Classical theorists vs the Behavouralists and Human Relations theorists

While classical theorists emphasized the structural aspects of organisation, the behavouralists and human relations theorists focused on the human factors. Comment.

The emergence and development of PA can be divided into distinct phases on the basis of dominant themes of the time. On the one hand whereas the classical theorists focused on mechanical aspects concerning the organisation and the management, on the other subsequent human relations and behaviourslist focused on psycho-social and individual aspects.

Classical theorists viz. Fredrick Taylor, Fayol, Weber, Gullick & Urwick etc focused on increasing the efficiency at the work place by focusing on man as an ‘economic man’. For them, the chief concern was improving the productivity at the work place. Though the emphasis was on elements like co-ordination (POCCC propounded by Fayol, POSDCORB by Gullick and mental revolution by Taylor), co-operation, giving up rules of thumb by scientific techniques and approaches, still the focus was on how to improve the efficiency. Many a times approaches like – carrot and stick policy, coercive dominance by management etc were resorted to, an employee was seen as a merely a cog in the wheel. A broad macroscopic (helicopter view) viz. bottom up approach (by Taylor)/ top-down by Fayol was seen as a panacea to all ills.

Against this, a pioneering effort was made by Mayo and his associates, while conducting the famous Hawthrone experiments. Human relation theorists revolutionized the landscape by giving concepts, contrary to the classical theorists. They advocated the importance of psycho-social environment in work place settings. Human being for them is not merely an economic man, he is endowed with unique psychological characteristics (a thought made famous by the later behaviouralists). The emphasis on this aspect like morale, motivation, informal organisation, linkage of productivity with morale were Mayo’s chief findings. Behaviouralists like Barnard, Simon etc further enriched these thoughts. Not to mention, Follet who can’t be neatly categorized into any particular category but viewed society as social system and management consisting of social processes, influenced Simon a lot.

For behavioualists, a human being was an administrative man (Simon), not merely a cog in the wheel. They lamented (passionate expression of grief) the eulogisation (praise in speech or writing) of structural aspects by classical thinkers and Simon called these theories as myths and proverbs as they occur in pair with mutual contradictions, merely normative, not focusing on descriptive concerns. Concepts like Zone of Difference and Zone of Acceptance, viewing authority from an acceptor’s/employee point of view, emphasis on informal communication and psychological traits of individual were some of their unique concepts which were later elaborated by thinkers like McGregor, Argyris, Herzberg who viewed participative decision making as utterly important.

Some Appreciation Please!