Leadership and Management Theories and Contemporary Leaders and Organisations. A Critical Evaluation

Academic Paper, 2017

20 Pages, Grade: 80




2. Methods


4. Classical management theories
4.1.1. Scientific management approach
4.1.2. Bureaucratic approach
4.1.3. Administrative theory
4.2. Contemporary management theories
4.2.1. Systems approach
4.2.2. Socio-technical approach
4.2.3. Contingency or Situational approach

5. Approaches ​ ​Used ​ ​in ​ ​Implementing ​ ​Management Theories
5.1. Contemporary ​ ​approach ​ ​to ​ ​management
5.2. Motivation ​ ​approach ​ ​to ​ ​management
5.3. Human ​ ​relation ​ ​approach to management
5.4. Social ​ ​psychological ​ ​school ​ ​of ​ ​motivation
5.5. Treats approach vs Behaviour approach

6. Conclusion


Abstract : The current paper attempts to evaluate the application ​ ​of ​ ​leadership ​ and management theories ​ ​to ​ ​a contemporary ​ ​organisation. ​ ​The study criticizes different research data that focus on the transformational leadership theories, characteristics and strategies as they are adopted by different organizations, including the contemporary firms. According to researches, both the transformative management and transitional leadership are evidenced in different organizations as innovative approaches for an efficient management system. Although the contemporary organizations seem to be in a more democratic world, the classical management theories are still paramount and seen as the basis for the today’s innovative contemporary approach. The complexity and dynamic nature of today’s business environments bring necessity on the consideration of strategic management that allows managers to position their firms accordingly. This study focused on the application of different management and leadership theories and their outcomes in today’s organizations, especially Home Business Network Ltd, which is a giant and national leading educational and business consulting company in Rwanda.

Key words: Classical leadership and management theories, Democratic leadership and management, human motivation, scientific leadership and management, Bureaucratic leadership and management, Administrative leadership and Management.


This paper criticizes the classical leadership and management theories as defined by different authors, researchers and thinkers and as these theories evolved from classical to modern theories. The study focuses on Home Business Network’s management and leadership style. Home Business Network is a national leading consulting company in Rwanda, which continuously inspires and motivates it employees to leverage customers’ needs and rights and help them reach their full potentials. Its management style keeps workers motivated and allows them do their job independently and as a team to jointly achieve its common goal. Home Business Network claims to treat all employees with equal opportunity policy such that no one has a superior voice over others.

Classical Management Approaches is a general term that combines Scientific Management, Administrative management and Bureaucracy. These classical management approaches originated from two groups in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Many years after, these theories can still be observed in organisations today and, in particular, within Home Business Network Ltd.

As it will be discussed later, Scientific Management is basically the analysis, modification and standardization of workflows in pursuit of efficiency and productivity. This was proposed by Winslow Taylor (1911). Henri Fayol (1916) focused on Administrative Management which refers to key managerial activities such as forecasting, planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling, all of which considered central in contemporary organizations as manifested in different ways. The more we advance with the theories, the more we move to the most democratic approaches of management and leadership. Although the contemporary theories tend to focus on human behaviour and motivation on workplace, there is no best strategy.

Discussing on the current theories, Kotter (1988) published the 8-step change model which focuses on transformational leadership. Among other things, Kotter (1988) talks of the ability of an individual leader to encourage change within him/herself and to others, to develop, lead and empower other teammates. He adds the intellectual vitality and the quality of being team player as well as availability in case of needs.

On the other hand, through his model Goleman (2000) wants us to identify possible challenges associated with changing our approaches towards our leadership strategy. To complement the two authors, Fullan M. (2005) has made observation on various changes in both business and education systems and brought in different aspects of personality which, according to him, contribute to organizational management. Therefore there is a necessity to understand all those variables such as individual moral purposes, cultural norms and / or backgrounds for effective management. There is also need to encourage relationship building, knowledge creation and sharing in order to learn from each other’s past experience to improve work efficiency. Additionally, coherence, which is an ability of individual leaders to apply logical or common sense, is a leadership treat that should characterize our workplaces. As it will be discussed in the below chapters, there is need to understand how all of these leadership traits are acquired but compulsorily, leaders should be energetic and enthusiastic.

2. Methods

As mentioned above, the intent of this report is to criticize the classical management theories and its evolution into a contemporary management style, focusing on Home Business Network which became a national leading company for business and educational consultancies. In order to understand the theories, we will try to highlight the role of strategic management in implementing these theories. We will refer to different authors and thinkers to criticize and appreciate the leadership and management theories as they are applied to Home Business Network today. From classical to modern theories, there is a big interrelationship.


The classical management approach emerged in the 19th Century, focusing on increasing workers’ productivity during industrial revolution. As developed by Tailor, Fayol and Weber respectively, the approach comprises of scientific management, Administrative Management and Bureaucracy Management. Since then, the classical management theories are all important in one way or another in building an effective organization and are still evident and influencing contemporary organizations where a very good example is Home Business Network, the author’s employer.

In humanitarian organization, different traits of classical theories are observed, especially the administrative management theories. The standardized methods of doing different things, the planning of work and provision of wage incentives are some of the evidences. However, looking at the social system as well as the knowledge management and interdependency of all parts during the projects implementation and within the organization, contemporary management style is predominant, as discussed below.

4. Classical management theories

The classical management, known also as scientific management, approach emerged from the industrial revolution, focusing on improving the efficiency and productivity of workers. Cole and Kelly (2016) adds that “classical approach to management was primarily concerned with structure and activities of formal organizations” which means an emphasize on how efficient the work is done.

In humanitarian organizations, Classical management is evident in terms of division of labor which increases employees' performance and hierarchical structure which defines responsibility and job of employees at different levels. Scientific management approach can be identified in organization as the rational approach to organizational work enables task and procedures to be measured. The employees that can accomplish the desired results are selected through the recruitment process, trained and developed. A set of fixed steps like rules and procedures that needs to be strictly followed are provided and this enables a more efficient and standardized workflow that leads to increased productivity and high efficiency and also motivating them with some monetary incentives.

Furthermore, according to Vincent (2014), Fayol (1916) developed 14 principles of management which include division of work, authority, discipline, unity of command, centralization, order, scalar chain, equity, initiative and teamwork. Until today, these principles of classical approach can be seen in contemporary organizations and play a central role in their management approaches. Despite the controversy surrounding the scientific management approach it has changed the way work is done and some parts of it are still in use today so I believe it is appropriate in the development context.

4.1.1. Scientific management approach

The scientific management approach focuses on scientific studies and tools, work methods and performance standards in order to improve efficiency of work. Taylor (1903) assumes that work is very rational (done in order to make money) and that given the behaviour of people are very correctable and easy to understand. He (Taylor) concluded that the poor productivity was due to lack of attention to workers (Management doesn’t know how much work to be done, etc.) according to him, the role of management is criticized below:

a) Development of the work to be done

As defined by Taylor (1903), the scientific management emphasizes on the development of the planning of work to achieve efficiency.

This is commonly true in so many organizations implementing different projects for children, in either humanitarian and development arena. A good example is where Save the children’s project managers sit to develop work plans and assign tasks to projects staffs on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. This trait evidence the presence of scientific management approach and has a very good importance in keeping staffs organized. However, to be more efficient and effective, work plans should consider individual interest, expertise and social freedom. Steve (2015) argues that managers should have individual conversation with staffs to discuss individual interest and career goal in order to identify development activities. Contrary, the approach creates a negative impact when workers are given tasks that are beyond their ability, scope of expertise and /or of interest.

b) Scientifically select, teach and develop each worker

This principle gives responsibility to managers to scientifically select, train their workers instead of leaving them to train themselves. The same approach applies to our contemporary organization where selection of workers is done through a series of tests, ending in the appointment of highly competent workers, who are mostly and/ or regularly trained to effectively and efficiently contribute to their projects. The approach is admired by the today’s workplace and reported of its ability to hire qualified staffs based on their skills and aptitude. This is also confirmed by Dennis (2017) who adds that the process increases the employee retention and becomes time saving on the side of Human resources department.

c) Intimate and friendly cooperation between the management and the men (Vincenzo , 2017 )

This principle encourages collaboration between managers and workers and gives managers a responsibility to provide an incentive to ensure that the work is done on one based way.

This collaboration is an important management aspect which is still encouraged on today’s workplace. Vincenzo (2017) agrees that “Taylor’s concept of motivation left something to be desired when compared to later ideas”. A thirteenth month salary provided by Home Business Network to its individual workers, represent a real example of monetary incentives on today’s workplace. However, employees tend to be motivated by different things depending on individual motives, hence managers should study employee motivations. Some organizations provide out of job opportunities such as scholarships, international trainings or workshops, etc.

d) Divide work and responsibility equally between management and labor

Taylor focuses on breaking task into smaller and smaller tasks to allow the determination of the optimum solution to the task. Feyol also recognizes that people specialize in different areas and hence have different skills (Vincent, 2014). The author highlights the understanding of Feyol that “specialization promotes efficiency of the workforce and increases productivity”. The major critic on Taylor’s approach is its dehumanizing aspect, where people tend to be overworked due to responsibilities assigned to them within standardized minimum time.

Overall, contrary to Taylor’s understanding, work is more than that means of making money. While workers need to be engaged in the planning and decision making process, employers should also provide incentives to motivate them. Since what makes our workplace more complex is our differences in preferences, behaviour, motives, backgrounds etc., there is a huge need to study and understand human behaviour. Taylor’s approach is inflexible and thinks that there is only one way of doing things to maximize efficiency (Vincent, 2014).

4.1.2. Bureaucratic approach

Apart from the theories developed by Taylor, Max Weber based his Bureaucracy to a fact that employees usually tend to firmly obey the supervisors and submit to authority over them, which he describes as lack of human aspect of the workplace experience (Weber, 1978). Cole and Kelly (2016) describes the Weber’s three forms of power which are: rational authority where authority rely on the established laws; the charismatic authority relying upon an exemplary character of an individual leader and the traditional authority relying on the created theories or traditions.

According to Cole and Keller (2016), the bureaucratic organization allows the management to abide by the published rules and practices, hence the legitimacy is more based on hierarchical structure.

Other authors criticize the Bureaucracy on its inadaptive nature. Mullin (2000), argues that this type of management promotes lack of adaptability and restricts psychological ​ ​freedom by emphasizing on “rules, record keeping and paperwork rather than what administration was meant to serve”. Santrock(2007) also criticizes of its ineffective nature for flexible organizations that encourage creativity and / or innovations. However, as confirmed by Kotter and Keller (2003), different management policies have been developed based on these forms of management theories and so many of them are still evidenced in contemporary organizations.

On the other hand, Rose, Gloria and Prince (2015) argue that “This is an appropriate leadership style for work involving serious safety risks”. According to Shaefer (2005), “the Bureaucratic leadership is also useful in organizations where employees do routine tasks”. To complement their point, Leonidas S. (2017), points out that the “Bureaucracy thrives best in government institutions where there’s need to obey the authority more than anything else”. Nevertheless, many of today’s large and reputable organizations still practice the bureaucratic form where some trait of such type of management are evident on our workplace.

To understand how bureaucracy traits are apparent in today’s organizations, a good example is a specialization where experts in different disciples are kept in organizational database and deployed in different countries for short-term technical assistance. Another example would be a clear hierarchical structure within the organization where project personnel submit to their line-managers up to the senior management team. However, not all management theories are evident to most of contemporary organizations, there have been some modifications to adapt to the working environment. It’s always the responsibility of managers to choose which approach work for their organizations.


Excerpt out of 20 pages


Leadership and Management Theories and Contemporary Leaders and Organisations. A Critical Evaluation
University of South Wales  (Business School)
Leadership and Management Theories
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Classical leadership and management theories, Democratic leadership and management, human motivation, scientific leadership and management, Bureaucratic leadership and management, Administrative leadership and Management.
Quote paper
Dr. Sixbert Sangwa (Author), 2017, Leadership and Management Theories and Contemporary Leaders and Organisations. A Critical Evaluation, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1015035


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