Essays on Classical Management Theory Literature review

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The paper "Classical Management Theory" is a wonderful example of a literature review on management. Classical management theory, which emerged in the 19th century and to us today seems simplistic, puts management in a paternalistic role and regards labor negatively, in the sense that workers are considered a resource that requires careful application and external direction in order to be most productive. The general intent of classical management theory is to develop a beneficial relationship between management and employees in pursuit of the main goal to produce goods and services as efficiently as possible to obtain the highest surplus, i.e.

the lowest cost and highest profit. (Nienaber & Roodt, 2006: 38) The three main parts of any management theory are the types of control, the manner in which the enterprise is organized, and the way in which tasks are accomplished to produce the goods or services. In classical management theory, the control is autocratic; the enterprise is organized in a clear hierarchy, and the tasks are divided into components as small as necessary to match the abilities of the workers performing them.

Frederick Taylor’ s concepts of scientific management encompass all these ideas and are in some respects still widely used today, as will be discussed in later sections of this paper. The classical management structure is one in which there are three levels of control. The highest executive level is concerned with organizing and planning to meet the goals of the company. The middle level of management translates those strategic plans into specific objectives and procedures in the various departments of the company. The lowest level of management is concerned with implementing the procedures and ensuring that the workers accomplish the planned tasks.

Taylor focused on the tasks of workers rather than managers, but his concepts of dividing tasks to make them simpler and more efficient and matching abilities of workers to their tasks still apply in this view of the management structure. Within the clearly-divided hierarchical structure, the control is autocratic – there is a clear difference between ‘ leaders’ and ‘ followers’ – but the number of people under the direct control of any manager, even the top executive, is limited.

This also is another example of the division of labor.


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Grönroos, Christian. (1994) “From Scientific Management to Service Management”. International Journal of Service Industry Management, 5(1): 5-20. Available from Emerald: .

Jamali, D., Khoury, G.and Sahyoun, H. (2006) “From Bureaucratic Organizations to Learning Organizations”. The Learning Organization, 13(4): 337-352. Available from Emerald: .

Maravelias, Christian. (2003) “Post-bureaucracy – Control through Professional Freedom”. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 16(5): 547-566. Available from Emerald: .

McKenzie, Paul. (2010) E-mail response, RE: Management Study. 2 May 2010.

NetMBA. (2007) “Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management”. [Internet] NetMBA Business Knowledge Center. Available from: .

Nienaber, Hester, and Roodt, Gerrie. (2006) “Management and leadership: buccaneering or science?” European Business Review, 20(1): 36-50. Available from Emerald: .

Nucor Corporation. (2010) Company website. Available from: .

Taylor, Frederick W. (1911) The Principles of Scientific Management. 2008, Forgotten Books. Available from: .

Wagner-Tsukamoto, Sigmund. (2008) “Scientific Management Revisited”. Journal of Management History, 14(4): 348-372. Available from Emerald: .

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