Laegaard and Bindslev (2006) make critical and concise revisions about four theoretical contributions which are central to the understanding of today’s organizations and its structure. These include the Scientific Management Approach, Administrative Theory, Administrative Behavior, and Bureaucracy and Organizational Structure. Despite the fact that they have contributed substantially to understanding organizations, each has had different organizational applications and successes. Though, it is of my opinion that the Bureaucracy and Organizational Structure has had the most influential implications from both historical and managerial perspectives, and it still thrives today in a large portion of organizations due to its fundamental concepts such as the global perspective of different hierarchical structures.
Frederick Taylor established one of the first theories in the early 20th century, the Scientific Management theory. This was the first theory that studied the work process scientifically (Mind Tools, n.d). Essentially the theory establishes that top management or managers could be outperformed by regular workers if they followed a scientific method, and thus the concept of a bottom-up approach. It involved systematic training of workers that required little input via scientific calculations for a wider scale output in performance. As a result, this gave top management more time to spend on planning and training, while workers performed efficient tasks. This was heavily adopted in the industrial times in organizations that involved mass production such as those of the car industries; for instance, those of Henry Ford’s vehicle machine like procedures that could be standardized and taught to employees to mass produce (Laegaard and Bindslev, 2006). Fundamentally, it did increase productivity and efficiency in many different sectors of organizations, but it disregarded the human aspects of employment with machine like procedures that ultimately yielded maximum output as the key benefit.
Henry Fayol’s Administrative Theory takes a rather more rational perspective; administration processes were now the key focus instead of establishing scientific processes for the common worker. As a result of this, processes could be standardized at the top, and then moved to the operational level where individual worker’s intake the information and implement it in their everyday tasks. As such it is more of a top-down approach. Krenn (2017) also establishes that Fayol’s theory includes fourteen principles of management, and from those principles management interacts with personnel in five different ways which are: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. Management plans every detail of the processes, organizes all of the organization resources for the time of production, establishes the command chain that coordinates and controls how everything must abide. Many of these principles play a vital role in organizations today, but they were too oversimplified that in later years they were criticized (Laegaard and Bindslev, 2006).
Herbert Simon was one of the main critics of the Administrative Theory, he stated that the rational model does not exist in reality. On the contrary, it must be seen as a variable because no one organization or individual can rationally make a decision because each has a different perspective of ideals, goals, interests, and the boundary between rational and non rational aspects of human social behavior (Simonsen, 1994). Instead Simon categorizes his studies into two groups, the economic man and the administrative man. The economic man places a distinction between how things should be and they are based on values and facts, but the administrative man looks for an alternative that is decent or satisfactory to an extent. Additionally, the economic man views the world and all its complexity while the administrative man views everything as a simplified model and only takes into consideration the critical aspects to make a final decision. Laegaard and Bindslev (2006) state that decisions are made based on different aspects, value premises which are taken into account at the top management level based on what is mostly the best solution, and the factual premises at the bottom level which is based on how things actually work in the environment. This creates a top-bottom blueprint that allows for decision making at each sublevel whereby each in the hierarchy is and end to those below it, and a mean to those above.
Bureaucracy and Organizational Structure
Bureaucracy and Organizational structure was the theory developed by Max Weber which established clear rules of hierarchical structure, authority, and system of rules. In its simplest forms there is a chain of command whereby authority is legitimately exercised to its limits and accepted by those below. Be it through traditional, charismatic, or rational-legal it establishes a continuous organization bounded by rules with ultimate goals and objectives. It formalizes the individual’s functions and specialization of work, allows appointments to made based by competence, separation of posts from owners, and ultimately rules, decisions, and actions that are formulated and written down somewhere along the way. Of course as stated by Laegaard and Bindslev (2006) hierarchical structures are formulated due to different factors which include: size, complexity, internal and external conflicts, need for management, and class struggle. Each of these are critical in establishing different hierarchical structures and that is whereby strategies and implementation plans must be taken into consideration.
Ultimately each of these theories has contributed substantially to the understanding of today’s organizations and its structure which has influenced managerial perspectives. Each serves as a unique blueprint for individuals to learn and establish basis that could perhaps perform to the unique needs of each organization. In summary, it is my opinion that the Bureaucracy theory has had major contributions to the different theories even before its existence, long have hierarchical structures existed and they continue to do so today. In particular, with large organizations, whereby clear rules of authority and communication are critical. Moreover, theories like this have given birth to the many complexities of organization structures. With clear definitions we see that there are mixed models such as the simple, functional, matrix, product and hierarchical (Laegaard and Bindslev, 2006). It will continue to exist due to design and flexibility to cope with conditions of rapid change despite of its minor disadvantages, which include but not limited to policies and procedures, formalized roles, standardized services, rigid procedures, and control based on knowledge. Of course these can also be looked in from a different perspective which sheds light to their positive note as well.
Krenn, J. (2017). Management Theory of Henry Fayol. Retrieved from https://www.business.com/articles/management-theory-of-henri-fayol/
Laegaard, J., & Bindslev, M. (2006). Organizational Theory. Ventus Publishing ApS & Bookboon.com
Mind Tools. (n.d). Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_Taylor.htm
Simonsen, J. (1994). Administrative Behavior How Organizations can be understood in terms of Decision Process. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a78c/493ee0e8c9 dfe7bd0fbaa2ef0ca2c8aa4562.pdf