Humanistic Era Reflection Paper

1 January 2017

George Elton Mayo is known as the founder of the Human Relations Movement, and is well known for his research on the Hawthorne Studies. The Hawthorne Studies were the beginning point for a dramatic change in how organizations and managers began to not view workers as machines, but began to view the role of human behavior as dynamic. In 1931, one company went on record saying the following about the outcome of the Hawthorne Studies: “Upon analysis, only one thing seemed to show a continuous relationship with this improved output. This was the mental attitude of the workers.

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From their conversations with each other and their comments to the test observers, it was not only clear this area of employee reactions and feelings was a fruitful field for industrial research (Gautschi, 1989). ” There were many other great contributors to this perspective. There was Mary Parker Follet who recognized what she called integration, which can be explained as the motivating factors of both the group and individual. She advocated that an organization needs to view their relationship with their staff of “power with” and not “power over”.

Then there was Chester Barnard who was one of the first to examine the idea of the cooperative system. This suggests that an organization should strive to match their organizational goals with those goals of the individuals working for them. (Wren & Bedeian, 2009) Another contributor to the Human Relations Perspective was Abraham Maslow. Maslow is one of the more well known behavioral theorists, and his contribution to the Humanistic Era would be his Hierarchy of Needs theory.

This theory states that an individual has 5 levels of needs (physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization). He felt each need of hierarchy had to be met before moving onto satisfying the next need. There was also a theorist by the name Douglas McGregor. His theory was known as Theory X and Theory Y. McGregor believed there were two groups of people, X and Y. X people are people with little ambition, don’t like their job, avoid responsibility, etc. Y people are people who want to do the right thing, be self-directed and achieve the organizations goals.

This theory states the role of management is to direct the efforts of the workers, motivate them, and control their actions and to recognize and achieve their positive attributes (Shafritz & Ott, 2001). Lastly, there was Hugo Munsterberg who was noted as the father of industrial psychology. He has been credited for starting one of the first personnel departments (Wren & Bedeian, 2009). Next there was the Social Person Perspective of the Humanistic Era. The Social Person Perspective was the result of historical events that took place from about the 1930’s to the 1950’s.

During this time period is when “Personnel” changed into “Human Resource Management (HRM)”. Management began to strategically focus more on the long-term success of the organization. Management theories changed from trait theory to an integration of social and behavioral theories focusing on leader-follower, contingency, and human relations. This perspective also brought the importance of self-awareness, self-actualization, and self-esteem; and an emphasis on effective communication and the relationship between management and labor.

One of the big contributors to the Social Persons Perspective was the Great Depression. Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, strongly supported the Efficiency Movement, which was a movement stating that the government and the economy were taken over with inefficiency and waste. He felt this issue could be improved by experts who could identify the problems and solve them. However, Hoover ultimately failed losing the election in 1932 (Wren & Bedeian, 2009). Another contribution to the Social Person Perspective as the fact that the government became more heavily involved in U. S. business improvement efforts during the 1930s. The government submitted many legislative actions that established programs to help the unemployed and middle class. This led to organized labor unions and helped a balance of power between labor and management. Many believe that the big increase in labor unions was directly related to the terrible economic condition. However, at the time unions provided average employees with job security and safety.

In an effort to ensure employees and employers were treated ethically within labor unions, the Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act) and the Taft-Hartley Act (Labor-Management Relations Act) were established. The Taft-Hartley added a list of unfair labor practices, on the part of unions to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which previously only prohibited unfair labor practices committed by employers. These laws reduced the amount of power an employer had over its employees. Because of these acts, management had to take into consideration many other factors when managing their employees.

This made it important for managers to have a top-level managerial view point. Another big contributor was the Post World War II efforts. Post World War II efforts led to organizations expanding and collecting on the economic benefits of supplying products and services to the military. This led to increased labor forces and advancements in technology. All of these expansions and advancements made it necessary for organizations to have well-trained and educated managers who understood the needs of the organization, and the relationships of the organization’s groups, individuals, and environmental factors.

After World War II universities started increasing their emphasis and interest in teaching and educations the practice of management (Wren & Bedeian, 2009). The Humanistic Era of Management, both the Human Relations and the Social Person Perspective’s principles/concepts are very relevant today. An individual’s needs are an important piece to an organization’s effectiveness. Monetary incentives are not the only important piece to satisfying an individual’s needs (Coles, 2001). Speaking from personal experience, when an employee is treated more as a team member, they begin to care more about the outcome of their work.

Most individuals want to be part of a group or team, and when this takes place, an employee will care more about the effort they put into their work. Additionally, the concept of a need for top-level managerial viewpoint is very relevant in today’s manager’s role. This era started the need for trained and educated managers. Now managers are expected to have an education and training and have strong management skills. This era also started the importance of business ethics and corporate social responsibility. This is also very important to today’s managers. Managers need to lead their staff, while maintaining ethical practices.

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