Management Theories as they Relate to Conventional Practice
Wednesday,21st August, 2019. 2:52:04am

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To integrate the different management thoughts (theories), issues such as the evolution of management theories, feature, merits and demerits of each theory would be highlighted. It is imperative to state here that the terms theories and thoughts would be used interchangeably in this write-up. For better understanding, theories are defined by James A.F. Stoner et al, as a perspective with which people make sense of their world experiences. These are coherent group of assumptions put together or more observable fact

They are important to society in the following ways:

•  They provide a stable focus for understanding what we experience; that is providing criteria for determining what is relevant.

•  Theories enable individuals to communicate efficiently and thus move in more complex relationships with other people.

•  Theories make is possible and indeed challenge individuals to keep learning about the world around them. They usually have boundaries, which also challenge individuals to look for alternative ways of looking at the world especially when these theories do not fit into our dynamic situations.

The primary focus of this write-up would be on four schools of management thought- Scientific Management School , Classical Organization Theory School , Behavioral School and the Management Science School . Although, these schools of thought have developed in historical sequence, each new school has tended to complement or co-exist with previous ones. The society we live is dynamic and unique; hence we find each school of thoughts features manifesting it in the present day management practices. These theories help us to fully grasp these present changes whilst achieving goals and objectives.


History of Management

Management has, of course, been practiced since the dawn of human history. Men have always collaborated with one another in hunting and building and agriculture as well as many other activities. Such collaboration for a common end implies arrangements for a division of labour, which in turn postulates the existence of a leader – someone whose task it is both to make arrangements and to see that the remainder of the group carries them out.

Although changes were readily accepted in the early society, new ideas were adopted from time to time. Some of these were of small consequence, but at rare intervals there came changes of far reaching importance. The origin of this change was the scientific curiosity released by the renaissance. The resources, which were released by the early power-driven machinery, acted as a powerful stimulant to further investigations, particularly in physical science, hence the development of machines. As the development of modern sophisticated machines which is a closely integrated complex of mechanical tools carrying out series of a process automatically thereby limiting the extent of human interactions in the production unit as their technical skills can no longer be defended as their last weapon.

In the early part of the twentieth century a group of engineers in the United States, among whom Fredrick Winslow, Henry Lawrence Gantt and Frank Bunker Gilberth were the most distinguished, founded a movement which was given the title “Scientific Management”, hence the beginning of management theories.

The formal development of management started in Great Britain immediately after the First World War when it was noticed that there was problem, of inefficiency and ineffectiveness. To arrest the problem, different writers from different disciplines like mathematic, pure sciences, physics, engineering, sociology, economics, etc. Because of contributions of writers from different fields, A. M. Koontz suggested that management was filled with confused and uncoordinated ideas which he regarded as Management Jungle Theory”. After this theory came Frederick W. Taylor who disentangled the jungle” by critically questioning the practices of tradition – bond management and resorted to scientific analysis for the formulation of better managerial methods. This heralded the birth of the management movement around the turn of the century.

The schools of management thoughts have different views on management arising from the various perspectives being used to explain the discipline - management.


To conclude this brief introduction of the development of management we can now attempt a definition of management and try to get our terminology clear, because words are often used with several meanings. Though management cannot be said to be a mystery, its principles are too often observed in verbiage. The word management has multiple uses and can be applied to many situations and circumstances.

Management according to E.F.L Brech, is a social process entailing responsibility for the effective and economical planning of the operations of an enterprise, in fulfillment of a given purpose or task, such task involving:

•  Judgment and decision in determining plan, and the development of data procedures to assist in the control of performance and progress against plans.

•  The guidance, integration, motivation and supervision of the personal comprising the enterprise, and carrying out its operations.

Donnelly et al defined management as the process undertaken by one or more individuals to coordinate the activities of others to achieve results not achievable by one individual. It is important to note that management has been considered a science or art at point in time. Management is far from being as exact science because personal judgment will always be needed to supplement knowledge; therefore as a practice management will always be an art. Management can also be viewed as an applied technique closely related to many applied fields such as economics, psychology and political science. In addition, modern management practices evolve around teamwork, consensus, creativity that would operate successfully in an organization with a flat structure backed with effective communication.

But because the scope and horizon of management is becoming increasingly wide, broad and complex it has therefore led to well established approaches like the Classical, Behavioral, Scientific and the management science.


Modern management though began to become distinct about the beginning of the twentieth century. Industrial changes in the nineteenth century provided the climate for the several separate streams, which did not start to converge until the past few decades.

It was then that the stage became set for groups of people to tackle management problems in a systematic manner, thereby developing theories. The features of each theory are in exhaustive, hence emphasis would be laid solely on the areas where they improved and complement each other.


The scientific management theory arose as the need to increase productivity arises and the only way to do this was to raise the efficiency of workers. It emphasized the way to manage work and organization more efficiently.

Contributors to this theory includes:

Frederick Taylor -credited with the principle of work management,

Frank and Lilian Gilberth – credited with work simplification,

Henry Gantt – credited with the principles of work scheduling,

Harrison Emerson – credited with the principles of efficiency.


•  The emphasis was primarily to improve and manage output, productivity and efficiency. Its concern was with the physical environment and personal economic needs.

•  The scientific training and development of workers, This means selecting the best man for the job

•  The development of a true science of management, so that the best method for performing each task could be determined.

•  Clear and defined span of control.

•  The school advocated for the use of functional foremanship and division of labour

•  Implementing incentive measure as a reward for completion of work.

•  Encourage intimate, friendly cooperation between management and workers.



•  Too mechanistic-attention was placed on work and organization rather than on human beings.

•  Treated man as an economic tool.

•  Coarse men to work and did not involve worker's participation in decision-making, i.e communication one-way.

•  It did not involve workers participation in decision making because its emphasis was on job efficiency

•  The theory was difficult to operate in complex industrial situations

•  Workers were made to report to more than one boss, thus creating conflict. It violated the principle of the unity of command.



This approach focused on those principles that can be used by modern manager to coordinate the internal activities or an organization.

Major Contributors includes:

Henri Fayol -credited with the principle of management,

Max Weber-Chester I. Barnard -credited with the organization and cooperated efforts.

However, Fayol's 14 principles remain the most important of this movement. This theory grew out of the need to find guidelines for managing complex organization such as factories.


1. The emphasis was on the basic concept of unity of command where each subordinate report to one boss; it reduces conflicts in instructions and confusion of authority.

•  It advocated that the ideal design for organizational structure should follow certain administrative principle such as san of control, lined of hierarchy, departmentation, discipline, order, etc

•  On the issue of parity, authority should be equal to responsibility.

•  To eliminate rigidity of bureaucracy in communication, they advocate bridges.

•  A manager was charged with the responsibility if planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling activities to achieve desired goals.

•  It promoted team spirit, which will give the organization a sense of unity. Human being grow through their relationship with other in organizations.

•  Remuneration: compensation for work done should be fair to both

employees and employers

•  Centralization in decision marking; managers should retain final authority but should at the same time give their subordinates enough authority to do their jobs properly.

•  Verbal communication instead of formal written communication was advocated whenever possible.



•  To departmentalize, one has to group in terms of purpose, process, customers, place and time. It can be ambiguous if there is no guide that is unique.

•  It was difficult to find the degree of centralization in peculiar cases.

•  The theory was silent on the use of personal authority, as managers could not compel workers' obedience.

•  The degree of mistakes was uncertain as workers made mistakes when applying their initiative when taking decisions.


This school emerged partly because other approach did not achieve sufficient production and workplace harmony. The need to help managers deal more effectively with human aspect of organizational was emphasized, that is, the need for an organizational structure that will facilitate the fusion of personal goals and organization goals. The theorists strengthened the classical organization theory with the insights of sociology and psychology. The contributors are Hawthorne, Mayol, Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor .

There are two schools under the behavioral school of thought and they are:

a. The Human Relations Movement (Hawthorne )
This is an extension of the psychological approach. It recommended the human (people) factor- action, needs, rights and relationship of individuals- in order to stimulate people to cooperate in achieving company objectives.

b. The Behavioral Approach (Mayo and McGregor)
They advanced a more sophisticated view of human beings and their drivers, especially on how relationships can be beneficially arranged in organizations. They also applied scientific investigations to study how people behaved inn organizations as whole entities.


1. Advocated the importance of man in organizations using the fields of psychology, sociology and anthropology to extend the knowledge of human beings.

•  Emphasis was on the “social man instead of the “rational man.

•  The management style of good leadership was advocated

•  Workers are motivated by social and more responsive to work group pressures.

•  Employee participation in decision-making was advocated.

•  Emphasis shifted from productivity to man, thus stimulating a number of studies of human behavior



•  The sample size of experiment was too small to generalize.

•  The generalizations that social considerations out-weighs economic ones in determining workers attitude and feelings. Critics are of the opinion that financial incentives have significant in workers output.

•  Sufficient attention was not given to workers attitudes they bring with them into the job. In addition, the roles of union were not recognized.

•  Man was taken as a social man who should assume responsibility.

•  Over-emphasized the rules of leadership.

•  The fact that management and worker have similar objectives rather than contradictory objectives is questionable.

•  It focused too much on individual satisfaction instead of individual performance.


This theory believes in the application of scientific methodology in solving large-scale management problem.


•  The emphasis is on effective planning, controlling and decision Making

•  Views efficiency as secondary achievement which should follow adequate planning

•  Making decisions is the heat of the school. The decision theory uses statistical and mathematical models in solving organizational problems.

•  Dependence on electronic computer plays an important role in management science approach.



1. The theory pays less attention to relationships per se in Organizations.

•  Mathematical modeling tends to ignore relationship emphasis is on numerical data

3. It pays attention only on the area of management that can be captured in numbers, thus missing the importance of people and relationships.




To merge the management schools of thought with conventional practice, it is important to note that these approaches or schools are by no mean regarded as mutually exclusive. However, a close study of these schools reveal a considerable common elements in these theories” of management.

Anyone who starts to organize or reorganize an institution, or any part of one, must act on some theory; otherwise he will have no basis for determining how the work should be divided and coordinated. All the schools of thought have some relevance to management and more recently these schools have been brought closer to one another by the emergence of the Contingency Theory.

The Contingency or Situational Approach applies the concepts of these major schools to real life situations. It is really a theory of organization, rather it is the theory that there is no one best way of organizing, or of handling other phases of management, and that the organizer should use theory, or perhaps parts of several theories, as the situation dictates. This requires great insight on the part of the manager, whether he head a company, a department, or a section, for he must appraise the situation correctly to determine the approach, Each of the different theories may prove helpful in some circumstances.

In addition, this approach is of the view that solutions to management problems in an organization are contingent upon factors unique to the particular situation. This approach know as the latest and contemporary school of management holds the view that to achieve efficiency and effectiveness, the prevailing situation will determine them most effective principles and techniques to be adopted. Under this situation, it is possible to use one type of organizational technique of a particular school in some sections of a company and a different type in other sections. Also, acting as specific circumstances demand rather than blindly following a set of hard and principles.

In essence, the best management approach or principles depend on the situation and many environmental factors at a particular point in time. Contributors and their contributions to this school of thought include:

•  Joan Woodward -she carried out a study on the relationships

between organizational structures and human relations. She

showed that organizational structure and human relations were a function of existing technological situations. Thus, organizational structure and human relation differ as a result of technological differences.

•  Fred Fieddler -suggested that most appropriate leadership to be

adopted depends on the following factors

•  The leader-member relationship

•  Task structure

•  Position power

Generally, the following factors could be considered in any situation:

•  The environment

•  The prevailing situation

•  The nature of tasks to be accomplished

•  The relationship between the superior and the subordinate

•  Amount of authority and power vested in a leader


It should be emphasized here that the practice of management styles would have to succumb to the dynamic environment prevalent in the country. For a management style to be adopted within the Nigerian context, social, economic, political and cultural factors determining business growth should be carefully examined and weighed before implementation.

The private and public sectors differs in the set up and governing bodies in that government laws, trade unions, pressures groups are all extraneous factors that hinders the adoption of a particular school of thought, hence what is mostly adopted is a hybrid of two or more school of thoughts approaches to management depending on the structure and objective of the organization.

Thus, a manager's task is to identify which techniques will work in a particular situation, under particular circumstances and at a particular time, best contribute to the attainment of management. Above all, through the case study to be presented, the essence of this contingency managerial approach to solving basic organizational problems with respect to management practices in Nigeria shall be properly discussed goals. It portrays each set of organizational relationships in its unique circumstances.


In Emzol Nigeria limited, a pharmaceutical company increasing productivity was a problem in the factory. In using the contingency approach, where workers need to be encouraged to increase productivity, the classical theorist may prescribe a new work – simplification scheme. The behavioral scientist may instead seek to create a psychologically motivating climate and recommend some approach like job enrichment – the combination of task that are different in scope and responsibility and allow the worker greater autonomy in making decisions.

Nestle had a problem early 80's about enriching the job of skilled and unskilled workers. The likely position a manager trained in the contingency approach will ask, “Which method will work best here”. If the workers are unskilled and training opportunity and resources are limited, work simplification would be the best solution. However, with skilled workers who take pride in their abilities, a job enrichment program might be more effective,

In a restaurant business like Mr. Biggs, they redefined business based on the simple premise that customers value food, service and physical appearance of the restaurant. To implement this new customer-focused goals, the company recruited new managers who were committed t creating or delivering food to customers value, coach and support staff in the new direction and out-sourced much of the assembly line food preparation (such as shredding machines, ice-cream makers) so that employees can focus on customers.


OLAJIDE AND ASSOCIATES is a member of BNI and a registered member of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Chartered Institute Of Taxation Of Nigeria


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