Evolution of Management Thoughts – MBA Tutorials

Evolution of Management Thoughts

The approaches of management are theoretical frameworks which are used for studying management. Every approaches of management is based on somewhat different assumptions about human beings and the firm for which they work.

The different approaches of management are

  1. Classical approach or Traditional approach
  2. Behavioural approach
  3. Quantitative approach
  4. Systems approach
  5. Contingency approach

1. Classical approach or Traditional approach

This approach is one of the oldest formal approach of management thought. Classical approach roots pre-date the twentieth century. The traditional approach of thought generally concerns ways to manage work and organizations more effectively and efficiently.

Three areas of study that can be grouped under the traditional approach are administrative management, scientific management, and bureaucratic management.

(i) Scientific Management:

The father of scientific managementis Frederick Winslow Taylor. Scientific management also known as Taylorism or the Taylor system is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows, with the objective of improving worker productivity. In other words, Traditional rules of thumb which are replaced by precise procedures developed after careful study of an worker at work.

(ii) Administrative Management:

Focus of administrative management is on the management process and principles of management. In contrast to scientific management, which deals largely with work and job at the individual level of analysis, administrative management tells a more general theory of management.

(iii) Bureaucratic Management:

Focus of bureaucratic management is on the ideal form of organization or firm. The major contributor to bureaucratic management was Max Weber. Based on the observation, Weber concluded that many early organizations were ineffectively and inefficiently managed, with decisions based on personal loyalty and relationships . He proposed that a form of organization, called a bureaucracy, characterized by hierarchy, division of labour, impersonality, formalized rules, and the selection and promotion of employees based on ability, would lead to more effective management. Weber also contended that managers’ authority in an enterprise should be based not on tradition but on the position held by managers in the organizational hierarchy.


The behavioural approach of management thought came in because of perceived weaknesses in the assumptions of the classical or traditional approach. The traditional approach emphasized process, efficiency, and principles. The behavioural approach focused on trying to understand the factors that affect human or worker behaviour at work place.


This approach to management involves the use of quantitative techniques, such as information models, statistics, and computer simulations, to improve decision making. Today, this view encourages the managers to use statistics, mathematics, and other quantitative techniques to make management decisions.


Focus of systems approach is on understanding the enterprise as an open system that transforms inputs into outputs. The systems approach began to have a very good impact on management thought in the 1960s as a way of assiuming about managing techniques that would help managers to relate different parts and specialties of the company to one another, as well as to external environmental factors.


Focus of contingency approach is on applying management principles and processes as dictated by the different characteristics of every situation. It focus that there is no one best way to manage and that it depends on various situational factors, such as the technology, external environment, characteristics of the manager, organizational characteristics and characteristics of the subordinates. Contingency theorists often explicitly or implicitly criticize the traditional approach for its emphasis on the universality of management principles. However, most traditional writers recognized the need to consider aspects of the situation when applying management principles.

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