Management is a very big and varied field and it is difficult to identify all management thoughts in a comprehensive yet meaningful way. Different authors have made attempts to identify and classify different management thoughts. For my answer here, I have used the classification adopted by Koontz and Weihrich. They have identified the following five major school of management thoughts that have emerged in sequence.
- Scientific Management
- Modern Operational Management Theory
- Behavior Sciences
- Systems Theory
- Modern Management Thought.
Thee developments in management thoughts have contributed to ever improving business performance, benefiting both managers and the labour force. However, there is always the contentious issue of division of benefits of such improvement has never been resolved completely. As a result, labour and management sometimes differ on evaluation of these approaches.
The views of management and labour on each of the identified school of management thought is discussed below.
Scientific management represent the earliest attempts to apply method of systematic investigation and analysis to improve productivity in industrial established. When this school of management thought emerged around beginning of twentieth century, improving the contribution of individual workmen was a major focus area. Scientific management, the way it was envisaged by its pioneers like Taylor and Gilbreth, was based on sharing of the benefits of improvement between owners and labour. However frequently, managers and owners tried to use the techniques of scientific management to extract more output from workmen without improving their lot. For this reason, it was resented by labour.
Modern operational management theory, attributed primarily to ideas of Henry Fayol focused more on human aspects and team work. It also emphasized the need for training and developing managers. However this school of thought was more in the form of general principles rather than specific techniques and method. Therefore it impacted thinking and approach of some progressive managers, but failed to attract any attention from them - either positive or negative.
Behavior sciences school which really started to gain momentum from 1930's onward, concentrated substantial on the human aspects of management. It concentrated finding ways of simultaneously meeting best interests of employers and employees. But these concepts are rather complex to understand and require basic change in attitudes of people. Therefore some managers considered these approaches to be too idealistic while labour doubted sincerity of management in promoting these concepts.
Systems theory was an attempt to integrate all the factors impacting business performance, beyond the earlier concern with just the working methods and people, to include other aspects such as environment, and technology. The systems theory was more an approach adopted by management consultants rather than practicing managers. This approach did not draw much attention from labour.
Modern management thought is really a mix of many different ideas and practices. In general all these ideas are based on better development and utilization of human potential. It has also promoted wider participation of all levels of employees in management In this way it is truly in the interest of managers as well as labour.
Koontz H. and Weihrich H. (2004), Essentials of Management, Sixth Edition, Tata McGraw-Hill, New Delhi