Organisational Behaviour

Organisational Behaviour Theories

Organisational Behaviour Theories – We can arbitrarily split the approaches of organisational behaviour into three basic school of thought. The following are the theories of management leading to organisational behaviour:

Three Organisational Behaviour Theories

1Classical Approaches (i) Scientific Management
(ii) Administrative Management
(iii) Bureaucratic Management
2Neo-Classical Approaches (i) Human Relation Approach
(ii) Human Behaviour or Human Resource Approach
3Modern Approaches (i) System Approach
(ii) Contingency or Situational Approach

Classical Approaches

This is the first Organisational Behaviour Theories. The classical approach to management started around the year 1900. The principles developed under this approach are accepted even today. Under this approach it is felt that more stress should be given to production instead of manpower. It also believes that the employee is motivated by the economic incentives. This approach has three branches.

I. Scientific Management – F.W. Taylor is the father of scientific management. In addition to Taylor Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, Henry L. Gantt and Harrington Emerson have also made significant contribution to the development of scientific management.

II. Administrative Management – Administrative management approach to management was advocated by Henry Fayol. This approach is also called Process Management. Fayol is also called the father of administrative management in the same way as Taylor is called the father of scientific management. He acquired the knowledge of management by working as a manager in various companies in France. Fayol started his career in 1860 in a French company as a Junior Engineer. He was appointed the Chief Executive Officer in 1888 in the same company. When he joined this company, the economic condition of this company was very bad and it was on the threshold of bankruptcy. He with the help of his ability, not only saved the company from going bankrupt but changed it into a prosperous company. After making many experiments, he reached the conclusion that the management activity is a special activity, which is different from accounting, sales, production and other related activities and which is completed in a similar manner in all the organizations (business or non-business).

III. Bureaucratic Management – Max Weber, a German social scientist, advocated the bureaucratic approach to management. Weber was of the view that strict rules should be framed to eliminate managerial inconsistency because inconsistency breeds inefficiency. Moreover, he felt that success in a big organization was possible only with the help of the bureaucratic management. The principles enunciated by him are very close to the principles advocated by Fayol but he has advocated their strict adherence.

Neo-Classical Approaches

This is the second Organisational Behaviour Theories. The neo-classical approach to management developed around 1930. The basis of this approach is the classical approach. Under this approach, the classical approach has been presented with some modifications. The main difference between the classical and neo-classical approach is regarding the treatment of the Human Resource. Under the classical approach, the human resource is ignored and much importance is given to work and physical resources. On the other hand, neo-classical approach understands the importance of human resource. Under the neo-classical approach individual and group relationships have been given due importance. This approach has two basic pillars:

I. Human Relations Approach – Both the scientific management approach of Taylor and administrative management approach of Fayol have failed to increase production efficiency and workplace harmony. The major cause of their failure was not to give proper importance to the human resource in organisation. The origin of the human relations approach is mainly due to this reason. The famous psychologist Elton Mayo presented the human relation approach to management. To give final touches to this approach Mayo undertook some experiments with his colleagues. These experiments are known as Hawthorne Experiments.

These experiments were conducted in the Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne plant in the U.S.A. during 1927 to 1932. They are called Hawthorne experiments simply because they were conducted at Hawthorne. This plant manufactured the parts of telephone and 29,000 workers worked there. During his experiments, Mayo and his colleagues studied the following factors:

  1. Relationship between light and production.
  2. Relationship between the conditions of work and production (the conditions of work include light, air, hours of work, period of rest, frequency of rest etc.)
  3. Informal group and relationship with production
  4. Relationship between economic incentives and production.

II. Human Behaviour or Human Resource Approach – It has been observed in the human relation approach that there is a direct relationship between satisfaction and production. In other words, the more satisfied the workers are, the more production will be possible. The human behaviour approach is nothing but an improved version of the human relations approach to management. Under this approach, the study of human behaviour is given more importance than the human relations. The exponents of this approach include scholars like Douglas, McGregor, Chester I Barnard, Rensis Likert, Chris Argyris, Fredrick Herzberg, Warren G. Bennis, Mary Parker Follet, Abraham Maslow, Robert Tannenbaum, etc. The major contribution of the behavioural scientists has been in the field of leadership, communication, motivation, organizational change, organisational conflicts, etc. The human behaviour approach came into vogue after 1940.

Modern Approaches

This is the third Organisational Behaviour Theories.The modern approach to management was developed around 1950. This approach is an improvement upon both the classical and neo-classical approach to management. This approach has two basic pillars:

I. System Approach – This is a newly developed approach which came into existence in 1960. This approach was developed by Chester I. Bernard, Herbert A. Simon and their colleagues.

The system approach means a group of small interrelated units. A group of different units which means a complete unit is called a system, while the small units are individually called subsystem. All the small units are in themselves independent, but somehow or the other are connected with the subsystems of the related system. All the subsystems influence one another. For example, a scooter is a system which has many subsystems in the form of engine, shaft, gear, wheels body, etc. All these subsystems ar interrelated with one another and if one of them fails, the whole system stops working. Therefore, the success of the system depends on the cooperation and efficiency of the subsystems. 

II. Contingency or Situational Approach – Contingency approach to management is an important modern approach. This approach originated in around 1970. According to it, the managers should take decisions not according to principles but according to the situations. It means that there cannot be any single principle/formula/ managerial activity which can be suitable in all the situations. Its chief reason is the constantly changing nature of environment. Here environment means the sum total of all the factors which influence the organization. These factors are both internal and external. The internal factors include objectives, policies, organization structure, management information system, etc. The external factors include customers suppliers, competitors, government policies, political set-up, legal system, etc. All these factors are subject to change, that is why the environment of an organization is called dynamic.

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