Essay on Modern management benefits of history

Submitted By sjoblom
Words: 2897
Pages: 12

Assignment 1 – Essay
“How modern managers would benefit from a study of historical development of management thought”

Newton is quoted as saying in 1676; “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. Discuss the ways in which a modern day manager would benefit from a study of the historical development of management thought. In doing this you need to specifically show how aspects of management theories from the past can be applied to contemporary management practice.

The historical development of management thought can be traced back through the world history. Organisations have for centuries worked organised together to pursue collective goals. As long as there have been organisations, there has been management and leadership. The evolution of management has benefited from previous experiences, failures and successes. Newton is quoted in a letter from 1676 saying; “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. With these words he laid the foundation of leadership for future leaders, meaning that we have to build on previous discoveries and learn from past experiences. The modern organisations of today are complex and dynamic institutions. Managerial expertise and leadership are key factors in controlling and leading the organisation to accomplish its particular purpose. The ability to coordinate and control the available resources both efficiently and effectively is demanding, therefore it requires at set of leadership skills. The global financial recession, which originated in 2007, demonstrated that the historical theories and ideas within the area of management practise manifest itself as key thoughts to a successful leadership.

Todays managers have an amazing variety of resources they can use and learn from to improve their leadership skills. One of those resources is Henri Fayols “14 Principles of Management”, which is responsible for building the foundations of modern management theory. Fayols theory is defined as Administrative Management school of thought, as opposed to the Scientific Management school by Frederick Taylor and his taylorism. Together with the thoughts by Henry Mintzberg in his studies into managerial roles and Elton Mayo’s research and participation in the Hawthorne Studies, this lays down a solid foundation for modern day managers within the area of management theories and thoughts. All of these four studies and historical theories create a basis for a strong, coherent, functional and most likely successful leaderships in the variety of aspects the modern day manager faces. Although these thoughts are connected to a historically speaking different mindset and management challenges, the underlying concepts and universal and will undoubtedly necessary tools within modern management.

In order to benefit from the past thoughts on management, it’s important to understand the different approaches to management. The classical management theory was developed during the industrial revolution as a result of poor leadership within the factory system. This way of thinking was as a result of “finding the best way” from a managers perspective. Within the classical school of management, it was developed two branches: the administrative and scientific school of thought.

In 1916 Henri Faoyl published “Administration Industrielle et Generale”, a systematization of management behaviour with the conception that management practise falls in to specific patterns that can be identified and analysed. Fayols intentions with this systematization of management behaviour were for the managers to improve their management abilities in line with the constant changes in business and commerce. With his personal management experience he identified five primary functions of management activity together with fourteen principles of management (McNamara 2009).

His theories reflects upon the different functions of the managers activity concerning the ability to cope with the