Evolution of Management Thought

Classical Organization Theory

There are different theories of organization to predict and explain the process and also behavior patterns in an organizational setting. There are three different types of organizational theory: Classical Organization Theory, Neo-Classical Organizational Theory, and Modern Organizational Theory. In this article, we will explore the Classical Organizational Theory.

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Types of Organizational Theory

organizational theory

                                                                                                             Source: Pixabay

Classical Organizational Theory

As the first step towards a systematic study of organizations, the Classical Organizational Theory is very important.

It primarily deals with the anatomy of formal organizations and also views one as a machine and the employees as parts of the machine.

Therefore, in order to increase the efficiency of the organization, each employee working in it must become efficient.

Browse more Topics under Evolution Of Management Thought

6 Pillars of Classical Organizational Theory

The main pillars or elements of the Classical theory are as follows:

  1. Division of Labor – In order to obtain a clear specialization in order to improve the performance of individual workers, the organization must divide work.
  2. Departmentalization – The organization must group various activities and jobs into departments. This allows it to minimize costs and also facilitate administrative control.
  3. Coordination – The organization must ensure harmony among diverse functions. This allows it to arrange the group effort in an orderly manner which provides unity of action while pursuing a common purpose.
  4. Scalar and Functional Processes – A scalar chain is the series of superior-subordinate relationships from the top to the bottom in an organization. It facilitates the delegation of authority or command, communication or feedback, and also remedial action or decision.
  5. Structure – Structure is the logical relationship of functions in an organization. Further, these functions are arranged for effective objective accomplishment.
  6. Span of Control – This is the number of subordinates that a manager can effectively supervise.

The classical theory has received criticisms on several grounds.

Learn more about Structure of Organization here in detail.

Criticisms of the Classical Organizational Theory

  • It takes a rigid as well as a static view of organizations.
  • Most classical theorists view an organization as a closed system with no interaction with its environment.
  • The theory focuses more on the structural and also the technical aspects of organizations.
  • It is based on oversimplified and mechanistic assumptions.

In simple terms, the focus of the Classical Theory is on an organization without people.

Therefore, many experts consider it inadequate in dealing with the complexities of an organization’s structure and functioning.

Also, it offers an incomplete explanation of human behavior in organizations.

Solved Question for You

Q1. What are the six pillars of classical organizational theory?

Answer: The six pillars are:

  1. Division of Labor
  2. Departmentalization
  3. Coordination
  4. Scalar and Functional Processes
  5. Structure
  6. Span of Control

Q2. Why did the classical theory receive criticism?

Answer: The classical theory views organizations as machines and human beings as parts of the machine. Therefore, classical theorists believed that the efficiency of the organization improves with the efficiency of human beings. However, this theory takes a rigid and static view of organizations. Also, it focuses more on the structural and technological aspects of an organization with the assumption that it does not interact with its environment. Finally, the theory is based on mechanistic and oversimplified assumptions. These aspects led to the criticism of the Classical theory.

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One response to “Classical Organization Theory”

  1. Chinma says:

    What are the structural, Behavioral, focus ,emphasis and Practical elements of classical theory

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