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Essential Reading 1 

Now that you have watched the mini lecture, you can learn more in the Essential reading for this topic:

Mullins, L.J. and G. Christy Management and organisational behaviour. (Harlow: Pearson, 2016) 11th edition. Chapter 2 Approaches to organisation and management. 

Remember that all the Essential reading for this programme is provided for you. Click ‘next’ to go to the next page and start reading.

Mullins And Christy Chapter 2: Approaches To Organisation And Management

Developments in management and organisational behaviour 

A central part of the study of organisational behaviour is the development of management thinking and what might be termed management theory. (See also Chapter 1.) Managers reading the work of leading writers on the subject might see in their thoughts, ideas and conclusions a message about how they should behave. This will influence their attitudes towards management practice and bring about change in behaviour.

Writing on organisation and management, in some form or another, can be traced back thousands of years.1 Also, Shafritz makes an interesting observation about the contribution of William Shakespeare (1564−1616):

While William Shakespeare’s contribution to literature and the development of the English language have long been acknowledged and thoroughly documented, his contribution to the theory of management and administration have been all but ignored. This is a surprising oversight when you consider that many of his plays deal with issues of personnel management and organizational behavior.

However, the systematic development of management thinking is viewed, generally, as dating from the end of the nineteenth century with the emergence of large industrial organisations and the ensuing problems associated with their structure and management.

Importance of management theory 

The study of management theory is important for the following reasons:

It helps to view the interrelationships between the development of theory, behaviour in organisations and management practice.

An understanding of the development of management thinking helps in understanding principles underlying the actual process of management and reasons for the attention given to main topic areas.

Management theories are interpretive and evolve in line with changes in the organisational environment.

Many of the earlier ideas are of continuing importance to the manager and later ideas on management tend to incorporate earlier ideas and conclusions.

However, if action is to be effective, the theory must be adequate and appropriate to the task and to improved organisational performance. It must be a ‘good’ theory. To be of any help to the practising manager, theory has to be appropriate. For example, Lee refers to:

The danger of adopting theories because they are teachable, rather than because they are effective . However without appropriate theory, there would be very little communication of the insights of scientific theory to practising managers

Crainer points out that although management is active, not theoretical, it is nothing without ideas.
Nothing is so practical as a good theory. Ideas drive management as surely as the immediate problems which land on managers’ desks or which arrive via their e-mail. Decisions have to be based on ideas as well as instinct. Without ideas managers flit desperately from crisis to crisis. They cannot know where they are going, why they are doing something or what they will achieve, without the vital fuel of ideas.

Framework of analysis 

In order to help identify the main trends in the development of organisational behaviour and management theory, it is helpful to categorise the ideas and work of writers into various ‘approaches’, based on their views of organisations, their structure and management.

Management theory is a complex area of study in which it is possible to identify a large number of writers and a wide range of comparative and/or conflicting points of view. 

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