Posted by: healingtheworkplace | June 23, 2008

A VERY Short History of Management

I have been reading Cloke and Goldsmith’s book The End of Management and the Rise of Organizational Democracy, again, and I highly recommend it.

 Although the authors are advocating for a form of organizational democracy they do make it clear. ..”Every organization requires adminstration, coordination, facilitation, and leadership.”

We are NOT talking anarchy here!

Cloke and Goldstein also point out that the problems in today’s organizations are not the fault of individual managers. Rather it is the fault of the management systems that have evolved over time and are still evident today.

So, if we are going to improve on these management systems we need to understand how they came to be.

To help us out, Cloke and Goldstein provide a BRIEF history of management which goes something like this…

Management emerged as a profession as a direct consequence of the rise of slavery…then as the Roman Empire fell slavery evolved into serfdom. Serfs, of course, were required to work the lord’s land but were permitted some indpendence. 

During this time management really flourished. Managers were responsible for collecting rent and taxes and generally keeping the serfs under control.

As serfdom gave rise to capitalism the role of management remained strong. During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries employees, working in factories, had no rights and there were no legal protections against management abuses.

Fast forward to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when workers began to organize into unions. Strikes often succeeded because management could not get the work done without help from the workers.  This led the way for the theory and practice of “scientific management”.

Scientific Management was the “brainchild” of Frederick Winslow Taylor who is described as the “founder of modern management”.

Taylor advocated isolating individuals from teams, transferring control over the work process to managers, breaking each task down into a sequence of precise components and paying workers only for what they produced.

In Taylor’s Scientific Management Model managers did all the THINKING, PLANNING, and DIRECTING.

Finally some good news for workers!

During the Great Depression of the 1930s–the government of the USA (this was occurring in other countries as well) passed legislation to protect workers’ rights.

Cloke and Goldstein note that “for nearly the first time in history, it became illegal to fire employees for organizing a union, grieving over working conditions, or bargaining collectively to improve their pay. Similarly laws were introducted to limit the number of hours worked, to provide a minimum wage and to protect the health and safety of workers”.

But, this was NOT the END of MANAGEMENT!

In fact, as a result of this increased gov’t legislation “managerial roles expanded to include supervising and  monitoring adherence to gov’t regulations”.

New theories of management began to appear in the 1950s and were largely the result of industrial psychologists such as Kurt Lewin and “leading management thinkers” such as W. Edwards Deming, Peter Drucker, Douglas McGregor and Warren Bennis.

We’ll discuss these ideas in another post!





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