(Study Material) Management Study Material (Evolution of Management Thought)

Evolution of Management Thought

Evolution of Management Thought

  • Classical Approach
  • Behavioral Approach
  • Quantitative Approach
  • Modern Approaches to Management


According to one school of thought, history has no relevance to the problems faced by managers today. Some are also of the opinion that management theory is too abstract to be of any practical use. However, both theory and history are indispensable tools for managing contemporary organizations.

Like most modern disciplines, contemporary management thought has its foundations in the history of management and the many significant contributions of theorists and practitioners. A theory is a conceptual framework for organizing knowledge that provides a blueprint for various courses of action. Hence, an awareness and understanding of important historical developments and theories propounded by early thinkers is important for today’s managers.

In this chapter, we first take a look at the early approaches to management. We then focus on four well-established schools of management thought (see Table):
the classical approach; (ii) the behavioral approach; (iii) the quantitative approach and (iv) the modern approaches to management. Finally, some emerging approaches in management thought are discussed.

Major Classification of Management Approaches and their Contributors :-

Major Classification of Management Approaches

Major Contributors

Classical approach

Scientific management

Frederick W. Taylor, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and Henry Gantt

Bureaucratic management

Max Weber

Administrative management

Henri Fayol

Behavioral approach

Group influences

Mary Parker Follet

Hawthorne studies

Elton Mayo

Maslow’s needs theory

Abraham Maslow

Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGregor

Model I versus Model II values

Chris Argyris

Quantitative approach

Management science


Operations management


Management information system


Modern approaches

The Systems Theory


Contingency Theory


Emerging approaches: Theory Z and Quality management

William Ouchi