In this article we will discuss about the evolution and approaches to management thought.

Evolution of Management Thought:

Art of management is as old as human civilisation. Before the twentieth century there was no syste­matic study of the subject. Management was considered to be a personal ability. Management was a kind of ‘trick’ of businessmen which could not be studied or taught. Business people were not held in high esteem in soci­ety. Economists were more concerned with theories and political science.

From the beginning of the twentieth century serious study of management started. There are thirteen pioneers in this field and out of them Fayol of France and Taylor of USA are the main persons. The Great Depression of 1932 and the Second World War encouraged the study of management much.

Fayol studied management as a philosophy applicable to all kinds of organi­sation while Taylor wanted to have a scientific approach. He is called the father of scientific management. Mary Follett referred to the impor­tance of human relations in management.


The Hawthorne Investigations carried out by Elton Mayo and otters in Western Electric Co. revealed the importance of environment in management. McGregor emphasized the importance of the human side of enterprise. Maslow dealt with human needs helping motivation.

Barnard introduced use of mathematics’ and statistics in decision-making process. Behavioural scientists like Kahn, Katz and otters say that manage­ment is concerned with human behaviour and particularly group behaviour.

Approaches to Management Thought:

Accordingly, we find the following different approaches to management thought:

1. Traditional or Productivity Approach:


The approach of Fayol, Taylor and others. According to than the main purpose of management is to increase productivity by which the employers gain higher profits while the employees gain higher remuneration through incentives. For achiev­ing higher productivity, the techniques of management shall have to be applied in every area — production, purchase, marketing, finance and per­sonnel.

2. Humanistic Approach:


The approach of Follett, McGregor, and others emphasising the importance of the human element. To-day workers’ participation in management has become almost a common feature. According to than man acts on and with the material elements. There is no end of improving man’s efficiency through experience and training.

3. Behavioural Approach:

The approach of behavioural scien­tists. According to than, management is concerned with human behaviour which is influenced by environment. Human behaviour is represented by the formula B = f (P.E.) where B = Behaviour, f = function, P = Person and E = Environment. The behaviour will be good if the environment is good and management has to create such environment

4. Rationalistic Model or Mathematical Approach:


The approach of Barnard and others. According to than, management means decision-making. Decisions have to be taken to solve problems. Problems are created by various factors, internal and external as veil as controllable and non- controllable. There may be alternative solutions to the same problem. A choice has to be made by comparing the impact, both good and bad, of each alternative solution.

It is physically not possible for human mind to retain and analyse all the facts, figures, information, etc. Decision must be rational, i.e. logical and reasonable. Problems are converted into mathematical equations or models with the use of mathematical and statistical sciences. Computers are used for the purpose. Those people who are suppor­ters of this view call themselves as ‘management scientists’.

5. System Approach:


Modern sociologists believe that manage­ment is a part of our social system. A business organisation is described as an ‘energic’ input-output system. It consists of sub-systems like the managerial system, the production system with the help of the plant and machinery. Management is a social system as it is concerned with the group behaviour of man. The main protagonist of this approach is Chaster Barnard.

6. Contingency Approach:

Management shall be by objectives which are pre-determined but contingencies do occur which have to be tack­led. Several situational variables influence organisational behaviour and managerial efficiency. Managers have to be highly adaptive, flexible and innovative to cope with the varying situations.