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Management and Human Relations

Management is described as the process of ‘getting things done through other people’. This is achieved in organizations, industries, and business enterprises where large numbers of people are employed to achieve corporate objectives. Managers collectively are the bosses, invariably highly paid and/or rewarded with shares in the company with a cut of the profits. Top management agrees on the objectives, strategies, and tactics to achieve the goals they set for the company they lead, employing a large workforce to produce the goods and provide the services to consumers around the world.

Management theory with the concern of how to get the most out of front-line workers in industrial and commercial companies became a phenomenon of the 20th century. Previously, after the industrial revolution, large concentrations of workers were needed in mills and factories to produce mass goods that replaced the agricultural and artisan work that until then had been produced in small rural family or communal units. In those days, managers were authoritarian and tyrannical when slave or forced labor, including child labor at starvation wages, could be deployed at the behest of the ruling capitalist class.

The world has changed since then and the owners of capital can no longer treat labor as a disposable commodity. Trade unions, communism and universal education along with world markets meant that the old methods of almost forced, repetitive and exhausting labor in the ‘dark satanic factories’ could no longer be sustained. New disciplines such as economics, psychology and sociology emerged. These social sciences were called upon to build management and organizational behavior theories that would explain and help understand the dynamics of an increasingly sophisticated and demanding workforce.

Early management theories exemplified by the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor had been colloquially described as the “carrot and stick” approach. Taylor coined the term “scientific management” for his theory, which was later called simply “Taylorism.” He tried to break down tasks into their simplest elements so that an assembly line robot could perform them without thinking. All mental work was to be removed from the shop floor and handled only by the managers. Taylorism is explained as the “decoupling of the work process from the skills of the workforce” and is defined as “management strategies that are based on the separation of conception from execution”. This approach worked well with early immigrants to the US with almost no facility with the English language and limited social or communal life, but was less effective with future generations.

However, in automated plants using very high-tech solutions for routine 24-hour work with little or no human involvement, the principle still applies. The researchers acknowledge that McDonald’s and outsourced call centers (customer service operations) use such strategies and can claim success by ensuring “predictability and controllability.” An up-to-date example of scientific management still in operation is Malcolm Moore’s report ‘Bullies in China’s Shops’ (The Daily Telegraph, March 6, 2010). It describes the working conditions as ‘inhumane’ for 38,000 workers living in dormitories who work for one of the 102 factories owned by Foxconn, Quanta or Pegatron, all Chinese companies that are suppliers of Apple products to the US (for example, iPhone) for the world market. Oddly enough, it is these supplier companies that are increasingly ‘proposing new designs and technology’ and ‘are at the forefront’ (op. cit.). Chinese workers today seem to use their brains even without the ‘human relations’ approach!

Elton Mayo’s Hawthorne plant experiments (1927-32) at the Western Electric plant in Cicero, Illinois, gave rise to a theory that departed from Taylorism and became known as the Human Relations school for its lots of followers. Douglas McGregor called Taylorism and similar top-down command-and-control approaches to work management Theory X, proposing instead Theory Y which gives employees more autonomy and discretion at work following the Relationships approach. Humans by Elton Mayo. Mayo’s experiments involved changing lighting, changing work hours, and giving more or fewer breaks, which resulted in workers producing more with each intervention. The ‘Hawthorne effect’ has been summed up as employees becoming more productive because they know that prestigious people who happen to be social scientists are watching them sympathetically. These experiments showed that “the psychological stimulus of being singled out, involved, and made to feel important” produced an increase in worker productivity.

The bottom line is that the ‘Hawthorne researchers…identified the importance of the ‘human factor’ in organizations (which) meant that workers were now recognized as having such social needs and interests that they could no longer be considered automatons. financially motivated. considered by Taylorism’. However, it should be noted that there were 19th-century industrialists with a Quaker background, who met the “moral and social needs” of their workers by providing housing, places of worship, and other community services. The Cadbury Chocolate Factory Bournville plant in the UK is a good example. Being included in the Human Relations school is the work of London’s Tavistock Institute, which has undertaken to study the work of coal miners. They also understood that the simplification and specialization of work did not increase productivity but gave more autonomy to the work group in organizing their work shift, producing better results. Under conditions of uncertainty, when engaged in non-routine tasks, ‘semi-autonomous’ work groups fared better than isolated individual workers.

Another theory not exclusively applicable to management, but which was a general psychological theory that supported the Human Relations school, was Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. McGregor called it Theory Z. In a nutshell, it can be visualized as a pyramid with its broad base beginning with physiological (lowest) needs, which must be satisfied first before requiring attention to safety needs, followed by psychological needs. of love/affiliation and then those of esteem. needs, and at the highest point, the needs for self-actualization.

One company that had presumably adhered to classical theories of worker motivation, but found them costly to impracticable, was Iceland Frozen Foods (The Sunday Times, March 8, 2009). Four years before the change, the morale of the company’s workers was “at rock bottom after 40% of Deeside head office staff were made redundant”. With a change of tactics, CEO Malcolm Walker managed to get the workforce to have “confidence in the leadership skills of the senior management team, giving it a top score of 73%.” As long as the basic needs of employees for fair wages, reasonable working hours, paid vacations, non-discrimination (sex, race, disability, etc.), that is, equal opportunity (now legally enforced), are respected, workers they will seek Maslow’s higher-order needs to be satisfied through their daily work. This was what Iceland Frozen Foods was able to provide to its workforce after a shift to the human relations model for treating employees.

Malcolm Walker, nicknamed ‘the king of fashion’, initiated measures to give his workers the opportunity to achieve promotions by working hard and using their brains. For example, a plant worker turned delivery driver achieved promotion to senior supervisor in just a few years and is quoted in the article speaking approvingly of his boss. Staff at Iceland Frozen Foods reportedly don’t feel overly pressured…and tend not to suffer from work-related stress. A survey of a representative sample of UK companies revealed that Iceland Frozen Foods was voted by a workforce of over 17,000 men and women as the third most successful company compared to all other companies in motivating them to achieve the best in the job. Here is a good example of human relations at work and providing strong support to the movement.

Another example that casts a different light on human relations theory comes from the current trend towards globalization. Euro Disneyland, a ‘transplanted American theme park’ near Paris, lost $34 million during the first six months since it opened in April 1992. Even before it opened there was strong local opposition threatening French cultural sensibilities. A strict dress code for employees and a ban on wine in the park (sacred to the French), among other things, angered Parisians. Eisner, the CEO of the parent company in the US, who could speak French and had a French wife, and also received many awards from the French government, still failed to make Euro Disney a going concern.

The change came as “Eisner learned to recognize French cultural traditions and quality of life, instead of focusing exclusively on American business interests, income, and profit at the expense of underlying French culture.” The relaxation of rigid rules, the elimination of American-style hot dog carts, the appointment of local administrators, and the decision to use the French language in the park were essential components of its subsequent success. The conclusion is inescapable that both carrot and stick approaches still seem to work if the conditions are right for either approach.

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