Behavioural Science Theory - Explanation, Contribution and Limitation - Principle of Management

Principle of Management

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Behavioural Science Theory - Explanation, Contribution and Limitation - Principle of Management

Behavioural Science Theory - Explanation, Contribution and Limitation

Behavioural Science Theory includes human relation and behavioural science movement. It modified improved and extended the classical theory. Classical theory concentrated on job content and management of physical resources, where as behavioural science theory gave greater emphasis to man behind the machine and stressed the importance of individual as well as group relationship.

a. Chester Barnad: Barnad argued that people join organization to satisfy some of their personal objectives. Organization should therefore, satisfy such personal goals, of employees, while pursuing organizational goals. An organization can sustain and survive only when it strikes a balance between their personal and organizational goals.

b. Mary Parker Follett: Follet propounded democratic and participatory theory of management. She pointed out the need for the concept of group and association to be introduced in the practice of management. She advocates the democratization of the work force.

c. Elton W. Mayo (The Hawthorne Studies): The study conducted by Elton Mayo and his associates between 1927-1932 at Western Electric’s Hawthorne Plant dramatically impacted the prevailing thought of management .They experimented the effect of illumination on work productivity. In that study, two groups: i) controlled and ii) experiment groups were formed to find out the effect of bright and dim light. The control group work without change in lighting and the experiment group worked in fluctuating lighting condition. The result showed that there is no relation between illumination and performance. In other words, productivity of both groups increased. Thus, the study concluded that the human element (more specifically relation among workers) is important in the workplace. This study discovered the effect of group norms and standard on individual behaviour. In another experiment Mayo revealed that productivity improved by change in working conditions as length of rest time, duration of work, presence or absence of free lunch etc.

d. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Abraham Maslow): Maslow hypothesized that within every human being, there exists a hierarchy of five needs.

  • Physiological: Includes hunger, thirst, shelter, sex and other bodily needs.
  • Safety: Security and protection from physical and emotional harms.
  • Social: Affection, belongingness, acceptance and friendship.
  • Esteem: Internal factor such as self respect, autonomy and achievement and external factors such as status, recognition and attention.
  • Self- actualization: Drive to become what one is capable of becoming: includes growth, achieving one’s potential and self fulfillment.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Maslow separated the five needs into higher and lower orders.

  1. Lower order needs: The needs that are satisfied externally and lower order needs, such as physiological needs, and safety needs.
  2. Higher-order needs: The needs that are satisfied internally, such as social, esteem and self- actualization needs.

e. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y: Douglas McGregor invented the Theory X and Theory Y, also known as “hard guy, soft guy” approaches to managing people in the organization. It states that people’s commitment to work in an organization is influenced by assumptions managers make about people. One set of assumptions is called theory X, which describes employees with a relatively negative view. And another set of assumption is called theory Y, which describe employees positively.

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

Theory X (Traditional View)

Theory Y (Contemporary View)

1. The average person dislikes work inherently.

1. The average person does not  inherently dislike work but depending on condition may find work to be satisfying or punishment.

2. The average person will avoid work if he or she can.

2. People will exercise self-direction and self- control to achieve organizational objectives under certain conditions.

3. Most people must be coerced, controlled or threatened with punishment to get them to work toward the achievement of organizational goals.

3.People will seek to attain their firm’s objectives if there are sufficient rewards provided.

4. The average person prefers to direct to avoid responsibility.

4.Under proper conditions the average individual will seek responsibility.

5. The average individual has relatively little ambition and wants security above all.

5.The capacity to use imagination and originality is widely found in the people.

Contribution and Limitation of Behavioural Theory:


  1. This theory shifted the focus of management to the human side of organization. The “rational man” of scientific became “social man” in the human relation theory.
  2. Social Setting and groups are important for productivity. Workers respond to pressures of informal work groups.
  3. Non-Financial rewards such as recognition and appreciation are important for worker productivity.
  4. Needs influence behavior. Unfulfilled needs influence productivity in organization.
  5. Theory Y assumptions get people’s commitment to work. Limitations:
  6. This Theory gives overemphasis on human variable.
  7. Human behaviour is complex and is studied from a variety of viewpoints. This complicates the problem for a manager trying to use insights from the behavioural sciences.
  8. Human behaviour cannot be predicted. This limits the practical application of this theory.
  9. Focus on symbolic reward may not always be effective on motivating the staffs.

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