UGC NET Study Notes on Schools of Management Thought || Commerce || Management

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 14th, 2023


The pattern of management has been continually changing with the changing social factors, technological factors and numerous other factors. The need for developing a theory of management became prominent during the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Management, as a concept, has undergone countless changes in the past and is still changing frequently.

Different researchers and scholars have a different perspective regarding the concept of management. These are known as Schools of Management Thought.

The main Schools of Management Thought are:

  • Scientific Process School
  • Management Process School
  • Social System School
  • Human Behaviour School
  • Quantitative School
  • Decision Theory School
  • Systems School
  • Contingency Theory School
  1. Scientific Process School

Frederick Winslow Taylor is acknowledged as the “Father of Scientific Management”. Taylor was the first to apply scientific principles and solutions to management problems. He was of the view that managers should adopt scientific and systematic approach to managerial problems.

Other major contributors are Henry L Gantt, Harrington Emerson, Frank Gilbreth, Carl Barth, Lillian Gilbreth and others.

  • Taylor viewed there is a science for doing each job.
  • He said there is ‘one best way’ to perform a task, applicable in all situations.
  • Notable books written by Taylor are, Principles of Scientific Management, Shop Management, Piece Rate System etc.

Techniques of Scientific Management

  • Scientific Task Planning – Taylor separated the functions of Planning and Doing. He was of the view that planning should be entrusted to specialists. Thus, under scientific task planning, every work is properly planned before it is undertaken.
  • Functional Foremanship – Functional Foremanship was developed for Supervision and Direction. Under this, Eight persons direct the activities of the workers, out of which four are related to planning and remaining four are concerned with operating. Under planning, there are Route Clerk, Instruction Card Clerk, Time and Cost Clerk, Disciplinarian while under operating/production, there are Speed Boss, Gang Boss, Repair Boss, Inspector.
  • Work-Study – Work-study is a complete analysis of the work performed so as to eliminate duplication of activities and also finding out the quicker way of performing a task. The analysis of the work is done through:
    • Time Study- determines the time taken to complete a movement.
    • Motion Study- Movement of both workers and machines are identified so as to eliminate unnecessary, wasteful movements.
    • Fatigue Study- Shows the frequency and time of rest.
  • Financial Incentives- Taylor advocated for a direct link between remuneration and productivity, so as to motivate the employees. For this, Taylor introduced the Differential Piece Rate Wage System. He proposed, wages should be paid according to the individual performances and on the position which a worker occupies.
  • Standardisation- Taylor wanted to use only the ‘best way of doing the work’. Only then uniformity and efficiency can be ensured.
  • Scientific Selection, placement and training – Taylor was of the view that workers should be selected based on their experience, education and attitudes. He also said proper training should be provided so that the workers could work more efficiently.
  • Costing Systems– Scientific management should not only consider scientific techniques and practices but also should focus on profit and economy. For that purpose, proper cost estimates and techniques are to be adopted.
  • Mental Revolution- For scientific management to be successful, there should be a proper co-operation between workers and the management. If a complete mental revolution from both sides doesn’t exist, scientific management cannot be successful.
  1. Management Process School
  • Henri Fayol is the Father of Management Process School. The management process school regards management as the process of getting things done through and with people operating in organised groups.
  • According to this school, the management process can be divided into five main functions – Planning, Organising, Staffing, Directing and Controlling.
  • Other main contributors are J.D. Mooney, Lyndall Urwick, Harold Koontz, William Newman etc.
  • Management Process approach is also called ‘Universalist Approach’, ‘Traditional Approach’, ‘Classical Approach’.

Major thoughts of this school are:

  • Management is the study of the functions of managers.
  • Functions of managers are common in all types of organisation.
  • It recognises management as a separate disciple having universal applicability.
  1. Human Behaviour School
  • This school believes that, since management involves getting things done through others, study on management should concentrate on interpersonal relationships.
  • This school focuses on the human aspects of management since people are working together, an understanding of their relationships is necessary.
  • Apart from economic needs, employees have other social and psychological needs such as appreciation, recognition etc.
  • Better productivity and higher motivation can be achieved only through good human relations.
  • The school also gave major importance to group dynamics.
  • Main contributors of this school are, Elton Mayo, Mary Parker Follett, Roethlisberger, Keith Davis etc.
  1. Social System School
  • Chester Bernard is the founding father of this school.
  • Social System School has close connection to Human Behaviour School.
  • This school is primarily concerned with the behaviour of people in group. Therefore management is a system of cultural interrelationships.
  • This approach is based mostly on sociology as well as social psychology rather than individual psychology.
  • It recognises bothy formal and informal organisations and also the interdependency of relations, social interaction and joint goals set by the system.
  • Other main contributors are Max Weber, Moreno, Rensis Likert etc.
  1. Quantitative School
  • This school gained its importance post World War II, when the British formed Operations Research team groups of mathematicians, physicists and other scientists who were brought together to solve problems.
  • This approach is also called “Management Science Approach”, ‘Operations Research” and “Mathematical Approach”.
  • Here management is considered as a logical process, which can be explained using mathematical formulas, symbols and relationships.
  • This school uses basic mathematical models such as PERT, CPM, simulation, gaming theory etc. to solve problems.
  • Main contributors of this school are Harold Koontz, Charles Hitch, Russell Ackoff, Herbert Simon, James March etc.
  1. Decision Theory School
  • This school regards management as simply a process of decision making.
  • Decision making is the most important function of management.
  • The management information system, the process and structure of decision making form the subject matter of this school of thought.
  • It doesn’t focus on people nor the environmental variables. It only focuses on taking the right decisions at the right time. The decisions should be communicated to the right people and implemented in the right manner.
  • Main contributors are Chester Bernard, Herbert Simon, James March, Richard Cyert.etc.
  1. Systems School
  • Systems School was developed in the late 1960s.
  • This school views management as a purposeful, unified system composed of interrelated parts.
  • The world is considered as a system in which various national economies are sub systems. Each national economies are composed of various industries and each industries are composed of various firms. Each firm is composed of components such as Marketing, Production, Finance etc.
  • Systems approach follows law of synergy which means whole is greater than sum of its parts. Part of a system becomes more productive when they interact with each other.
  • The major contributors are Kenneth Boulding, Rosenzweig, C W Churchman etc.
  1. Contingency Theory School
  • This school was developed by J W Lorsch and P R Lawrence in 1970.
  • The contingency school emphasises management is highly practical oriented and action-packed discipline. It regards management as an art, rather than as a science.
  • Depending on different environments or contingencies, different techniques are to be adopted by the management.
  • Contingency approach is based on ‘If’ and ‘Then’. “If’ represents environmental variables which are interdependent while ‘Then’ represents management variables which are dependent on the environment.
  • Contingency approach provides a realistic view of management that nothing is fixed and the manager should adapt himself according to the prevailing circumstances.


Considering all the above aspects, it is evident that none of the approaches or thoughts represents management in its totality. All the above concepts of the management are from the viewpoint of the author or the contributors. As a result, there is no uniform theory of management, and it evolves as time passes. 

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