Theories are abstractions from the real world to give and show the existing relationship between or among a variables or a given phenomenon. Thus, they are like map used in showing the direction of the known from the unknown. Hence, varieties of theories are abstracted from the real world situation to give explanation to a particular need in a given social setting.
The two theories to be compared and contrasted are the scientific school of thought theory on management by Frederick Taylor and the Human relation theory by Elton Mayo and his associates. Both theories tried to proffer the best way to ensure that productivity is carried out in the work place
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SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT THEORY
In the weak of the Industrial revolution era, where steam engine and the creation of factories in the production of textiles and other product in the 18th century, the need to bring about increase in the effective rate of output and productivity led to the introduction of the Scientific management theory by Frederick W. Taylor (1856-1915). The scientific management theory tend to see the workers of an organization like robotic machines that can be motivated only through the carrot and stick approach, i.e., they should be closely monitored and incentives given to them as form of motivation to make them produce more. This theory submits that the work process should be broken down to its easiest smallest units. And the best approach in carrying out these identified units of tasks should be proffered and related to the workers by their supervisors. The workers are to be monitored and timed through the stopwatches and shorter days and breaks given as a way of motivation. Thus, the piece rate wage is envisaged by the scientific theory of management, where the workers earn according to its output; so as to avoid soldiering where time is wasted as pretence in workers. According to Wertheim (2005), “Taylor attempted to make a science for each element of work and restrict behavioural alternatives facing worker . Taylor looked at interaction of human characteristics, social environment, task and physical environment, capacity, speed, durability, and cost. The overall goal was to remove human variability”.
HUMAN RELATION MOVEMENT.
The Hawthorne experiment came as a criticism to the Scientific school. It have it that there are other factors that actually motivates workers in an organisation other than the economical and environmental condition of workplace. “despite the economic process brought about in part by scientific management, critics were calling attention to the seamy ‘side of progress’, which include severe labour/ management conflict, apathy, boredom, and wasted human resources”. (Wertheim, 2005).
Among its findings, the Human relations school find out that workers operate as a team and there exist a social interaction among them, that is , an informal social interaction, other than the everyday formal working process. This informal connectivity among the workers is a source of which they are being motivated. According to Mayo (1945; 112) “… the eager human desire for cooperative activity still persists in the ordinary person and can be utilized by intelligent and straightforward management. The best vehicle to its achieving was informal groups (rather than formal work teams), as they provided their members with the basic needs for communication and cooperation.”
CONFORMITY BETWEEN THE CLASSICLA APPRAOCH AND MAYO’S IDEAS
From the contribution of both schools to management practice, the classical approach and Mayo’s ideas are both conducted into finding the best way in which workers in an organization can be motivated so that they can increase the level of the organization productivity. Also, both theories recognizes the fact that the organization has set objectives, the effective way to achieving these objectives in the most efficient manner, where there is little wastages is what is being envisaged.
CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN THE SCIENTIFIC APPRAOCH AND THE HUMAN RELATIONS SCHOOL
As earlier stated, the Taylor scientific school concentrated on the work to be done, and have little concern for the workers doing the work. Thus, the workers are considered as robotic machines that can be controlled in a specific manner in order to increase its productivity. On the other hand the Mayo’s human relations school concerns itself with the needs of workers in their place of work, in which when they are solved they tend to motivate the workers into performing more. These needs amount to the desire for the workers to work independently with no rigorous supervision, the need for communication in the place of work between management and workers, the need for social interaction among workers, and job satisfaction which comes from the solving of workers’ needs in order for them to solve the organisation’s needs.
Another place of contradiction between the theories is that while the classical school sees workers that they only want to satisfy their economic need and this is a source for motivating them, the human relations school have it that workers are motivated by many needs which include the desire to have informal social interaction in their work place.
Furthermore, the Classical thought have the perception that people act rationally to maximize rewards. On the other hand, the human relation school have it that people are not logical, but that they are interdependent, where their behaviour is often shaped by the social context.
While people are considered to act individually in order to satisfy their needs according to the classical school, in the human relation school, informal work group is a major factor in determining attitudes and performance of individual workers, hence, it constitutes a basis for which individual needs are met in the organization.
More so, the Classical school believes that there is no conflict existing between individual and organizational objectives, while the human relation school have it that there is no automatic correlation between individual and organizational needs.
The human relation school goes ahead to bring to the limelight that communication channels cover both logical/ economic aspects of an organization and feelings of people. Also teamwork is essential for cooperation and sound technical decisions.
Difference between scientific management and human relations
From the positive angle associated with the classical school, we can decipher that the approach brought about a systematic pattern of carrying out functions in an organization; where there is specialization and division of work. The approach brought about the reduction of time wastages and resource wastage. It also made the management of organization to be more focused on its responsibilities and on the objectives of the organization. On the negative side, the Classical approach failed to recognize the needs of the human resource in the organization; hence, they are dehumanised and conceived as a machine. Thus, more concentration is focused on the task to be attained rather than on the workers who perform the tasks. This Classical approach is still in practise in contemporary management. I most manufacturing industries, factory workers are made to face the systematic approach of the scientific theory of management principles. The factory workers are given targets to be attained for a day’s work. Also, in financial institution like banks and insurance companies, targets are given to workers to attain. And division of labour and specialization are being practised. Though, the scientific approach is being practiced in a modified pattern.
The positive sides of the Human relation school have to do with its recognition of workers, individual and group needs. Also, human resource is recognized as the most vital resource in the organization. When properly motivated other resources would be efficiently utilized. The theory also brought about the effective communication and teamwork among members of an organization; where decisions are cooperatively carried out. Furthermore, the recognition of the fact that workers independence and informal activities in work places helped to motivate the workers.
A negative aspect to the Human relations school is that some workers sometimes abuse the liberty to associate informally by disregarding the formal duties for the informal, thereby wasting productive time on frivolities.
The modernization of the Elton Mayo’s idea by the total quality management (TQM) experts has made the practice an accepted one in contemporary organizations. Where Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) is now in vogue.
Mayo, Elton (1945), The social problems of an Industrial Civilization. New Hampshire: Ayer
Weber, M (1947), “ The Theory of Social and economic Organization” translated by A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons; New York University Press.
Wertheim, Edward, G. (2005), “ Historical Background of organizational behaviour” College of Business Administration, NorthEastern University, Boston. (http://web.cba.neu.edu/~ewertheim/introd/history.htm) (11/11/2005)
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