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Evolution of Management Thought

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Last updated date: 12th Jul 2024
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Evolution of Management Thought - Introduction

There is a long history behind the evolution of management thought. Management is considered as the significant feature of economic life of mankind throughout ages. Management thought is regarded as an evolutionary concept. It has developed along with it and in line with social, cultural, economic and scientific institutions. Management thought has its origin in ancient times. It is developed along with other socio economic development. The contributors to management theory include management philosophers, management practitioners, and scholars. Modern management is based on the strong foundation laid down by the management thinkers from the past events.

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What Does Management Thought Means?

Management thought refers to the theory that guides management of people in the organization. Initially management theories were developed out of the practical experience of the managers in the industrial organization. Later on, managers borrowed ideas from several other fields of study like science, sociology, anthropology, etc.

The Concept of Evolution of Management Thought 

To understand the entire concept of evolution of the management thought, the topic is divided into 4 major stages, which are as follows:

  • Pre-scientific management period

  • Classical theory

  • Neo-classical theory ( or behavior approach)

  • Bureaucratic Model of Max Weber 

Pre-Scientific Management Period

As the industrial revolution occurred in the 18th century, there was a huge impact on management. The scenario changed the method of raising capitals, organizing labor, and goods’ production for the individuals and businesses. Entrepreneurs then had access to production factors like land, labor, and capital. The final step was only to make some effort to combine these factors to achieve the target successfully.

But, after the industrial revolution, the newer dimension taken by management is because of the involvement of certain notable personalities who introduced some effective ideas and approaches for giving management an acceptable and precise direction. Here is a brief on some of the personalities and their theories:


Professor Charles Babbage of United Kingdom (1729 to 1871)

Prof. Babbage was a renowned Mathematics professor at Cambridge University. He discovered that manufacturers rely on guessing and suggesting and advised them for utilizing science and mathematics to be more productive and accurate.


Robert Owens of United Kingdom (1771 to 1858)

Sir Robert is often regarded as personnel management’s father as his approach focuses on employee welfare. He also introduced cooperation and trade unions. He mainly believed that employee welfare might determine the performance to a larger extent. Sir Robert also encouraged the workers’ training, children’s education, ensuring canteens in the workplaces, shorter working durations, and others. 


The Classical Theory

Robert Owens, Charles Babbage, and other prominent personalities are regarded as management’s pioneers. However, their contribution to the evolution of management is lower. Further, by the last decade of the 19th century, the science of management began, and with it, some professionals like H. L. Grant, F. W. Taylor, Emerson, and others entered for the establishment of scientific management.


Further, during the classical period, management thought focused on standardization, job content, labor division, and scientific approaches for the organization. It also related closely to the industrial revolution and the rise of large-scale enterprises. 

The Neo-Classical Theory

This duration of the evolution of management thought is a better version of classical theory. It is a modified version of classical theory with several improvements. The classical theory focused mainly on the areas of job including physical resources and their management, but Neoclassical theory focuses on employee relationships in the work ecosystem. 


The Bureaucratic Model

Max Weber, a German sociologist, proposed the bureaucratic model. This includes a system of labour division, rules, authority hierarchy, and employees’ placement based on their technical capabilities. 


Evolution of Management Theories

Organizations were shaped effectively and the writings of some prominent writers consisted of the management and governance of various kingdoms. These descriptions formed the literature that helped develop the management theories. Several heads of religions, political affairs, and military also gave the management models. For example, the books like Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and Chanakya’s Arthashastra used some managerial purposes and the governance of the kingdom concerning the policy formulations respectively. 


The Evolution of Management Science

Management evolution started with civilization, and the evolution of management science is the entire concept involving several theories behind it. Whatever we presently have gets refined and improved as management thoughts and theories. This helps people in improving the knowledge of the process and utilizes the management principles for enhancing the overall organization.

FAQs on Evolution of Management Thought

1. Explain the role of Henry Fayol in the management theories.

Henry Fayol is considered as the father of modern management. He wrote the theory based on his experience as a manager. His principles tune with contemporary thinking in the theory. He stated that all the activities of any industrial enterprise can be grouped into six categories, which are as follows:

  • Technical (Production)

  • Commercial (Exchange, Buying, and Selling)

  • Financial activities (search for and optimum use of capital)

  • Security activities (protection of property and persons)

  • Accounting activities (stock taking, balance sheet, cost, and statistics)

  • Managerial activities (planning, organising, command, coordination and control).

Henry Fayol also suggested 14 principles of management. These principles are:- 

  1. Division of work, 

  2. Authority and responsibility, 

  3. Discipline, 

  4. Unity of command, 

  5. Unity of direction, 

  6. Subordination of personal interest to organizational interests, 

  7. Remuneration, 

  8. Centralization, 

  9. Scalar chain, 

  10. Order

  11. Equity

  12. Stability of tenure

  13. Span of cooperation

  14. Initiative

2. What is the contribution of F.W.Taylor to Management thought?

F.W. Taylor (1856-1915) is the founder of classical thought/classical theory of management. He suggested a scientific approach to management also called scientific management theory. F. W. Taylor is renowned as the father of scientific management. He suggested the principles of scientific management. His concept of scientific management evolved into a movement and influenced industrial management for several decades after him. His concepts and principles were rectified and publicized  by his several followers. Some of his renowned followers  include Henry Gantt, The Gilbreths and Emerson.

3. What are the tools of scientific management?

The tools involved in scientific management are as follows:

  1. Separation of Doing and PlanningPlanning aspects must be separate from the actual working action. Supervisor must focus on planning and workers on the operation of a task.

  2. Functional ForemanshipThe earlier mentioned separation resulted into development of a supervision system that could adequately do planning and supervision together.

  3. Job AnalysisThis is there to find out the best way of completing the tasks.

  4. StandardizationIt must be maintained with tools and instruments, work period, working conditions, production cost, etc.

  5. Scientific Selection and Workers’ TrainingWorkers must be selected on a scientific basis considering their background.

  6. Financial IncentivesThis can motivate the workers to put in maximum efforts.