Behavioral Management Theories: Human Relations Approach

The criticism of scientific management by Taylor and administrative management promoted by Fayol gave birth to the behavioral management theories. These theories were criticized by several behavioral scientists for their indifference and in-sensitiveness to the human side of managerial dealings.

Instead of taking a machine-like view of workers as individuals with only economic needs; the behavioral scientists came to consider them as people with social and psychological needs too. Recognition, respect, social contact, freedom and achievement, is also necessary. To them, a business organization is a psycho-social system with prime focus on human factor.

A good number of sociologists and psychologists like Abraham Maslow, Hugo Munsterberg, Rensis Likert, Douglas McGregor, Frederick Herzberg, Mary Parker Follet and Chester Barnard are the major contributors to this school of thought; which is further subdivided by some writers into the Human Relations approach and the Human Behavioral approach, the latter being considered as a modified version of the former thoughts.

Behavioral Management Theories Human Relations Approach

Most important contribution to human relations school of thought was made by Elton Mayo and his colleagues through their famous Hawthorne study. According to them, employees do not only have economic needs, but also social and psychological needs, which are to be fulfilled for motivating them.

McGregor, Likert, Chester Barnard, Kurt Lewin and others, classified as exponents of the Human Behavioral School, modified the classical Human Behavior approach of Mayo. They considered the human side of the enterprise as an interactive subsystem of the total organizational system.

As distinguished from the classical human relations theory, the Human Behavioral School is devoid of the emotional content, and emphasizes the synchronization of group goals within the broader framework of management. It does not consider the goals of the different groups of employees and managers as conflicting with each other but rather co-operative.

The Human Relations theory of management arose out of reaction against the Scientific Management theory and Universal Management Process theory of Taylor and Fayol respectively.

Main criticisms leveled against them are their indifference to and neglect of the human side of the enterprise. Employees, according to their critics, were viewed as mere parts to be fused in the job structure disregarding their human needs and aspirations.

While Taylor and Fayol view people at work merely as economic beings, the Human Relations theorists emphasize the need for viewing them as social beings with social and psychological needs such as recognition, respect, achievement and social contact.

According to the Behavioral Management Theories; a business organization as a psycho-social system with much emphasis on the human side. The Human relations experts believe that management should recognize the need of employees for recognition and social acceptance.

Therefore managers need not have only technical skill but also human relations skill to interact with their subordinates as human beings.

According to this school; managers must know why their subordinates behave as they do and what psychological and social factors influence them. According to these theorists, since groups provide members with feelings of acceptance and dignity, management can look upon the work group as a potential productive force.

Now the Behavioral and Human Relations Approach is followed in most organizations in the world. Managers are now more likely to recognize the behavioral aspect of a employees and give importance to it.