Max Weber The conceptualisation of bureaucracy

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Max Weber

The conceptualisation of bureaucracy

Since the early 1980s it has become fashionable to criticise bureaucracies for being out of touch with rapidly changing market conditions. As the first to develop the concept of bureaucratic organisation, Max Weber has borne the brunt of much of that criticism. This is rather unfair, as Weber did not promote bureaucracy as something that others should adopt, but merely described it as the most efficient organisational way of working, and description is not synonymous with advocacy.

Any understanding of the way modern organisations work would be incomplete without at least a cursory study of Weber, who is commonly described as a founding father (with DurkheInstitute) of sociology and whose work is also of historic importance from a managerial viewpoint.

Frederick Winslow Taylor

Father of Scientific Management

Peter Drucker is often called ‘the guru’s guru’. Drucker himself would suggest that accolade should be given to Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1917):

“On Taylor’s ‘scientific management’ rests, above all, the tremendous surge of affluence in the last seventy-five years which has lifted the working masses in the developed countries well above any level recorded, even for the well-to-do. Taylor, though the Isaac Newton (or perhaps the Archimedes) of the science of work, laid only first foundations, however. Not much has been added to them since - even though he has been dead all of sixty years.” (Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, responsibilities, practices. Heinemann, 1973).

Abraham Maslow

The Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a US psychologist and behavioural scientist. He spent part of his career in industry as well as working as an academic. His “Hierarchy of Needs Theory” was first presented in 1943 in the US Psychological Review and later developed in his book “Motivation and Personality”, first published in 1954. His concepts were originally offered as general explanations of human behaviour but quickly became a significant contribution to workplace motivation theory. They are still used by managers today to understand, predict and influence employee motivation.

Maslow was one of the first people to be associated with the humanistic, as opposed to a task-based, approach to management. As people have increasingly come to be appreciated as a key resource in successful companies, Maslow’s model has remained a valuable management concept.

W Edwards Deming

Total Quality Management

W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) is widely acknowledged as the leading management thinker in the field of quality. He is credited as being the most influential catalyst of Japan’s post-war economic transformation.

Henry Laurence Gantt

The Gantt Chart

Henry Laurence Gantt's legacy to management is the Gantt Chart. Accepted as a commonplace project management tool today, it was an innovation of world-wide importance in the 1920s. But the Chart was not Gantt's only legacy; he was also a forerunner of the Human Relations School of management and an early spokesman for the social responsibility of business.

Henri Fayol

Planning, Organisation, Command, Coordination, Control

Henri Fayol (1841-1925) remained comparatively unknown outside his native France for almost a quarter of a century after his death. Then, Constance Storrs published "General and Industrial Management" - a translation of his (unfinished) work "Administration Industrielle et Generale - Prevoyance, Organisation, Commandment, Controle" - and he posthumously gained widespread recognition for his work on administrative management. Today he is often described as the founding father of the Administration School.

Elton Mayo

The Hawthorne Experiments

Professor George Elton Mayo (1880-1949) has secured fame as the leader in a series of experiments which became one of the great turning-points in management thinking. At the Hawthorne plant of Western Electric, he discovered that job satisfaction increased through employee participation in decisions rather than through short-term incentives.

Mayo’s importance to management lies in the fact that he established evidence on the value of a management approach and style which, although not necessarily an alternative to FW Taylor’s scientific management, presented facts which Taylorites could not ignore.
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