Philosophical Aspects of Management

By Paribesh Sapkota

Classical Management Philosophy

The classical management philosophy emphasizes efficiency, productivity, and the establishment of a structured organizational approach. This philosophy is divided into three main theories: scientific management, administrative management, and bureaucratic management, each developed by prominent theorists who aimed to improve organizational operations through different methodologies.

1. Scientific Management

Proponent: Frederick W. Taylor

Key Concepts:

  • Time and Motion Studies: Taylor conducted detailed studies of tasks to determine the most efficient ways to perform them. By analyzing each movement and the time required to complete it, he sought to eliminate unnecessary motions and optimize task performance.
  • Standardization: Taylor advocated for the establishment of standardized methods for each job to ensure consistency and efficiency. This involved creating detailed procedures and instructions for workers to follow.
  • Task Specialization: He proposed dividing work into small, specialized tasks. Each worker would perform a specific task repetitively, becoming highly skilled and efficient in that particular function.
  • Incentive Systems: Taylor believed in using performance-based pay to motivate workers. By linking compensation directly to productivity, he aimed to encourage workers to perform at their highest potential.

Objective: The primary goal of scientific management was to increase productivity by optimizing and simplifying jobs. Taylor believed that by applying scientific principles to management, organizations could achieve greater efficiency and higher output.

Example: In a manufacturing setting, a scientific management approach would involve breaking down the production process into individual tasks, timing each step, standardizing procedures, and training workers to follow these procedures. Workers would be rewarded based on their output, incentivizing them to work more efficiently.

2. Administrative Management

Proponent: Henri Fayol

Key Concepts:

  • Management Functions: Fayol identified five core functions of management: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. These functions provide a framework for managers to guide organizational activities effectively.
  • Principles of Management: Fayol introduced 14 principles of management, which include:
    • Division of Work: Specialization increases efficiency by allowing workers to become proficient in their tasks.
    • Authority and Responsibility: Managers must have the authority to give orders and the responsibility to ensure they are carried out.
    • Discipline: Employees must obey and respect the rules that govern the organization.
    • Unity of Command: Each employee should receive orders from only one superior to avoid confusion.
    • Unity of Direction: Organizational activities should be directed towards a common goal.
    • Subordination of Individual Interests: The interests of the organization should take precedence over individual interests.
    • Remuneration: Workers should be fairly compensated for their efforts.
    • Centralization: The degree to which decision-making is concentrated at the top of the organization.
    • Scalar Chain: A clear line of authority from top to bottom of the organization.
    • Order: There should be an orderly placement of resources and personnel.
    • Equity: Managers should treat employees fairly and with respect.
    • Stability of Tenure: High employee turnover should be avoided.
    • Initiative: Employees should be encouraged to take initiative.
    • Esprit de Corps: Promoting team spirit will build harmony and unity within the organization.

Objective: Fayol aimed to improve organizational efficiency through systematic management practices. His principles provide guidelines for managers to create a more organized and effective workplace.

Example: In an administrative management context, a manager might implement Fayol’s principles by clearly defining roles and responsibilities, ensuring fair treatment of employees, and maintaining a clear hierarchy of authority. The manager would also focus on planning and coordinating activities to align with organizational goals.

3. Bureaucratic Management

Proponent: Max Weber

Key Concepts:

  • Hierarchy: Weber emphasized a clear chain of command within the organization. Each level of the hierarchy has defined authority and responsibilities, creating a structured framework for decision-making and accountability.
  • Formal Rules and Procedures: Weber advocated for standard operating procedures to ensure consistency and fairness in organizational operations. These rules provide guidelines for behavior and decision-making, reducing ambiguity and increasing predictability.
  • Impersonal Relationships: Decisions should be based on rules and logic rather than personal preferences or relationships. This approach aims to eliminate favoritism and ensure that all employees are treated equally.
  • Merit-based Advancement: Promotion and advancement should be based on qualifications, performance, and ability rather than on personal connections or arbitrary factors. This principle promotes fairness and encourages employees to develop their skills and competencies.

Objective: Weber’s goal was to achieve organizational efficiency and effectiveness through a structured and rational approach. By implementing a bureaucratic system, organizations could operate more predictably and uniformly.

Example: In a bureaucratic management system, a government agency might have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each position, a comprehensive set of rules and regulations governing operations, and a promotion system based on performance evaluations and merit. This structure helps ensure that the agency functions smoothly and equitably.

Behavioural Management Philosophy

The behavioural management philosophy emphasizes understanding human behavior in the workplace and the importance of human relations in enhancing productivity. This approach considers employees’ psychological and social needs and the impact of these factors on their work performance. The two key components of this philosophy are the Human Relations Movement and the Hawthorne Studies.

1. Human Relations Movement

Proponents: Elton Mayo, Mary Parker Follett, and others

Key Concepts:

  • Employee Welfare: This concept focuses on improving the working conditions and overall well-being of employees. The idea is that happy and satisfied employees are more productive and committed to their work. Enhancements might include better working environments, employee benefits, and programs that support work-life balance.
  • Informal Groups: Recognition of informal social interactions and groups within the workplace is crucial. These groups can significantly influence work performance and employee satisfaction. Managers need to understand the dynamics of these informal groups and leverage them to foster a positive work environment.
  • Leadership Styles: Emphasizing democratic and participative leadership styles, where managers involve employees in decision-making processes, helps in building trust and cooperation. This approach contrasts with authoritative leadership, which often leads to dissatisfaction and low morale.

Objective: The primary objective of the Human Relations Movement is to enhance productivity by fostering better relationships between workers and managers. By addressing employees’ social and emotional needs, organizations can improve morale, reduce turnover, and increase productivity.

Example: A company might implement a participative management approach where employees are encouraged to share their ideas and feedback during team meetings. Additionally, creating a supportive work environment with regular social events and team-building activities can strengthen workplace relationships.

2. Hawthorne Studies

Proponent: Elton Mayo and colleagues

Key Findings:

  • Hawthorne Effect: The Hawthorne Effect refers to the phenomenon where workers’ performance improves when they perceive that they are being observed and that their needs are being considered. This finding highlighted the importance of attention and recognition in motivating employees.
  • Social Factors: The studies revealed the significant role of social interactions and employee attitudes in productivity. Workers who felt valued and part of a cohesive team were more likely to perform better.
  • Motivation: The Hawthorne Studies emphasized the role of psychological factors and employee satisfaction in work performance. It suggested that employees are motivated not just by financial incentives but also by social and psychological rewards.

Objective: The objective of the Hawthorne Studies was to understand the human and social factors influencing worker productivity. By recognizing the importance of these factors, organizations can develop strategies to create a more engaging and motivating work environment.

Example: An organization might conduct regular employee surveys to gauge job satisfaction and implement programs that address concerns and improve workplace conditions. They might also create recognition programs to acknowledge employees’ contributions, thereby fostering a sense of value and belonging.


The behavioural management philosophy provides a comprehensive understanding of how human behavior and social interactions impact workplace productivity.

Human Relations Movement:

  • Focus: Improving employee welfare, recognizing the influence of informal groups, and adopting participative leadership styles.
  • Objective: Enhance productivity by fostering better relationships between workers and managers.

Hawthorne Studies:

  • Focus: Identifying the impact of attention, social interactions, and psychological factors on employee performance.
  • Objective: Understand the human and social factors influencing worker productivity.

System and Contingency Philosophy

1. Systems Theory

Key Concepts:

  • Interrelated Components: Organizations are viewed as systems with various interconnected parts, such as departments, teams, and processes, all working together towards common goals. Each part affects and is affected by others, creating a dynamic network of interactions.
  • Open Systems: Organizations are open systems that interact with their external environment. They receive inputs (resources, information) from the environment, process these inputs to create outputs (products, services), and then provide feedback to the environment. External factors such as market trends, economic conditions, and technological advances influence organizational operations.
  • Holistic View: Systems theory emphasizes looking at the organization as a whole rather than isolating individual parts. This holistic approach helps managers understand how changes in one part of the system affect the entire organization.

Objective: The primary objective of systems theory is to improve organizational effectiveness by understanding and managing the complex interactions within the organization and between the organization and its external environment. This involves recognizing interdependencies and ensuring that all parts of the system work together harmoniously to achieve organizational goals.

Example: In a manufacturing company, systems theory would involve understanding how different departments (e.g., procurement, production, sales) interact. For instance, a delay in procurement could impact production schedules and subsequently affect sales and customer satisfaction. Managers would need to coordinate activities across departments to ensure smooth operations and timely delivery of products.

2. Contingency Theory

Key Concepts:

  • Situational Approach: Contingency theory posits that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to management. Effective management practices depend on the specific circumstances and context in which an organization operates. This includes factors such as organizational size, structure, environment, and technology.
  • Flexibility: Managers must be adaptable and able to tailor their strategies and practices to the unique needs of each situation. This flexibility allows managers to respond effectively to changing conditions and challenges.
  • Fit and Alignment: The effectiveness of an organization depends on the alignment between its structure, strategy, and environment. Managers need to ensure that these elements fit well together. For example, a highly formalized structure might work well in a stable environment but may hinder flexibility in a dynamic, rapidly changing environment.

Objective: The main objective of contingency theory is to enhance organizational performance by identifying and applying the most appropriate management practices for each unique situation. This requires managers to assess various factors and choose strategies that best align with the specific conditions of their organization.

Example: A retail company operating in a highly competitive market might adopt a decentralized structure to allow for quick decision-making and adaptability to local market conditions. Conversely, a company in a stable industry with consistent demand might benefit from a centralized structure to maintain control and efficiency.

Emerging Issues and Challenges in Nepalese Business

Nepalese businesses face various emerging issues and challenges shaped by economic, social, technological, and political factors.

1. Economic Challenges

  • Economic Instability: Nepal experiences fluctuations in economic growth, inflation, and unemployment. These economic uncertainties can make long-term planning difficult for businesses and may deter investment.
  • Access to Finance: Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often struggle to obtain affordable financing. High interest rates, stringent collateral requirements, and limited access to credit can hinder the growth and sustainability of these businesses.
  • Infrastructure Deficiency: Inadequate infrastructure, such as poor transportation networks and unreliable energy supply, poses significant challenges. These deficiencies increase operational costs and can limit the ability of businesses to expand and compete effectively.

2. Social Challenges

  • Workforce Development: There is a pressing need for skilled labor and continuous professional development. Many industries face a shortage of adequately trained workers, which can impact productivity and innovation.
  • Cultural Diversity: Managing a diverse workforce with various cultural backgrounds and expectations requires sensitivity and effective communication. Organizations need to foster an inclusive culture that respects and leverages diversity.
  • Migration: High rates of labor migration, especially to foreign countries, lead to a shortage of skilled workers domestically. This “brain drain” can affect sectors that rely heavily on skilled labor.

3. Technological Challenges

  • Digital Transformation: Adopting new technologies is essential for remaining competitive and improving efficiency. However, many businesses face challenges in integrating advanced technologies due to high costs, lack of expertise, and resistance to change.
  • Cybersecurity: Protecting business data and systems from cyber threats is increasingly critical. As businesses become more digital, they need robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive information and maintain trust.
  • Innovation: Encouraging innovation and keeping pace with technological advancements are vital for business growth. Companies must foster a culture of innovation and invest in research and development to stay ahead in the market.

4. Political and Legal Challenges

  • Political Instability: Frequent changes in government and policies create an uncertain business environment. Political instability can lead to inconsistent regulations and disrupt business operations.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Navigating complex and evolving regulations and bureaucratic hurdles can be challenging. Businesses must stay informed about regulatory changes and ensure compliance to avoid legal issues.
  • Corruption: Addressing corruption and ensuring transparency and accountability in business practices is crucial. Corruption can undermine trust, increase costs, and create an uneven playing field for businesses.
Important Questions
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