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Behavioural Management Theory – Evolution of Management Thought

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Behavioural Management TheoryBehavioural Management Theory
Hawthorne Studies, Theory X and Theory Y
Principles of Management (POM)
BSc.CSIT | Third Semester Unit two
Tribhuvan University (TU)

Behavioural Management Theory
The behavioural management theorists writing in the first half of the twentieth century all espoused a theme that focused on how managers should personally behave in order to motivate employees and encourage them to perform at high levels and be committed to the achievement of organizational goals. Employees can become demoralized when managers do not treat their employees properly.

The work of Mary Parker Follett
If F.W. Taylor is considered to be the father of management thought, Mary Parker Follett (1868–1933) serves as its mother. Much of her writing about management and about the way managers should behave toward workers was a response to her concern that Taylor was ignoring the human side of the organization. She pointed out that management often overlooks the multitude of ways in which employees can contribute to the organization when managers allow them to participate and exercise initiative in their everyday work lives. Taylor, for example, relied on time-and-motion experts to analyze worker’s jobs for them. Follett, in contrast, argued that because workers know the most about their jobs, they should be involved in job analysis and managers should allow them to participate in the work development process.
Follett proposed that, “Authority should go with knowledge whether it is up the line or down.” In other words, if workers have the relevant knowledge, then workers, rather than managers, should be in control of the work process itself, and managers should behave as coaches and facilitators – not as monitors and supervisors. In making this statement, Follett anticipated the current interest in self managed teams and empowerment. She also recognized the importance of having managers in different departments communicate directly with each other to speed decision making. She advocated what she called “cross-functioning”: members of different departments working together in cross-departmental teams to accomplish projects – an approach that is increasingly utilized today.
Fayol also mentioned expertise and knowledge as important sources of managers’ authority, but Follett went further. She proposed that knowledge and expertise, and not manager’s formal authority deriving from their position in the hierarchy, should decide who would lead at any particular moment. She believed, as do many management theorists today, that power is fluid and should flow to the person who can best help the organization achieve its goals. Follett took a horizontal view of power and authority, in contrast to Fayol, who saw the formal line of authority and vertical chain of command as being most essential to effective management.

Hawthorne Studies
Series of studies conducted from 1924 to 1932 at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company is known as Hawthorne Studies. In this study an experiment was conducted in which they systematically measured workers productivity at various levels of illumination. The significant finding was that a manager’s behaviour or leadership approach can affect performance. This finding led many researchers to turn their attention to managerial behaviour and leadership. If supervisors could be trained to behave in ways that would elicit cooperative behaviour from their subordinates,  then productivity could be increased. From this view emerged the human relations movement, which advocates that supervisors be behaviourally trained to manage  subordinates in ways that elicit their cooperation and increase their productivity.

Theory X and Theory Y
Several studies after the Second World War revealed how assumptions about workers’ attitudes and behaviour affect managers’ behaviour. Perhaps the most influential approach was developed by Douglas McGregor. He proposed that two different sets of assumptions about work attitudes and behaviours dominate the way managers think and affect how they behave in organizations. McGregor named these two contrasting sets of assumptions Theory X and Theory Y (see Table Below)

Theory X Theory Y
The average employee is lazy, dislikes
work, and will try to do as little as possible.
Employees are not inherently lazy. Given the chance, employees will do what is
good for the organization.
To ensure that employees work hard, managers should closely supervise employees. To allow employees to work in the organization’s interest, managers must create a work setting that provides opportunities for workers to exercise initiative and self-direction.
Managers should create strict work rules and implement a well-defined system of rewards and punishments to control employees. Managers should decentralize authority to employees and make sure employees have the resources necessary to achieve organizational goals.


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