Read full version essay Compare And Contrast The Management Theories Of Frederick Taylor, Henri Fayol, Elton Mayo And Douglas Mcgregor. In What Sense(S) Are These Theories Similar And/Or Compatible? In What Sense(S) Are These Theories Dissimilar And/Or Incompatible? How Would

Compare And Contrast The Management Theories Of Frederick Taylor, Henri Fayol, Elton Mayo And Douglas Mcgregor. In What Sense(S) Are These Theories Similar And/Or Compatible? In What Sense(S) Are These Theories Dissimilar And/Or Incompatible? How Would

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Compare and contrast the management theories of Frederick Taylor, Henri Fayol, Elton Mayo and Douglas McGregor. In what sense(s) are these theories similar and/or compatible? In what sense(s) are these theories dissimilar and/or incompatible? How would a contingency theorist reconcile the points of dissimilarity and/or incompatibility between these approaches?

The twentieth century has brought in a number of management theories which have helped shaped our view of management in the present business environment. These emerging theories have enabled managers to appreciate new patterns of thinking, new ways of organising and new ways of managing organisations and people. Over the years these different theories have enabled the study of trends that have taken place in the management field. The major management viewpoints- which include the classical, behavioural and contingency approaches- have assisted in the formation of the contemporary twenty-first century management theory and techniques (S. C. Certo & S. T. Certo, 2006). Although, there are significant differences among all these approaches they seem to be unified by the efforts of improving an organisation’s efficiency in terms of proper human resources management. Furthermore, the dissimilarities seen in these approaches are due to the always changing organisations and environments which demand new management practices and techniques be applied to maintain the efficiency of an organisation.

The classical approach to management was the result of an effort to develop a body of management thinking and the management theorists who participated in this effort are considered the pioneers of management study. The classical viewpoint emphasises efficiency in managing work and organisations in order to increase production (S. C. Certo & S. T. Certo, 2006). The classical approach to management can be categorised into three areas: scientific, administrative and bureaucratic management. Frederick Taylor, known as the father of scientific management, developed his theories by concentrating on improving the inefficiencies he had observed in the working environment and introducing more �scientific’ methods of working (Taylor, 1960). Taylor was concerned about the discrepancies between management and the labour force regarding the distribution of profits, “neither side seemed to agree on what constituted a fair day’s work” (Hagen, 1988, p. 46). Frederick Taylor, using systematic analysis, decided to study the possibility of finding a �better way’ to perform certain work tasks.

In 1911 Taylor published The Principles of Scientific Management, a book in which he promoted the development of management through the application of scientific selection and training of workers, and the division of tasks and responsibilities between workers and management (Kermally, 2005). Therefore, scientific management was a theory based on producing workers’ effectiveness to run an organisation with as much efficiency as possible; his purpose was to exploit economies of scale in order to increase productivity. Moreover, Taylor drew a line between intellectual and manual labour, where managers were responsible for planning work methods and workers were responsible for executing such work. According to Hagen, “Taylor went beyond this, forbidding workers to think for themselves” (Karlöf & Lövingsson, 2005).

Taylor’s scientific management is widely criticised as it can lead to worker resentment, poor quality, repetitiveness and malingering. However, one cannot deny the fact that he did draw attention to the importance of selection, training, compensation and motivation, which are areas directly relevant to managing people in today’s environment (Hagen, 1988, p. 46). In addition, scientific management should be analysed keeping in mind the period in which it emerged; a period when a vast portion of the population were performing repetitive labour work based on the ideas and skills of the intellectual minority. Consequently, Taylorism cannot be used as extensively in today’s business environment, when the majority of the jobs performed by the labour force entail some type of problem-solving skills (Karlöf & Lövingsson, 2005).

While scientific development emphasised principles to improve worker effectiveness, another branch within the classical school arose, administrative management, with its main contributor being French industrialist Henri Fayol. He is regarded as the father of administrative management as he proposed fourteen principles of management intended to assist managers in determining what to do to manage an organisation more effectively (Rodrigues, 2001). Fayol’s ideas are still valid in today’s organisations and his definitions of management are widely used in this field of study. In his book General and Industrial Management, published in 1916, he defined management as “to manage is to forecast and plan, to organise, to command, to coordinate and to control” (Fayol, 1916). This definition yielded the now known functions of management. Fayol’s approach to management has several similarities with Taylor’s scientific management theory. Included in Fayol’s fourteen principles is the division of work, which outlined the need for workers to specialise in specific jobs (Rodrigues, 2001). This idea of work specialisation has been derived from Taylor’s principles of scientific management. Furthermore, the empowerment of managers, proper training of employees and the use of a reasonable rewards system were principles that originated from Taylorism. Fayol’s general principles of management covered the topics of organisational efficiency and appropriate human resource management that are still applicable in today’s management studies. In particular his five functions of management have had a significant and insightful impact on management thinking and practices over the years and they have served as a foundation for other theories and techniques (Rodrigues, 2001).

The classical approach to management, seen in the theories of Taylor and Fayol, were centred on organising workers in such a way that their performance would be more efficient for the organisation’s productivity (S. C. Certo & S. T. Certo, 2006). In addition, these pioneers developed a more precise definition of what was meant to be a manager’s role, which in turn improved the efficiency and productivity of an organisation. However, these theorists failed to observe the changes in an organisation’s environment and so their ideologies are considered to be universal and simplistic. The classical approach to management underestimated the psychological side of an individual, as it perceived workers as production mechanisms with little room for personal realisation (Karlöf & Lövingsson, 2005).

Given the limitations of the classical school, a new approach surfaced that emphasised the increase in efficiency through a better understanding of the human resources (S. C. Certo & S. T. Certo, 2006). The main contributors to the behavioural viewpoint were Elton Mayo with the Hawthorne Studies and Douglas McGregor with his theory X and theory Y. A series of studies were conducted between 1924 and 1932, which gave way to the beginning of the behavioural approach and these studies are known as the Hawthorne studies (Kermally, 2005). The Australian Harvard professor, Elton Mayo, became famous for these experiments which revealed the importance of social relations and workers’ attitudes and behaviour towards their jobs.

The Hawthorne studies started as an experiment to observe the effects of lighting on the workers’ productivity levels at the Western Electric Hawthorne Works; the light conditions were changed from maximum lighting exposure to almost dimmed light surroundings. The results demonstrated that regardless of the differences in light intensity, the workers’ performance increased and productivity improved significantly (S. C. Certo & S. T. Certo, 2006). A second experiment was carried out to examine the effects of rest periods on productivity levels; the findings showed that every time changes were made workers’ efficiency increased. The researchers discovered that the variations in physical working conditions were not necessarily the cause for the rise in productivity. As the researchers wanted to find out what were the other factors which contributed to the high productivity, the last experiment consisted of interviewing the employees who participated in the other experiments (Kermally, 2005). The researchers concluded that the experiments gave the employees a feeling of belongingness and it made them feel important so their performance efficiency increased.

The conclusions that can be drawn from Elton Mayo’s experiments is that there is a need for providing a human touch to the workplace. As Cole stated: “Its most significant findings [of the Hawthorne Experiments] showed that social relations at work were every bit as important as monetary remunerations and good physical conditions” (1986, p. 47). The behavioural approach to management demonstrates that social skills within the context of work are just as significant today and the Hawthorne experiments remind managers that employees are human beings with expectations and needs that need to be fulfilled.

Following in the steps of Elton Mayo’s interest on human behaviour, Douglas McGregor published his book The Human Side of Enterprise in 1960. In this book McGregor discussed two set of assumptions in relation to human behaviour. These set of assumptions are known as theory X and theory Y and they portrayed the different views managers have on their employees (Kermally, 2005). McGregor asserted that how managers manage people depends on the assumptions they make about workers. Consequently, a manager with theory X sees employees as unable to cope with responsibility, unwilling to work, having little ambition and seeking security and needing constant control and coercion. Whereas a theory Y manager would assume that employees like to work, they are self-directed, take responsibility and they like to be involved the decision-making process (McGregor, 1960). McGregor’s theories are important in today’s working environment as they highlight the importance of understanding the human component in organisations and how to manage people to enhance an organisation’s productivity (Holloman, 1974). In addition, McGregor’s ideas are very similar to Mayo’s conclusions on human behaviour, as they illustrate the significance of proper human resources management in order to obtain absolute efficiency.

All of the theories mentioned, in one way or another, aided to the emergence of the contingency approach to management, which emphasises that what managers do in practice depends on a given set of circumstances (Longenecker & Pringle, 1978). This theory focuses on “if-then” relationships that depend on the organisation’s internal and external environment. Consequently, if an organisation would perform better using a scientific management approach then that is how the managers should manage the organisation. On the other, if an organisation’s environment does not require as much control imposed on the employees then a theory Y approach could work best for such an organisation (Luthans & Stewart, 1977). The dissimilarity of management situations has led to the variations in management practices and techniques used by an organisation. Therefore, the contingency approach attempts to outline the conditions or situations in which various management methods, such as the classical and behavioural approach, have the best chance of success for an organisation (Lorsch, 1987).

Management theories have evolved over time. From Taylor’s scientific management approach which centred around worker specialisation to the current approach whereby the human and psychological sides of an employee are considered. Furthermore the classical and behavioural approaches have given way to the contingency theory which emphasises the work environment as being the key factor in choosing a management approach. Taylor’s scientific management and Fayol’s fourteen principles of administrative management have many similarities in regards to specialisation in workers’ job and managers’ influence over employees. Similarly, Mayo’s experiments had a scientific management orientation which led to the discovery of the importance of humanising the workplace. McGregor’s ideologies followed on from Mayo’s work and he is thought to be forefather of contemporary management thinking from which the contingency approach emerged. Management theories have been dynamic in the past and will continue to be in the future, but their foundations will always be influenced by the previous approaches.


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Holloman, C. (1974), “What McGregor Really Said”, Business Horizons, Vol. 17 Issue 6, p87 – 92.

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