UU-MBA712-Assignment 1


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Date of Submission: WEEK 5

Question: “With reference to appropriate literature and cases, critically evaluate the influence of classical and human relations approaches in management today.”


In order to understand the management theories, we need to first understand and define two very important words. We need to define and understand the words management in relation to the term theory.

Theory is defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, 9th edition, edited by Della Thompson as” a supposition or system of ideas explaining something”. On the other hand, Management definition is deemed to be broader in terms of its application. Management has been described as a social process involving responsibility for economical and effective planning & regulation of operation of an enterprise in the fulfillment of given purposes. Different experts have classified functions of management.

According to George & Jerry, “There are four fundamental functions of management i.e. planning, organizing, actuating and controlling”.

According to Henry Fayol, “To manage is to forecast and plan, to organize, to command, & to control”. Whereas Luther Gullick has given a keyword ’POSDCORB’ where P stands for Planning, O for Organizing, S for Staffing, D for Directing, Co for Co-ordination, R for reporting & B for Budgeting. But the most widely accepted are functions of management given by KOONTZ and O’DONNEL i.e. Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing and Controlling.So as we dive and try to understand The Influence of Classical and Human-Relations Approaches in Management Today, we shall be looking we shall dwell and compare the two theories in regards to management.

Review of the theories

In every respect, all management theories concentrate on one cardinal issue, People. Whichever management theory we look at they all look into how best the employers can be motivated in order for them to be productive and there by offering a great service to the employee. In order to achieve this, managers need to act and behave in a way that will see to it that the aspirations of the organization are achieved, whether they are motivating employees, making decisions, allocating resources or negotiating deals, managers are vital for business. Managers have been an integral factor for business success since the Industrial Revolution. Management theories have been developed and used since management first became a standard part of business practices. While older theories still hold relevant, new theories continue to be developed to keep up with current trends in business.

Classical method of management

Classical management theory was introduced in the late 19th century. It became widespread in the first half of the 20th century, as organizations tried to address issues of industrial management, including specialization, efficiency, higher quality, cost reduction and management-worker relationships. While other management theories have evolved since then, classical management approaches are still used today by many small-business owners to build their companies and to succeed. Russ, Julianne. “Advantages and Benefits of the Classical Management Theory.” Small Business – Chron.com, 04 March 2019.

The classical Method of management poses a number of advantage to the past and modern management styles.

While great emphasis is on effective leadership -to motivate and coach subordinates- one can’t neglect the other faces for successful management; to control the business efficiency and to develop the business -strategize, i.e. present application of decision-making, policies and practices to insure future business success (Karlof and Loevingsson, 2005, pp.4). Not shockingly, all three faces have their impact on the organization performance to which each manager seeks to achieve (Safferstone, 2005). Karlof and Loevingsson asserts on efficiency and effectiveness outputs of management approaches -although not directly stating them- especially when we view their work with Michael Porter’s value chain theory. Karlof and Loevingsson noted that “The basis of all organized business is actually to create a value that is higher than the cost of producing this value” (Karlof and Loevingsson, 2005, pp.6), a statement that lends itself to efficiency and effectiveness in management leading so that the organizational performance creates a unique value. The Classical methods has the below traits;

Clear Hierarchical Structure

Under classical management theory, workplaces are divided under three distinct layers of management. At the very top are the owners, board of directors and executives that set the long-range objectives for a firm. Middle management takes on the responsibility of overseeing supervisors while setting goals at the department level to fit within the confines of the managers’ budget. At the lowest level of the chain are supervisors, who manage day-to-day activities, address employee problems and provide training.

Clearly Defined Division of Labor

The classical management theory involves an assembly line view of the workplace in which large tasks are broken down into smaller ones that are easy to accomplish. Workers understand their roles and typically specialize in a single area. This helps increase productivity and efficiency while eliminating the need for employees to multi-task.

Motivated by Money

This theory believes that employees are motivated by financial rewards. It proposes that employees will work harder and be more productive if they are awarded incentives based on their work. Employers who can motivate their employees using this tactic may be able to achieve increased production, efficiency and profit

Single Leader Makes Decisions

The autocratic leadership model is the central part of classical management theory. In this system, there is no need to consult large groups of people for decisions to be made. A single leader makes a final decision and it is communicated downward for all to follow. This leadership approach can be beneficial when decisions need to be made quickly by one leader, rather than a group of company officials.

Human Relations Theory

Human Relations Theory considers the organization as a social entity. This theory recognizes that money alone is not enough to satisfy employees. Morale is considered to be integral to employee performance. The major weakness of this theory is that it makes several assumptions about behavior. Elkins, Hashaw. “Management Theories & Concepts at the Workplace.” Small Business – Chron.com, 27 March 2019.

The human relations approach to management was first carried in the early 1920s this was the time of the industrial revolution. Elton Mayo was a Harvard Professor who had a huge interest in Frederick Taylor’s work. He was interested in learning about ways to increase productivity. In 1924, Elton Mayo and his prot?g? Fritz Roethlisberger were awarded a grant by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Science to study productivity and lighting at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company. The Hawthorne experiments, as Elton Mayo’s body of work became known as, are a series of experiments in human relations conducted between 1924 and 1932 at Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Works in Cicero, Illinois.

The human relations theory focuses on the very fact that people or employees desire to be part of a team that is inclusive and is able to support them there by seeing to it that growth and development is achieved for both. Hence the employees as been part of the organization receive the attention they require and get encouraged to participate, they perceive their work has significance, and they are motivated to be more productive, resulting in high quality work.

Miles, in a famous article in the Harvard Business ReviewMiles, R. E. (1965). Human relations or human resources? Harvard Business Review, 43(4), 148–157., discussed human relations as the natural knee-jerk reaction that many management theorists (along with workers and managers as well) had to Fredrick Taylor’s scientific management. Where Taylor viewed people as parts of a working machine, the human relations approach shifted the viewpoint from the task to the worker. For the first time, workers were viewed as an important part of the organization that should be viewed holistically instead of bundles of skills and aptitudes. As Miles noted, managers “were urged to create a ‘sense of satisfaction’ among their subordinates by showing interest in the employees’ personal success and welfare.”Miles, R. E. (1965). Human relations or human resources? Harvard Business Review, 43(4), 148–157.Most importantly, the goal of human relations was to make workers feel like they belonged to something bigger than themselves, and thus the worker’s work was important to the overall effort of the organization.

Hawthone Studies Elton Mayo pioneered human approach management in the 1930?s at the Hawthorne plant in the United States of America. He is credited with the belief that if Employers care more about their employees, it will go a long way to motivate them. This will have a positive impact on productivity thereby leading to increase in profitability. Elton further went to prove that when employers pick interest in their employees, the employees feels more valued and empowered. They feel like they part own the organisation. Many organisations are lacking in this approach especially small business enterprises. The multinational organisations in Nigeria such as Shell, Chevron, Nestle, GSK have good welfare policy that considers the health and well-being of their employees. They emphasize on healthy living, safety precautions etc. Nestle offers free lunch to its employees as well as GSK. There is free medical care to an extent for employees. These are social factors that motivate employee’s thereby stimulating increase in productivity. A leading bank in Nigeria offers free cr?che/day care for their staffs that recently returned from maternity leave and are nursing their babies. The period for this service is one year. The Lagos state government increased the Maternity leave for women from 3months to 6 months and also granted 10 days paternity leave for men. Some of the examples mentioned above are measures put in place by employers to motivate their employees. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs Theory Abraham Maslow’s theory is often represented in the form of a pyramid.

Examples- The Case of Toyota

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs:

Basically, Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is pyramid of different levels of needs. The base at the lowest is Physiological needs, the next is Safety needs, Love & Belonging, then Esteem and the highest level is Self-Actualization (Please refer to Figure 1 for more details). Only when lower levels of needs such as physiological and safety are satisfied, then employees can achieve higher levels such as esteem and self-actualization, which make them work more efficiently, with more drive and more innovative ideas.

For Physiological & Safety needs:

According to Liker (2004, p.210), all employees of Toyota are satisfied in lower level needs, they are well paid, their jobs are secured and the working environment is safe and organized. Besser (1995, p.390) also stated that Toyota provided child care and recreational facilities available on site for employees. All these benefits were provided to ensure their employees are safe and secured to work for a higher level of needs, which brings more results.

For the needs of belonging:

Besser (1995, p. 390) described the way Toyota promoted a strong team spirit and sense of belonging is by showing no discrimination between team members; or between managers and employees. In particular, “There are no private parking facilities, private cafeterias for managers, private offices, or private secretaries. All staff are encouraged to wear the company uniform and are called by their first name” (Besser, 1995, p.390). This practice makes employees really feel that they are a part of a community and creates a strong bond between employees and the company.

For esteem & self-actualization:

Toyota also encourages its employees to try to solve challenging problems to build up their confidence so that they can satisfy their higher needs in esteem and self-actualization.

Also, by using a ratio of team leader to team members of 1 to 4, or 5; comparing to 1 to 20 or 30 in the industry, Toyota created 4 to 5 times the promotion opportunities for employees (Besser, 1995, p. 393). Ambitious workers are also promised that their assembly line jobs are temporary and after being promoted to team leader, they would receive a lot of training and job rotation opportunities.

All employees are also encouraged to solve daily work problems innovatively, they would receive gift certificates for their ideas contribution.


Each management theory provides valuable insight into managerial requirements. There is no single model or theory that will work for every organization. Many modern organizations apply a combination of theories to realize management success. This has led to the creation of newer organizational models with less structured hierarchies.

Effective management is the backbone of any business. It is important to consider several factors when deciding which theories are most ideal for a small business. Often, small businesses are less rigidly hierarchical and must operate with minimal staff. It is important to select management theories and practices that are sustainable, especially if business resources are limited.

Classical management which addresses the need to increase efficiency and productivity is still very relevant in contemporary management; human management which is very important requires the employer to closely pay attention to its employees as this will motivate them. These two principles


Cole, G. and Kelly, P. (2016) Management theory and Practice. UNICAF edn. Hampshire: Cengage Learning EMEA

Fred David. R (2011), Strategic management concepts and cases, (13th Ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Mainul Islam M.D & Abdul Awal Khan, (2009) Principles of Management. Bangladesh: Printing & Distribution Division (PPD)

“A Guide to Classical Management Theory.” StudyMoose, 14 Apr 2016,  T. (1995, May). Rewards and Organizational Goal Achievement: A Case Study of Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Kentucky. Journal of Management Studies, 383-399.

Bodek, N. (2008). Toyota managers know the road to Lean is by way of motivation. Retrieved at

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