Six theories of management and their ideal manager

Six theories of management and their ideal manager

Six theories of management and their ideal manager

By Dr Nilsa Fleury, DeD, FPA-BM Director of Education

Understanding better the concepts of management and its theories evolution, managers and leaders can help their organizations to grow with effectiveness, innovation, and success. Frederic W. Taylor (1865-1915) developed the techniques for scientific management, in which “the systematic study of relationships between people and tasks for the purpose of redesigning the work process to increase efficiency” (Jones & George, 2008, p. 47). It was the way to create the most efficient division of labor on the productive process. The ideal manager in this theory was a controller as Henry Ford with his simplification process of production in his organization. On the other hand, Henry Fayol (1841-1925) developed 14 principles of management such as authority and responsibility, unity of command, line of authority, centralizations, unity of direction, equity, order, initiative, discipline, initiative, remuneration of personnel, stability of tenure of personnel, subordination of individual interests to the common interest, and esprit of corps (Jones & George, 2008). Based in these principles emerged the four basic functions of managers such as plan, control, organize, and command. There are still essential for any survived organization. At the same time, Max Weber (1864-1920) developed the principles of bureaucracy to help Germany industrial manager process and ensure their efficiency and effectiveness (Jones & George, 2008).

The bureaucracy should have the principals that the manager has the formal authority from his/her  position inside the organization; performance hold the positions , not social or personal contacts; each position, its tasks, and its relationships inside the organizations should be clearly specify; authority can be exercised effectively when positions are arranged hierarchically inside the organization; and managers must create rules, procedures, and norms to control behavior within an organization. Next, the study of behavioral management, known as human relations school, it was a study developed by Americans theorists, who wanted to show how the managers needed to behavior to motivate their employees to better perform and to be achieved and committed to the organizations goals (Jones & George, 2008). The experience at the Western Electric Company, called the Hawthorne studies,  investigated the performance of the workers affected by the level of lighting illumination, and found that “each manager’s personal behavior or leadership approach can affect performance” (Jones & George, 2008, p.64). This study demonstrated how feelings, thoughts, and behavior of the team and managers affect job performance.

After the World War II, Douglas McGregor developed two sets of assumptions called theory X and theory Y, in which the attitudes of the workers influence the managers’ behavior. According to theory X, assumptions were made that “the worker is lazy, dislikes work, and will try to do a little possible” (Jones & Gorge, 2008, p. 65). Contrary, theory Y assumes that workers are not lazy, does not dislike work, managers create opportunities for workers to exercise self-direction and take initiate, and they also will do what is good for the organization.  Hewlett-Packard (HP) was founded based on principals of Theory Y that also reflected the approach of Henri Fayol. Furthermore, Jones and George (2008) described the organizational environment theory “the set of forces and conditions that operate beyond on organization’s boundaries but affect a manager’s ability to acquire and utilize resources” (p. 69). In other words, the organization boundaries affect the manager’s ability to acquire and utilize resources to decision-making (Jones & George, 2008).

Tom Burns and G. M. Stalker at Britain and Paul Lawrence and Jay Lorsch in the United States in 1960 developed the contingency theory, which had the idea that the organizational structures and control systems managers depend of the external environment characteristics (Jones & George, 2008). However, organizations in a stable environment choose the mechanistic structure and organizations in changing environment choose an organic structure (Jones & George, 2008).  Describing the types of the management theories is important to make better decisions and choose the best way to behavior as a manager or leader within organizations. Through the competing values framework (Osland & Turner, 2011) you can better understand the models, its positive and negative side, and what means in each theory. The positive and negative zones also help to understand how to work with the skills and master the process of management. Obviously, the human commitment is an important model to follow by the leader, although others factors are important to balance such as decision-making, innovation and adaptation when is necessary. The leadership style can be adapted and integrated to the type organization and become effective and successful on its performance.


Jones, G. R, & George, J. M. (2008). The evolution of management thought. In a J. E. Bienal (Ed.). Contemporary management (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin Companies, Inc.

Osland, J. S., & Turner, M. E. (2011). Theories of managing people. In a S. Yagan (Ed.). The organizational behavior reader (9th. ed.). Upper Saddle River: NJ: Person Education Inc., Prentice Hall.

The FPA-BM has as Director of Education Dr. Nilsa Fleury, Ed.D. Dr. Nilsa, is a consultant, university professor and information analyst. Dr. Nilsa graduated in Business Administration from FACE – UFMG, postgraduate in Industrial Economics – UFMG, Specialization in Information Systems by UNA – Cepederh. She holds a Master in Business Science and Doctorate in Education, concentration in Leadership at Nova Southeastern University. She worked as a consultant for the government and private sector in Brazil, USA and Canada. In addition, Dr. Nilsa taught business in some universities in Brazil. She teaches Business and Education courses for undergraduate and graduate courses in the USA.