The Ideas of the Classical Theorists, Particularly Those of Bureaucracy and Scientific Management, Are Generally Considered as Rather Old Fashioned and Out of Date, and of Little Relevance to Work and Organisation Today.

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BUS 2019

Essay 1:

The ideas of the classical theorists, particularly those of bureaucracy and scientific management, are generally considered as rather old fashioned and out of date, and of little relevance to work and organisation today.

Ryan Foreman


This essay will discuss the relevance of the ideas of classical theorists in today’s work and organisations. I will evaluate why these ideas gained popularity when they were published by looking at the influences that classical theorists were surrounded by at the time of their development. I will then focus on bureaucracy and scientific theories, by looking at the organisations and countries that have adopted this style and how a negative reputation has been
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These theories were proven relevant by their popularity (Brooks, 20) “Taylor’s thinking preceded the widespread adoption of mass production techniques, possibly best demonstrated by the early 1920’s motor manufacturers, most significantly Henry Ford in the USA.” Production lines were sequential and followed a strict rule of the “one best way” which may be because the new industry and workers did not have a large amount of knowledge or expertise on how their jobs should be done.

Bureaucracy was one of the most popular theories developed and is used in some modern organisations such as the NHS and the Police. Through the years bureaucracy has developed a bad reputation for de-humanizing jobs (Grey, 30) “In the ideal-type, people are no more than parts in a well-oiled machine –devoid of passion, prejudice and personality”, although some people prefer this structure (Handy, 22) “No one, it seems, approves of bureaucracy except, interestingly, lots of people in organisations who like to know where they stand.”

Scientific management has also been criticised for not accounting for the employees in the organisation (Handy, 20) “but people had been left out of the equation – they were not so easily regimented.”, moreover this the management style also received a bad reputation (Brooks, 19) “Similarly, in Germany in 1912 they were greeted with considerable hostility, and in France (Renault) they resulted in strike action and violent
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