Evolution of modern management

The evolution of modern management began in the late nineteenth century. Management evolved as a result of the industrial revolution, which swept through Canada, Europe, and the United States of America. At the time, small-scale enterprises run by skilled workers expanded or were supplanted by factories that produced things on a big scale. The factories developed the use of machines, which were largely operated by semi-skilled and unskilled laborers. The majority of the managers that were in charge at the time were only equipped technically and did not have the ability to solve the problems that might arise at the organization, especially when a large number of people are involved. These managers were forced to search for new ways in which they could solve the problems of their organization. Evolution of management leads to different arguments with respect to the relevant components for professional administration. Evolution took place due to the ever-expanding challenges that organizations were facing.

Scientific Management Theory

Fredrick W. Taylor (1856-1912)

In 1975, Fredrick Taylor worked as a patternmaker and as a machinist before he joined the Midvale Steel Company that was based in Philadelphia in 1978. Fredrick rose through the ranks until he was installed as the chief engineer of the company after he graduated with a degree in engineering. He earned a reputation as the father of scientific management. It is believed that through his thoughts he influenced the field of management massively.

Taylors' main objective was to make sure that there is an increased productivity by ensuring that there was a high level of efficiency in the line of production as well as improved payments for the working force. He believed that these could be done through scientific methods other than the old-fashioned way of management. The principles he employed emphasized on scientific methods, the creation of harmony among the parties involved as well as their cooperation. He also aimed at maximizing the output of the company and improving the skills and the conditions of the workers.

Taylor associated the problem of low productivity to the failure to take responsibility for both the management and the working force. According to Taylor, both parties did not consider the impact of fair day’s work in relation to fair day’s pay. In addition, Taylor believed that the managers and the working force involved themselves too much in how to share the surpluses that arose from the productivity process instead of concentrating on increasing the profits for both the owners and the working force to be compensated fairly.

Taylor advocated for improved productivity that would affect the profits of the organizations and wages of the workers positively. He believed that organizations should avoid using the traditional rule of thumb and concentrate on employing scientific methods of management. He believed that productivity of organizations would improve without spending a huge amount of human energy as it used to be in the custom methods but rather a collection of scientific methods that were easy and smarter to work with compared to the traditional methods.

Taylor believed that replacing the rules of thumb with scientific methods would create a better relationship between the employees and the employers, which would have a positive impact on the productivity. He argued that applying organized knowledge as the system of an organization had more effect than the use of force that created discord between the employees and the organizations. He believed that the scientific methods represented both the interest of the company owners and the employees as compared to the other methods of managements.

Taylor saw that maintaining harmony between the parties involved in the daily operations of an organization as a key factor in management. According to Taylor, discord between the employees and the organizations they work for should be avoided and instead employ a method that would encourage the workers to cooperate more with their employees. He suggested that for productivity to increase in a company strong cooperation should exist between the employees and the organization that allows a smooth working environment for both parties.

Taylor believed that the old chaotic individualism that was the norm of the previous systems of management should be abandoned and adoption of human cooperation for better results must be adopted. He believed that when human resources agree to cooperate in a reliable way rather than in a forceful method, it will result in better output or productivity for the company. The productivity will, in turn, increase the profits, which will cause an increase in the wage of the employees.

Taylor also believed that the organizations should adopt a system that allows them to work for maximum output rather than the old restricted output. He felt that the restricted output hindered the organization from achieving its potential when it comes to productivity. Limiting the output of an organization will have a long-term effect on the growth and the profit of the company. On the other hand, he believed that with the pursuance of maximum output would increase revenue, which will increase the profits of the organization.

Taylor’s last principle was the development of employees to achieve their maximum potential. Tylor felt that the organizations had the responsibility to develop their employee’s skills and professionalism through training among other ways, which will influence the growth. He believed that this type of management will give employees the feeling that the companies care about them, which will encourage them to work even better. In addition, with the development of the skills that employees possess an organization will benefit from increased productivity as well as the quality of services.

Henry L. Gantt (1861-1919)

Gantt was a mechanical engineer just as Taylor who also joined the Midvale Steel Company in 1887. He spent most of his time with Taylor before he ventured in an engineering firm of his own. He shared Taylor's principle of developing a mutuality of interest, which meant that he supported a harmonious cooperation between the organization’s management and its workers. He believed that it was necessary to train and develop an understanding of the different views of both the workforce and the leadership. He argued that the management problems should be understood in a human element.

Gantt spent most of his time coming up with graphic methods that gave a description of plans as well as providing the possible managerial control. He also emphasized the importance of cost, time in relation to planning as well as management of work. It is from this that he came up with the Gantt chart, which has been used until today to provide modern techniques in management. The chart is also used for Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT).

Frank Gilbreth (1868-1924) & Lilian Gilbreth (1878-1972).

The Two supported Taylor’s ideas strongly and provided a platform for further development of those ideas. Having decided to turn down a chance to join the University for the bricklayer, Frank Gilbert became the chief superintendent of a construction company after working for 10 years. He later became a contractor after forming his firm for a short period. He spent most of his time trying to study motion in the workplace. He reduced the number of bricklaying motion by 13 (from 18 to 5). Through his plan, he was able to double the bricklayer’s productivity without an extra expenditure.

Frank Gilbreth later changed the purpose of his firm from contracting to providing consultancy services on how to improve the productivity of human beings. After meeting Taylor in 1907, he was able to combine his ideas with those of Taylor’s and came up with an effective scientist management system. He received massive support from Lilian who was an industrial psychologist. Lilian was more focused on the human aspects of work while Frank was focused on efficiency at the workplace. The two combined to search for the most appropriate ways of undertaking certain tasks. Frank later concluded that there should be the application of scientific management principles ‘we must look at workers first and understand their personalities and needs’.

Modern Operational Management Theory

Fayol’s (1841-1925): Principles of Management

Fayol, who was considered as the father of modern management theory, was a French industrialist. Although his ideas played a major role in the development of modern management techniques, his concepts were not embraced immediately by most of the scholars in the field of management, especially in USA and England until 1920. Fayol worked at the same time as Weber though they did not work together at the time. He rose to become the CEO of Comambault Mining, and as a result, Fayol was able to invent 14 principles that formed the basis of his argument. He believed that these principles were an essential part of improving the efficiency of the management process at the time. However, some of his principles faded because of contemporary management practices, but the majority of them braved through the hard period.

The first principle that Fayol believed in was the division of labor. Fayol suggested that there should be a specialization in the work and the need for a division of labor to increase efficiency. He believed that the division of labor would help to eliminate the worker's boredom, which would aid the management towards achieving the effectiveness of its employees. Job specialization would also increase the productivity levels because the skilled personnel would be tasked with the appropriate jobs that will suit their ability. He also believed that through the implementation of the principle organizations would cut down their costs.

The second principle was authority and responsibility. He considered that managers were responsible for proving orders and ensuring that their subordinates follow them to achieve organization goals. He also believed in the principle of Unity of Command. He suggested that there should be a one-power system of management in organizations that would be in charge of issuing instructions to the employees. He thought that through such a system there would be the elimination of confusion in the workplace. Therefore, employees should receive instructions from one superior.

The line of authority was the fourth principle that Fayol included as part of his work on management. He believed that the chain of command from top to bottom in an organization should be limited to ensure that there is clear and quick channeling of instructions or information. Centralization was also another principle that he included in his work. Fayol suggested that there should be no concentration of authority at the top or chain of command. He thought that there should be departments under various processes of the production line. He believed that through such a system of management there would be better and closer management of the staff.

Fayol also stressed the need for unity of direction in his work. He believed that a proper management system should have a single plan that would guide both the managers and workers in their workplace. Fayol thought that for an organization to be stable, it should have one direction towards achieving its objectives. He suggested that when it is divided or having different directions followed by the various parties in the organization would lead to confusion. Fayol believed that an organization should treat all its members with equity. He thought that they are all entitled to be treated with justice and respect. The order of organization in a business firm was also a key principle in his argument. He believed that the arrangement of positions should be able to help the organization to achieve efficiency and provide the employees with satisfying career opportunities. The employees should also take advantage of the opportunities presented to them to grow their careers within the organization.

Fayol also stressed the need for innovation in organizations. He believed that an organization should achieve such an objective by allowing their employees to be innovative and creative in their workplace to solve various issues in work. He suggested that organization’s problems would be solved through using innovative ways that help them come up with new ideas. Another principle he advocated for in his work was discipline. Fayol believed that the managers were tasked with creating a strong workforce that would always aim at achieving organization goals through a professional way. Therefore, he stressed the need of having a disciplined structure and personnel in the organization.

Fayol also stressed the remuneration of the personnel was also a key issue. He believed that the system that the top management of an organization should employ in rewarding their employees should be equitable and fair to both the employees as well as the organization. The twelfth principle that Fayol argued was the stability of tenure for the employees. He believed that the longer employees stayed in an organization they gain enough experience that helps them improve the organization’s efficiency. Therefore, he suggested that organizations should focus on retaining their employees for long-term engagement.

The employees should subordinate their individual interests towards achieving the common interest. He believed that the workers of an organization should be able to understand how their performances have an influence on the productivity of the whole organization. Therefore, it is at times important that the employees focus towards achieving profits and high productivity for the organization because it will result in improvement of their wages and conditions of working. Lastly, he advocated for esprit de corps where he believed that the managers should be responsible for the development of comradeship spirit within an organization. The managers should lead other employees with enthusiasm as well as devotion to achieving a common cause, which is the organization’s objective.

The principles provided by Fayol and Weber schools of thought formed the basis for clear and appropriate guidelines for the managers in today’s field of management. Through these guidelines, the managers can be able to run the resource of an organization efficiently and effectively. The principles suggested by the two formed the foundation for today’s modern management theory. Different researchers and scholars have developed and refined these principles to ensure that they suit the challenges that organizations face today.

The Hawthorne Studies and Human Relations

Follett’s work received minimal appreciation as compared to the work of his predecessors mainly because of its radical approach. Most of the managers and the scholars of management did not embrace his work, but instead, they focused on the work done by Taylor and Gilbreth. The focus of the study was how to improve efficiency by providing a massive improvement in working conditions. The study also emphasized on the improvement of such work settings by ensuring that there is also upgrading of the tools that the workers use in their place of work.

The Hawthorne studies aimed at investigating how the characteristics of the work setting operate, especially the level of illumination and how it affected the fatigue of workers as well as their performances. Through the study, the researchers were able to measure the level of productivity of the workers at various levels of illumination. The out of the research was that if the level of illumination was raised or lowered, the productivity of the employees was increased. In fact, it was reported that the level of productivity started to fall only when the level of illumination dropped to the moonlight one. The moonlight level was a level that the workers could not see well and be able to do their work effectively.

Through the help of Elton Mayo, it was established that other factors contributed to the behavior of the workers. However, it was not immediately established what influenced the Hawthorne worker’s behavior. The effect was named the Hawthorne effect, which argued that the attitude of the workers towards their managers or the supervisors had an effect on their performances. In addition, the leadership style of the managers or any other leader in an organization had an effect on the performance of the workers and that of the whole organization. The findings of the study convinced most of the researchers and scholars to pay close attention to the managerial leadership and as well as the behavior of particular leaders.

The conclusion was that the managers and supervisors were to be trained to behave in ways that would lead to cooperation from the junior staff then there would be an increase in productivity. It is from this school of thought that the human relations movement emerged. The movement advocated for the supervisors to be behaviorally trained for them to be able to manage their subordinates that will foster cooperation between the two parties. The importance of human relations training was emphasized after another series of experiments were carried out.

The bank wiring room experiments, which Elton Mayo and F.J. Roethlisberger carried out established that workers came up as a group and adopted output restriction as a way of protecting their jobs. The workers who went against this norm were sanctioned by the rest of the group members. The ones that violated these informal norms and performed above them were referred to as the rate busters, while those who performed below the norm were referred to as chiselers. From the finds of these experiments concluded that both these workers threatened the group as a whole.

Rate busters were threatening the group because they gave out information to managers as well as giving them ideas on how the work could be done in a fast and efficient way. On the other hand, the chiselers were looked done upon because they did not perform as expected on the responsibilities that they were delegated to them. The group members handed their punishments to these two groups of workers in a bid to protect their jobs. Therefore, it was concluded that the influence of these groups had the same impact on the supervisor's one on the performance of the employees.

Theory X and Theory Y

The majority of the studies that were carried out post-World War II proved that the assumptions made on the worker’s attitudes had an effect on the behavior of the manager or the supervisor who is in charge. The approach by Douglas McGregor was the one that gained most popularity and influence. According to him, there are two sets of assumptions on work attitudes. He also argued that behaviors were a significant factor on how managers think and how they will behave within an organization. McGregor came up with two different assumptions, which he named the Theory X, and Theory Y.

Theory X

Theory X argued that the average worker is lazy, does not like work, and will only do little as possible and avoid extra work. Most of these workers avoid any responsibility that is given to them; they also have little ambition on their careers. In this situation, the manager is usually forced to countercheck that the workers do not avoid the job. For a manager to ensure that there is a high level of performance from the workers he or she has to supervise the employees closely and ensure that their behavior is controlled through the use of rewards and punishments.

Managers who subscribe to this school of thought always have to shape their work setting to enable them to have the maximum control over their workers, especially regarding behavior. Leaders who accept this assumption believe that employees need to fulfill their responsibilities so that the organization can realize its success. Therefore, these managers are usually engaged in the development of rules and systems that enable execution of punishments as well as rewards to enable control of the worker’s behavior. These managers are opposed to the idea of giving the worker the autonomy to be able to resolve the problems on one's own because they believe the workforce does not desire or expect cooperation.

The theory X managers believe their role in an organization is closely monitoring their juniors to ensure that they contribute to the production process and are not a threat to the quality of the product the company produces. Henry Ford, the owner of Ford automobiles companies, fits into this category of managers.

Theory Y

Contrary to the other assumption, Theory Y assumed that workers are not intentionally lazy, dislike their duties and these workers can do anything good for the organization. The theory of Y believed that working conditions play an important role in determining the attitude of workers toward whether this place is a source of satisfaction, encouragement or punishment. It also assumes that managers are not needed to control the behavior of workers closely for them to perform, as it is the case with Theory X. The theory believes that workers have self-control when they are engaged in organizational goals. The theory believes that these workers take full responsibility of their obligation with no need to be supervised or pressed to perform their daily duties. It does not believe in the system of rewards and punishments as opposed to the other theory.

Management Science Theory

The theory applies a contemporary approach to issues of management, and mostly its focus is using the rigorous qualitative techniques that help managers utilize the resource of an organization for them to produce goods and services. Ideally, it is an extension of the scientific management that was developed by Taylor. The theory applied a qualitative approach to measuring that task of the workers so as to raise the efficiency. Different branches of management deal with specific concerns.

Operations management is one of the branches of management science. It equips managers with the skills and techniques to analyze the organization’s productivity. The techniques help the managers increase efficiency in the production system of their organization. Total quality management is another balance of management (TQM). TQM section of management science focuses on analyzing the output, input, and conversion activities of an organization to increase the product quality.

Quantitative management is a branch of management science that focusses on using mathematical methods such as simulation, chaos theory, linear programming among others to help the managers make decisions. An example is if a manager is to decide the amount of inventory that the company should hold for a certain period of the year; another decision maybe where to establish a new plant among many other financial ones that are complex. Management information system (MIS) is a branch of management that can be used by the leaders to design information system. These information systems can be used to manage information for events that occur within an organization. The systems can also provide outside information on what is taking place in the external environment. The information provided by the systems is helpful in the decision making of a firm.

Organizational Environment Theory

The theory was one of the most important milestones in management as researchers shifted their thoughts from how manager’s behavior can have an effect on an organization to how these managers could control the external environment. The set of forces that were considered in this case were the organization environment resources such as raw materials among others. The researchers developed two different views on the study of the environment, the open-system view, and the contingency theory.

The Open-Systems View

In the 1960s, Daniel Katz led a team that developed one of the most influential views of how an organization is impacted by the external environment. The group perceived an organization as an open system whereby it takes resources from the external environment then transforms those resources into goods. The goods and services are then distributed back to the environment where the customers who form part of the market buy them. The input stage involves the acquisition of resources such as money, raw materials, and skilled workers. The organization uses the resources to produce the goods and services that are needed to the customers in the market.

At the conversion stage, the organization employees are provided with the necessary tools, which they use to transform the raw materials into finished products that are usable. The output stage involves realizing of the processed goods and services to the customers from the organization. The external environment is made up of customers who use the goods to satisfy their needs. The money that is accumulated from the sales made is then used by the organization to ensure that the cycle is continuous. The system is, therefore, referred to as open because it interacts directly with the outside environment for it to survive in its daily business.

On the other hand, a closed system means that the organization is not affected in any way by the activities that happen in the eternal environment. An organization that adopts this kind of system usually has the entropy experience. Entropy is the occurrence of a system losing its ability to control itself. Therefore, the case happens that the system will disintegrate and dissolve. Most systems usually use the open systems point of view. A company such as generic Electric buys the components from the external environment and gets its skilled labor force from the external environment.

Contingency Theory

The theory came as another milestone in the management field led by Tom Burns and his counterpart G.M Stalker who were based in the United Kingdom. Paul Lawrence and Jay Lorsch were based in the USA. The theory believes that there is no any specific way of achieving the best organization. Leaders, who subscribe to this school of thought, really choose actions in the environment . The characteristics of the environment have an effect on how the organization will obtain resources. Therefore, managers have an obligation to choose the right organization structure that will be used to favor them and enable them to acquire resources from the environment. When there is an organic structure, the authorities are in a decentralized system that enables the middle and low-level managers to take responsibility of the scarce resource that is in the environment. The managers are needed to manage the situation of the company and ensure that there is continuity even in a situation where there is a scarce resource in the production process.


Most of the theories and assumptions discussed above contributed massively to the evolution of management. The early theories formed a foundation for the future development of management systems and principles that are used until today. However, some of the theories such as Theory Y and the closed system theories are unrealistic in the world of today. Theory Y assumes that every employee is responsible for the activities that he or she is delegated to do and will perform it delightedly which is unrealistic. A closed system is also unrealistic as there will be no business or company that will not be affected by the environment.

All these theories have evolved depending on the challenges that organizations face and the need to solve them. Through this evolution, it is expected that in the future, more research will be undertaken and superior systems will be developed to solve the complex organization challenges that will be expected in the future.


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