A Guide To Human Relations and Behavioral Science Theory of Management

Human Relations and Behavioral Science Theory of Management: Definition

The classical management theories were suitable in the industrialized era of mass production. But some management experts could not agree with the principles of classical management theories because of their rigidity and ignorance of human sentiments. They wanted to make management more responsible and applicable.

As such, they have established new principles and theories to minimize the criticism and drawbacks of classical management approaches. Those new thinkers gave more emphasis on human relations and behavioral approaches in the workplace. They proposed humanistic and people-oriented ideas in organizations as human relations and behavioral science theory of management.

Robert Owen, Elton Mayo, Chester Bernard, and Mary Parker Follet are the main contributors to this human relations and behavioral science management theory. According to them, management should give greater emphasis on human and social factors along with specialization in job design.

These management thinkers argue that workers can not be motivated only by monetary incentives but they should be treated morally. Managers should understand their psychology to motivate them effectively.

Human Relations Theories

Under the human relations theories of management, there include Elton Mayo’s human relations theory of management. Let’s look at it.

Elton Mayo’s Human Relations Theory

The Human Relations Theory of Management, developed by Elton Mayo in the 1920s, focuses on understanding the social and psychological aspects of the workplace. It views employees as more than just economic entities, emphasizing their unique needs and behaviors.

This theory highlights the importance of individual job satisfaction, which leads to increased motivation and productivity. The organization is seen as a social system comprising both formal elements, like the organizational structure, and informal aspects, such as interactions between individuals within groups.

Related: What is Scientific Management Theory?

Human Relations Theory prioritizes effective communication, positive leadership, and teamwork to create a supportive work environment. It recognizes the influence of group dynamics on employee performance and emphasizes the significance of workers’ attitudes and feelings in achieving organizational goals and enhancing overall productivity. The theory revolutionized management practices by shifting the focus from pure efficiency to understanding the complex human aspects of work.

Behavioral Science Theories of Management

Behavioral science theories of management include Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, two-factor theory, Theory X & Theory Y, Theory Z, and theory of participative management. Let’s explore each.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory proposed by Abraham Maslow, categorizing human needs into five levels: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. According to the theory, lower-level needs must be fulfilled before higher-level needs become relevant.

For instance, meeting basic physiological needs like food and shelter takes priority over self-actualization goals. Although criticized for lacking empirical evidence and universality, the theory remains widely applied in various fields.

Related: What is Self-Actualization?

In the workplace, organizations can apply the hierarchy by ensuring employee comfort, job security, fostering teamwork, recognizing achievements, supporting work-life balance, and promoting personal growth and creativity. Google, Zappos, Microsoft, and Southwest Airlines are examples of companies successfully aligning with this Maslow’s motivational framework.

Theory X and Theory Y

Theory X and Theory Y are management-motivation theories by Douglas McGregor. Theory X assumes employees dislike work and need strict supervision, while Theory Y believes employees are self-motivated and responsible.

Theory X implies an authoritarian management style, while Theory Y emphasizes rewards and autonomy. Combining elements of both theories can enhance employee motivation. Theory X relies on control and external rewards, while Theory Y encourages initiative, participation, and innovation. Understanding these theories helps managers tailor approaches to employees’ needs and behavior.

Two Factory Theory

The two-factor theory, also called Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory, explains job satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the workplace. It involves two sets of factors: motivation factors (e.g., recognition, achievement) leading to satisfaction, and hygiene factors (e.g., salary, working conditions) preventing dissatisfaction.

Addressing hygiene factors prevents unhappiness, while motivation factors inspire employees. Both factors operate independently. Managers should focus on intrinsic motivators and meet employees’ basic needs to create a fulfilling work environment. This theory emphasizes job enrichment, empowerment, and improved organizational performance.

Applying it involves understanding employee needs, enhancing motivators, addressing hygiene factors, providing growth opportunities, encouraging communication, and recognizing employee efforts. A balanced approach combining both types of factors promotes engagement and employee success.

Theory of Participative Management

Mary Parker Follett‘s theory of participative management, developed in the early 20th century, promotes collaboration and shared decision-making in organizations. She believed in integrating diverse viewpoints and fostering cooperation to achieve effective management. Follett emphasized that power and authority should not be concentrated at the top, but distributed across all levels, allowing employees to participate actively in decision-making processes.

Her contributions to participative management revolutionized traditional hierarchical structures and encouraged a more democratic and inclusive approach. She advocated for managers to act as facilitators, promoting open communication and resolving conflicts through cooperation rather than domination.

Follett’s ideas laid the groundwork for modern concepts of employee empowerment and team-based decision-making. Her legacy continues to influence management practices, inspiring organizations to value employee input and foster collaborative environments that drive success and innovation.

Theory Z

Theory Z is a management approach blending American and Japanese philosophies, focusing on job security, consensual decision-making, and individual responsibility within a cohesive group. Developed by William Ouchi in 1981, it aims to enhance employee commitment and job satisfaction. Organizations adopting Theory Z should prioritize staff development, involve employees in decisions, and nurture a strong company culture.

It emphasizes teamwork, employee well-being, and informal control with formal assessments. Theory Z fosters loyalty, job satisfaction, and productivity while encouraging employees to be generalists with specialized career responsibilities. Overall, it promotes a collaborative and supportive work environment for long-term success.

Also Read: What is Administrative Theory?

Who are the Major Contributors to Human Relations and Behavioral Science Theory of Management?

The Human Relations and Behavioral Science Theory of Management has been shaped by the significant contributions of several scholars and researchers. Here are ten major contributors to this field:

  1. Elton Mayo (1880-1949): Considered the father of the human relations movement, Mayo conducted the Hawthorne experiments, highlighting the importance of social factors and employee attitudes in productivity.
  2. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970): Known for his hierarchy of needs theory, Maslow proposed that individuals have different needs, and fulfilling these needs is essential for motivation and employee well-being.
  3. Douglas McGregor (1906-1964): Introduced Theory X and Theory Y, highlighting the influence of management beliefs on employee behavior and the importance of participative management.
  4. Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933): Considered a pioneer in management philosophy, Follett emphasized the significance of employee involvement in decision-making and advocated for collaborative management practices.
  5. Robert Owen (1771-1858): A social reformer and early management theorist, Owen focused on improving working conditions and employee welfare during the Industrial Revolution.
  6. Chester Bernard (1886-1961): Known for his work on the functions of executives, Bernard emphasized the role of communication and cooperation in organizational effectiveness.
  7. Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000): Introduced the two-factor theory (motivation-hygiene theory), which identified factors that lead to job satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the workplace.
  8. William Ouchi (1943-present): Developed Theory Z, a management approach that blends American and Japanese philosophies, emphasizing employee commitment and job satisfaction.
  9. Kurt Lewin (1890-1947): A social psychologist, Lewin’s research on group dynamics and force-field analysis influenced the understanding of organizational change and behavior.
  10. Chris Argyris (1923-2013): Known for his work on organizational learning, Argyris emphasized the importance of creating a learning organization that promotes employee growth and development.

These contributors have left a lasting impact on the field of management and have significantly shaped the understanding of human behavior, motivation, and organizational dynamics in the workplace.

Read Also: What is Diversity in the Workplace?

Implications of Human Relations and Behavioral Science Theory of Management

The Human Relations and Behavioral Science Theory of Management has important implications for how we understand and manage people at work.

  1. Focus on Employee Well-Being: This theory reminds us that employees are not just cogs in a machine; they have emotions and social needs. To create a positive work environment, managers should care about their employee’s well-being and happiness.
  2. Importance of Communication: Good communication is vital in any organization. Being open and listening to employees’ ideas and concerns fosters a cooperative and productive atmosphere.
  3. Motivation and Job Satisfaction: Understanding what motivates employees can boost job satisfaction. Recognizing achievements and providing growth opportunities are powerful tools to keep employees engaged.
  4. Teamwork and Collaboration: Encouraging teamwork and collaboration enhances creativity and problem-solving. Employees working together often produce better results.
  5. Adaptability to Change: People’s reactions to change can impact an organization’s success. Managers must consider employees’ feelings during times of change and provide support and clear communication.
  6. Learning and Development: Creating a learning culture that values employees’ growth helps them perform better and adapt to new challenges.
  7. Employee Empowerment: Giving employees autonomy and involving them in decision-making increases their sense of ownership and commitment to their work.
  8. Employee-Manager Relationships: Positive relationships between employees and managers build trust and mutual respect, leading to higher productivity and loyalty.
  9. Organizational Culture: The way people interact and the values shared within an organization influence its overall culture. Nurturing a positive culture can lead to better outcomes.
  10. Employee Morale and Productivity: When employees feel valued and supported, their morale increases, resulting in higher productivity and better overall performance.

Overall, the Human Relations and Behavioral Science Theory highlights the significance of understanding human behavior, emotions, and relationships in the workplace. By applying these insights, you can create a harmonious and effective work environment that benefits both employees and the organization as a whole.

Read Next: What is Max Weber’s Bureaucracy Theory of Management?

Leave a Comment