Evolution of Management Thought
The practice of management is as old as human civilization. The ancient civilizations of Egypt (the great pyramids), Greece (leadership and war tactics of Alexander the great) and Rome displayed the marvellous results of good management practices. The origin of management as a discipline was developed in the late 19th century. Overtime, management thinkers have sought ways to organize and classify the voluminous information about management that has been collected and disseminated. The different approaches of management are
ü Classical approach,
ü Behavioural approach,
ü Quantitative approach,
ü Systems approach,
ü Contingency approach.
1 The Classical Approach
The classical approach is the oldest formal approach of management thought. Its roots pre-date the twentieth century. The classical approach of thought generally concerns ways to manage work and organizations more efficiently. Three areas of study that can be grouped under the classical approach are scientific management, administrative management, and bureaucratic management.
2 The Behavioural Approach
The behavioural approach of management thought developed, in part, because of perceived weaknesses in the assumptions of the classical approach. The classical approach emphasized efficiency, process, and principles. Some felt that this emphasis disregarded important aspects of organizational life, particularly as it related to human behaviour. Thus, the behavioural approach focused on trying to understand the factors that affect human behaviour at work.
3 The Quantitative Approach
The quantitative approach focuses on improving decision making via the application of quantitative techniques. Its roots can be traced back to scientific management.
(i) Management Science (Operations Research)
Management science (also called operations research) uses mathematical and statistical approaches to solve management problems. It developed during World War II as
strategists tried to apply scientific knowledge and methods to the complex problems of war. Industry began to apply management science after the war.
(ii) Production and Operations Management.
This approach focuses on the operation and control of the production process that transforms resources into finished goods and services. It has its roots in scientific management but became an identifiable area of management study after World War II. It uses many of the tools of management science. Operations management emphasizes productivity and quality of both manufacturing and service organizations.
4 Systems Approach
The simplified block diagram of the systems approach is given below. The systems approach focuses on understanding the organization as an open system that transforms inputs into outputs. The systems approach began to have a strong impact on management thought in the 1960s as a way of thinking about managing techniques that would
allow managers to relate different specialties and parts of the company to one another, as well as to external environmental factors. The systems approach focuses on the organization as a whole, its interaction with the environment, and its need to achieve equilibrium
5 Contingency Approach
The contingency approach focuses on applying management principles and processes as dictated by the unique characteristics of each situation. It emphasizes that there is no one best way to manage and that it depends on various situational factors, such as the external environment, technology, organizational characteristics, characteristics of the manager, and characteristics of the subordinates. Contingency theorists often implicitly or explicitly criticize the classical approach for its emphasis on the universality of management principles; however, most classical writers recognized the need to consider aspects of the situation when applying management principles.