History of Management Thought: a Look at the Great Mangement Thinkers Throughout Time

Case Study 1| History of Management Thought| Andrew Thomas| In Jones and George’s “Essentials of Contemporary Management” they discuss many of the leading visionaries in the history of management thought and how their studies and ideas have lead to how we view and study management today. Some of the major contributors they look at are Frederick W. Taylor, Max Weber, Mary Parker Follet and Elton Mayo. Jones and George use many resources to draw conclusions on these studies, these sources can be used to validate claims made throughout the text as well as draw conclusions to how these findings are applied in today’s business management field.

In the “Essentials of Contemporary Management”, Jones and George claim that Taylor employed four principles to Increase efficiency in the workplace (1). They go on to state that Taylor originally outlined these principles to increase efficiency in the workplace which is supported in Taylors paper “The Principles of Scientific Management”, when he outlines his purpose as “The principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee. (2) Taylor goes on in his paper to define his four principles and how he developed these ideas and how they can be used to develop better management techniques, Jones and Georges definitions and applications of these principles directly reflect those out lined in Taylors paper. To further delve into these principles, Jones and George also pull from Taylors paper “Shop Management” which is another view on Taylor’s use of these principles in his idea of management.

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Jones and George state that one of Taylors main focuses was uniformity not only in the workplace but in management styles (1), which is supported in Taylors paper when he addresses “lack of uniformity shown… in the development of the several elements, which together constitute what is called the management” (3). Working off of this premise Taylor goes on to address his solution to a more uniformed management, this is outlined and explain by Jones and George (J/G). The next great management thinker discussed is Max Weber.

J/G outline Weber’s study and analysis of the Bureaucratic Theory, which through reading his papers is mostly clearly outlined in “From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology” (Essay: Technical Advantages of Bureaucratic Organization). J/G explain that Weber pioneered the idea that authority is most effectively exercised when it is arranged hierarchically. We see that this is a valid claim because Weber focuses on the idea that organizations that are “bound more to schemata and are more formless… is less unified, less productive and ultimately function slower” (4).

Weber is calling for a more unified management system which he goes on to describe as the hierarchy system. Further in the passage J/G argue that there are many advantages of having “fair and equitable selection and promotion processes” (1) as outlined in “Complex Organizations: Ch 1” by Perrow. If you read Perrow’s work you will find that this is an accurate claim to his work, and as Perrow argues: to the application of management.

Perrow states that using fair and specific selection and promotion systems allow for a better work environment because they encourage organizational members to act more ethically and further promote the interests of the organization because they feel the organization fairly represents an equal work environment. (5) Perrow states that it is also these ideals that allow managers to have more security in their decisions and less stress in their work environment, which J/G use as a foundation for another part of their claim.

When going on to talk about Mary Parker Follet, J/G classify her as “The Mother of Management Thought” (1) because of her ideas and contributions. Putting her in this high of a classification is a pretty high statement for her work, but is backed by research shown in LD Parker’s “Control in Organizational Life: The Contribution of Mary Parker Follet”. In his work Parker outlines the life and work of Follet, and how it leads to her work with management theory.

Parker shows Follet as a pioneer in Management thought and he labels her as the “Mother of Management (6). The extensive research and same use of the title show that J/G are justified in the use of this title for Follet. Talking further on Follet, J/G discuss one of her ideas that employees should participate and exercise initiative when it comes to improving the work environment and process within the company (1). J/G grab their justification for this statement from an excerpt of writings by Follet compiled by Pauline Graham.

This idea used by J/G was pulled from Follet’s writing “The Individual in the Group”, in which Follet outlines the ideals she feels an individual should fit within a group, and how a group should allow an individual to interact. One of the points she outlines is that management should allow individuals to be part of the overall work process by allowing input and encouraging individuals to take initiative in finding ways to better perform their work and make their own jobs more efficient. 7) Follet’s points are directly related in J/G’s outline of her work specifically on this topic. One of the last management thinkers discussed was Elton Mayo. More specifically J/G examined Mayo’s work with the Hawthorne studies. Drawn from Mayo’s writings about the experiment in his book “The Human Problems of Industrial Civilization” (Chapter 3: The Hawthorne Experiment) J/G discuss how Mayo studied the use of illumination on work environments to test the production levels of workers. 8) J/G use the findings in Mayo’s writing to outline his work and then discuss the “Hawthorne effect”. They then go on to discuss the human relations movement, which ties into Mayo’s writing but also strongly draws from Roethlisberger’s “Management and the Worker”. Roethlisberger talks about the discovery of the importance of behavioral and human relations training after the bank writing room experiments (9). J/G draw from this writing from Roethlisberger to support their statements when talking about the human relations movement.

Throughout their writings on management thinkers J/G successfully pull from primary and secondary sources to paint a picture of these leaders in management by accurately pulling from and citing sources. By doing this they are able to paint a picture of their work as well as how it ties into the principles that are used to this day in management. 2. There are many examples of how the studies of many of these great minds have lead to business practices that we see today, but one of the most prominent is Weber’s Bureaucratic Theory’s influence on Wal-Mart.

Today Wal-Mart is one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, and this can be attributed to its basic and universal business structure that seems to have taken a page right out of Weber’s teachings. Weber states that “In a bureaucracy, a manager’s authority derives from the position he or she holds in the organization. ” (1) He goes on to state that obedience is owed to the manager not because of personality, wealth or social status, but because of their certain level of authority and responsibility.

Wal-Mart clearly defines that in their business structure: “you do not necessarily need a higher education to promote through the company, many of our managers and CEO’s started as associates within the company and worked their way up utilizing the training and opportunities uniquely available within Wal-Mart” (10). It was also Weber’s belief that people should be given positions because of their performance, not because of their social standing and personal contacts. Wal-Mart is also a big proponent of his idea and has taken steps to ensure that it happens across the company. We pride ourselves in having employees who are hard workers and want to reward them for that… it’s our policy to reward and promote associates based on their performance and continued work ethic for our company” – Roger Hamilton (11). Roger went on to inform me that Wal-Mart has a policy for reviewing promotion eligibility based on an electronic record of an employees work since their start at the company as well as manual records which go into account along with multiple managers reviews of them as an employee.

This helps to ensure that associates are able to be compared on standardized and measureable criteria that will allow the most qualified and highest performing employee to be rewarded, and as little consideration to social standings and opinions as possible. These are just two examples of the ways that Wal-Mart is currently modeling their business practices after Weber’s Bureaucratic Theory, and implementing it in their everyday work environment. Another major principle that we see widely used today is F. W.

Taylor’s principle of developing SOP’s which states: clarify the new methods of performing tasks into written rules and standard operating procedures (1). This principle has been widely adapted across many businesses across the world as a reference for making standardized processes over the span of a large company. While many companies use this philosophy one of the areas with the greatest need for SOP’s not only for quality of standard of work but also for life safety is through the Fire Service, and there are few that have such a large span of control that make SOP’s a necessity as the New York Fire Department (FDNY).

Taylor states that once the best procedure for performing a task has been determined, that it should be recorded and taught to all members of an organization performing that task. This idea is shared by the FDNY and even stated in the opening of their SOP booklet: “The purpose of this manual is to provide both general and specific information concerning engine company operations. The engine company is the basic unit of service in this Department and its tactics and operations should be familiar to all members. (12) The FDNY also realizes that although there are many different variables to the job and the conditions it is performed in, it is paramount that the way operations are carried out remain uniform in order to maximize productivity in response to emergencies, but also to allow separate engine companies to work together and both be operating under the same guidelines. “The FDNY fleet of engine companies numbers 209… Response neighborhoods vary greatly from one section of the city to another, yet the basic duties of engine companies remain the same. (12) The FDNY has recognized the need to have uniformed operations across such a large department in order to allow a constant standard of work to be provided to the public, as well as allowing separate engine companies to successfully work together at anytime with a common understanding of duties. By implementing Taylors principle they have successfully allowed for such a large department looking over such an enormous city to be able to function successfully and be a standard of fire departments across the US.

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