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Essay on Management Theories

5 pages
1176 words
Boston College
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Theory / Theorist / Author Viewpoint(s)

Contingency theory / Fred Fiedler / The contingency theory emphasizes that the decision-making approach used by managers is based on the current circumstances rather than the one size fits all methods. Thus, the theory views an effective leadership as one that seeks control over situations in addition to the leading role that it plays.

Chaos theory / James Gleick / According to the chaos theory, although the control of some situations and events is possible, there are others which cannot. As such, the theory stresses the inevitable nature of change and its uncontrollable feature as well

Systems theory / L. von Bertalanffy / This theory is concerned with managers` understanding of how different systems influence workers and how workers affect the systems around them. According to this theory, a system comprises various parts that work hand in hand to achieve and objective

Management overview

According to Schermerhorn (2004), management can be defined as the science or art of realizing objectives through people. In other words, since management involves supervision, it can also be literally described as the practice of looking over to ensure people perform their duties as required. Therefore, managers are expected to work towards ensuring their organizations are able to experience continuous improvement which results in greater productivity. Some of the managerial functions in an organization include leading, staffing, planning, controlling and organizing (Management Theories, 2013). For decades, management has been an idea that has been used as a way of achieving goals through theories that have also undergone evolution over the years. Theories are applied by managers to effectively and efficiently manage the financial and human resources of their organizations in order to achieve the set organizational goals. Some of the commonly used management theories include the contingency theory, chaos theory and systems theory (Management Theories, 2013).

Roles of managers

Managers are believed to play a critical role in the running of an organization. This is depicted by the variety of tasks that managers carry out in their organizations. A management position requires one to be capable of preforming a wide range of roles depending on the situation that arises. To start with, while leading a team, a manager is expected to amicably resolve any conflicts arising among the team members. Also, a manager is expected to represent their project in the company`s board meetings, hence acting as the team`s spokesperson. A manager is expected to lead by providing direction for all resources available to help in achieving the objectives of the company`s corporate leadership. As a manager, one may be responsible for negotiating contracts on the project team`s behalf for materials and services needed for the completion of the project.

According to Schermerhorn (2004), a manager should be able to serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for their employees while continuously encouraging them to give their best in whatever they do. Further, managers are expected to provide the organizational vision and appropriately handle the stakeholders of a project. A manager exemplifies the practice of good communication within the company while serving as a link between employees, customers and other managers within the organization (Schermerhorn, 2004).

Development of management theories

The introduction of mass production and factories during the industrial revolution led to a need for new procedure of management. Management theories as are said to have undergone revolution since the late nineteenth century in efforts to identify more effective ways for the production of goods and services in order to increase productivity while maximizing profits (Management Theories, 2013). In line with this, Fredrick Taylor introduced the scientific management principles that were aimed at improving individual employee performance hence increasing efficiency and productivity. The principles included organizing, planning, controlling and commanding. Later, the commanding principle changed to leading (Management Theories, 2013).

These principles continued to be applied even in the 21st century and have resulted in the development of various management theories including contingency theory, chaos theory and systems theory. There are various ways in which these theories reflected the changing business environment. One of the key ways is by undergoing some evolution to match the changes that occurred in the business environment. The variations in both internal and external factors of the business environment demanded an improvement of the theories to accommodate the changes which led to the evolution. Learning organizations played a key role in the development of these theories as they understood that businesses would stagnate in the absence of evolution of organizational structures. Consequently, the businesses would be irrelevant and uncompetitive (Management Theories, 2013).

A comparison of the three management theories

There are significant differences and similarities that exist between contingency theory, systems theory and chaos theory. One of the most evident similarities is the fact that contingency theory originated from the systems approach (Donaldson, 2001). Schermerhorn (2004) asserts that contingency theorists agree with most of the systems theory tenets. The two theories are in agreement with the dynamic nature of organizations as well as the basic features of the relationship between an organization and its environment. Also, contingency theory and the chaos theory share a similarity in terms of change. According to contingency approach, change in decisions is essential depending of the situation, similarly, chaos theory holds that organizational change is inevitable in the business world (Donaldson, 2001).

Despite the similarities, these theories differ in a number of ways. In terms of the activities of humans, the systems theory uses a richer human beings model compared to the contingency theory. While the systems theory considers a wide range of human behaviour in an organization, on the other hand, contingency approach is mainly concerned with the organization`s structural adaptation to the task environment (Donaldson, 2001). Thus, contingency approach focuses on an organization`s structural change in response to changes in the environment. Another difference between the theories is in terms of organizational variables whereby systems theory has a wide consideration of organizational variables which cover social, personal, structural, environmental and technical variables.

The theory that works best for my work environment

The systems theory is the one that works best for my work environment as the theory adopts a contemporary view that assimilates three key perspectives namely quality management, possibility and systems (Management Theories, 2013). The systems approach can be considered as a mix of components that are interrelated and which work together for the fulfilment of a given purpose. The systems theory allows managers at the workplace to have access to data and analyze it accordingly. Further, the theory is the most appropriate as it can be used in performance management of fellow employees while ensuring that the organizational system functions are enhanced for maximum compatibility hence increasing productivity. Moreover, this theory offers an orderly action plan with employees having responsibilities that are well defined and overlap to ensure minimal productivity loss when an employee is absent.



Donaldson, L. (2001). Structural Contingency Theory. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 15210-15215. doi:10.1016/b0-08-043076-7/04214-5

Management Theories. (2013). Essential Management Skills for Pharmacy and Business Managers, 13-28. doi:10.1201/b14816-3

Schermerhorn, J. R. (2004). Core concepts of management. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


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