Analyse The Ways In Which Attitudes Of Managers Towards Their Workforces May Have Changed Since The Early Days Of Classical And Scientific Management

Using an appropriate range of relevant sources, analyse the ways in which attitudes of managers towards their workforces may have changed since the early days of classical and scientific management.


The adoption of managers since the turn of the century has mainly been due to their adaptability of their business organisations to the change in business environment coupled with their ultimate goal of profitability. From classical management style, today's managers have had to adjust to a new production techniques and different styles of management in order to meet the significant challenges in the face of globalisation. By engaging workers to participate in decision-making processes with the aim of increasing productivity, today's managers have also shifted from the 18th century ideology of regarding workers as machines. Nowadays that shift has now made machines more involved in production with the human element playing a reduced role in organisational structures. Despite this turn, there is room to manage employees in today's global business structures.

Main body

Celik et al (2011) identifies that the science of management as having evolved between two main areas, classical to modern or scientific. (Define the two) While many theorists have defined the terms of management, Celik et al (2011) views those theories as an extension of human development processes that have been in existence since the beginning.

Fredrick Taylor, an engineer by profession, developed a management theory that placed his emaphasis on humans as machines, considering production and results based on management and making people more visible. His theories form the basis of scientific management as it is instrumental in shaping the management-employee relations and clearly defines the role of management and workers.(Clegg et al, 2011). The management style shows that the workers' role would be determined by the manager and if there was to be more productivity then its managers had to develop strategies for workers to conform to. However managers nowadays who regard workers in little respect were likely to derive poor production levels obtained through the intimidation of workers and increased conflict. His ideas were that there was a skill in developing a scientific way of work by noticing the way work and people moved on the shop floor through re-designing of workplace, positioning of tools and the timely delivery of parts and machinery. Through a selection process, people could be trained to work more efficiently by applying different aptitudes thereby giving those of higher skills more renumeration.

However he emphasised on the closer role of management and workers through a system of setups which involved assigned tasks, better supervision and reduced conflict at work.
Today's managers view Taylor's theory with scepticism in that his views did not give a batter human factor and in fact considered humans as machines, overlooking emotional responsibility, workers welfare. His contribution that workers would be motivated by renumeration has been thwarted over the years (Celik, 2011)

By looking at earlier management contributors, we can deduce that the growth and shape of industry has shifted the ability to manage people, resources and realise productivity and profitability. Most of these management structures were designed by engineers, who were attempting to improve their own production levels by offering general management perspectives.

1. Classical management derived from the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century and was more of a rational perspective which attempted to improve organisational efficiency by operating machines. This post-war period faced rapid industrial growth and the recovery periods after. In order to businesses to recover, many writers and theorists adopted a military approach management style which were more bureaucratic with detailed planning and organisation (Clegg et al, 2011). These managers used terms like line and staff, command and control, profits and productivity, focusing on a flexible structure which focused on organisation structures and personnel selection in the hands of the manger's control. (Subramaniam, XXXX).
During this period the role of management was easy to control and most industries were small based with single owners being the holder of all resources. The role of business was more of a craft than production with discipline easy to carry out. Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher developed theories that sought to achieve efficient planning through rational calculations. His ideology was relatively based on a central observation of employees in which supervisors could monitor various areas of production and structured for obedience and productive activity (Clegg et al, 2011).

Past management systems were characterised by specialisation, with managers more empowered and very controlling. The structure regime was more rigid with a fixed plan of work and a single boss to oversee that activities. There was little decision making that employees were involved in and was hierarchical, formalised communication structures. A lot of training programmes were given on the basis of kindness and were designed only to encourage those workers to commit to the organisation (Rodrigues, 2001).

Despite his system of management being so controlling and assymetrical in nature, it is still practised today in places like call centres and through CCTVs with people little realising that they are under constant surveillance.

Today's role of management

Today's leadership contributes to the role of management as it exerts influence and interpersonal relationships that help to contribute to a good working environment to attain specific goals. Such effective leadership contributes to influence others and motivates people to work towards a common achievements by utilising human factors, communication processes, intergroup behaviour and organisational dynamics. (Limbare 2012).

The role of management has therefore shifted as human relations have improved due to resistance from inherent management styles and has had to succumb to the rapid pressures of changes. Many would argue that different functions present their own significant challenges. The development of management systems has shown that there is no standard management format and managers need to adapt due to the competitive nature of their industry. While most management styles were based on unskilled workforce, these days sees most employees very skilled and knowledgeable and where beaucracy is detested and more machines carrying out demanding tasks. Clegg et al (2011) cites that by cutting bureacractic offices and rules, this will flatten hierarchies, reduce costs, boost productivity and improve the speed in which businesses respond to their environment. Today's managers need to make rapid decisions, show intelligence and be willing to succumb to new ideas while understanding the people involved in all processes.

Today, employees are more informal and empowered. Such involvement allows managers to be able to communicate with workers and develop formulations and plans. As well as being organised more efficient, organisations are more committed to their employees and have developed sound performance-based reward systems that reward hard work. The leading banks in UK have a controversial rewards systems for their bankers that is constantly under the public glare.

It is worth noting that all theories of management have several limitations.
Still these dimensional management styles still have a following. For example McDonalds still employs a similar scientific management style where workers are taught to continually repeat a process and success of organisation is achieved through standardisation of all its processes. With specified instructions and supervision, the workers role is determined to maximise efficiency and profitability.


Todays' managers will need to adjust to the global changes that have affected most organisations which have shifted from manufacturing to service sectors, especially in the UK. The constant changes like economic, cultural and technological factors in the globalisation environment will demand management to be flexible to the human element as more workers shift to work from their home environments. Managers will need to respond constructively to the needs of their employees in this modern era as workers' passive nature shifts to a more proactive role in the organisations that they are part of, and these organisations need to be adaptive and interdependent. Frynas and Mellahi (2011) reiterate that today's managers need to be strategic and be able to make 'key decisions' made on behalf of the entire organisations. A realisation of team performance rather than individual display will benefit a modern manager in modern times.


Clegg S, Kornberger, M and Pitsis, T (2011) Managing and Organizations: an introduction to theory and practice. Sage: Los Angeles.

Frynas, G J and Mellahi, K. (2011) Global strategic management. 2nd edition, Oxford Press: New York.

Limbare, S (2011) Leadership styles and Conflict Management styles of executives. The indidan journal of industrial Relations. Vol 48, No1 pp172-180.

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