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The Role of Management Theories in Workplace


Management theories are developed and implemented to help in the enhancement of organizational efficiency, service quality, and productivity. Many managers are not used to a singular theory in the implementation techniques in the workplace, they however, combine some theories, depending on the nature of the workplace, their driving force, and workforce. Therefore, this paper presents a discussion on management theories, with its contemporary and traditional approaches. It also explains the importance of each narrowed down management theory in the workplace; dissecting in details the contemporary theories with comparisons of the traditional theories. Most importantly, my ideas on which of the theories are the best to be applied the workplace, as well as the reasons are clearly stated.

The Role of Management Theories in Workplace – Introduction

Since the emergence of the Industrial Revolution around the nineteenth century, theories related to traditional management have been proven efficient in practice. Usually, many organizations do not relatively reveal what management theory their organization employs, and therefore more than hundreds of employees working behind a cubicle in an office environment are not informed of this theory. One of the roles of management theories in the workplace is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the employees. The fact that traditional management theories incorporate rigid structures on the way managements practice it, it is however, gradually not taking relevance in the business industry. On the other hand, contemporary theories have positive impacts on new management strategies and still meet the prevailing standards of the twenty-first century. In view of these facts, it is therefore advisable organizations employ the implementation of traditional and contemporary management strategies for the achievement of the highest level of efficiency, they desire of their employees, without depriving them of their human qualities.

Basically, the theory of management is targeted at the relationship supervisors and managers have in the knowledge of their organization goals, how they can implement effective strategies to accomplishing these goals, and also the ways employees can be motivated to person to the best standard they can. (“”) The implementation of a management theory brings a company to the pathway on how the organization can be successful managed for a period of its lifetime. Any theory employed is expected to reflect the organizational goals as well as the marketplace in which it is, and motivating the employees to deliver the best services they can.

Traditional Theories

Traditional theories include scientific management, human relations/administrative management, and bureaucratic management. Organizations can employ and implement any of these, but should not be limited to them.

Contemporary Theories

These theories include contingency, systems, theory X and Y, as well as, chaos. Organizations can implement any of these theories satisfactorily.

Any of these theories or a combination of more an be chosen and implemented as long as it would result to the success anticipated by any organization, and also which one suits the organization to be more efficient.

Scientific Management Theory

This theory is made up of four major principles: scientific selection of employees the development of true science, the employee’s scientific education and development, as well as the close relationship between management and employees. According to Fredrick Taylor, the focal point of scientific management is concentrated on the unlinking of the conception from execution. (Huang, 2013) In the same way, scientific management is described as the refinement of a management technique of the division of labor that has been in existence; in which workers are rewarded and also punished. (McNamara) In recent times, many managers in most organizations now carefully analyze the fundamental tasks, be it in their goods or services offered, workers are enforced to perform and create a work environment that permits their organization to work thrive efficiently in the workplace. (Jones, 2015) There are four principles associated with scientific management theory that would help organizations achieve efficiency:

  • The approach to which workers perform their tasks should be carefully studied, the informal job knowledge workers have possessed overtime should be gathered, and ways of tasks improvement should be experimented.
  • Every new method of performing tasks should be codified into well structured rules as well as standard operating procedures.
  • Workers should be carefully selected in order for them to possess the capabilities and skills required by any task, and they should be trained to carry out task matching the prevailing procedures and rules.
  • Tasks must be fairly and acceptably developed to a level of realistic performance, and a secured payment system should be established to reward good performance beyond his acceptance level.

The role of scientific management is important in the development of a scientific approach to management and can be practiced by a simple strategic development in stages. It follows different specialization of human endeavors and cannot be successful if tasks allocated to different laborers are not completed to be sold out as goods or services.

Bureaucratic Management Theory

This theory is developed by Max Weber, it is based on the splitting organizations into different hierarchies, creating effective lines of authority and control, providing suggestions for the development of detailed standard and comprehensive operating procedures with routinized tasks. (McNamara).  There are five principles in which bureaucratic system is based on. These include:

  • The formal authority of a manager comes from the position he holds in an organization.
  • Positions at any level should be occupied based on people’s performance, not just their social level or personal contacts.
  • The range of the position of every person formal authority and responsibility, as well as their relationship with respect to other positions in any organization should be precisely specified.
  • The hierarchical structure of authorities and positions in any organization should be arranged for effective use of authority, and so that employees can also know which manager to report to, and who (employees) would report to them. (position of authority)
  • A well-defined system of governing principles, ethics, norms, and standard operating procedures should be stated by managers to guide and direct the behavior within an organization.

The formulations of governing principles, ethics, norms, and standard operating procedures will help provide guideline to the employees on what behaviors they should put up in the workplace, as well as what is the appropriate ethics of an organization. In retrospect, this theory of bureaucratic management in the workplace may seem to be a difficult practice, but not as it poses to be. However, this theory is thriving effectively in the business world today. Fortune 500 companies including General Motors make use of bureaucratic management for the achievement of maximum efficiency. There are several management levels, beginning from the CEO through the hierarchy to the janitors. One of the usual problems associated with this theory is the total reliance of managers on the rules and the standard operating procedure to proffer solutions to associated problems, rather than relying on just experience and knowledge.  The use of texts for the understanding of managing an organization is helpful, however, it must be custom to the needs of the employees, without a risk to face the efficiency.

Compared to Weber and Taylor’s concepts, Mary Parker Follett did not base the theory with a focus specifically on efficiency. She pointed out that management usually looks past the several ways employees contribute to the organization, most especially when managers permit them in the involvement, and practice initiatives in their daily tasks. (Jones, 2015) Bureaucratic management theory was used to be based on the a firm, compared to Weber and Taylor’s theory, but it has become highly appreciated in the workplace today. Follett’s concepts have been of help, in which the human relations movement comes erupt, in an advocation for the behavioral training in the management of subordinates to elicit cooperation and increased productivity by the supervisors. (Jones, 2015) Follet’s effort has also assisted the human resources departments in business organizations, as their activities are appearing to be as unions and government regulations, causing a destruction to the dehumanizing theories formulated by Weber and Taylor. Follett’s opinion is based on his belief that every employee is endowed with skills, a knowledge that distinct them, and thus shouldn’t be limited to any layer of the hierarchy of organization management.

As there are development in organization and management practices the world, businesses are developing along side. According to Douglas McGregor’s proposition, two distinct sets of assumptions relating to work behaviors and attitudes are dominating factors  the way in which managers think and act in organizations. He shows these two opposition sets of assumptions as Theory X and also Theory Y (Jones, 2015) These theories are further explained below:

  • Theory X: The assumption that employees will attempt to do the smallest possible and maintain a strategic distance from further obligation unless remunerated or punished for doing something else.
  • Theory Y: The assumption that employees will do what is best for organizations if given the correct work setting, opportunity, and support.

As much as managers who believes in theory X usually exercise authoritarian style of leadership, theory Y leaders support participation from employees or workers. (Hawthorne) A contemporary style of management using theory X and Y helps in dealing the incoming of employees and a style is designed to help for management style targeted at employee’s behaviors. An example of theory Y is the development department at the Marymount California University. Those in that development department are given an office and the free will to decorate it as they desire. In the same vein, student workers at Marymount are perfect examples of theory X. Additionally, the monitors of the Waterfront Campus and Oluin campuses must always monitor the campus from their front desk, ensuring they guide against any form of suspicions. On the contrary, they are not mandated to erase the white boards, or even wash the carpets – which suppose to be their basic manual labor, but they are not being forced by the management to carry out these responsibilities. Therefore, students bare minimum, and works do the additional tasks.


Choosing from different management theories becomes difficult to make a choice of which best is applicable for an organization. The major purpose of implementing management theory is basically for the increment of the efficiency in an organization. It is difficult to decide which management theory is the best fit for an organization. Organizations are saddled with the responsibility of deciding if multiple management theories can be applied in the workplace, or they can decide to adapt to one of the traditional theories utilized during the nineteenth century. When an organization employs a management theory, it must have a handshake with the missions and goals that it represents. A firm specialized in interior decoration will implement a different management theory to what the Toyota corporation will employ.

In my own opinion, for example, establishing a new restaurant in San Pedro will need to implement the contemporary and bureaucratic theory, just like the systems theory for management in the workplace. Bureaucratic management theory will create a hierarchy between investors, employees, and owners; and everyone will be equally treated. Theory Y will also accomplish high efficiency in the workplace. Intuitively, if the management at this restaurant offer employment to self-motivated people who have passion for restaurant business and believe in it, it will typically reflect in their workmanship. Therefore, the implementation of these two theories will create a unique management operation in the workplace.

Regardless of the management theory implemented in any organization in the workplace, there is no answer that should be considered as wrong. However, achieving high efficiency in the workplace demands that work must be dehumanized to motivate employees. Thus, newly established organizations should implement a combination of traditional and contemporary management theories for the creation of a highly efficient and unique management in the workplace.

Work Cited
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  • Huang, K., Tung, J., & Chou, M. (2013). A Review and Critical Analysis of the Principles of Scientific Management – Vol. 5 Nbr. 4, April 2013 – International Journal of Organizational Innovation (Online) – Books and Journals – VLEX 465504862. Retrieved December 7, 2015, from
  • Jones, Gareth R., and Jennifer M. George. Essentials of Contemporary Management. 6th
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