Classical Administrative School of Management: Managing the Organization

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  • 0:10 The New Guy in Town
  • 0:56 More Than a Concept
  • 2:50 Putting It Together
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

Even if a business knows what each of their individual workers ought to be doing, there may not be any overarching mission guiding their work. This lesson describes how the need to consider an entire organization by emphasizing management principles led to the development of the classical administrative school of management.

The New Guy in Town

As the idea of systematic management grew in popularity, so did the amount of people who were interested in defining and improving the practice. People like Max Weber, Henri Fayol, Mary Parker Follett, and Chester Barnard were among the theorists who sought an alternative, more general approach from the highly specialized functions of scientific management. Whereas scientific management concentrated on the productivity of the individual worker, administrative management focused on management processes and principles of the entire organization. Essentially, the goal of management theory shifted from concern for precise work methods to the development of managerial principles. Thus, classical administrative management was born.

Not Just a Concept, but a Profession

Stay-at-home moms have long made the argument that what they do is, in fact, a job, even though there are no benefits, salary, or paid days off. On any given day a stay-at-home mom can be a cook, a chauffeur, a doctor, a hairdresser, a psychologist, a cheerleader, a maid, a secretary, a teacher, a daycare provider, a financial advisor, and the list goes on and on. Still, many people think what they do is not a job at all. This is exactly what management was regarded as: just something that people do. But that was all about to change.

The administrative theorists tackled the idea of management from many angles with the common goal of designating it as a profession that could be universally taught and applied in organizations everywhere. Using personal experience, Weber, Fayol, Follett, and Barnard researched and developed a broad spectrum of topics, including things such as:

  • organizational principles
  • the philosophy of management
  • clarification of business terms and concepts relating to management
  • social responsibilities of management
  • functional responsibilities of management
  • organizational structure
  • leadership, power, and authority

For these theorists, management was a profession.

Specific contributions by individuals will be discussed in other lessons of this course. However, even without the specific descriptions of each individual contributor of administrative management, we can begin to see how management was quickly becoming a legitimate force in organizations. For Weber, Fayol, Follett, and Barnard, management was a profession in the same way as law, medicine, and science were. It was through their life's work that management was suddenly becoming a legitimate, and necessary, field of study.

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