There are number of theories of management and behavioral management theories are also one of them. At the time of the boom of industrialization, the total focus of managers was on increasing efficiency of workers and productivity. How employees felt was completely ignored, no manager even bothered to notice the working conditions. Later managers realized that organizations do not improve by only increasing the efficiency of workers and productivity. Work environment also affects behavior of workers that ultimately affects the total productivity. Many people contributed their thoughts on organizational behavior (OB), from which Robert Owen, Mary Parker Follett, Hugo Munsterberg and Chester Barnard are prominent figures. Understanding OB also help managers to understand management, motivation, teamwork, leadership and Conflicts of Management in better ways.
- Robert Owen was a renowned Scottish businessman, who suggested a utopian workplace.
- Hugo Munsterberg was the person who introduced industrial psychology. Industrial psychology deals with maximizing the productivity and adjustment of individuals at work.
- Mary Parker Follett, a social philosopher proposed that the manager is responsible for harmonizing and coordinating group efforts.
- Chester Barnard proposed that organization is not just an economic entity but it is a social system that needs cooperation among humans working for it.
- He thought that manager is responsible for communicating with workers and boost their potential to a higher level.
- Additionally, he thought that managers should be examining the workplace conditions and then maintains them to create equilibrium in the state of the workplace.
Behavioral Management Theories
Hugo Munsterbeg (1863-1916) is known as the “father of industrial psychology” and is as important for psychology students as F.W. Taylor is for management students.
He focused to provide a view of psychology’s practical applications. Munsterbeg believed that industry can be benefited by psychologists in three major areas:
- Seeking modern ways to hire the right person for the right job.
- Achieving optimum efficiency by identifying the psychological conditions.
- Finding methods to direct behavior of individual employees to be in harmony with the management’s objectives.
Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933) was the person who introduced the concepts of social Work Political Science. She identified:
- Working in groups is more important than working individually in any organization.
- That “power with” should be the principle of management-employee relation in the organization rather than “Power over”.
- Use of integration to resolve conflicts like providing a solution that offers mutual benefit to both of the parties involved in conflict.
- Integrative unity is the secret of success in an organization where different departments are present and working to achieve the same goal.
The Hawthorne Studies
A number of experiments done in Western Electrical Company, situated in Cicero, Illinois that are known as “Hawthorne Studies.” It is considered as the best historical contribution to the field of Organizational Behavior that provided a clear view of relation of working conditions to efficiency of employees and productivity. Industrial engineers at Western Electric started these studies in 1924 as an experiment of scientific management and the studies continued till 1930’s. They tried to identify that how different illumination levels affect worker productivity. Two groups were created, control group and experimental group. The engineers examined the experimental groups working in different lighting intensities; however, the control group was examined under a constant lighting intensity.
Keeping this working scenario in mind, everyone would think that output was related to lighting intensity. However, engineers found that there was something else that also contributed to the change in output. Initially, they increased the light in the experimental group and surprisingly, the output was increased in both groups. After that, when they decrease the light to almost moon light, the output was decreased in experimental group only. Thus, it was concluded that illumines lighting intensity was not the factor that directly relates to the group productivity. There was “something else” that needed to be identified, but the engineers were not able to find it.
After these great experiments done by engineers, the Western Electric Company, in 1927, invited Elton Mayo, professor at Harvard for consultation on the studies. It contributed to creating a long lasting relationship among employees of the company and Elton Mayo along with his associates. The relationship resulted in various interesting experiments, including job redesigning, changes in the length working day and working week, and individual versus group wage plans. One of the experiments was to examine how group piece work reward affected the group productivity. Hawthorne Studies was almost connected to traditions of scientific management, because it also focused on increase productivity by improving the methods and tools of work such as lighting.
The Hawthorne studies provided different findings:
- Initially, studies did not provide any evidence of correlation between work performance of individuals and change in lighting. In fact, work performance almost increased with any change in illumination lighting.
- After that in the second phase, the studies become apparent. They revealed that workers’ performance can be improved by just giving them the required attention not because of the factors that the study aimed to examine.
- In the third phase of studies, the focus was on group productivity and motivation of individuals.
- Ultimately, the Hawthorne studies provided a concept that the organization also has social aspects that, if given proper attention, can contribute to better performance or workers.
Human Relations Movement
The human relation movement was aimed at providing social skills to managers that they needed to make management-employee relation better.
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was the person who proposed motivation theory, which is based on three assumptions about human nature.
- The needs of human beings cannot be satisfied completely.
- Humans always strive to satisfy their needs, which are still unsatisfied.
- The priority of needs can be sorted into a hierarchy that range from basic, lower-level needs to higher level needs:
- Physiological (lowest)
- Belongingness or social
- Self-actualization (highest and not everyone is capable of achieving it)
Douglas McGregor (1906-1964) provided a view of the Theory X and Theory Y dichotomy. These theories tell how managers make assumptions about workers and what the effect of these assumptions is on the behavior of the employee.
- Theory X, managers assume that workers always remain lazy and do not put their complete efforts in their performance; therefore, they need to be pushed. Workers have no or just a little ambition, and mostly focus on their security needs. This kind of manager thinks that these assumptions are true and they treat workers accordingly.
- Theory Y managers assume that workers have self-control and do not deliberately put less effort in the work. They can be innovative and creative and in a general manner, their needs are higher than the needs met on the job. These kinds of managers then treat their subordinates as if their assumptions are true.
- Workers are assumed to work sometimes at a higher capacity and sometimes at lower capacity like all of us.
The Behavioral Science Approach
The behavioral management theories depend on scientific research in order to develop any theory about human behavior at any workplace that could be helpful to make practical guidelines for employees at managerial levels.
- It overall emphasis to develop helpful tools that managers could use to improve workers’ performance. Behavioral science does not depend on mathematical certainty, because it is about behavior of humans that is very difficult to predict. It does not conclude that the scientific approach cannot be practical or its findings have less importance in the studies of human behavior in an organization.
- In that connection, setting a goal for an individual can be the best example, where the individual finds it attainable; however, it is not too easy.
Contributions of the Behavioral Management Viewpoint
- Behavioral Management viewpoint reveals that group dynamics, communication, motivation and leadership are of great importance for managers.
- Provides a clear view that behavioral studies can be applied practically.
- Provides findings about various other disciplines including psychology, management, anthropology, sociology, and economics.
- Shades light upon the importance of employees of an organization as a precious human asset rather than passive tools.
The behavioral management theories focus on the importance of human behavior. It can also be considered as a part of scientific management because it also focuses on increasing efficiency of workers that result in maximum productivity. However, behavioral management theorists do not take it as a part of scientific management, but managers can combine these ideas with those of F.W. Taylor. Humans are an important asset of an organization and if they work in a good environment and are motivated by their managers, will work more happily. It is human nature that if a person praises their work, then they will work with more passion and try to make it even better. Hawthorne studies also provide this view that making work environment better will help workers to perform better.