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Technology's Impact On Management Styles

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Technology's Impact on Management Styles

University of Phoenix

MGT 330

July 2005

Technology's Impact on Management Styles

"The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager" (Drucker 2005). For a company to be successful, they must have effective managers. Management must continually build upon their failures in order to find a method that works well for them and the organization. Throughout history, business leaders and academia have discovered new ways to improve on the different styles of management. There are various management styles beginning in the classical era and continuing on to the contemporary era. The classical approaches to management included styles such as Systematic Management and Human Relations, all which were practiced prior to WWII. The contemporary approaches, which began after WWII, include Organizational Behavior and the Contingency Perspective. Technology has influenced the methods in which organizations manage. As technology progresses, we continue to see approaches designed to accommodate these advances.

An engineer named Fredrick Winslow Taylor developed scientific management. (School text) Taylor introduced the idea of using scientific method to find problems with efficiency in a company or process. By using the scientific method in making management decisions Taylor believed he could make managers and workers more efficient and happier in their jobs. Taylor wanted to "pay workers according to their productivity while at the same time improving working conditions" (European business forum). Taylor theorized that making the worker's environment more pleasing would in turn make them more efficient, and productive.

The basis for scientific management was mapped out by four principles scribed by Taylor:

1. Management should develop a precise, scientific approach for each element of one's work to replace general guidelines.

2. Management should scientifically select, train, teach, and develop each worker so that the right person has the right job.

3. Management should cooperate with workers to ensure that jobs match plans and principles

4. Management should ensure an appropriate division of work and responsibility between managers and workers.

These principles were the backbone of Taylor's management method. He used several methods to implement his management style. One method was a piece-rate system, which compensated employees based on their productivity. If employees' production was high, they were paid at a higher rate. Taylor believed this would increase workers motivation to increase production. Another method that Taylor used to implement the scientific method of management was time and motion studies. This utilized a very scientific method, each "task was divided into its basic movements, and different motions were timed to determine the most efficient way to complete the task." (school text)

Many supporters credit Taylor's scientific method with increasing professionalism and greatly increasing productivities into American factories. (European business Forum) Although detractors of them scientific method would disagree. Scientific Method or Taylorism was based on the idea that there was one best way to do any task. So once that task was defined that task would be done that way forever. This is good in theory but there are always advances in technology and skills that may change those processes.

Although scientific management is no longer in complete practice today, there are still many portions of the method that are true into modern times. Employees are still encouraged with monetary benefits for increases in productivity. Many tasks are broken down to the elemental steps to define the most efficient way to complete these tasks. Even though Taylorism is not in use in entirety, the method is still used in many other management styles used today.

The next management approach of interest is the Human Relation approach. "This approach is aimed at understanding how psychological and social processes interact with the work situation to influence performance. Human relations are the first major approach to emphasize informal work relationships and worker satisfaction (Bateman & Snell, 2004)." Many of the ideas from scientific and administrative management methods influenced the development of the Human Relation management approach.

The first area of focus will be how employee behavior and productivity are influenced. In the early stages of development, there were a number of studies and experiments conducted to formulate a track record of consistent findings. In one series of research experiments in particular, the Hawthorne Studies, there were researchers who went into a workplace environment to observe its workers. The focus of the study was to determine if by periodically changing external factors, such as lighting, the employees would show a difference in productivity level. At the conclusion of the experiment, the findings were that when different external variables within the work environment were altered, the variables did not seem to affect the employees as much as the concern as to what impression they made upon the researchers observing them.

This finding leads into the next topic of discussion, which is; why social needs have precedence over economic needs. In the eyes of many, social needs take precedence because oftentimes we tend to value what those around us value, or deem to be important. Everyone wants to be accepted by someone, whether that is his or her peers, family, coworkers, etc. Oftentimes our priorities are based on what our societies or environments place focus on. For example, in the Hawthorne Experiments, no one wanted to look bad in front of the researchers. In an effort not to look bad in front of researchers, the workers practiced a consistent level of higher productivity to make the best impression. This appeared to be far more important to the workers than anything else. For instance, what if with the higher level of productivity put forth, this led to cutbacks of hours or loss of overtime, which means less money for the workers? Regardless of what happened the stance of the workers did not appear to change. This indicates that there was something

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