Approaches to Management

  • Post last modified:30 July 2023
  • Reading time:15 mins read
  • Post category:Management
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The industrial revolution laid the foundation for various management approaches. Each approach has attempted to explain the concept of management from different aspects. The two most common approaches to management.

Approaches to Management

Let us study the two approaches in detail in the subsequent sections:

Classical Approach

The classical approach to management was developed in the period between the 1880s to the 1920s. In this approach, it was recommended that production can be increased by improving the efficiency of an organization. Thus, managers must focus on determining the best ways to perform jobs. The classical approach to management can be studied under three main areas.

Let us discuss these three areas in detail in the subsequent sections.

Scientific Management

The scientific management approach was developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915), who was an American engineer. Thus, scientific management is also popular by the name of Taylorism. He conducted a series of experiments in three organizations that greatly influenced management thoughts. His contribution to scientific management can be studied under the following categories:

  • Time and motion study: It is a technique of scientific management that was developed to define employee productivity standards. In this technique, a complex job is first divided into a series of simple tasks.

    After that, the way these tasks are performed is observed to determine and eliminate waste motions. In this way, the precise time taken to complete the job is determined, which further helps in developing delivery schedules and incentive schemes. Time and motion study is most appropriate for repetitive jobs.

  • Differential piece rate plan: This plan was developed by Taylor on the assumption that all workers have different capabilities and must be paid accordingly. This plan is also based on the assumption that the production system is based on piece rates.

    Under the plan, time and motion study is used to estimate the standard time of completing a job. Based on the standard time, two-piece rates are devised, namely higher and lower. The workers who exceed the standard time are given higher piece rates as wages. On the other hand, lower piece rates are given to those workers who do not meet the standard.

  • Supervision: Taylor suggested that work in an organization must be planned and assigned to the workers by foremen. Foremen should assign work based on workers’ specialty and supervise the performance of workers. For that, an organization should hire an adequate number of foremen.

  • Scientific recruitment and training: Taylor emphasized training workers and developing their skills so that they can efficiently perform more than one type of job.

  • The friendly cooperation between management and workers: Taylor believed that both management and workers have one common goal, i.e. increase in production. Therefore, both management and workers must work together in harmony to achieve the common goal.

Administrative Management

Henri Fayol (1841-1925), a French mining engineer, promoted the concept of administrative management. He focused on developing administrative principles that could apply to both general and higher managerial levels. Fayol presented 14 principles of management, which act as a guide for developing management practices.

These principles are explained as follows:

  • Division of work: According to this principle, work should be divided among individuals and groups according to their skills and knowledge. This helps in completing the work with greater efficiency.

  • Authority and responsibility: Authority is a right of an individual to give orders and instructions. The right to authority arises from the position, intelligence, experience, and skills of a manager. On the other hand, responsibility is a state of being accountable for the consequences of the decisions taken by an individual. Managers should be responsible for the actions taken by them.

  • Discipline: Discipline in an organization refers to obedience to authority. Employees must obey and respect the governing policies and rules of the organization. In order to maintain good discipline in an organization, there is a need for good supervision at all levels; a clear understanding between management and workers; and rational use of penalties.

  • Unity of command: According to this principle, employees associated with a particular type of work should report to one superior only. This helps in avoiding confusion about the role of the employees.

  • Unity of direction: It means that there should be one direction in which employees must move to achieve a particular objective. If employees get pulled into different directions, it may be difficult for them to achieve the objective.

  • Subordination of individual interest to general interest: In this principle, Fayol laid emphasis on aligning individuals’ personal goals with organizational goals.

  • Remuneration: There should be the provision of fair wages for workers. The calculation of wages should be done by considering various factors, such as business environment, cost of living, the capacity of the organization to pay, and productivity of employees.

  • Centralization: According to Fayol, the degree of centralization should be decided to make the optimum utilization of employees’ skills.

  • Scalar chain: Scalar chain refers to the hierarchy followed in an organization from top managers to employees working at lower levels. According to the principle of the scalar chain, all communication should pass through proper channels of hierarchy. However, in case there are any delays in communication due to hierarchy, there must be the provision of cross-communication. According to Fayol, the scalar chain is vital to the success of organizations.

  • Order: Order is required for the efficient coordination of all the elements in an organization. Management must follow the principle of the right place for everything and every man.

  • Equity: The principle of equity means fair treatment of all employees. Management must treat all employees equally and should be free from biases and prejudices.

  • Stability of tenure of personnel: Management must strive to stabilize the tenure of employees by providing them with job security. Increased turnover always results in inefficient production; therefore, organizations must attempt to reduce it by improving employee morale and motivation.

  • Initiative: Management must provide freedom to employees so that they can carry out orders effectively. Employees should be encouraged to take initiative in their respective fields in order to perform their jobs efficiently.

  • Esprit de corps: It refers to team spirit. Management must adopt new ways to improve team spirit among employees. This helps employees to work in harmony.

Bureaucratic Management

Bureaucratic management was promoted by Max Webber (1864-1920), who was a German sociologist. According to Webber, bureaucratic management is the most appropriate administration. Some of the important characteristics of bureaucratic management are:

  • Management by standard rules: According to Webber, an organization must be governed by a set of rules. Upper-level managers must follow these rules while controlling lower-level workers.

  • Division of labor: Webber promoted the principle of division of labor while assigning the work to all employees. According to him, the division of labor results in saving a lot of time consumed during changing over from one job to another.

  • Selection of personnel having technical skills: Employees having required technical skills must be hired in order to perform their jobs efficiently.

  • Hierarchical organizational structure: In order to be successful, an organization must adopt a hierarchical structure wherein lower-level employees must be under the supervision of higher-level managers.

  • Record of all administrative acts, decisions, and rules: An organization must keep a record of all its administrative activities including policies, rules, and decisions. The record can be used in the future for studying the nature of activities and people in the organization.

Modern Approach

The modern approach to management was given in the 1950s. The approach focused mainly on employee satisfaction. According to this approach, employees do not necessarily work for money and they like to receive affection and respect from co-workers, which further increases their productivity. This helps an employee to contribute more towards the success of an organization.

Modern approaches can be classified under the following three categories:

Quantitative approach

The quantitative approach focused on managerial decision-making. This approach is also known as the management science approach. It was developed during World War II to find the problems of warfare.

The quantitative approach can be studied in three areas, which are:

  • Operations research: It is a discipline that lays emphasis on improving the effectiveness of management decisions by using advanced analytical techniques. It is sometimes considered to be a subfield of mathematics as it involves extensive calculations. Some of the commonly used operations research techniques are linear programming, querying, waiting lines, routing and distribution models, etc.

  • Operations management: It is an area of management that involves supervising and controlling the production process. For this, various techniques are used, such as inventory analysis, statistical quality control, and networking.

  • Management information system (MIS): This is a computerized management system used to provide the information required by organizations for their effective management. MIS facilitates the decision-making process of an organization by providing meaningful information about its business processes.

Systems approach

It was developed in the late1960s with the aim to provide an integrated approach to solving management problems. According to this approach, a system can be defined as a set of components that are interacting regularly or are interdependent, thus making a single unit. The systems approach focuses on the following points:

A system comprises units and sub-units.

  • Each and every part of a system needs to be thoroughly understood in order to analyze it.

  • A system always has boundaries to define its beginning and end.

  • Every system is developed to achieve a specific goal.

  • No system can exist in isolation.

Contingency approach

This approach is also known as the situational approach wherein an organization determines problems by analyzing its conditions and environment. According to this approach, there is no single set of rules that is applicable to solving all types of problems in organizations.

Therefore, managers need to analyze every problem and various aspects associated with it and define different ways to solve the problem.

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