (Farquhar, 1919).

Conclusion:

Thus, the scientific theory of management and human relations movement theory had their own set of similarities and differences when compared with modern management theory and practice. While the scientific management was more inclined towards the output or the productivity level, the human theory relations movement was more focussed on the interdependent relations of the employees with the management. The blend of the above two mentioned management theories is the modern management theory. It has its own set of advantages and limitations with the base root of both the management theories. With the concept of balance score card, human resource management, labor efficiency and optimum utilization of resources, modern management theory has been evolved in a more refined version of both the theories (Hamel, 2008).

In order to upkeep with the pace of the development, it is important that the theories should be updated to cover more elements of the management. Such is the quality of modern management theory that it contains common traits of human relations movement as well as of scientific management. With an aim of increased level of effectiveness and efficiency the concept is being used in various MNCs, mid-size and small scale organizations.

Today, modern management practice is not stagnant like the two theories in terms of their theme. It is constantly getting updated by the theorists so that the prevalent loopholes in the practices are curbed for further development (Bauer, 2012). 

Bauer, T., 2012. Commpare and Contrast Scientfic Management and Human Relations Theory. Edinburgh: GRIN Verlag.

Bratton, J. & Jeff, G., 2012. Human Resource Management - Theory and Practise. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Farquhar, H. H., 1919. Positive Cotributions of Scientific Management. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Issue 33(3), pp. 466-503.

Guest, D. E., 1987. Human Resource Management and Industrial Rlations. Journal of Management Studies, 24(5), p. Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

Hamel, G., 2008. The future of management. HRM- International Digest, 16(6).

Hunter, T. N., 1983. Modern Approaches to Understanding and Managing Organizations. Public Productivity Review, 10(1), pp. 111-113.

Mayo, E., 1945. The social problems of an Industrial Civilization. New Hampshire: Ayer.

Olum, Y., 2004. Modern Management Theory and Practises. Being a paper presented at the 15th East African .

R.Dixon, 1991. Management Theory and Practise. England: Butterworth Heinemann Ltd. .

Weber, M., 1947. The theory of Social and Economic Organization. New York: New York University Press.

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