Managers today use many practices, principles and techniques developed over a long period by pioneers of management. These developments in management thinking and concepts have undergone many transformations and witnessed changes in emphasis on different aspects of management. Tracing the history of these perspectives of management we can identify different schools of management that constitute theoretical frameworks for study of management.
There are some variations in the way these different schools of management are defined. One commonly used classification of management schools identifies the following five schools of management>
- Classical School
- Behavior School
- Quantitative or Management Science School
- Systems School
- Contingency School.
The Scientific management school, which became popular during late nineteenth and early twentieth century is often further classified in three broad areas - Scientific management, administrative management and bureaucratic management. This school focused on managing the operations of workmen more efficiently. Its focus was more on the physical aspect of work rather than human psychology.
Behavior school recognized the importance of human aspects of management. It emphasized the importance of understanding the human behavior in organization and using this understanding to improve individual motivation as well as group effectiveness. It started to became popular in 1930's with emphasis on human relations. By 1950's it was supplemented by application of knowledge of behavior sciences to improve management performance.
Quantitative school developed in 1940's primarily in form of operations research (OR) to improve effectiveness of war activities during World War II. This approach concentrated on increasing the quality of management decision making through the application of mathematical and statistical methods. The quantitative approach to management was supplemented by the concept of Management Information System in from about 1950 to 1970's, that concentrated on better use of all kinds of information in an organization and not just quantitative analysis.
Systems school that started to become popular in 1950's emphasized understanding of the organization as a system, which is defined as a structure of interrelated parts working together to achieve a common objectives, that transforms the input resources of an organization in to the organizational outputs. The organization exists within its external environment and constantly interacts with it. The system is influenced by its environment, and in turn also influences the environment.
The contingency school that developed in 1960's believed in applying management principles and processes as dictated by the unique characteristics of each situation.