Four Functions of Management as They Relate to Theoretical Perspectives

Modified: 14th Dec 2021
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The four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading and controlling. The utilization of these four functions can be varied depending on the theorists one chooses in regards to the application of these functions. The theorists are F.W. Taylor, Max Weber, Mary Parker Follett, and Douglas McGregor. Examining the four functions of management through the lens of these theorists not only aide one in gaining a better understanding of the applications of said functions, but the examination also helps one to better understand the four functions in a high quality manner.

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F.W. Taylor’s management theory was centered on ensuring that employees were rewarded for increasing productivity (Uddin & Hossain, 2015). When applying F.W. Taylor’s management theory to the four functions of management one can determine that planning would include the creation of a plan that would ensure that productivity was increasing through rewarding the employees. The second function is organizing. Organizing would encompass the coordination of resources to fulfill the rewards for the employees. The third function is leading, which through the application of F.W. Taylor’s theory, would include motivating employees. Motivation would mean ensuring the rewards being offered to the employees would be rewards they want. The final function is controlling. This would be utilized by evaluating the employees and the productivity rates being generated by the employees in order to determine if the rewards are working or if they need to be adjusted.

Max Weber’s management theory is one in which every employee is equal and the requirements for each employee are precise. Weber’s theory is also referred to as the bureaucratic management theory (Nadrifar, Bandani, & Shahryari, 2015). The first function, planning, would be utilized in order to maximize efficiency. The second function, organize, would be applied in regards to coordinating employees for speed and accuracy, in addition to lowering costs. The third function, leading, would have managers being strict with the employees. In addition they would ensure that employees would fall in line, utilizing subordination. The final function, control, would also use subordination. Weber’s theory is one that emphasizes no personal relationships at work. Which would also be used under the function of control.

Mary Parker Follett’s management theory is the one most used in modern times (Caldwell, PhD. & Hasan, 2016). Applying Parker Follett’s management theory to the four functions of management would entail the following: The first function is planning, this would entail managers creating a way, a plan, for employees to maintain direct contact with one another, as well as, the maintenance of contact between managers and employees. Parker Follett’s theory is one in which the power of a business/organization lies with the cohesive and collective work of all employees. The second function is organizing. Using the parameters of this theory, managers would apply the importance of coordinating and collaborating in the organize category of the four functions. Coordinating and collaborating should be organized and encouraged, however, spontaneity would be encouraged by Parker Follett’s theory.

The third function of management is leading. Parker Follett’s theory would emphasize team work in regards to leading. This theory is one that is based in working together, and ensuring that all employees, no matter the title, feel as though they are on the same team working towards a common goal. The final function is control. This would be applied through learning and evolving the other three functions of management. Learning through the actions of the business/organization and the employees would allow managers to fine tune the areas that may be impeding a cohesive work environment.

Douglas McGregor’s management theory is known as the X-Y theory (Mohamed & Nor, 2013). X-Y theory refers to X-an authoritarian theory and Y-a participative theory. In order to examine the X-Y theory and how it would be applied to the four functions of management, it needs to be broken down into the two base theories. First is the X portion of the theory, or the authoritarian portion of the theory.

The X portion of McGregor’s theory is authoritarian. The first function of management is planning, this would include a plan for how to prompt and reward employees. The second function is organize, McGregor’s theory would be to coordinate for rewards and also how to give direction to the employees. The third function is leading. In this theory, leading would include control and force, even intimidation. The final function is control. McGregor’s theory would include the use of incentives and threats.

The Y portion of McGregor’s theory is participative. The first function of management is planning, this would include planning for self-motivation and decision making. The second function is organization this would include the use of coordination for the planning function, but also for task completion and happiness of the employees. The third function is leading. In the Y portion of McGregor’s theory, this would mean encouragement. Managers would use encouragement as a way to lead their employees. The final function is control. Managers would monitor their employees, but ultimately the employees are responsible for the decisions they make at work and the results of their work/decisions.

The X-Y theory show the polar opposites of management styles that McGregor believed are the bases for management. On one hand, it is possible for managers to enforce no working together, no collaborating, and forming no friendships while on the clock. The other hand, managers can encourage collaboration and creativity on the part of their employees. They may be opposite approaches, but this theory does highlight the varied and differing approaches of management.

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The four functions of management can be practiced through any of the theorists, specifically, and managers can use parts of each theory that work best for their individual leadership qualities and management ideas. It is important to know how these theories can be applied to the four functions of management, because it fosters a better understanding of the four functions and of the theories themselves. A more comprehensive understanding allows one to be able to better apply theories in the real world through their decisions and their actions. Each theory is unique, just as each person in management is unique. While a person may not agree with one theory, it may be perfect for another. Thus, it is up to each individual to understand the theories to the best of their abilities, and then to make the decision as to which one would best work for them and their leadership style.

References

Caldwell, PhD., C., & Hasan, Z. (2016). The Conventional Leader: Honoring the Implicit Relationship with Employees. Graziado Business Review, 19(2).

Mohamed, R. K., & Nor, C. S. (2013). The Relationship between McGregor's X-Y Theory Management Style and Fullfillment of Psychological Contract: A Literature Review. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 3(5).

Nadrifar, A., Bandani, E., & Shahryari, H. (2015). An Overview of Classical Management Theories: A Review Article. International Journal of Science and Research, 2319-7064.

Uddin, N., & Hossain, F. (2015). Evolution of Modern Management through Taylorism: An Adjustment of Scientific Management Compromising Behavioral Science. Procedia Computer Science, 62, 578-584.

 

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