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Perspectives inManagement

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Perspectives inManagement



In order to understand the perspectives from which management can be viewed, produced and even promoted, it is necessary to see the inseparable link between management as a discipline and the parallel developments in other disciplines such as organisational studies and sociology, industrial psychology, economics, personnel and human resource management, accountancy and the world of finance. The closest related subject to management is that of organisation and organisational studies. The term organisations nowadays, can be employed to describe the personal attention which is given to matters related to the individuals own life and general development, however, when it comes to ‘management’ it would be unjust to claim that the presence of one (organisation) necessitates the existence of the other.

Organisations, unlike projects, business, administration and projects in the established or temporary states, arise when individuals and groups each pursue their own interests, but also co-operate in the recognition of their common interests, objectives and goals. In a sense, organisations use knowledge, techniques and resources in order to accomplish the task. In order to achieve this the organisation utilises certain general principles which were originally developed by the early sociologist Max Webber  at the end of the last century, namely the notion of role, authority, harmony, status, bureau, and rationality. It is not therefore unusual to see that organisations were assumed to be rational and logical and therefore it was thought that people within work organisations would also behave in a rational manner.

Since the early days of the development of management the notions of ‘order’, ‘predictability’ and even ‘rationality’ itself have been challenged and questioned. In short, the inseparable relationship between ‘organisations’ and ‘management’ theories have meant that management theories evolved, and were based, around the ways organisations were viewed. For example, from the traditional perspective, organisations were viewed as hard, easily definable entities which were mechanistically structured and were operating based on the scientific laws and general principles. People, therefore, were treated as components of a mechanical structure and were even described as the ‘cogs’ of a machine who were expected to behave in an orderly fashion in a predictable environment. Management therefore was simply viewed as a science, the study of the dynamics of the forces within organisations which co-ordinates the activities of the sub-systems and relates them to the environment.  Managers were needed to maximise the utilisation of resources in the most scientific and efficient ways.


The traditional perspective, not surprisingly, did not place the emphasis on ‘people’ and therefore paid more attention to ‘task’ at the expense of ‘people’ and their development.  It ignored the need to recognise, for example, what human relations theorists refer to as the social system of the organisation, the community of people and their development of norms of behaviour and presence of informal codes of conduct. In this era, management was seen as the art of getting things done through people and therefore since people constituted the most important ingredient of the work organisation, managers required not only the skills for carrying out the task but also required the skills of dealing with people.

Inevitably the human relations perspective was challenged by the open system and the contingency philosophy which emphasised on the need for flexibility in order to cope with changing markets and expectations. Such a perspective treated individuals as those with the potential for development, learning and ultimately capable of managing themselves. It is therefore not surprising to see that organisations to which the ‘open system’ managerial principles have been applied and practised are defined as having tentative boundaries and with flexible relationships organised in a complex way. Such organisations, are comprised of sub-systems and they themselves are part of a bigger more complex system. They are being affected by changes in their environment and indeed they introduce change to their internal and external environments. Survival alone is no longer the focus of attention for managers with open system perspectives, but change and development have become the main concern.

The parallel between development of organisational theories, the managers perspectives in management and the assumptions held by their advocates about people can be best shown in the diagram below.


Diagram:   Development of management perspectives within system context




Assumptions

  Perspectives

Organisation

Closed system

Semi-open (modified)

Open system

People

Cogs of mechanical Structure

Social agents of work community

Complex socio- technical & information system

Approaches to management

Classical management (Traditional)

Human relations

Contingency system

It is important to remember that each set of assumptions concerning the nature of the organisation, its principles and approaches to its management provided a basis for practices and procedures which over time became a domain of belief and values system.  These dominant values systems which are often referred to as schools of thought, encapsulated other approaches with their own prescriptions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ values, thoughts and beliefs. However, the overall dominance of a set of distinguishable values, beliefs and thoughts remained within the boundaries of each perspective.








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