i387c managing information services and organizations





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Module 2. Unit 1: Introduction to the History of Management and Management Theories

Management... is a discipline, or at least is capable of becoming one. It is not just common sense. It is not just codified experience. It is at least potentially an organized body of knowledge... While management is a discipline -- that is, an organized body of knowledge and as such applicable everywhere -- it is also 'culture.' It is not a value-free science. Management is a social function and embedded in a culture -- a society -- a tradition of values, customs and beliefs, and in governmental and political systems. Management is -- and should be -- culture conditioned; but, in turn, management and managers shape culture and society. (Drucker, 1973, p. xii.)

To improve your skills and confidence as managers it is necessary for you to understand the discipline of management, how it evolved, and something about the important theories and trends in this field. By understanding the theory, we can apply theory to actual situations occurring in all types of organizations. In this unit you will become familiar with key management theories, descriptions of how (and why) organizations are organized in specific ways.

Module 2 is comprised of four units: Unit 1, Introduction to the History of Management and Basic Management Theories; Unit 2: Management Case Study; Unit 3: Structure and Nature of Organizations; and Unit 4: Conflict Management.


  1. To learn basic management theories, and attain practice in applying them to specific situations.
  2. To understand the various ways organizations are currently organized and trends in organizational structure.
  3. To begin to explore the various roles or competencies needed for managing any type of organization.

Whether you are currently a manager or occupy an entry level position, you will find that your position requires managerial, organizational, and leadership skills. As different situations and challenges arise, we tend to draw on our own experiences and background. Often, we use "common sense" to deal with the problem or accomplish the tasks. Because it is difficult to separate managment theory from organizational theory it is useful to acknowledge that management and organizational theory share boundaries.

Organizations are complex entities. Evaluating organizations can contribute to understanding at least some basics of management theory. As we aim to become better managers, in this class you will explore actual problems to be solved and tasks to be accomplished. Exploration of the contributions of management experts in the past and present will contribute to your understanding. It will be obvious from your reading, that there is no management theory that provides "the answer." Rather, the challenge is to understand various approaches, and utilize what appears to be the most appropriate approach or some combination of several approaches to solve the situation at hand.

History of Management Theory

From the beginning of civilization we have had managers who:

  • Coped with large groups of people and resources;
  • Developed theories about human behavior;
  • Became agents for change;
  • Struggled with allocating scarce resources.

In the beginning management evolved because:

  • Something needed to be done (hunting, berry picking)
  • People recognized it was in their best interests to participate
  • Needed resources to work or fight
  • Activities needed to be coordinated
  • Leader needed to keep the group on course.

It is important to understand the evolution of management because human and management problems remain basically the same throughout the ages. While our values may have changed, experts had a better understanding of what motivates workers. Peter Drucker observed that at various times in history there has been hostility towards business (usually in times of economic depression). For this reason management in the public sector was "renamed" public administration and treated as a separate discipline with its own university departments, and its own career ladder. Thus hospital management became "hospital administration." (Drucker, 1990, Managing the Non-profit Organization :Practices and Principles.)

Many business schools offer courses and specializations in non-profit management, but the assumption that management is business management persists. Therefore, it is important to understand that management is no more business than medicine is obstetrics. Naturally, basic principles of management are applicable to all types of organizations. The difference is not in principle, but in the application. So whether you are managing a community welfare agency, a software company, a retail firm, or a library, the differences says Drucker, "amount to only about 10% of your work."

It is important to break down the artificial distinction between business and non-business organizations, because, says Drucker, "The growth sector of developed society is not in business. A far smaller proportion in every developed country is now engaged in business than it was a hundred years ago. Growth sectors have been in government, professions, health care and education."

Theories used in the past may only have relevance for an understanding of how organizations evolved into what we observe in the 21st century. Quinn and his co-authors assert that we have much to learn by looking at the characteristics of his four management models (p. 10). As complex as the problems are in today's organizations no one management model can be applied for every organizational challenge in every type of organization.

An overall question to consider while reading about management theory is:

How do these theories have relevance in present day organizational environments. What can we learn from it? Is management an art or a science, or both? Why?

==> Continue to Module 2 Unit 2




Quinn, 1-29, 103-182

Read some of the history of management theory: Select contributors to the development of management theory and a Summary of Management History (Allen).

Discussion Board In your group's online space using the forum entitled Management Models discuss the various management models or competencies described in Quinn. Explore the management models using the questions provided above. Due June 11 11:30pm
Assignment Prepare a one page reflection for your e-portfolio on the specific competencies you would like to develop. How do you plan to operationalize your development of these competencies?
Due Date

Due June 11 11:30pm

thanks to patrick williams for template design
Last update 6 june 2006