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  • Subject area(s): Business
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  • Published on: 21st September 2019
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According to Huczynski & Buchanan, “An organization is a social arrangement for achieving controlled performance in pursuit of collective goals.” (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2009) Fayol laid the foundations of organisational management through his five functions of management created in 1949; it concludes that rational organisation design is key for organisational success. Even though organisational success can be defined in multiple ways, it essentially focuses on the completion of firms’ goals and tasks. For organisational success to take place, organisational behaviour may be monitored and controlled through a variety of theories including Taylorism, Fordism, whilst in more recent years, human relations and bureaucracy. Each concept has substantially contributed to the way in which organisational behaviour is observed today; however the significance of each factor, in terms of its importance to creating organisational success is not clearly defined. The complexity of this topic may be due to the different variants that impact behaviour within an organisation that can’t be controlled easily, such as individual and group factors. These factors can mistakenly alter the efficiency of a firm, dependent on each situation and therefore may influence success of an organisation. Despite this, it is clear that organisational behaviour, particularly through its management and structure acts as a fundamental aspect leading to organi¬sational success in a business environment.

A key theory about organisational behaviour revolves around Taylorism, which provided the basis of scientific management through specialisation and increasing worker output and efficiency by “breaking complex tasks into smaller parts.” (Biscontini, 2016) Taylorism benefits firms in economies of scale as uneducated people can perform the repetitive tasks on a low wage, thereby reducing production costs. This could be invested into management or other forms of bureaucracy to further sharpen organisational success. Taylorism can significantly contribute to organisational success as the simplification of manual and mental tasks in such a repetitive manner can lead to perfect performance, at a much quicker pace. This process leads to monetary benefits for the organisation as well as the workers through bonuses therefore satisfying their economic goals. Evidence from Taylors’ tests showed a rise in pay from $1.15-$1.85 for those with higher production outputs, encouraged others to produce at the same level of production. Therefore displaying the clear financial motivation behind workers, which Taylor manipulated in order to boost organisational success. An employee’s testimony confirmed the benefits of Taylorism by stating, “we got 40% more production with the same number of men”(Foner, 1965), and this verifies the importance of Taylor’s ideas of organisational behaviour in creating organisational success.

Despite this, Taylorism has been criticised in terms of creating organisational behaviour. Many claim that this form of organisational behaviour created alienation and degradation of workers. This can be confirmed by Davis, who described Taylorism as “a new slavery for unskilled workers… destroying the solidarity of all functional work groups, skilled or unskilled”. (Davis, 2010) Although organisational success may be created in the short term through Taylorism; it is not effective in the long-run, as this form of organisational behaviour cannot be sustained with rising absenteeism and recurring resignations due to the dull and pressurized environment.  Other academics critique ‘digital Taylorism’, the New York Times declares this type of organisational behaviour to be ‘gobbetising’ as it limits any expertise that could be gained as well as reducing pleasure of the job. (The Economist, 2015) Its disadvantages led multiple firms including Microsoft and Accenture to drop this form of organisational behaviour, as it was seen to be ‘counter productive’ and failed to create organisational success. Notwithstanding the significance of Taylorism in establishing organisational behaviour in the early 1900s, the modern-day with the growth of human relations and bureaucracy means Taylorism is no longer the most important form of organisational behaviour to create organisational success, particularly in multi-national corporations.

An alternative form of organisational behaviour, Fordism concentrates on “methods of mass production and social organisation of the labour process”. (Clarke, 1992) Ford used this concept by breaking down simple tasks into a production line when in manufacturing in bulk. Ford used this concept when creating his Model T Ford car; it led to increased efficiency and therefore cut production costs. Fordism managed to create organisational success through increased productivity but Ford also altered the organisational behaviour of the workers by reducing the shifts from nine to eight hours as well as increasing wages to five dollars daily, double the average wage at the time. Whilst significantly boosting morale in the workplace, it enhanced productivity and loyalty from workers. Thus proving that by adapting social and economic conditions, organisational behaviour is expected to improve and can lead to organisational success, in efficiency terms from employees and therefore, monetary terms for the business.

However as Clarke mentions, Fordism was more than a concept, as it became a “central component of Americanism” (Clarke, 1992), this saw the dehumanisation of society as Fordism attempted to “elaborate a new type of man suited to the new type of work and productive process” (Gramsci, 1971). Despite some elements of organisational success, Fordism is not as successful in the long term due to the control that managers grasp over workers through monitoring personal and work habits, for example no alcohol or tobacco could be consumed by employees. This controlling lifestyle can harm organisational behaviour for employees who may become aggravated through the repetitive tasks and strains placed on them. Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times saw “the dehumanising aspect of Ford's production methods on which Chaplin's hilarious factory scene [is based on.]” (Bramann, 2009) This demonstrates the contrast of how Fordism can both positively and destructively impact organisational behaviour in terms of its workers. For better or for worse, Fordism has managed to extend across society and the economy by impacting organisational behaviour, whether it be through employees, management or financially. The evidence from Ford’s billion-dollar empire proved that his impact on organisational behaviour was significant in contributing to organisational success financially, if not always for employees.

The negatives of Taylorism and scientific management contributed to “inhuman working conditions caused by mass production lines. Poor treatment of workers led to the rise of unions and increased strikes and unrest.” (Duggan) The impact of the Second World War and dissatisfaction of previous scientific management forms led Human relations to expand in the 1950s. The use of human relations led to the humanisation of work rather than employees being seen as an attachment to ‘the machine’ due to Fordism and Taylorism. The basic principles of human relations positively impacted organisational behaviour as employees became more efficient through their satisfaction in personal and work life, therefore boosting organisational success in the workplace. The triumph of the Western Electric Plant confirms this as Mayo increased output by introducing hot meals, early finishing times and lengthier breaks. By focusing on “motivational influences, job satisfaction, resistance to change, group norms, worker participation, and effective leadership” (Sonnenfeld, 1985), Mayo recognised the wellbeing and satisfaction of workers statistically boosted production. Thus, clearly signifying that organisational behaviour is fundamental in leading to organisational success.

However, the argument that human relations is vital in causing organisational success can be challenged by the ‘Hawthorne Effect’ and its faults. The surveillance effect and careful selection of participants skews the true results of the research, both of which theories were seen in the Hawthorne and the Mayo experiments. Human relations was described by Braverman as “The maintenance crew for the human machinery”. (Braverman, 1974) This limits the significance of human relations as a form of organisational behaviour and its effect on organisational success, as Braverman suggests the “human machinery” of Taylorism and Fordism still remains despite the introduction of human relations. Therefore, it is unclear whether human relations would create organisational success without any input from Fordism or Taylorism. Despite this, human relations has become integrated into all large corporations to ensure employees work towards a beneficial organisational behaviour. This makes human relations significant in terms of modifying organisational behaviour to guarantee organisational success.

On the other hand, Weber introduced bureaucracy in the late 1950s as the most effective way to arrange human activity through an organised hierarchy. Bureaucracy allows for a clear pyramid structure to be enforced that supports Fayol’s five principles of management. The clear definition of roles within a company ensures each employee knows their responsibilities, thus contributing to organisational success.

Despite this, bureaucracy causes inflexibility as employees are restricted and a bureaucratic personality, lacking innovation can become an issue. Merton agrees stating, “conformity with the rules interferes with the achievement of the purposes of the organization”, (Merton, 1940) and therefore restricts organisational success as employees behaviour is confined to their defined roles through the ‘iron cage of bureaucracy’. Whilst bureaucracy provides significance in containing organisational behaviour, Bennis foresees the “coming death of bureaucracy”. (Bennis, 1996) Thus, verifying bureaucracy may not contribute to organisational success in the long-term due to its flaws of costly red tape and inflexibility. Nevertheless, bureaucracy cannot be underestimated as it is incorporated into both national and global companies to define employees’ roles as it contributes to the goal of organisational success.

Thus concluding that Fordism, Taylorism, bureaucracy and Human relations despite their flaws can be seen as important in altering organisational behaviour and consequently contributing to organisational success. However, these theories fail to solely address the issues of a positive management to worker relationship, which in the long term can restrict the full potential of a corporation’s success. The timing of each of these concepts have allowed organisational behaviour to develop over the years, particularly as the harsh treatment of workers through Taylorism and Fordism would not be respected in society today due to the influence of trade unions and the government over employee welfare. This doesn’t mean these organisational behaviours do not exist, as Fordism and Taylorism undeniably contribute in less demanding roles such as Subway. However, bureaucracy and human relations now play a considerable role in the organisational success of transnational corporations, for example GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

It must also be taken into account that the management of organisational behaviour has never been more prevalent, due to the influence of globalisation and its cultural impacts with business hubs being held in numerous countries internationally. Watson’s statement that “Management is simply a matter of running an organisation so that the variety of people who want something out of it will go on supporting it in such a way that is able to continue its existence into the future” (Watson, 2000), essentially verifies that the basic managerial task of running a business is not a stress-free process. The complex web of relationships created confirms that organisational behaviour can only be measured in principle and not in practice as every situation differs. The process of judging the degree of organisational success is challenging, as it is dependent on the point of view of the assessor, either from a managerial or critical perspective. This is essential when measuring success as a managerial perspective focuses on Taylorism and Fordism behaviours through the management of people and correction of problems. Whilst a critical perspective is more related to human relations, in terms of understanding people and the reasons behind their actions. However, despite all the complications, it is clear that understanding organisational behaviour through its multiple diverse forms is significantly important in creating organisational success.

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