Classical Theories of Organization

Classical theories of organization are based on traditional thinking.  These theories were first propounded in the beginning of 19th century and incorporated original and initial ideas of management.  The classical theories of organization were devoted mainly to the superior’s authority, objectives, rules and economic activities.  The classical organization theories are broadly divided into Bureaucracy, Scientific management and Process management.

1. Bureaucracy

The bureaucratic model developed because some people wanted to dominate others in business and other activities.  They organized men and materials for achieving objectives for their personal benefits.  This theory was given a formal shape by a German Sociologist, Max Weber, who believed that bureaucracy was an ideal weapon to harness human and physical resources.  It is a formative model of organization characterized by a large and complex atmosphere with impersonal detachment from human resources.  Rules, regulations, rigid hierarchy and specialized functions are important feature of bureaucracy.  It is the epitome of structural relationship to control.

Max Weber

Max Weber

Features – The hierarchy of authority involving the superior-subordinate relationship is the main feature of bureaucracy.  The superior has more authority to control the subordinate.  There is a chain of superior-subordinate relations.  There is a clear-cut division of work upon which the structural organization is based, for getting the benefits of specialization and functionalization.  Rules, regulations and procedure are considered to be important functional guidelines for management.  The importance of routine, objectivity, uniformity and consistency are stressed under bureaucracy.  Behavior is controlled by rules and regulations.  The discipline is judged from the extent of following of rules and regulations.  Impersonal attachment is always observed in this type of organization. Personal, interpersonal and mutual relations have no place in the bureaucracy.  Organizational forms, speed, use of files and strict subordination are observed in this type of organization.  Rigidity and uniformity are basic principles of bureaucracy.  Authority and power rest with the office. Persons occupying an office have all the legal power and authority of the office.  The person is secondary and the methods are primary.

Assessment of bureaucracy – The bureaucracy model is unsuitable to the present requirements of management.  It is just a machine model wherein people have to follow the methods and modes of the organization.  It may be preferred where change is not needed.  Government and military organizations are adopting this principle because their main purposes are discipline and complete follow up of the rules. It is not suitable in a business organization because of rigidity, its impersonal nature and mechanical methods of control.  There is difficulty of coordination and control. It does not give satisfaction to employees because it does not give importance to their needs and motives. The bureaucracy model is present in military organizations, government officialdom’s and so on. Its disadvantages are being realized these days in public administration also.

2. Scientific Management

The scientific management theory was propounded by F.W. Taylor and was carried out by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, Henry L. Gantt and Emerson. Taylor postulated that management was haphazard and inefficient at the time. The management was based purely on individuals’ capacity. The personal talent of the manager guided the workers who were motivated by bonus and monetary benefits.  F.W. Taylor therefore tried to find out the basic principles of management by using time and work study, detailed analysis, investigation and planning of work allocation. It is known as scientific management because systematized knowledge is used for work allocation and assignment of specific jobs. The salary, wages, etc. are to be decided as per the work performance of individuals. It revolutionized the entire shop or plant management. Industrial engineering and management was promoted by Taylor. He said that scientific management tries to perform the job in the best way.

Frederick Winslow Taylor

Frederick Winslow Taylor

Features – The essential features of scientific management are given below:

  • Scientific Selection of Personnel. F.W. Taylor places great emphasis on the scientific selection and training of workers.  His theory stresses on selecting suitable persons for the job.  All persons cannot perform a particular job. People have different capacities and attitudes and therefore are selected for the job best suited to them.
  • Incentives. Workers are inspired to perform the job if they are paid according to their contributions.  Taylor has, therefore, suggested a differential piece rate system for wage determination.  It required planning, analyzing, preparing and inspecting work performance and determination of standard production in a specific time.  If a worker performs better than the standard he will be paid at a higher rate.
  • Functional Foremanship. Workers themselves become supervisors because the worker performing the function is interested in getting more wages by producing more units.  The supervisor has functional authority.  He guides and directs the way of performing the job.  Many supervisors based on different natures of jobs are guiding persons to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently.
  • Specialization.  Specialization is developed in scientific management.  It points out the managerial and non-managerial functions.  Persons capable of managing functions are given the jobs of planning and control, while workers with the capacity for work performance are put into production.
  • Coordination. Since the jobs are performed by different specialized persons, coordination of their activities becomes essential. The management should organize the activities in such a way that it can perform its activities effectively. Coordination between workers and managers as well as amongst themselves is essentially performed in scientific management.
  • Economic Performance.  Workers are considered economic beings. They utilize physical resources in the best manner possible in order to get maximum production out of human and physical resources.
  • Work Order.  Workers perform their jobs in a systematic order.  The raw materials, machine and the time are used in a systematic way. This helps workers achieve maximum utilization of the capacities and resources available to them.  The materialistic approach is always visible in the work order.

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth experimented with the motion study produced by F.W. Taylor.  They studied time and fatigue involved in work and concluded that job simplification, meaningful work standard, and incentive wage plans were necessary.  Frank is called ‘the father of motion study’. Henry L. Gantt made some important contributions to scientific management such as comparing plans with performance, task and bonus remuneration, teaching and training workers and laying emphasis on services carried out by workers.  H. Emerson contributed efficiency engineering development at work. He emphasized the need for educating workers to increase their efficiency in production, which would benefit the employees as well as the management in the long run.

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