Last updated: September 19, 2019
Topic: EducationSchool
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Schools of management thought

Various theories have been brought forward by various scholars concerning management

Basically there are three well established schools of management theory. These are

The classic school of management
The behavioral school of management through
The quantitative school of management thought
The classical school

This school of thought emerged around the term, of the 20th century. It is sub divided into two sub areas; scientific management which historically focused on the work of individual and the administrative management (classical organization theory) which was concerned on how organization should be put together (Anderson, Sweeney, 2004)

The main objective of scientific management was to determine how jobs could be designed in order to maximize output per employee (efficiency) .The main contributor was Fredrick w Taylor until the team of Frank & Lillian Gilbreth added more light to scientific management Taylor development of a true science of management so that the method for performing each task could be determined. It also entails the scientific selection of the worker so that each worker would be given responsibility for the task for which he/ she was best suited.

Scientific management also meant the scientific education and development of the worker and the intimate friendly co – operation between management and labor. Lillian focused her studies on ways of promoting the welfare of the individual worker. To her, scientific management had one ultimate aim i.e.  To help workers reach their full potential as human beings.

Henry Ganth developed the bonus system of paying workers. Both the Ganth Chatt and the bonus system are in use in today’s complex organization.

An evaluation of the scientific management

During Taylor’s time the mental revolution he advocated rarely came about and often increased productivity led to layoffs. It assumed people were rational and motivated only by material gains. They also overlooked the human desire for job satisfaction and workers became more willing to go out on strike over job conditions than salary. Thus, the scientific model of the workers as a rational being interested only in higher wages became increasingly inappropriate as time went on and employers and labourers got increasingly dissatisfied with it (Anderson, Sweeney)

However the methods of scientific management such as time & motion analysis differential rate incentives such as bonuses commissions & Gant chart.


Administrative theory (classical organization theory)

It grew out of the need to find guidelines for managing complex organization such as factories. Henry Fayol is recognized as the father of classical organization theory. Through the administrative theory fourteen principles of management were developed by Henry Fayol.These are Division of Labour, authority and responsibilities, discipline, unity of command and unity of direction. Other principles are individual insubordination, remuneration, centralization Scalar chain, and order, and equity, stability of Tenure, initiative and spirit de corps.


Evaluation of the Administration theories

The classical administration theories of Fayol and Weber have had a lot of impact on management even today. Many current textbooks on management are organized around Fayol’s theoretical framework. His ideas of the universal and transfer of management skills are still valid today. It is widely accepted that management skills apply to all types of group activities. However, the theories assumed that all organizations could be managed by the same set of rules and regulations. They fail to appreciate the difference between various organizations. The classical approach can be effective under a stable environment but with frequent changes rampant today. It proves ineffective as conditions require modification in management principles and bureaucratic rules. (Harris, Desimone, 1994)



This is a people-oriented theory of management. Elton Mayo is the father of the human relations movement. The main catalysts of the human relations debate were the Hawthorn studies conducted by Mayo.

From the experiment, Mayo concluded that special attention like being selected in a study, exposing one to consent with management caused people to increase their effort. The school of thought establishes that special attention to workers causes them to increase their efforts.


The behavior approach recognizes that human beings are affected more by social interactions

Evaluation of the human relations approach

This approach focuses on human factors as an important management variable that resulted in more and more researchers paying attention to the human element in an organization. It led to the improvements in employee welfare in much organization. Labour gained more economic and political power acting through trade union. However in viewing human factors as the single most important organizational variable the approach committed the mistake of earlier theocracies i.e. searching for one best way of management. The approach also viewed workers as social beings motivated by social rewards but this was also to simplistic a view of human beings who are complex and motivated by a variety of factors. (Harris, Desimone, 1994).


This school thought focuses on quantitative or measurement techniques and concept that are elegant to management. It mainly originated form the British military in World War II.

There are three branches of this school of thought

Management science
It mainly concerns itself with the devt of mathematical and statistical tools & techniques that can be used to improve efficiency.

Break though in computer and other form of electronics information processing has enhanced the application of math science.

Operation management
It is like management science but it mainly focuses ion application. Its main concern is the process and system that an orgn uses to transform inputs into outputs. Therefore it will deal with decisions like plant location, plant layout, inventory control, distribution of finished product e.t.c

Management information system
This is a system created specifically to process, store and provide information for management in order to improve decision making.

An evaluation of the quantitative school

The technique of management science are extensively used top solve problems in most organizations today. The tools & technique can greatly enhance a management decision making planning and control and improve their organization efficiently and effectively.

However many of the key variable in an organization e.g. people officer politics feelings altitude motivation, personalities, leadership can be quantifiable and yet there factors are critical in decision making


Contingency Approach

The contingency approach argues that it isn’t easy to apply a single management theory tool that would fit the operations of the whole organization.

According to this approach and unlike Taylor’s Scientific management, managers should apply all the three tools interchangeably but where possible. In order to achieve best their goals, management need to apply the best tool under different circumstances.(Anderson, Sweeney)

In my opinion, the classical school is the best. This is because its principles are widely applied in many organizations today .The administrative theory for instance is mother of organizational structuring in many organizations. Fayol’s forteen principles also serve as the ethics for many organizations.














1. David Anderson, Dennis Sweeney; Introduction to Management Science; South Western College Pub, 2004

2. David M Harris, Randy L Desimone; Human Resource Development, Dryden press publishers, 1994