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Early management practices Essay

Since the dawn of time, people have been managing themselves as well as others to get activities completed. Management has become an increasingly demanding and difficult task, with many different approaches to the role of management evolving throughout the ages. The Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century influenced management greatly, largely due to the introduction of the widespread use of machines in organizations.

During the first half of the twentieth century management thought became very diverse, and with this bought four different management approaches: Scientific management, General administrative, Quantitative and Organizational behavior. The turbulent and rapidly changing global environment of the 21st century has brought about new standards and expectations of managers in organizations. This essay examines the role of the manager in Australia in the first decade of the 21st century.

The essay is structured such that it will briefly analysis early management practices; this will follow with a discussion of the role of the Australian manager in the new millennium in comparison to early management practices. Management practices have been existing for thousands of years, however, it has only been in the past several hundred years that management has been systematically investigated and studied.

The Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century,

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largely due to the introduction of the widespread use of machines in organizations to substitute human power, acted as a catalyst, marking the start of the serious study of management and organizations. (Robbins et al. , 2000, p. 41). The arrival of machine power, mass production, and reduced transportation costs aided the creation of big corporations that incorporated Adam Smith’s ‘division of labour’ technique to improve productivity (Shafritz and Ott, 1992, p. 28). Scientific Management began in 1911 when Frederick W.

Taylor published his work suggesting that factory workers could be more productive if there work was designed scientifically. In order to increase efficiency and speed up production, Taylor determined the ‘one best way’ to perform tasks (Shafritz and Ott, 1992, p. 30). The role of the scientific manager was to plan and control, driven by the need to increase output by discovering the fastest, most efficient, and least fatiguing production methods ((Shafritz and Ott, 1992, p. 30). Writing at the same time as Taylor was General Administrative theorist, Henri Fayol.

Fayol described the practice of management as a set of functions – planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling (Mintzberg, 1990, p 163). Fayol also developed 14 principles that management should apply as they perform these functions including division of work, authority, unity of command and direction, discipline and centralization. Following the Classical Management period (Scientific Management and General Administrative), and leading up to the 21st century, the practice of management was also studied from a quantitative approach and an organizational behavior approach.

The quantitative approach to management includes the use of statistics, information models and computer simulations to improve decision making (Robbins et al. , 2000, p. 50). The organizational behavior approach places high value humans as individuals, whom, if they find meaning and satisfaction in their tasks, will work at a greater output (Shafritz and Ott, 1992, p. 144). Management practices are constantly changing due to several factors, however many characteristics of past management practices are still evident in organizations today. The role of the manager in the 21st century has, however, increased in intensity and diversity.

Management is no longer constrained by national borders and must compete in the global environment, requiring management to take an opportunistic approach to new situations in order to sustain viability and ensure survival. The need to develop an opportunistic workplace culture has required a shift in management perception from ‘cop’ to ‘coach’. The former autocratic and disciplinary approach, adopted by general administrative theorists, has switched to a leading and enabling management approach that facilitates the creation of flexible, internationally competitive and profitable enterprises.

The vitally important management role of the leader in the 21st century is evidence that Henri Mintzberg’s theory of management roles still influences management practices today (Mintzberg, 1990, p. 55). However, rather than lead their staff through authority, managers are switching to lead through becoming team players. Today’s organizations are characterized by workforce diversity (Robbins et al. , 2000, p. 50). There is a greater heterogeny of gender, ethnicity, age and other characteristics. Thus, managers must not longer treat all employees alike, ignoring their individual needs, as did Scientific Management.

The 21st century has also brought about a revolution where by management is driven by customer needs and expectations, referred to as Total Quality Management (Robbins et al. , 2000, p. 64). While theorists like Adam Smith and Frederick Taylor focused on improving speed to increase the quantity of products produced, today there is a greater management focus rather on the quality of the products to satisfy customer expectations and meet world class quality standards. Management must possess strong skills in coaching, mentoring and facilitating.

Statistical techniques are also used to measure every critical variable in the organizations operations, a management practice based upon the quantitative management approach developed shortly after World War II to assist management in planning and controlling. In the 21st century we no longer live in the organised world that Taylor, Fayol and Weber based there writings about management on. In response to the turbulence of the rapidly changing global environment within which organizations operate, the role and expectations of management are continually changing.

Management must be constantly ready to change the way they manage due to all factors, such as the environment, technology, economic conditions and globalization if they are to successfully meet new challenges, and to retain their management role.

References

Mintzberg, H. (1990) ‘The Managers Job: Folklore & Fact” Harvard Business Review March-April pp163-176. Robbins,S. , Bergman, R. , Stagg, I & Coulter, M. Management, Sydney: Prentice Hall. Shafritz, J. M. & Ott, J. S. (1992) Classics of Organization Theory, 3rd Edn. Pacific Grove Brooks/Cole

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