Approaches to the Study of Management

Human Relations(Interpersonal Behaviour) Approach:

  • This method is based on the idea that managing involves getting things done through people and therefore, its study should be centered on interpersonal relationships. Variously called the human relations, leadership or behavioural science approach, this school concentrates on the human aspect of management. Motivation, Psychology, leadership and human interactions form bulk of the theory.

Group Behavioural Approach:

  • This approach is concemed primarily with the behaviour of  people in groups rather than behaviour of individuals. Many of the problems in managing stem from group behaviour patterns, attitudes and desires. It is based on sociology and social psychology, rather than on individual psychology. The group behaviour approach varies from the the study of small groups with their cultural and behavioural patterns to the study of behavioural composition of large groups.

Difference Between Behavioural Approach and Human Relations Approach

Group Behavioral Approach Human Relations (Interpersonal Behaviour) Approach
1. Group Behavioral Approach stresses upon groups and group behaviour. 1. Human Relations (Interpersonal Behaviour)  Approach lays emphasis on the individual, his need and behaviour.
2. It focuses on group relationship. 2. It focuses on inter-personal relationships.
3. It refines the human relations approach and has wide scope. This approach is more systematic in study of human behaviour in an organization. 3. It is based on Hawthorne experiments. Its scope is limited.
4. It advocates that conflict is inevitable in modern organization and it may have positive aspects also. 4. It considers conflicts in the organization as negative and so suggested their minimization.
5. It lays emphasis on group dynamics, informal organization, leadership, motivation and participative management. 5. It lays emphasis on informal groups, Motivation, job satisfaction and morale.
6. It emphasises the role of job redesign, Group dynamics, motivation, leadership and organizational change and development . 6. It emphasises improvement of working conditions, inter-personal relations, employee oriented leadership style and communication system for increasing job satisfaction and morale of the workers.
7. Pioneered by McGregor, Likert, Keith Davis and others. 7. Pioneered by Elton Mayo and his Associates.
  • The scientific management era was started by F.W.Taylor who reorganised for the first time the need of scientific approach to the task of managing an enterprise. He is called the father of the scientific management.
  • Taylor stressed the need to promote maximum efficiency of the workers and to give economic incentives to them to achieve the goal. 
  • On the other hand, human relations approach recognises that a worker also has personal sentiments and emotional involvements. The interest of employees in their work and their relations with each other and with the management play a role in determining their attitude towards the total work situation. Thus the human relations movement made significant contribution to management thought by highlighting human and social factors in organisation. So we can say that human relations approach is a refinement over the scientific management approach. 
  • The credit of Highlighting the imporance of uniformal social groups, good human relaions, the need of managerial motivation, Participation management, better communication, good leadership ad committee management goes to human relations approach.

Difference between the Scientific Management Approach and Human Relation Approach 

Scientific Management Approach Human Relations Approach
1. It was propounded by F.W. Taylor 1. It was propounded by Elton Mayo.
2. It suggested an engineering approach to management problems. It applied scientific methods. 2. It suggested human relations as a method of achieving higher productivity. It discarded the engineering approach.
3. It focuses on the study of the productivity problems of the industry. 3. It focuses on the study of individuals, his needs and behavior.
4. The main concepts are scientific tasks, Setting scientific selection and training of people and mental revolution. 4. The main concepts are job satisfaction, motivation and employee morale.
5. It is a part of classical theory of organization. 5. It represents neo-classical theory of organization.
6. It concentrated on improvements in productivity and efficiency. 6. It concentrated on improvements in inter-personal relations and human relations in industry.

System's Approach to Management:

  •  No doubt, the behaviourists' approach made very significant contributions to the management thought. This approach emphasised the importance of human and social factors in an organisation So instead of concentrating on extreme human relations, almost equal emphasis is being given to men and machines. This system's approach, known as Modern Theory, was developed only after 1950. It has really been the outcome of the operations research. It is an integrating approach and considers management in its totality. The basic idea is that any approach must depend on a scientific method of analysis involving simultaneous consideration of all the mutually dependent variables.
  • The word "System" is itself defined as "bringing together or combining". A system, thus, is a set of inter-related or inter-connected elements directed to achieve certain specific common goals.

The main elements of systems' approach are as follows:

  • Every system should be goal oriented in the sense that it must have a purpose or objective to be achieved.
  • A system is a combination of several parts, called the sub-systems, and a hierarchy of systems and its sub-systems can be arranged.
  • Parts and sub-parts of a system are always mutually related with each other, though the degree or extent to which they are related may differ. This relationship is not as rigid as in case of, for exanmple, nature or say the solar system. It is thus a social system and hence its boundary is not as rigidly or clearly defined as in case of natural or physical systems. But even then identification of some sort of such boundary even in case of human organisation is as well essential and necessary.
  • A system may be classified into two parts viz., 
    • Closed system: A Closed system has no environment and no outside system impinges on it.
    • Open system:  An Open system has an environment and it interacts with it.
  • Management is an Open system and it interacts with the environnment and takes resources from the environment. Management adjusts to changing environment and hence it is dynamic and adaptive.
  • Management as a system is also multi-disciplinary and it draws integrates knowledge from various disciplines such as economics, mathematics, statistics, operation research, psychology, sociology etc.


Contingency Approach to Management:

  • This approach integrates the various other approaches to the management developed earlier. This is also called the "Situational" approach. According to it, the major premise is that there is no one best way to handle any of the management problems. In any situation, the principles and practices of management should be rather contingent upon the existing circumstances or the situations. So functional, behavioural,quantitative (management science) and also systems' approach should all be applied together.
  • According to this contingency approach, there can be one best method or style of leadership which can be fitted into every situation. This approach actually guides the managers to be adaptive to the particular situations or environment variables. Managers are, therefore, required to be pragmatic and also open-minded or adaptive. This approach, therefore, is certainly an improvement over the earlier systems' approach. It is based on the detailed examination of the various sub-systems of the organisation and also the relationship of the organisation and the environment. Actually this contingency approach to the management is not law. Pigors and Myers had also talked of it in the area of personnel management as early as 1950. Next to them many more management scientists had advocated this approach in one way or the other.

The main features of the contingency approach are as follows:

  • Different situations require the application of ditferent management techniques.
  • Management should, therefore, 'match or fit its approach to the requirements of the particular situations.
  • There is no "best way to manage." There is no unique technique to solve every problem because every problem situation is unique in itself.
  • Managers have to devise methods and to learn when and how to apply each one.
  • It emphasises the need of analysing situation.

Merits or uses of contingency approach: 

  • The contingency approach has great significance. It is helpful to the managers in performing their functions of planning, organising, direction and control. It helps the managers to broad-base their approach in solving day-to-day management problems. It widens the manager's horizons beyond the theory of management, principles and techniques
  • This approach rejects universality of management concept. It requires the ability to analyse and diagnose a managerial situation correctly. This approach is action oriented as it is directed towards the application of system concepts and the knowledge gained from other approaches.

Difference between System Approach and Contigency Approach

System Approach Contingency Approach
1. It lays emphasis on the inter-dependencies and interactions among systems and sub-systems. 1. It identifies the nature of inter-dependencies and the impact environment on organizational design and managerial styles.
2. It treats all organizations alike. Size of the organization and its socio-cultural setting are not considered. 2. It treats each organization and each situation as a unique entity of its own.
3. Its main focus is on the internal environment and sub-system of the organization. 3. Its main focus is on the External environment of the organization.
4. It studies organization at the philosophical level, provides global theoretical model for understanding organization. 4. It follows an action-oriented approach and so is pragmatic.
5. It simply lays down the rules how an organization interacts with the environment. 5. The Impact of environment on the organization structure and managerial styles is the centre of contingency approach.
6. It suggests deterministic solutions of problems. 6. It suggests probable and flexible approach to problem.
7. It does not comment on the validity of the classical principles of management. 7. It reflects the blind application of the classical principles of management.


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