The influence of classical and human relations approaches in management today

The influence of classical and human relations approaches in management today



Theories in management are applied in organizations to increase productivity, service quality, accountability and profitability. How well a business is managed depends on how well the theories are applied, no single concept works universally in neither one organization nor a number of organizations, but strategies in any workplace are implemented based on the workforce, industry sector, international and organizational culture, purpose and motivation of the manager.  Between classical and human relations theory, organizations are most likely to meet set targets and guarantee employee satisfaction although sometimes employee satisfaction and increase in profitability are difficult to achieve simultaneously. The assumption that the manager makes about the workforce determines how he/she will relate to them and what theory of management will be enforced. If a manager assumes that the workforce needs maximum supervision and goals set for them because they will not function without them, then the manager will most likely employ a command and control approach. A manager who believes his/her workforce is capable and able to function with specific goals and self-actualization because supervision makes them dormant will most likely favour a more relaxed theory of management. The other factor that influences the principle of management a manager may use in an organization is the manager’s motivation, whether it is profit or quality service delivery. In an organization where profit is a priority, the management theories that will most likely push volumes and have a positive influence on the organization are command control and use power as a manager. With organizations that prioritize service quality, the workforce is a priority over profit. So management theory that meets the needs of the workforce believe it positively influences the service delivery of the organization if employee satisfaction is guaranteed. Management principles are dependent on assumption of workforce by the manager, manager’s motivation and international culture; therefore the right management will push forward the organizational goals and employee satisfaction.



The classical theory of management has three approaches that have a common theme. The scientific management approach, administrative principles and bureaucratic organizations approaches develop a science for every job. There are particular measurable systematic disciplines and/or principles. The three approaches share a common way of management that carefully implements a work standard with rules of motion to be adhered to with little/no flexibility – this means actions have repercussions. Everything is done to perfection and profit is the main motivation – the goal is to push numbers and meet targets. There is careful selection of workforce whose work is planned for them. Workers are monitored and evaluated and they have their work planned for them. This command and control tactic indentified with scientific management and administrative approaches start with careful planning then is followed by organizing the necessary resources to carry out laid out tasks. The next stage is leading the workforce according to action plan to ensure that work is done precisely according to action plan and the final stage is checking for errors that need to be addressed. The key, with the scientific management principle is to ensure that managers watch workforce closely to make sure they do what they have been instructed to do how and when the instruction said they should and ensure that they achieve measurable goals. Managers are expected to support workers by helping workforce with their work by monitoring them and carrying the burden of ensuring that deadlines are met and tasks are completed.


Further, all three approaches clearly display excessive routine and hierarchy of authority. There are rules and regulations to be followed and very rarely is there employee satisfaction. Taking the bureaucratic approach into account, it is apparent that the order of authority is clearer. This approach displays a clear division of labour by merit and skill. Further, rules and procedure are clearly outlined and merit equals promotion. The scientific management theory follows three common rules with every approach which are; creating a future action plan; selecting the appropriate resources for the plan; monitoring of workforce by managers with employees reporting to managers and evaluating whether or not action plan was executed to precision.


The theory is mostly used in large organizations or to dispose of a large body of work in a routine manner such as government bodies, government stakeholder enterprises and Non-governmental Organizations. With particular attention to the bureaucratic organizations approach, the classical management is popular with government institutions where work done follows a hierarchy of concerned ministries. It works best with the motivation of government work and ensures efficiency in service delivery and guaranteed efficiency in utilization of resources. The stringency and discipline works in the favour of the ruling party as good government work ensures its popularity. Still on that note, because the government deals with public matters which are mostly development related it is vital that a mandate and work plan be drawn, adhered to, monitored and evaluated as this is assurance that positive progress is made. Other organizations that follow this principle in management are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for example Diocese of Mutare Community Care Program.  Diocese of Mutare Community Care Program’s goal is to adhere to the United Nations development goals. These set goals are the organization’s foresight, as they sought to improve rural livelihood. The organization’s foresight /future action plan is centered on placing Christian values at the centre of all its activities, duties and professional obligations. The action plan/ motivation at the beginning of each term and is always to facilitate, capacitate and support community driven sustainable health and wellness initiatives. There are figures involved, e.g. number of households needing assistants or number of HIV patients needing medication. Commanding the right employees involves careful selection of employees. The strategy to guarantee efficiency is to employ former student attachés who worked for the organization. This ensures experienced and semi-skilled first level employees who can work well as development practitioners/program officers as well as hardworking student attachés. Community care givers and/or volunteers are also part of the staff and so are students on attachment/ student interns. All are interviewed before selection and must display knowledge of issues around disease awareness, child protection act of Zimbabwe and communication skills.

Funds or resources are organized from donors such as Dorcas aid. The organization also liaises with health workers and security forces in their training workshops. Liaising and conducting meetings with stakeholders such as government ministries and security forces is done so as to mobilize specialized human resources.

When this has been done programmes are carried out on a budget, timeline and as per program to ensure funds are used with accountability, transparency and accuracy. The program officer coordinates and controls stakeholders, volunteers/community care givers and student attachés/interns to work with the community. They do house visits, conduct awareness campaigns, facilitate workshops and conduct feedback discussions with beneficiaries. At the end of each year targets set – that is households to benefit from programs and/or problem need that needed to be addressed – should be met.

Another organization that follows the scientific approach is the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).  According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (2017, p1)

The promulgation of a new Constitution on 22 May 2013 necessitated the alignment of subsidiary electoral laws with the Constitution. Section 157 of the Constitution particularly obliged law-makers to enact an Electoral Law to give effect to the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The legislature has since passed a number of amendments to the Electoral law in fulfillment of Section 157. However it is submitted that the subsidiary laws still fall short of reflecting the full extent of the letter and spirit of the Constitution. As Zimbabwe heads towards its next general election in 2018, it is proposed that further legislative amendments be given consideration to enhance the credibility of the process and outcome of the forthcoming election.”

The electoral body in Zimbabwe is governed by both the judicial and legislative system in how voter registration and the voting process are conducted. Therefore it is especially essential that every job be a science with guidelines, standardized work implementations and that the right workforce for the job be selected. For example the former (resigned) ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau is a former high court judge appointed by the former Zimbabwean president to take an oath to sit in office after a public interview was conducted by the Parliament’s Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. This allows the incumbent to be able to take note of inadequacies exhibited in areas such as the voter’s roll, voter education and how elections are conducted.   The command and control tactic enforces more the use power than leadership, workforce is expected to respect authority because their position gives them the right to receive compliance. Further, merit is the reason for promotion which is the incentive/ reward given on account good work, whilst failure to deliver satisfactory/desired results may result in loss of work. Organizations that deal with human rights – in order to protect the public from being exploited or cheated and to be a good example – are strict about following constitutional obligations and failure to do so is not taken lightly.



On a different note, different organizations operate under different management that best suit the organization’s culture, mission and conceptions of how work can and should be organized. Human relations theory follows a different approach to manager – workforce relationship and/or interaction because there is little domination by manager over workers. The behavioral approaches maintain that people are social and have behavioral needs that they seek to be satisfied for example the hierarchy of needs approach.  All the approaches, however, identify people at work as self-actualizing with a need to grow for introverted or extroverted reasons. The principle of human relations in management encourages freedom to talk over and reconcile conflicts and differences within an organization. Private profits are considered in relation to the public good and employee satisfaction is important. Managers who employ these approaches are concerned with human and social needs and prioritize service delivery. They consider organizations as communities that have the responsibility to deliver set goals through cooperation and learning from each other’s skills which is clearly defined by Follet (2010). Merit is important but could hardly be noticed as group work is encouraged so as to use group diversity to the advantage of the organization. The approaches to the human relations theory give a lot of responsibility to employees as monitoring by managers is on the minimal in management. Further, with these approaches the keys in management are productivity and quality service delivery – that is the motivation.

With these approaches the popular strategy is a leadership style approach that pushes a laissez-faire management approach with appropriate rewards or incentives given to workers for impressive work. The central belief with behavioral approaches in management is that those employee feelings, interpersonal relationships and their attitudes which affect their work should not be taken for granted as they are of paramount importance to productivity and service delivery. The reason for this is that according to the scholars of the behavioral approach to management such as Hawthorne and McGregor (2010), guaranteed high profitability is determined by quality service delivery and quality service delivery is guaranteed by satisfied employees. This means the needs of workers motivate behaviour whether satisfied or ignored. Assumption of human behavioral approaches to management is that employees need to be empowered through job responsibility as it improves human relations and reduces the risk of irresponsible passive workforce. The main theme running in these approaches is that employees are just as important as profit and should be prioritized over pushing volumes.

The approaches work best in the corporate world that do not advocate for human rights as the core in service delivery although company policy may foster charity work as their social obligation – for example oil companies and mineral companies – for whatever reason. The case that can shed some light on how the behavioral management theory influences management is Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited. This is the country’s biggest mobile network service provider with close to 73% of the local mobile telephone network in 2010. To date, the Econet group has expanded in partnerships and group divisions worldwide. The diversity of the private limited company promotes sharing of information, self-actualization and empowering workforce by giving them job responsibility – following a leadership style approach as opposed to power. Econet is a diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments in Africa, north and South America, East Asia and Europe. It offers products and services in security, telecommunication, financial services, insurance, health, renewable energy and education. The company continues to upgrade its network and service provision to widen its coverage and expand the extent to which it renders services. Econet provides services in broadband, SIM card registration, mobile and fixed telephony services prepaid cell phone credit (airtime), messaging services, promotional packages, software applications and prepaid public and private Wi-Fi.

Organizational learning encourages innovation and cooperation which is what moves all Econet groups towards success. When Econet launched its network in 1998 it was for mobile services such as calling and short message services. In 2009 it was the first telecommunications company to launch data services. To date, Econet’s subsidiaries and associates are Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe, Internet Service, Transaction payment solutions and a scholarship program. The Econet groups are one community that uses telecommunication as a means to transmit data, information and make purchases. Information sharing within the organization, its diversity and drive to forward technological advancement move the organization to forester self actualization and working with specific set goals. On that note, Econet’s organizational behaviour is creativity and innovation; hence their strategy as an organization that is constantly changing is to motivate employees by promoting diversity and allowing employees to bring their skills to the table with appreciation. The organization’s culture is quality service delivery and meeting the needs of clients. For example, owing to the growing cash shortages in Zimbabwe, Econet offered to rent out Point of Sale Machines at 15% commission so as to reduce losses that might be incurred by vendors as Zimbabwe is a country with a large informal sector.  The group also supports charitable causes such as the Joshua Nkomo Scholarship Fund.

The company also offers banking services for example Ecocash and wallet to bank transfers and vice versa. Ecocash is a mobile banking service that uses the cell phone number as an equivalent to an account number/wallet that is password protected. Ecocash is used for purchases, fees payments, church payments, money transfer (international and national) and bill payments. Further, Econet offers health and funeral insurance, Ecohealth and Ecosure and under those clauses sells health products such as BP machines. The company offers security services for homes and companies such as car tracking and alarm systems. Econet also sells cell phones, tablets, solar lamps, solar cooler machines and cell phone accessories. Econet’s strategic investment in mobile advertising through the short message system allows organization to efficiently transmit information via the largest telecommunications group in the country. The mission of Econet is to positively transform the lives and communities in which they operate. The Econet group is diverse in service delivery and because it relies on technology a command control approach would be tiring to implement and monitor. According to Mosley, reactions to diversity are emotional and described by terms such as pluralism, multiculturalism and celebrating differences. Therefore, it is difficult to attain a defined code of conduct that commands and controls an employee composition that is multiskilled and multitalented. For better competitive value, managers should allow for workers to have responsibilities.  The group chairman’s entrepreneurial spirit drives him to create an organization that drives customer satisfaction by offering solutions that prove positive impact and transformation.



To conclude, the theories in management that are used in an organization by managers cannot be defined as entirely positive or negative. How they influence the organization is based on the broader aspect of how the organization is supposed to deliver services. The command control approach that closely monitors workforce is perfect for organizations that should provide the needs of individuals. That is sectors that deliver social, judicial and constitutional services to people, as these are services that people cannot live without. Hence there is need to ensure that communities’ rights are respected through close monitoring. It may actually look like government sector and human rights organizations are concerned with needs of people over employee satisfaction. There is little employment satisfaction in an organization that pays little attention to employee skill and talent and puts more attention on incentivizing by merit. Further, in a bureaucratic approach in management the manager takes the fall for the employees, they shoulder the burden of what their employees fail to deliver. The plunge of the Zimbabwean economy was caused by a multiplicity of factors but blamed on the president of the republic. It is a disadvantage of the command and control approach, it risks creating dormant irresponsible employees that cannot function outside of supervision and appraisals by managers or supervisors. On the other hand, the behavioral approach in management is used in an organization whose culture adheres to 21st century or modern principles. Due to globalization, organizations might become more and more heterogeneous which means  managers have to consider employees’ skills and culture in management, therefore on set of rules will be difficult to implement. For example hierarchy in Asia and Africa is held highly as compared to the western world. Diverse private organizations and multinational companies operate better when managed under the behavioral approach in management. However the approach credits group work and ignores the work that may have been done individuals within the group.



















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