Since the beginning of business and organisations, there has been massive controversy over which method is more effective in motivating employees, making them more productive, and in turn making the organisation as a whole more productive and profitable.
The early days of organisations brought about the Classical Theorists, who believed that management was a rational activity that could be studied, also known as scientific management. Along with Fayol, the other most well known Classical Theorists were Max Weber of Germany, and Frederick Taylor of the USA.However, as the years progressed, new theorists began to pay more attention to the personal needs of the employee, and they were labelled the Human Relations Theorists. The Human Relations Theorists included reputable names such as Mayo, Herzberg and Mary Parker Follit. Even though Fayol was a highly credited theorist, his views on organisations being very rigid, with a high level of control, does not take into account the personal needs of the employees, and would not results in the businesses workers being more effective and productive.In the language of Fayol, “control appears as one of the universal activities of all organizations and managing” (Broadbent and Otley: 1995).
Control was one of five functions that Fayol decided management consisted of. The other four were, organizing, directing, co-ordinating and prevoyance, which is French for forecasting, which basically includes planning, and determining objectives. Fayol believed that management was a specfic activity that can be studied and developed.This is an accurate point, as management can be developed through study, and with ideas being accumulated, new management styles can be formed in order to suit the type of organization and its employees. However, even though Fayol was right in the sense that management can be developed, he was still heavily criticised as being idealist and ignoring the reality of management, and condoning impersonality towards employees by assuming that they are responsible for all the needs of the organization without any sort of reward or personal benefit.A theorist who had similar ideas to how an organisation should work was the German, Max Weber.
He is known for creating the term Bureaucracy, which he believed was the ideal form for modern day managerial organisations. Weber’s idea of Bureaucracy was simply that there is a main leader, who is set apart from the rest, and the rest of the organisation is formed by a positional hierarchy.The workers in each section of the hierarchy are there because they have certain qualifications for that job, “and there is a set of rules and procedures within which every possible contingency is theoretically provided for. ” Weber was predominantly known for his “theory of authority structures, which led him to characterise organisations in terms of the authority relations within them” (Pugh D S & Hickinson: 1983).
Weber stated that that the bureaucratic organisation is technically the most efficient form of organisation possible due to the hierarchal structure, and frequently praised it’s effectiveness and unambiguity by using the analogy of a modern machine. However, like Fayol’s view on management, Weber’s Bureaucracy was heavily criticised due its disregard for the worker’s personal needs, and was said to “represent the final stage in depersonalisation” (Pugh DS & Hickinson: 1983)Another theorist who was heavily criticised because of his thoughts on management, and how his theories affected employees, was Frederick Taylor. Taylor introduced ‘Scientific Management’, also known as ‘Taylorism’. ‘Taylorism’ was a “system of organisation of work in the manufacturing industry in which workers’ jobs were broken down into simple, repetitive tasks, with managers taking primary responsibilities for making decisions” and believed that the “primary motivation of workers was to earn money” (Broadbent and Otley: 1995).
The origins of Taylor’s managerial suggestion were “in the military emphasis on drilling troops in the appropriate techniques of assembling, loading, firing, and re-loading muskets in such a way that they formed a disciplined and coherent body of men” (Clegg:1999). Taylor’s management system needed nearly the identical basic factors as Fayol’s system and Weber’s Bureaucracy. His framework for his organisation included clear delineation of authority, responsibility, management by exception, and task specialisation.But just as Fayol and Weber, Taylor was heavily criticised for his dehumanising approach to management, and his lack of regard for the workers’ psychological needs, and treating them as machines.
Another frailty of the system was that when Taylor was creating ‘Scientific Management’, he had several underlying assumptions. “His views on motivation, management, and organisation all presupposed certain conditions to be constant”, which we know, they are not [accessed 12th November 2009].His presupposed constant conditions included a money economy where all businesses’ main objective was to improve efficiency and maximise profit as much as possible, everybody would be following the Protestant work ethic which assumed that people would be willing to put the company’s interests before their own interests at all times to ensure maximum economical gain for their selves, and that an increased size is desirable in order to obtain the advantages of the division of labour and specialisation of tasks.Even though Taylor’s managerial techniques are heavily criticised and at some times flawed, it did bring about a major era of Industrial prosperity in the USA in the early 1900’s, when Henry Ford used Taylor’s ideas and to create ‘Fordism’ and the production line, which brought about the first mass produced product, which was the Ford car. There is also a lot of evidence of ‘Taylorism’ being used in modern day organisations, for example McDonalds and call centres.As different organisations started to appear after the early 1900’s global industrial revolution, so did different theorists.
A group of theorists began to emerge called the Human Relations theorists. The Business dictionary defines Human Relations as “a counterpoint to the scientific management view that focuses on maximising the productivity and income of individual manual workers and on the separation of mental and physical work between management and workers” http://dictionary. bnet. com/definition/human+relations. tml [Accessed 14th November 2009]. Followers of the human relations movement believe in personal relationships between the management and the workers, and that the workers have a desire to feel like a part of a team.
Motivation, communication, employee participation, and leadership are significant issues. The Human Relations Theorists strongly oppose the Classical Theorist approach to management, and experiments were done to try and expose the flaws in theories such as Taylor’s and Fayol’s.The most famous of these experiments is the Hawthorne Experiment, which was conducted by Elton Mayo, an American theorist. The first experiment was the Illumination experiment which was where researchers divided assembly line workers into four groups, keeping the level of illumination in the first group at a constant, while the other three groups had manipulated levels, in order to discover the optimum level of lighting that would increase productivity.
The result was that all four groups, regardless of the level of illumination, had increased levels of productivity.This shows that regardless of what the change is, change in the workplace still motivates staff as it shows that the organisation are attempting to make the workplace a more friendly environment. A second experiment was the ‘relay assembly room study’, which took a group of employees of the regular assembly line and placed in a special room, and were given perks such as extra breaks, early leave, free lunches and assigned to work a five-day week, instead of the normal six day week. The researchers found that there were steady gains in productivity, and even a decline in absenteeism.Mayo stated that “the reason workers are more strongly motivated by informal things is that individuals have a deep psychological need to believe that their organisation cares about them” http://www.
apsu. edu/oconnort/4000/4000lect02a. htm [accessed 13th Nov 2009]. Unlike Fayol and the other Classical Theorists, Mayo believed that the main motivator for an employee is not solely money, but the feeling of being wanted by the organisation, and an organisation that is open, concerned, and willing to listen.Some of the main ideas of Mayoism was that managers should not act as managers, but as friends and counsellors to the workers, the contrary to Weber’s ideal bureaucratic manager, people should be periodically asked about their work and if they are content with how the organisation is treating them, and that workers should be consulted before any changes are made and make a decision on how the employees feel.
These ideas are similar to those of Chester Barnard, who contradicted the Classical Theorist view that the manager has full authority over his or her subordinates by stating that “authority is not imposed from above, but granted from below” (Boland: 2009). One theorist named Doug McGregor created two theories, Theory X and Theory Y, which suited both the Classical and Human Relations ideal managerial ethos. Theory X agreed with the Classical ideals, and was named as traditional management by McGregor.Theory X states that the employee is lazy, and needs to be motivated by material rewards, predominantly monetary rewards. The employees lack ambition, resisting to added responsibility on top of tasks already given to them, and resenting change. If a manager believes that his employees fit this category, McGregor believes that, like Fayol suggests, the manager should organise and control, creating a bureaucratic setting where there should be little innovation, rewarding the employees with material rewards and handing out punishments if objectives are not met.
Theory Y, which McGregor preferred, was based on employees being creative and innovative, and needing an active voice in the company’s changing processes and overall running. The employees are committed to achieving the organisations goal, taking on new responsibilities and doing anything in their power to make sure that the company is successful and prosperous. In this case, McGregor belived that managers should arrange organisational conditions so that the workers could “satisfy their needs by directing their efforts to organisational objectives” (Boland:2009).Contradicting the Classicals, McGregor believed that the use of Theory X could cause considerable psychological damage to the employee, whereas theory Y would give an employee’s skills and imagination a chance to prosper and work effectively in making a business a better organisation.
Fayol’s belief that in a management organisation, there should be a strict hierarchical structure where the manager has full authority over his subordinates, who are there to simply complete their specialised tasks and receive their monetary payment for their completed work.It is difficult to understand how all these reputable theorists have so easily dismissed the fact that employees are still human beings, and will need psychological support just as much as they need economic support. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a perfect example of how complex the motivational system is, and that it is not all down to simple material rewards.Even though the theories of the Human Relations theorists are criticised by people for ignoring the importance of formal organisational structures, and sometimes overestimating workers’ desire to participate in decision making and grow as an employee, proof from present day organisations and experiments such as the Hawthorne experiments created by the Human Relations theorists show that there are still basic psychological needs that need to be reached in order for an employee to reach their full potential, be efficient and work at maximum productivity for their business.