Saturday, March 2, 2013

Management theories and philosophies

Management theories and philosophies
Management is the social practice that involves the cooperation of activities through planning, control, coordination and motivation. The classical view of management was established in the period of the industrial revolution due to the immense increase in the trade at the beginning of the twentieth century. It mainly revolves around the traditional concepts of management, bureaucracy and scientific management (Almashaqba & Nemer Al-Qeed 2010). In this management theory, the organization is basically viewed as an instrument for achieving goals that have already been established by the various individuals in the working environment. This management approach also assumes that all the tasks that have been allocated to the employees can be rationalized and hence there is predictability in the flow of work. It is also of the view that there should be specialization of tasks to ensure that productivity is maximized with the use of machines and people coherently (ORGANIZATION & MANAGEMENT THEORY Conference Paper Abstracts' 2010). This theory was basically concerned with the structure of the organization through a formal and an official manner, division of labor and the span of work execution was viewed as the basis for operation in the organization (Connell 1997). The two theorists that were able to contribute to this theory were Sir Henry Fayol and his counterpart F. W Taylor. The two had prepositions about how management and the practice at the work place should be effectively conducted .The human relations theory on the other hand dealt with the idea of human relations and behavioral tendencies at the work place. This approach is of the emphasis that the needs of people in an organization are the emphasis through which an organization can effectively operate. Elton mayo, the leading figure in the sociology studies was able to come up with the Hawthorne studies in order to explain this principle. In his experiments, he explained to a great extent why the behaviors of the employees at work should be taken with a serious inclination. Through this theory, other theories were also formulated like Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that have been very valuable contributions to the study of management practices.
The following easy is going to evaluate the processes at Volkswagen group in relation to the classical and human management theories. In an organistaion.It is important that managerial activities are carried out very seriously. This is because they act as a basis through which prescribed roles are structured in an organizational setting. Through management of activities, the aims and goals of the organization are able to be achieved especially through the direct influence of the efforts that have been contributed by others. The classical theory of management emphasizes mainly on the structure of the organization with a keen interest of what is appropriate for the organization and the roles to be undertaken by a practical manger.
According to Henry Fayol, it is essential that an organization is managed through division of work. This way the span of effort required and attention is reduced per person sharing. Therefore, the element of proper practice and familiarization with the working practice ifs fostered. According to Henry Fayol, it is also very important that authority is recognized with the need for reference to responsibility. In the Same context therefore, he also emphasizes the need for an outward mark of respect exhibiting the presence of both formal and informal agreements by both the employer and the employees of the company. In his theory, Henry Fayol emphasizes the need to ensure that there is superiority in command with the company heads being solely responsible for the planning of the company’s group activities and objectives (Adetule 2011). In this regard, he also stated that the company objectives should be superior to the objectives of an individual and that the good of the company should always exceed the good derived by an Individual. This means that in every situation, the company should be able to come first and the individuals follow suit. Centralization is also an important aspect of Henry Fayol’s theory with the emphasis that it should be accordance to the size of the company depending on the utility of management. He also emphasized that the organization should be characterized by scalar management with clear and visible channels showing the top to the bottom of management of the company. In this case therefore, it was also according to this hierarchal order that the remuneration should be done with the employees getting a fair wage for their work and for their contribution to the company. Through this theory as formulated by Henry Fayol the element of doing everything at its own lace and time is able to surface meaning that work should be done in the most orderly way possible. He also advocates for equity in regards to treatment of the employees. By equity, he means that all employees should be treated in a fair and just manner with every employee being given ample time to settle in their jobs regardless of the length of the period taken. Through his theory he also advocated for togetherness and cooperation, among all the employees with all the employees being encouraged to exhibit a sign if innovation and initiative in the execution of their responsibilities in the work place.
Taylor, who was also a scholar in the scientific management school was of the view that the component tasks in manual manufacturing should be divided into time and motion studies so as to allow for the determination of the best practice for doing the activities in question. His management theory mainly emphasized rigidity in specialization processes. In summation of both the theories as stated above, it can be evidenced that despite the fact that the theories supported and promoted productivity in a company, they were also very negligent on human needs of the employees. This therefore was a contributing factor in the creation of boring and repetitive jobs with systems that advocated for stringent control measures and the division of employees from the top floor levels to the senior most management.
The human relations theory on the other hand, was formulated to deal with the human factors unlike the classical theories that were mainly driven towards the structure and operation of an organization. This theory mainly bases it focus on motivation both in the group and individual perspectives and on leadership. Elton mayo best described the human relations theory as putting emphasis primarily on the human behavior of individuals in an organization stating that their needs were the major compelling factors in determining how best the organization could attain its effectiveness during production (Cole 2004). The theory was majorly descriptive basing its argument on describing the behavior of humans at the work place. In regards to motivation, Elton mayo revolved around the making the appropriate decision while choosing an action that may lead to the achievement of the desired goal and objectives of the business (Naoum 2001). According to Elton mayo’s Hawthorne studies, it was agreed that the productivity of the workers still remained constant and even increased despite the physical environment in which they performed their duties (Naoum 2001). It was determined that it is the attitude of the workers at the work place towards work that mattered and not the physical environment of the place. In the Hawthorne effect, it is emphasized that employees respond so much to the fact that they are the center of attention at the work place other than to their physical conditions of their environment.
The Volkswagen Audi group of companies is an organization that is complex, decentralized in its operations and diversified by all means possible, with most of the human resource activities being conducted in a much decentralized manner possible. The company is characterized by four brands namely Volkswagen, Audi, seat and Skoda. The activities that are carried out outside the European continent are coordinated through the structures that have been set up regionally. It is the responsibility of every brand to mange its own operations in regards to the planning, recruitment and management of the company.
The Volkswagen Company is an ideal case study to illustrate the application and the practice of the two management theories that have been mentioned above. First the company has implemented a practice known as knowledge management, which are the organizational tools that have been implemented to ensure that there is a balance between the implantation of electronic and the non electronic tools. In the Volkswagen group of companies, knowledge management is primarily based on the idea of ensuring that innovative solutions are spread through out the VW group of companies, therefore making knowledge to all the brands and regions easily available for all the associates. It is also essential for the company through knowledge management, that network activities are fostered with the aim to create job families and in order to create learning experiences for the company all over the world. For the company, it is essential that the relevant knowledge is applied at the right place and the knowledge from the employees leaving the company is utmost retained. In application of the classical theory of management to these fundamental basics of the knowledge management practice of the company, it comes to the reader’s awareness that the specifics mentioned are put in line with the stipulations as stated by Henry Fayol. It is observed in his theory that it was very important that an organization is able to divide the work divisions of the company with the promotion employee initiatives at all levels of the company, just as is the case with the Volkswagen group, in the case of ensuring that all the innovative solutions are divided through out the region and branches of the company. Henry Fayol in his theory also emphasized the need for the promotion of cooperation and cohesion among all the employees of the company, an approach that is also being kept in mind with the VW Company through the promotion of networking activities in the creation of job families ('News Headlines' 2012). The element of order is also highly visible in the inset that the company promotes the character of having the ideal knowledge and applying it at the right place. This is just as explained by Henry Fayol in his theory by Stating that it is important that synergy and appropriate processes are carried out at the company at the right place, and time.
In regards to the Volkswagen company, it is very essential the its employees operate in a manner that depicts synergy and high capacities of knowledge so that they can be able to drive high value activities and also be able to create new and efficient activities. This approach to management by the company is clearly reflected in the classical management theory where the core element of the employees is to ensure very high productivity backed up with the ability to create new innovation and initiatives for the company. According to the group Executive director of the company, it was very essential to determine and redefine the way in which the processes of the company are affecting the potential of the employees in regards to exhibiting the desire to add value to the processes of the company (Volkswagen: In a League of Its Own' 2009).
It is also essential to discern the element of automation of the process while desire to still incorporate the use of human labor as per the qualities and ides that classical theory stands for. In the company, through the cooperation with the IBM group, a new system was designed and incorporated so as to aid in the simplifying and the automation of the processes through which both the employees and the suppliers are able to achieve, access to information so as to allow for its analysis and incorporation (Company Spotlight: Volkswagen AG 2011). Dr. Hofmann the executive director of the company further alleviated the classical motive of management by stating that the aim of the system was to create a technological leverage that enabled the employees and the management of the company to respond more capably to situations and to be effective in their decision-making processes('Global Overview' 2011).
The structure of the company is one that promotes the hierarchical order of conduct in carrying out operations, through which the employees of the company have to follow a formal order of reporting through which there is also an hierarchical order of authority (Brooks 2011). This means that there is a difference in the wok allocations according to the order and level of management with the senior most management of the company being in charge of strategic operations of the company with the lower ranked employees being responsible for the assembling and manufacturing processes of the company (Company Spotlight: Volkswagen AG 2008). This therefore means that there is little collaboration between the top most management and the shop floor employees since there is no avenue for interaction between the two. This type of management is what was brought into context by the classical management theory which was of the emphasis that different management levels should be incorporated in the company with channels of reporting.
It is also evident in the company’s vision and mission that they are very classically structured in regards to the expectations that they hold for their employees (TAYLOR III 2013). Through their cooperate strategy, the company is majorly enforcing the idea that they offer attractive employment opportunities with good working environment and the fact that they remunerate their employees according to the work done/levels of productivity (Taylor 2012). This is an indication that the company is more inclined in the development of the classical management approach other than the human relations approach. However, the fact that the company is also geared towards the development of the employees through training them and offering them development opportunities displays the ideal human relations model of making them feel that they are part of the group/the company (Hegar 2011).
In relation to the Hawthorne studies ,as regards to the productivity of the employees and in comparison with motivational factors, it can be stated that the productivity of the Volkswagen Audi group which is at revenue levels of about$146,696.9m with the total number of employees which is 368,500 is lower than its competitors the BMW, Toyota motors and the ford companies due to the fact that the employees may not feel as the center of attention and maybe due to the fact that they feel neglected in the operations of the company (Schwaiger,Sarstedt & Taylor, 2010).
In regards to the human relations theory, the operations at the company are restrictive o the current employees at the organization. There was a recent rule that was passed by the council of employees in the company in order to effect the restriction of the email functionality in the company on the company’s black berry smart phones after 6.30 pm('Company Spotlight: Volkswagen AG'  2012). This change was effected after the employees complained about the high levels of stress related to the work in which they were doing especially due to the fact that they were required to be answerable to work related emails regardless of the time, even when they were supposed to be at home relaxing with their families. This is therefore a depiction of the poor working relations of the company in regards to the motivation of employees. This is therefore an indication that the company is just mainly based on the formal operations structures, productivity and goals of the company other than the well being of the employees of the company('Company Spotlight: Audi'  2012).
Although both the human relations theory and the classical theory of management relate to the operations management of the Volkswagen Audi group of companies, through the evidence in regards to the data content presented above, it is wise to state that the company is mainly inclined towards the classical theory of management with little or insignificant contribution with regards to the human relations management theory. Despite the fact that the company has to realize its operational goals and objectives of meeting costs and attaining profits to the maximum. It is also necessary that the management identifies the needs of the employees and works towards satisfying them (Crowthe &Green2004). It is also essential to note that the classical approach is effective but in order for it to provide the best results in regards to an equilibrium for both the employees and the company. It is essential that it is coupled with another management theory as well. For instance the incorporation of human relations theory and the classical approach to management will ensure that the employees are comfortable at work and at the same time are compelled to be more productive by the management and authority channels that have been put in place.


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